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…


  • 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.
  • During registration week and the following week, 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 amazing events organised by the Student Union. Keep an eye out for the posters on site at registration for complete list of scheduled events. If you have questions about anything along the way, don’t hesitate to ask.




  • Basically, since the RCA abolished its halls in the mid 80s, we all have to find our own place to live. On the upside, it’s a nice way to have a life outside college in a different neighborhood. For a lot of us, we’ll be searching for a room up until mid October because of the large amount of students in London looking at the same time.
  • Generally, in London the best sites to use are SpareRoom and Gumtree. SpareRoom is a paid service, where you pay for a certain amount of days to access the listings, but is generally more reliable, and slightly less sketchy than Gumtree.
  • But the best service to use – and probably the safest and most reliable – is the RCA Notices section for accommodation. There, you can find flatshares with existing RCA students or alumni, find flatmates to hunt with, or post any questions to the student community.
  • A second year student also shared with us her recommendation to join a student Facebook group called ‘RCA Rooms & Roommates Search‘ – we haven’t tried it before, but apparently it has worked well for some students.
  • RCA students these days like living in the Battersea area, the Hackney/Stoke Newington area, Peckham, Brixton, and various other random pockets of town, like West Hampstead and Canada Water. Few of us can afford places near Kensington, the most expensive borough in the entire UK. We’d recommend renting an Airbnb for a few weeks to get a feel of where you want to live.




  • We highly encourage everyone to cycle! Cycling is great exercise, is frequently faster than the tubes, is inexpensive, and a growing passion among Londoners. But cycling can be really dangerous – so be sure to pay attention to bike safety.
  • 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.
  • If you’re under 25, it’s a great advantage to have a 16-25 railcard for trips around the UK. It costs just £30 and you’ll get up to 1/3 off train tickets for an entire year. Definitely worth it. Check it out here.
  • 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.


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. If you are based in Kensington you are lucky to have the RCAfé on the second floor. We have delicious food and drink and student friendly prices!
  • 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.
  • Drinking however, is not a luxury. Yes you can drink outdoors here, and although the country has a bit of an avowed drinking problem, it’s worth tasting the many craft beers and ciders native to the UK.



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.




  • 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.



There’s the RCA Cycling and Climbing club continuing in 2018/2019.

You can also use the nearby Imperial College Ethos Sports Centre for £28 a month.

London also runs a chain of gyms (with swimming pools, classes, saunas and the like) throughout the city called Better Sports Centres, they offer discounted rates to residents of their boroughs.

Sexual Health

It’s important & Sexual Health London (SHL) is London’s new sexual health e-service that provides free and easy access to sexual health testing via the internet and local venues. Good stuff.


London Art and Design Events


Great events to connect with other artists, designers, and to bump into RCA friends.