Starting at the RCA

So you’ve just moved to London, or maybe you’ve lived here for a while now before deciding to pursue an MA or PhD. Whatever it is, we would like to welcome you to our tight knit post-graduate school of artists and designers. Be prepared for the best and most intense time of your life!




A familiar sight...
A soon to be familiar sight…

Welcome to the RCA. We’re looking forward to meeting you and getting to know you over the next year or three!

You will register for your course at the Kensington campus. On this day you will be able to pay your fees, collect your student card, library card, and meet us! Just queue alongside everyone else and fill out the necessary paperwork – stewards will be present to direct you to where you need to go next and to answer your questions.

We will hand out a map of the premises to help you explore the grounds, we are also leading campus tours in Battersea, Kensington and White City to show you around. Just come see us when you register and we will let you know when the next tour starts.

Remember first to read the RCA regulations to know the rules of what you can and cannot do on campus, as well as your student handbook, which we will hand out to you at registration.

Our official ‘Welcome Week’ is between 18 – 27 September. There will be a schedule of introductory talks from a wide range of people –  your programme staff, technical staff, library staff, the Rector, the Dean, and us. There will also be a host of events organised by the Student Union, clubs and socieites. Keep an eye out on our website, social media and for the posters on site at registration to find out what’s going on. If you have questions about anything along the way, don’t hesitate to ask.



First thing’s first. If you haven’t already, download citymapper, it’s a great way to find out the fastest and cheapest routes. The official transport website for London is TFL.

Cycling in London: it’s great exercise; frequently faster than the tubes; inexpensive; and a growing passion among Londoners. Of course, it can be dangerous. Make sure you keep your bike serviced. We have bike pumps at each campus. Dr Bike’s can be found across London. Dr Bike will pump up your tires and do any minor adjustments to keep your bike healthy for free. If you’re looking to improve your confidence click here where you can find cycle safety courses. If you don’t have your own bike there are the TFL bikes and a few other companies that hire bikes here. If you’re buying a bike, make sure it’s not stollen, click here for tips. If you have a bike, get it registered & keep it locked up propperly.

Otherwise, one of the greatest perks of being a student is the Student Oystercard, where you can get huge discounts on travel. For example, the Adult Oystercard Zone 1-2 charges around £33 for a weekly unlimited travelcard, the Student Oystercard charges £22. Sign up for your Oystercard here.

Railcards will save you money on overground trains. If you’re travelling off peak you can get 1/3 off if you’re 16-25, or 26-30. Click here for all the railcard options available.

Black cabs and Uber cabs are safe in London but remember to never get into an unlicensed cab. The city has been doing a campaign around this recently following the high rate of incidents.


We’ve heard that it can be distracting to work in the studios, that the library is small and doesn’t offer a huge selection, so we recommend:

Any of the many other university libraries that you can access through the SCONUL Access scheme. Goldsmiths library, or King’s College library, for example. You’ll just need to register for SCONUL, then complete a short registration form at the library you want to go to. We can recommend signing up to this. Even if you don’t need it now, you might need it later and it will be nice to have it done in advance.

Imperial College Central Library – A huge, 24 hour spaceship that can keep you studying through the night.

The British Library – The biggest library in the world, it’s well worth a visit. Their collection of over 170 million items includes artefacts from every age of written civilisation.


Check out our sports clubs for 2019/2020. It’s an easy and sociable way to keep healthy.

We’ve already mentioned cycling and it’s growing popularity in London. There are also great parks all across London where you’ll find loads of people jogging and working out.

London also has lots of gyms and pools, ranging from budget gyms to super expensive. Most will offer student discount and your local council will also have leisure centres with details of public tennis courts and all sorts.


National Health Service

We have a free health service. It’s free. Take a moment to register at your local G.P. so if you get ill you can make an appointment and get yourself sorted more easily. It shouldn’t take too long.

You can also go to walk in clinics click here to find one.

Sexual Health

It’s important & Sexual Health London (SHL) is London’s sexual health e-service that provides free and easy access to sexual health testing via the internet and local venues. It’s super easy, you just order a testing kit and it’s sent to your door within a few days. Did we mention it’s free?

You will also find walk in clinics across the city. There’s often a queue, click here to find your local one.


Food & Drink

They all complain about the British food, but British food is great! Well, as long as you pay for it. Eating out is definitely a luxury here (unless its Jamaican, Indian, or Chinese food). And eating at the college canteen can be a bit of a luxury as well – so it’s probably advisable to prepare your own food or eat in one of the college canteens as often as you can.

Otherwise, one of the cool things about living in the UK is the reduced deals at supermarkets on items about to expire – a small budget hack. As well as meal deals in supermarkets which will typically include a main, a snack and a drink for around £3.50. In Co-op with a NUS card you get 10% off.

Drinking, a well loved passed time in the U.K.. Firstly, it’s worth carrying ID. If you’re lucky enough to look under 25 you’ll be asked for it… take it as a complement. Whilst you’re here it’s worth tasting the many craft beers and ciders native to the UK. The Artbar stocks a few and it’s cheaper than most bars in London!



If you’re an overseas student, you can work at the SU – or anywhere else, for up to 20 hours a week of your term time. If you’re interested in working for the RCASU then click here to find out more.

To work, you’ll need a National Insurance Number, which you can apply for here.


London Art & Design Events

Here are a few great events to connect with other artists, designers and to bump into RCA friends.

London Design Festival, 14 – 22 September 2019

Frieze Art Fair London,  3 – 6 October 2019

Art Licks Weekend, 17 – 20 October 2019

BFI Film Festival, 2 – 13 October 2019

Clerkenwell Design Week, 19 – 21 May 2020

Photo London, 14 – 17 May 2020