King's College London

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King's College London
King's College London crest.png
Arms of King's College London
Motto Sancte et Sapienter
Motto in English
"With Holiness and Wisdom"
Established 1829 (oldest medical school est. 1550)
Type Public research university
Endowment £179.4 million (as of 31 July 2015)[1]
Chancellor The Princess Royal (as Chancellor of the University of London)
Principal Ed Byrne
Visitor Archbishop of Canterbury ex officio
Administrative staff
6,113 (2012)[2]
Students 28,730 (2014/15)[3]
Undergraduates 17,610 (2014/15)[3]
Postgraduates 11,120 (2014/15)[3]
Location London, United Kingdom
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Campus Urban
Chairman of the Council The Duke of Wellington
Blue & King's Red [4]
Mascot Reggie the Lion
Affiliations University of London
Russell Group
Golden Triangle
King's Health Partners
Francis Crick Institute
Universities UK
King’s College London logo.png

King's College London (informally King's or KCL; formerly styled King's College, London) is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's was founded in 1829 by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington and received its royal charter in the same year,[5][6] making it arguably the third-oldest university in England. King's became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London in 1836[7][8][9] and has grown through mergers, including with Queen Elizabeth College and Chelsea College of Science and Technology (in 1985), the Institute of Psychiatry (in 1997), and the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals and Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery (in 1998). King's has become the largest centre for graduate and post-graduate medical teaching and biomedical research in Europe as per number of students[10][11] and is regarded as one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world.[11][12][13][14][15]

The college has five campuses: its main campus on the Strand in central London, three other Thames-side campuses (Guy's, St Thomas' and Waterloo) and another in Denmark Hill in south London.[16] King's has 28,730 students and 5,948 staff and had a total income of £684.2 million in 2014/15, of which £210.8 million was from research grants and contracts.[1] It has the fifth largest endowment of any university in the United Kingdom, and the largest of all universities in London. Its academic activities are organised into nine faculties which are subdivided into numerous departments, centres and research divisions. King's is home to six Medical Research Council centres and is a founding member of the King's Health Partners academic health sciences centre, Francis Crick Institute and MedCity. It is a member of numerous academic organisations, including the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, the Russell Group, and the "golden triangle" of elite English universities.[17]

King's is known for its several noted alumni and staff, including 12 Nobel Laureates laureates amongst King's alumni and current and former faculty.[18][19] The college performs highly in international rankings. In 2015 it ranked 19th in the world (5th in the UK and 7th in Europe) in the QS World University Rankings,[20] and 27th in the world (7th in the UK and 8th in Europe) in the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[21] In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, King's was ranked 6th overall for "research power" and 7th for GPA. In a survey by The New York Times assessing the most valued graduates by business leaders, King's College London graduates ranked 22nd in the world and 5th in the UK.[22] In the 2015 Global Employability University Survey of international recruiters, King's is ranked 43rd in the world and 7th in the UK.[23]



The college's patron, King George IV, shown in a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence

King's College, so named to indicate the patronage of King George IV, was founded in 1829 in response to the theological controversy surrounding the founding of "London University" (which later became University College London) in 1827.[24][25] London University was founded, with the backing of Utilitarians, Jews and non-Anglican Christians, as a secular institution, intended to educate "the youth of our middling rich people between the ages of 15 or 16 and 20 or later"[26] giving its nickname, "the godless college in Gower Street".[27]

The need for such an institution was a result of the religious and social nature of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which then educated solely the sons of wealthy Anglicans.[28] The secular nature of London University was disapproved by The Establishment, indeed, "the storms of opposition which raged around it threatened to crush every spark of vital energy which remained".[29] Thus, the creation of a rival institution represented a Tory response to reassert the educational values of The Establishment.[30] More widely, King's was one of the first of a series of institutions which came about in the early nineteenth century as a result of the Industrial Revolution and great social changes in England following the Napoleonic Wars.[31] By virtue of its foundation King's has enjoyed the patronage of the monarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury as its Visitor and during the nineteenth century counted among its official governors the Lord Chancellor, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Mayor of London.[31]

King's College in 1831, as engraved by J. C. Carter

Rumours in the press of a competing institution in the tradition of the established church appeared in 1827, but the idea was first defined early in 1828 by George D'Oyly, Rector of Lambeth, in an open letter to Sir Robert Peel, the then Home Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons.[24][32][33] A scheme emerged during the summer of 1828 and a public meeting to launch King's, chaired by the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, and attended by the Archbishops of York, Canterbury and Armagh, and two members of the Cabinet (Peel and the Earl of Aberdeen) was held on 21 June 1828.[24][25] A committee of twenty-seven was appointed to raise funds and to frame regulations and building plans, but the sum raised by subscription was inadequate.[24] The Crown granted the college a site lying between the Strand and the Thames and building began in 1829.[24]

A royal charter to incorporate King's College was granted by George IV on 14 August 1829, stating the intention of the new college:[24]

...for the general education of youth in which the various branches of Literature and Science are intended to be taught, and also the doctrines and duties of Christianity... inculcated by the United Church of England and Ireland.

— Royal charter incorporating King's College, 14 August 1829.

The government of King's College was vested in a council consisting of nine official governors, five of whom were clergy, eight life governors, a treasurer, and 24 other members of the Corporation.[24] Several potential sites for the college were discussed including Buckingham Palace and Regent's Park,[30] however eventually the Treasury provided a site between the Strand and the Thames, running parallel to the yet unfinished Somerset House at a peppercorn rent in perpetuity.[34][35]

Duel in Battersea Fields, 21 March 1829

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, fought a duel against the Earl of Winchilsea in 1829 over the Duke's support for the rights of Irish Catholics and the independence of the newly established King's College

The Duke of Wellington's simultaneous support for an Anglican King's College and the Roman Catholic Relief Act, which was to lead to the granting of almost full civil rights to Catholics, was challenged by George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea, in early 1829. Winchilsea and his supporters wished for King's to be subject to the Test Acts, like the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where only members of the Church of England could matriculate,[36] but this was not Wellington's intent.[37]

Winchilsea and about 150 other contributors withdrew their support of the new college in response to Wellington's support of Catholic emancipation. Accusations against Wellington were published in a letter to The Standard newspaper on 14 March where Winchilsea charged the Prime Minister with insincerity in his support for the new college.[38][39] In a letter to Wellington he wrote, "I have come to view the college as an instrument in a wider programme designed to promote the Roman Catholic faith and undermine the established church." Winchilsea also accused the Duke to have in mind "insidious designs for the infringement of our liberty and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State".[40]

The letter provoked a furious exchange of correspondence and Wellington accused Winchilsea of imputing him with "disgraceful and criminal motives" in setting up King's College. When Winchilsea refused to retract the remarks, Wellington – by his own admission, "no advocate of duelling" and a virgin duellist – demanded satisfaction in a contest of arms: "I now call upon your lordship to give me that satisfaction for your conduct which a gentleman has a right to require, and which a gentleman never refuses to give."[39]

The result was a duel in Battersea Fields on 21 March 1829.[25][41] Winchilsea did not fire, a plan he and his second almost certainly decided upon before the duel; Wellington took aim and fired wide to the right. Accounts differ as to whether Wellington missed on purpose. Wellington, noted for his poor aim, claimed he did, other reports more sympathetic to Winchilsea claimed he had aimed to kill.[42] Honour was saved and Winchilsea wrote Wellington an apology.[40] "Duel Day" is still celebrated on the first Thursday after 21 March every year, marked by various events throughout the college, including reenactments.[41][43]

19th century

William Otter (1831–36), the first Principal of King's College

King's opened in October 1831 with the cleric William Otter appointed as first principal and lecturer in divinity.[24] Despite the intentions of its founders and the chapel at the heart of its buildings, the initial prospectus permitted, "nonconformists of all sorts to enter the college freely".[44] William Howley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, presided over the opening ceremony in which a sermon was given in the chapel by Charles Blomfield, the Bishop of London, on the subject of combining religious instruction with intellectual culture. The governors and the professors, except the linguists, had to be members of the Church of England but the students did not,[45] though attendance at Chapel was compulsory.[46]

King's College was divided into a senior department and a junior department, also known as King's College School, which was originally situated in the basement of the Strand Campus.[24] The Junior department started with 85 pupils and only three teachers, but quickly grew to 500 by 1841, outgrowing its facilities and leading it to relocate to Wimbledon in 1897 where it remains today, though it is no longer associated with the college.[45] Within the Senior department teaching was divided into three courses. A general course comprised divinity, classical languages, mathematics, English literature and history. Secondly, there was the medical course. Thirdly, miscellaneous subjects, such as law, political economy and modern languages, which were not related to any systematic course of study at the time and depended for their continuance on the supply of occasional students.[24] In 1833 the general course was reorganised leading to the award of the Associate of King's College (A.K.C.), the first qualification issued by King's.[24] The course, which concerns questions of ethics and theology, is still awarded today to students and staff who take an optional three-year course alongside their studies.

The Embankment terrace entrance to the Strand Campus overlooking the River Thames, originally designed by Sir William Chambers, was completed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1835

The river frontage was completed in April 1835 at a cost of £7,100,[47] its completion a condition of King's College securing the site from the Crown.[24] Unlike those in the school, student numbers in the Senior department remained almost stationary during the first five years of the college's existence. During this time the medical school was blighted by inefficiency and the divided loyalties of the staff leading to a steady decline in attendance. One of the most important appointments was that of Charles Wheatstone as professor of Experimental Philosophy.[24]

At this time, neither King's, nor "London University", had the ability to confer degrees, a particular problem for medical students who wished to practise. Amending this situation was aided by the appointment of Henry Brougham as Lord Chancellor, who was chairman of the governors of "London University". In this position he automatically became a governor of King's. In the understanding that the government was unlikely to grant degree-awarding powers on two institutions in London, negotiations led to the colleges federating as the "University of London" in 1836, "London University" thus becoming University College.[28] The governors at King's were offended at the exclusion of divinity from the syllabus by the federal university which was founded as an examining body and advised students to take the Oxford or Cambridge examinations, however, the power of the university to confer degrees marked a period of limited expansion at King's.[24][45]

In 1840, King's College opened King's College Hospital on Portugal Street near Lincoln's Inn Fields, an area composed of overcrowded rookeries characterised by poverty and disease. The governance of the hospital was later transferred to the corporation of the hospital established by the King's College Hospital Act 1851, and eventually moved to new premises in Denmark Hill, Camberwell in 1913. The appointment in 1877 of Joseph Lister as professor of clinical surgery greatly benefited the medical school, and the introduction of Lister's antiseptic surgical methods gained the hospital an international reputation.[24] In 1855 the college pioneered evening classes in London.[45] In 1882 the King's College London Act amended the constitution, the objects of the college extended to include the education of women.[24]

20th century

See also Contribution of King's College London to the discovery of the structure of DNA and Photo 51

Evacuated King's College students at the University of Bristol during the Second World War

The King's College, London Act 1903, abolished all remaining religious tests for staff, except within the Theological department. The end of the World War I saw an influx of students, which strained existing facilities to the point where some classes were held in the Principal's house.[24] A government proposal to relocate the college's premises to Bloomsbury was considered, but finally rejected in 1925.[48] During the Second World War most students and staff were evacuated out of London to Bristol and Glasgow.[24][49] The college buildings were used by the Auxiliary Fire Service with a number of college staff, mainly those then known as college servants, serving as firewatchers. Parts of the Strand building, the quadrangle, and the roof of apse and stained glass windows of the chapel suffered bomb damage in the Blitz.[50][51] During reconstruction, the vaults beneath the quadrangle were replaced by a two-storey laboratory, which opened in 1952, for the departments of Physics and Civil and Electrical Engineering.[24]

One of the most famous pieces of scientific research performed at King's were the crucial contributions to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953 by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, together with Raymond Gosling, Alex Stokes, Herbert Wilson and other colleagues at the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics at King's.[52][53][54]

Major reconstruction of King's began in 1966 following the publication of the Robbins Report on Higher Education. A new block facing the Strand designed by E. D. Jefferiss Mathews was opened in 1972.[45] King's underwent several mergers with other institutions, including Queen Elizabeth College and Chelsea College of Science and Technology in 1985, the Institute of Psychiatry in 1997, and the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals were reincorporated in 1998 after becoming independent of the college at the foundation of the National Health Service in 1948.[45][55] In 1998 Florence Nightingale's original training school for nurses merged with the King's Department of Nursing Studies as the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. The same year King's acquired the former Public Record Office building on Chancery Lane and converted it at a cost of £35 million into the Maughan Library, which opened in 2002.[45]

2001 to present

The Maughan Library. Following a £35m renovation, it is the largest new university library in the United Kingdom since World War II[56]
The historic Bush House, part of Aldwych Quarter, a prestigious addition to the Strand Campus

In July 2006, King's College London was granted degree-awarding powers in its own right, as opposed to through the University of London, by the Privy Council.[57] This power remained unexercised until 2007, when King's announced that all students starting courses from September 2007 onwards would be awarded degrees conferred by King's itself, rather than by the University of London. The new certificates however still make reference to the fact that King's is a constituent college of the University of London.[58] All current students with at least one year of study remaining were in August 2007 offered the option of choosing to be awarded a University of London degree or a King's degree. The first King's degrees were awarded in summer 2008.[59]

In 2007, for the second consecutive year, students from the School of Law won the national round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The Jessup moot is the largest international mooting competition in the world. The King's team went on to represent the UK as national champions.[60]

In 2010 King's announced that 205 jobs were put at risk in response to government funding cuts.[61][62] Among the proposed cuts was the UK's only chair of palaeography, two leading computational linguists, and the department of Engineering, believed to be the oldest in the UK (established in 1838), sparking an international campaign from academics.[61][63]

In November 2010, King's launched a fundraising campaign to raise £500 million by 2015 for research into five areas: cancer, global power, neuroscience and mental health, leadership and society and children's health.[64] Over £400 million has been raised as of March 2013.[65] In 2011 the Chemistry department was reopened following its closure in 2003.[66]

In April 2011 King's became a founding partner in the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, subsequently renamed the Francis Crick Institute, committing £40 million to the project.[67]

In June 2014, King's announced plans for large-scale redundancies, potentially affecting up to 15% of staff in biomedical sciences and at the Institute of Psychiatry.[68] Commentators noted that many senior academics as well as students were highly critical of the plans, on the grounds that they were being rushed through without adequate consultation, threatened to leave students without adequate teaching staff, and would weaken the research capacity and damage the reputation of the university.[69][70][71] A spokesperson for King's argued that the numbers of planned redundancies were fewer than critics claimed, but in so doing came in for further criticism, because staff had not been told of this information.[72] It was subsequently noted that the redundancy plan also went against explicit advice in a commissioned report on the university's finances.[73][74] Around the same time as these developments, an article in the Times Higher Education noted that, in an apparently unrelated development, King's was contesting a freedom of information request for details of salaries of its top professors.[75]

In October 2014, Ed Byrne replaced Rick Trainor as Principal of King's, the latter having served for 10 years. In December 2014, the college announced its plans to rebrand its name to 'King's London'.[76] It was emphasised that there were no plans to change the legal name of the college, and that the name 'King's London' was designed to promote the college and to highlight the fact that King's is a university in its own right.[77] The college announced that the rebranding plans had been dropped in January 2015.[78][79]

On 10 March 2015, King's acquired a 50-year lease for the Aldwych Quarter which includes the historic grand Bush House building. King’s will occupy Bush House and Strand House on a phased basis from September 2016, and adjacent buildings King House and Melbourne House from 2025. Once King’s takes full occupation of the four main buildings, the Aldwych Quarter will provide approximately 300,000 square feet of additional space for student study and social space, new teaching facilities and academic accommodation[80]


Strand Campus

The Strand Campus is the founding campus of King's. It is located on the Strand in the City of Westminster, sharing its frontage along the River Thames. Most of the Schools of Arts & Humanities, Law, Social Science & Public Policy and Natural & Mathematical Sciences (formerly Physical Sciences & Engineering) are housed here. The campus combines the Grade I listed King's Building of 1831 designed by Sir Robert Smirke, and the Byzantine Gothic college chapel, redesigned in 1864 by Sir George Gilbert Scott with the more modern Strand Building, completed in 1972. The Chesham Building in Surrey Street was purchased after the Second World War. The Macadam Building of 1975 houses the Strand Campus Students' Union centre and is named after King's alumnus Sir Ivison Macadam, first President of the National Union of Students.

The nearest underground station is Temple, on the District and Circle lines.

King's Building

A Classical sculpture of Sappho in the King's Building, Strand Campus

The Grade I listed King’s Building was designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1831.[81] It is the founding building of the college, located next to Somerset House. Sir John Nash (the architect of Buckingham Palace) offered free services for the King's Building, yet this was declined by the college since the college was in favour of the services of Sir Robert Smirke (the architect of the British Museum and the college's neighbour, Somerset House).[82]

Marble statues of Sappho and Sophocles were bequeathed by Frida Mond in 1923, a friend of Israel Gollancz, Professor of English Language and Literature at King's. They were placed in the foyer (old entrance hall) of the King's Building, where they have remained ever since.[83] The two statues symbolise King’s motto of ‘sancte et sapienter’ (‘holiness and wisdom’).[81] The Great Hall is one of the central congregation spaces within the King's Building. Many original features and styles of the Hall, such as the oak paneling and the King's College crest, was repaired, and Grade I listed windows, ceiling and column capital were refurbished in the 21st century.[82]


The Grade I listed college chapel on the Strand Campus seen today was redesigned in 1864 by Sir George Gilbert Scott

The original King's College Chapel was designed by Sir Robert Smirke and was completed in 1831 as part of the college building (later known as the King's building).[84] Given the foundation of the university in the tradition of the Church of England the chapel was intended to be an integral part of the campus.[85] This is reflected in its central location within the King's Building on the first floor above the Great Hall, accessible via a grand double staircase from the foyer. The original chapel was described as a low and broad room "fitted to the ecclesiological notions of George IV's reign."[85] However, by the mid nineteenth century its style had fallen out of fashion and in 1859 a proposal by the college chaplain, the Reverend E. H. Plumptre, that the original chapel should be reconstructed was approved by the college council, who agreed that its "meagreness and poverty" made it unworthy of King's.[84]

King's College approached Sir George Gilbert Scott to make proposals. In his proposal of 22 December 1859 he suggested that, "There can be no doubt that, in a classic building, the best mode of giving ecclesiastical character is the adoption of the form and, in some degree, the character of an ancient basilica."[84] His proposals for a chapel modelled on the lines of an classical basilica were accepted and the reconstruction was completed in 1864 at a cost of just over £7,000.[84]

Somerset House East Wing

See also: Somerset House
Somerset House, home to the King's Cultural Institute and the School of Law

In December 2009, King's College London signed a 78-year lease to the East Wing of Somerset House.[86] It has been described as one of the longest-ever property negotiations, taking over 180 years to complete.[87] Since King's College was built it has been in various discussions to expand into one of the wings of Somerset House itself, however, the relationship between the college and HM Revenue and Customs that occupied the East Wing were sometimes difficult.[88][89][90] Sir Robert Smirke's design of King's was sympathetic to that of Somerset House which is situated adjacent to the Strand Campus.[91] A condition of King's acquiring the site in the 1820s was that it should be erected "on a plan which would complete the river front of Somerset House at its eastern extremity in accordance with the original design of Sir William Chambers" which had for so long offended "every eye of taste for its incomplete appearance".[89][90]

In 1875, a dispute arose when new windows were added to the façade overlooking the college. Following a complaint by the college council at the loss of privacy, the response of the Metropolitan Board of Works was that "the terms under which the college is held are not such as to enable the council to restrict Her Majesty from opening windows in Somerset House whenever she may think proper".[88] By the end of World War I, King's began to outgrow its premises which led to rekindled efforts to acquire the East Wing. There was even a suggestion that King's should be relocated to new premises in Bloomsbury to alleviate space concerns, however, these plans never came to fruition. Instead, a new top floor was added to the King's Building to house the Anatomy Department and other buildings along Surrey Street were purchased.[88]

Following the publication of the Robbins Report on Higher Education in 1963 a further attempt was made to acquire the East Wing. The report recommended a large expansion in student numbers accommodated by a new building programme. The "quadrilateral plan" was to create a campus stretching from Norfolk Street in the east to Waterloo Bridge Road in the west. Plans were also drawn up for modern high-rise buildings along the Strand and Surrey Street to house a new library and laboratories. A contemporary report stated that the redevelopment would provide "London with a university precinct on the Strand of which the capital could be proud".[88] The plans were revisited in the early 1970s by the then Principal, Sir John Hackett, however, progress was prevented by funding problems and the unwillingness of the Government to re-house its civil servants.[88] In 1971 the Evening Standard led a public campaign for Somerset House to be transformed into a new public arts venue for London. Proposals were also aired for the relocation of the Tate Gallery to the site.[88] In the 1990s the eventual vacation by government departments and a comprehensive restoration programme saw the opening of the Courtauld Gallery, the Gilbert and Hermitage collections and the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court.[88][90]

In early 2010 a £25 million renovation of the East Wing was undertaken and took 18 months to complete. On 29 February 2012, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the building.[87] It is home to the School of Law, a public exhibition space called the Inigo Rooms curated by the King's Cultural Institute as well as adding a further entrance to the Strand Campus.[92]

The campuses of King's College London indicated on a central London map

Strand Lane 'Roman bath'

A Stuart cistern and later eighteenth century public bath protected by the National Trust[93] and popularly known as the 'Roman bath' is situated on the site of the Strand Campus beneath the Norfolk Building and can be accessed via the Surrey Street entrance.[94] Hidden by surrounding college buildings, the bath was widely thought to be of Roman origin giving its popular name, however it is more likely that it was originally a cistern for a fountain built in the gardens of Somerset House for Queen Anne of Denmark in 1612.[95] Evidence of its first use as a public bath was in the late eighteenth century.[95] The 'Roman bath' is mentioned by Charles Dickens in chapters thirty-five and thirty-six of the novel David Copperfield.[96]

There was an old Roman bath in those days at the bottom of one of the streets out of the Strand—it may be there still—in which I have had many a cold plunge. Dressing myself as quietly as I could, and leaving Peggotty to look after my aunt, I tumbled head foremost into it, and then went for a walk to Hampstead.

— Extract from Chapter 35, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens[97]

Moreover, Aldwych tube station, a well-preserved but disused London Underground station, is integrated as part of the campus. A rifle range used by the college is located on the site of one of the platforms since the closure of the station in 1994.[98][99]

The nearest Underground stations are Temple, Charing Cross and Covent Garden.

Guy's Campus

Engraving of Guy's campus entrance, by James Elmes and William Woolnoth in 1820

Guy's Campus is situated close to London Bridge and the Shard on the South Bank of the Thames and is home to the School of Biomedical Sciences (also at the Waterloo Campus), the Dental Institute and the School of Medicine.[100]

Thomas Guy, the founder and benefactor of Guy's Hospital established in 1726 in the London Borough of Southwark, was a wealthy bookseller and also a governor of the nearby St Thomas' Hospital. He lies buried in the vault beneath the eighteenth-century chapel at Guy's. Silk-merchant William Hunt was a later benefactor who gave money in the early nineteenth century to build Hunt's House. Today this is the site of New Hunt's House. The Henriette Raphael building, constructed in 1903, and the Gordon Museum are also located here. In addition, the Hodgkin building, Shepherd's House and Guy's chapel are prominent buildings within the campus. The Students' Union centre at Guy's is situated in Boland House.

The nearest Underground stations are London Bridge and Borough.

The Colonnade

The Colonnade, Guy's Campus

The Colonnade is also a part of the original hospital. An alcove with a figure sitting inside is located at one of the two courtyards on either side of the Colonnade. The alcove was originally part of, and is one of the surviving fragments of the old London Bridge that was demolished in 1831.[101] The alcove now houses the statue of John Keats, an English Romantic poet who studied at Guy's Hospital from 1815 to 1816 to become an apothecary. The statue displayed on the other side of the Colonnade is that of William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, another benefactor of Guy's Hospital.[101] The front courtyard with the statue of Thomas Guy in the centre was later built, and the part of the Georgian complex was completed in 1780.[102]

Guy's chapel

Guy's chapel is one of the oldest parts of the original Guy's Hospital. It was finished in 1780 and features Victorian stained glass windows and mosaic murals.[101] There is a monument to Thomas Guy inside the main door of the chapel.[101] The chapel houses the tomb of Thomas Guy, and is the resting place of English surgeon and anatomist Sir Astley Cooper.[102]

Hodgkin Building

Hodgkin Building and Henriette Raphael House, Guy's Campus

The Hodgkin Building was named after Thomas Hodgkin, the demonstrator of morbid anatomy (anatomical pathology as it is now called), the former curator of the museum at Guy’s Hospital Medical School and best known for the first account of Hodgkin's disease. The building is the original medical school building of Guy’s Hospital.[101]

The entrance hall and corridor of the Hodgkin Building displays busts of King’s alumni and benefactors, including Thomas Addison, William Babington, Golding Bird, Richard Bright, Astley Cooper and Richard Mead.[101] The Hodgkin Building currently houses lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, dissecting rooms, museums (Gordon Museum of Pathology and Museum of Life Sciences) and research centres.

Waterloo Campus

The Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus

The Waterloo Campus is located across Waterloo Bridge from the Strand Campus, near the South Bank Centre in the London Borough of Lambeth and consists of the James Clerk Maxwell Building and the FranklinWilkins Building.

Cornwall House, now the Franklin-Wilkins Building, constructed between 1912 and 1915 was originally the His Majesty's Stationery Office (responsible for Crown copyright and National Archives), but was requisitioned for use as a military hospital in 1915 during World War I. It became the King George Military Hospital, and accommodated about 1,800 patients on 63 wards.[103] King's College London acquired the building in the 1980s and today it is home to the School of Biomedical Sciences (also at the Guy's Campus), parts of the School of Social Science & Public Policy (also at the Strand Campus), Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division (part of the School of Medicine) and LonDEC (London Dental Education Centre), part of the Dental Institute (also at Guy's and Denmark Hill). The building, one of London's largest university buildings, underwent refurbishment and was reopened in 2000.[104][105] The building is named after Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins for their major contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA.[104]

The James Clerk Maxwell Building houses the Principal's Office, most of the central administrative offices of the college and part of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery. The Building was named after Scottish mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who was the Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's from 1860 to 1865.[106]

The nearest Underground station is Waterloo.

St Thomas' Campus

A view of St Thomas' Hospital at St Thomas' Campus, from the Thames

The St Thomas' Campus in the London Borough of Lambeth, facing the Houses of Parliament across the Thames, houses parts of the School of Medicine and the Dental Institute. The Florence Nightingale Museum is also located here.[107] The museum is dedicated to Florence Nightingale, the founder of the Nightingale Training School of St Thomas' Hospital (now King's Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery). St Thomas' Hospital became part of King's College London School of Medicine in 1998. The St Thomas' Hospital and Campus were named after St Thomas Becket.[108] The Department of Twin Research (TwinsUk), King's College London is located in St. Thomas' Hospital.

The nearest Underground station is Westminster.

Denmark Hill Campus

King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill Campus
The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at the Denmark Hill Campus enjoys a long history with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Denmark Hill Campus is situated in south London near the borders of the London Borough of Lambeth and the London Borough of Southwark in Camberwell and is the only campus not situated on the River Thames. The campus consists of King's College Hospital, the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN). In addition to the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, parts of the Dental Institute and School of Medicine, and a large hall of residence, King's College Hall, are situated here. Other buildings include the campus library known as the Weston Education Centre (WEC), the James Black Centre, the Rayne Institute (haemato-oncology) and the Cicely Saunders Institute (palliative care).[109]

The Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute was opened by the Princess Royal in 2015 at the Denmark Hill Campus.[110] It is named after British philanthropist Maurice Wohl, who had a long association with King’s and supported many medical projects.[111]

The nearest Overground station is Denmark Hill.

Redevelopment programme

As of 2016, King's is undergoing a £1 billion redevelopment programme of its estates.[112] Since 1999 over half of the college's activities have been relocated in new and refurbished buildings.[113] Major completed projects include a £35 million renovation of the Maughan Library in 2002, a £40 million renovation of buildings at the Strand Campus, a £25 million renovation of Somerset House East Wing, a £30 million renovation of the Denmark Hill Campus in 2007, the renovation of the Franklin-Wilkins Library at the Waterloo Campus and the completion of the £9 million Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care in 2010.[114] The college chapel at the Strand Campus was also restored in 2001.[84]

The Strand Campus redevelopment won the Green Gown Award in 2007 for sustainable construction. The award recognised the "reduced energy and carbon emissions from a sustainable refurbishment of the historic South Range of the King's Building".[115] King's was also the recipient of the 2003 City Heritage Award for the conversion of the Grade II* listed Maughan Library.[116]

Current projects include a £45 million development for the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, £18 million on modernising King's learning and teaching environments, a sports pavilion at Honor Oak Park.[117] In April 2012 a £20 million redevelopment of the Strand Campus Quad was announced and will provide an additional 3,700 square metres of teaching space and student facilities.[118]

King's acquired a lease for the Aldwych Quarter with initial term of 50 years.[80][119] The college will occupy Bush House and Strand House from September 2016, and King House and Melbourne House from 2025.[119] The Chairman of King's College London, Duke of Wellington said that the King's Strand Campus has had inadequate and cramped teaching space for too long, and the acquisition will transform the original campus of the college dates back to 1829.[80]

Organisation and administration


Principal from 1883–1897, Henry Wace

The head of King's College London is formally the principal and president, currently held by Ed Byrne. The office is established by the charter of King's as "the chief academic and administrative officer of the College" and King's statutes require the principal to have the general responsibility to the council for "ensuring that the objects of the College are fulfilled and for maintaining and promoting the efficiency, discipline and good order of the College".[120] The charter and statutes granted in 2009 created the additional position of "president". As such the full title of the head of King's College London is the "Principal and President".[121] Senior officers are called the Principal's Central Team. Six vice-principals have specific responsibilities for education; research and innovation; strategy and development; arts and sciences; international (developing the college's global research networks); and health (where there is also a deputy vice-principal).

The council is the supreme governing body of King's College London established under the charter and statutes, comprising 21 members. Its membership include the president of KCLSU (as the student member), the principal and president, up to seven other staff members, and up to 12 lay members who must not be employees of the college.[122] It is supported by a number of standing committees.[123] The current Chairman of the Council is Charles Wellesley, 9th Duke of Wellington.[124] Sir Christopher Geidt will succeed the Duke of Wellington as Chairman of Council from the beginning of the 2016 academic year.[125]

The Dean of King's College is an ordained person, which is unusual among British universities.[126] The Dean is "responsible for overseeing the spiritual development and welfare of all students and staff". The Office of the Dean co-ordinate the Associateship of King's College programme, the Chaplaincy and the Chapel Choir, which includes 25 Choir scholarships.[126] One of the Dean's roles is to encourage and foster vocations to the Church of England priesthood.[127]

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the college's visitor by right of office owing to the role of the Church of England in King's College's foundation.[128]

Faculties and departments

King's is made up of nine faculties, which are subdivided into departments, centres and research divisions:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Institute
  • Centre for Hellenic Studies
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Culture, Media & Creative Industries
  • Digital Humanities
  • English
  • European & International Studies
  • Film Studies
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Liberal Arts
  • Modern Language Centre
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies
  • Theology & Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine
  • Asthma, Allergy & Lung Biology
  • Cancer Studies
  • Cardiovascular Division
  • Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation
  • Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences
  • Genetics & Molecular Medicine
  • Health & Social Care Research
  • Imaging Sciences & Biomedical Engineering
  • Immunology, Infection & Inflammatory Disease
  • Medical Education
  • Transplantation Immunology & Mucosal Biology
  • Women's Health
  • Analytical & Environmental Sciences Division
  • Centre for Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS)
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Institute of Pharmaceutical Science
  • MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology
  • MRC-HPA Centre for Environment & Health
  • Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics
  • Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases
  • Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Informatics
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy
  • Defence Studies Department
  • Education & Professional Studies
  • Geography
  • Gerontology
  • Institute of Contemporary British History
  • Institute of Middle Eastern Studies
  • King's Policy Institute
  • School of Management and Business
  • Political Economy
  • Social Science, Health & Medicine
  • War Studies
  • King's Centre for Risk Management
  • Centre of British Constitutional Law and History
  • Centre of Construction Law
  • Centre of European Law
  • Centre of Medical Law and Ethics
  • Centre for Technology, Ethics and Law in Society
  • International State Crime Initiative
  • KJuris: Jurisprudence at King's
  • Trust Law Committee

Additionally, there are several global institutes with country-specific and regional focuses which offer postgraduate teaching, organise topical events, and make links between the university and cultural and political organisations:

  • Global Institutes & Centres
  • African Leadership Centre
  • Brazil Institute
  • India Institute
  • Institute of North American Studies
  • International Development Institute
  • King's Centre for Global Health
  • King's Cultural Institute
  • Lau China Institute
  • Russia Institute

The Department of War Studies is unique in the UK, and is supported by facilities such as the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, the Centre for Defence Studies,[129] and the King's Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR).[130]

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) is administered through King's, and its students graduate alongside members of the departments which form the Faculty of Arts & Humanities. As RADA does not have degree awarding powers, its courses are validated by King's.[131]


In the financial year ended 31 July 2014 King's had a total income of £603.67 million (2012/13 – £586.95 million) and total expenditure of £605.81 million (2012/13 – £577.38 million).[132] Key sources of income included £201.08 million from tuition fees and education contracts (2012/13 – £174.58 million), £171.55 million from research grants and contracts (2012/13 – £164.03 million), £122.43 million from Funding Council grants (2012/13 – £130.67 million) and £5.77 million from endowment and investment income (2012/13 – £6.4 million).[132] During the 2012/13 financial year King's had a capital expenditure of £105.9 million (2012/13 – £73 million).[132]

At 31 July 2014 King's had total endowments of £162.6 million (31 July 2013 – £154.09 million) and total net assets of £828.37 million (31 July 2013 – £810.05 million).[132] King's has a credit rating of AA from Standard & Poor's.[132]

In 2013/14, King's had the seventh-highest total income of any British university.[133]

In October 2010 King's launched a major fundraising campaign fronted by former British Prime Minister John Major, with a goal to raise £500 million by 2015.[134]

Coat of arms

Entrance and coat of arms of the 19th century King's Building, Strand Campus
File:King’s College London Coat of Arms (1829-1985).png
College coat of arms used from 1829 to 1985

The coat of arms displayed on the King's College London charter is that of George IV. The shield depicts the royal coat of arms together with an inescutcheon of the House of Hanover, while the supporters embody the college's motto of sancte et sapienter. No correspondence is believed to have survived regarding the choice of this coat of arms, either in the college archives or at the College of Arms, and a variety of unofficial adaptations have been used throughout the history of King's. The current coat of arms was developed following the mergers with Queen Elizabeth College and Chelsea College in 1985 and incorporates aspects of their heraldry.[4] The official coat of arms, in heraldic terminology, is:[135]


Or on a Pale Azure between two Lions rampant respectant Gules an Anchor Gold ensigned by a Royal Crown proper on a Chief Argent an Ancient Lamp proper inflamed Gold between two Blazing Hearths also proper.

The crest and supporters:

On a Helm with a Wreath Or and Azure Upon a Book proper rising from a Coronet Or the rim set with jewels two Azure (one manifest) four Vert (two manifest) and two Gules a demi Lion Gules holding a Rod of Dexter a female figure habited Azure the cloak lined coif and sleeves Argent holding in the exterior hand a Lond Cross botony Gold and sinister a male figure the Long Coat Azure trimmed with Sable proper shirt Argent holding in the interior hand a Book proper.

Affiliations and partnerships

King's College is a constituent college and was one of the two founding members of the federal University of London.[136] The college is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), European University Association (EUA) and Universities UK. In 1998, King's joined the Russell Group, an association of 24 public research universities established in 1994.[137] King's is currently the only British member of the Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA), a network gathering major higher education institutions in the European capital cities founded in 1990.[138]

King's is a founding member of Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC), the largest life science bio-cluster in the world[139] established with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, University College London and Imperial College London.[140] King's is also the founding partner of FutureLearn, a massive open online course learning platform founded in December 2012. Launched in 2014, MedCity is the collaboration between King's and the other two main science universities in London, Imperial College and University College London.[141] King's is regarded as a part of the "golden triangle", a group of elite universities located in the English cities of Cambridge, Oxford and London[142] including the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Imperial College London, London School of Economics and University College London.[143]

The college is also a part of King's Health Partners, an academic health science centre comprises Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the college itself.[144][145][146] King's is a participant and one of the founding members of the Francis Crick Institute.[147] King's offers joint degrees with many universities and organisations, including Columbia University[148], University of Paris I[148], University of Hong Kong,[148] National University of Singapore[149], Royal Academy of Music[150], British Library[150], Tate Modern[150], Shakespeare’s Globe[150], National Gallery[150], National Portrait Gallery[150] and British Museum[151][152]



In 2005, the Sunday Times ranked King's as the 6th most difficult UK university to gain admission to.[153] According to the 2015 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, approximately 30% of King's undergraduates come from independent schools.[154]

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the university received 31,857 undergraduate applications and made 13,302 offers in 2014-15. This yielded an acceptance rate of 18.9% and an offer rate of 41.8%.[155] The School of Medicine received 1,764 applications, only 39 offers were made yielding an offer rate of just 2.2%. Nursery & Midwifery, Physiotherapy and Clinical Dentistry had the lowest offer rates of 14%, 16% and 17% respectively.[156]


King's academic year runs from the last Monday in September to the first Friday in June.[157] Different faculties and departments adopt different academic term structures. For example, the academic year of the Mathematics School and Department of War Studies is divided into three terms (Autumn, Spring and Summer terms);[158][159] while the Faculty of Arts & Humanities academic year runs in two semesters.[160]


Also see Graduation Dress of King's College London

Graduation ceremonies are held in January and June or July, with ceremonies held in Southwark Cathedral for the School of Medicine and the Dental Institute and in the Barbican Centre for all other Schools.[161] Since 2008 King's graduates have worn gowns designed by Vivienne Westwood.[162]


In 2013/14 King's had a total research income of £171.55 million, of which £47.64 million was from UK charitable bodies; £38.26 million from Research Councils; £32.97 million from UK central government, local authorities, health and hospital authorities; £21.38 million from EU government and other bodies; £17.09 million from overseas ex. EU; £13.11 million from UK industry, commerce and public corporations; and £1.11 million from other sources.[132]

King's submitted a total of 1,369 staff across 27 units of assessment to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment (compared with 1,172 submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008)).[163] In the REF results 40% of King's submitted research was classified as 4*, 45% as 3*, 13% as 2* and 2% as 1*, giving an overall GPA of 3.23.[164] In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the REF results King's was ranked 6th overall for research power and 7th for GPA (compared to 11th and joint 22nd respectively in the equivalent rankings for the RAE 2008).[164]


Shepherd's House, Guy's Campus

King's claims to be the largest centre for healthcare education in Europe.[10] King's College London School of Medicine has over 2,000 undergraduate students, over 1,400 teachers, four main teaching hospitals – Guy's Hospital, King's College Hospital, St Thomas' Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham – and 17 associated district general hospitals.[165] King's College London Dental Institute is the largest dental school in Europe.[166] The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery is the oldest professional school of nursing in the world.[167]

King's is a major centre for biomedical research. It is a founding member of King's Health Partners, one of the largest academic health sciences centres in Europe with a turnover of over £2 billion and approximately 25,000 employees.[10] It also is home to six Medical Research Council centres, and is part of two of the twelve biomedical research centres established by the NHS in England – the Guy's & St Thomas'/King's College London Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre and the South London and Maudsley/King's College London Institute of Psychiatry Biomedical Research Centre.[citation needed]

The Drug Control Centre at King's was established in 1978 and is the only WADA accredited anti-doping laboratory in the UK and holds the official UK contract for running doping tests on UK athletes.[168] In 1997, it became the first International Olympic Committee accredited laboratory to meet the ISO/IEC 17025 quality standard.[169] The centre was the anti-doping facility for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.[170]


King's library facilities are spread across its campuses. The collections encompass over one million printed books, as well as thousands of journals and electronic resources.

Maughan Library

The Maughan Library as viewed from Chancery Lane
Main article: Maughan Library

The Maughan Library is King's largest library and is housed in the Grade II* listed 19th century gothic former Public Record Office building situated on Chancery Lane near the Strand Campus. The building was designed by Sir James Pennethorne and is home to the books and journals of the Schools of Arts & Humanities, Law, Natural & Mathematical Sciences, and Social Science & Public Policy. It also houses the Special Collections and rare books. Inside the Library is the octagonal Round Reading Room, inspired by the reading room of the British Museum, and the former Rolls Chapel (renamed the Weston Room following a donation from the Garfield Weston Foundation) with its stained glass windows, mosaic floor and monuments, including a Renaissance terracotta figure by Pietro Torrigiano of Dr Yonge, Master of the Rolls, who died in 1516.

Other libraries

  • The Foyle Special Collections Library at Chancery Lane houses a collection of 180,000 printed works as well as thousands of maps, slides, sound recordings and some manuscript material.[171] The collections are built up by purchase, gift and bequest over centuries, which cover all subject areas and contain many special items, including incunabula.[172]
  • The Tony Arnold Library at Chancery Lane houses a collection of over 3000 law books and 140 law journals. It was named after Tony Arnold, the longest serving Secretary of the Institute of Taxation. In September 2001 the library became part of the law collection of King's College London.[173]
  • The Franklin-Wilkins Library at the Waterloo Campus is home to extensive management and education holdings, as well as wide-ranging biomedical, health and life sciences coverage includes nursing, midwifery, public health, pharmacy, biological and environmental sciences, biochemistry and forensic science.[174]
  • The New Hunt's House Library at Guy's Campus covers all aspects of biomedical science. There are also extensive resources for medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy and health services.[175]
  • The Weston Education Centre Library at the Denmark Hill Campus has particular strengths in the areas of gastroenterology, liver disease, diabetes, obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and the history of medicine.[176]
  • The St Thomas' House Library holdings cover all aspects of basic medical sciences, clinical medicine and health services research.[177]
  • The Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) Library is the largest psychiatric library in Western Europe, holding 3,000 print journal titles, 550 of which are current subscriptions, as well as access to over 3,500 electronic journals, 38,000 books, and training materials.[178]

Museums and collections

Opening of the King George III Museum by Albert, Prince Consort on 1 July 1843

King's currently operates two museums: Gordon Museum of Pathology and Museum of Life Sciences. Opened in 1905 at Guy's Campus, the Gordon Museum is the largest medical museum in the United Kingdom,[179] and houses a collection of approximately 8000 pathological specimens, artefacts, models and paintings.[180] The Museum of Life Sciences was founded in 2009 and is housed adjacent to the Gordon Museum.[181]

Between 1843 and 1927, the King George III Museum was a museum within the college which housed the collections of scientific instruments of George III and eminent nineteenth-century scientists (including Sir Charles Wheatstone and Charles Babbage). Due to space constraints within the college, much of the museum's collections were transferred on loan to the Science Museum, London or kept in the college archives.

The Foyle Special Collections Library also houses a number of special collections, range in date from the 15th century to present, and in subject from human anatomy to Modern Greek poetry.[182] The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Historical Collection is the largest collection contains material from the former FCO Library. The Medical Collection include the historical library collections of the constituent medical schools and institutes of King's. The Rare Books Collection holds 12,000 printed books, including a 1483 Venice printing of Silius Italicus’s Punica, first editions of Charles Dickens' novels, and the 1937 (first) edition of George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier.[183]

King’s College London Archives holds the institutional records of the college, which are among the richest higher education records in London.[184] The college archives collections include institutional archives of King's since 1828, archives of institutions and schools that were created by or have merged with King's, and records relating to the history of medicine. Founded in 1964, the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives holds the private papers of over 800 senior British defence personnel who held office since 1900.[185]

Rankings and reputation

(2015, national)
(2015, world)
(2015/16, national)
(2015/16, world)
(2015/16, national)
(2015/16, world)
THE Reputation[191]
(2015, national)
THE Reputation[191]
(2015, world)
(2016, national)
The Guardian[193]
(2016, national)
Times/Sunday Times[194]
(2016, national)

Internationally, King's is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world by all major global university rankings compilers, having been placed between 16th by the 2014 QS World University Rankings[20] and 27th worldwide by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

As of 2015, King's is ranked in the Top 7 UK universities in all the six major academic rankings of global universities: QS, THE, ARWU, "University Ranking by Academic Performance", "U.S. News & World Report's Best Global Universities Rankings" and "Center for World University Rankings".

King's was ranked joint 14th overall in The Sunday Times 10-year (1998–2007) average ranking of British universities based on consistent league table performance.[195] The university performs less well in domestic league tables due to their methodologies which have student satisfaction scores with teaching and feedback as a significant input. According to the 2015 Times and Sunday Times University Guide, when the university is ranked according to student satisfaction scores from undergraduates on factors such as academic support, teaching, assessment and feedback, "King’s ranks 106 out of 123 institutions". However, "despite the iffy student satisfaction scores, students continue to apply here in their droves" with an average of 8.1 applicants per place available for 2014 entry.[196]

According to the 2016 Complete University Guide, 10 out of the 26 subjects offered by King's including Food Science, Education, Business Studies, Philosophy, French, Dentistry and Law, rank within the top 10 nationally.[197] The college has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5 or 5* for research quality,[198] and in 2007 it received a good result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.[198] It is in the top tier for research earnings. The Times Higher Education listed King's College London as eighth in the list of the top 10 universities in clinical, pre-clinical and health subjects in its 2016 rankings.[199]

In September 2010, the Sunday Times selected King's as the "University of the Year 2010–11".[200] King's was ranked as the 5th best university in the UK for the quality of graduates according to recruiters from the UK's major companies.[201]

Associateship of King's College

The Associateship of King's College (AKC) is the original award of King's College, dating back to its foundation in 1829. The 1829 royal charter states that the purposes of King’s College are to maintain the connection between "sound religion and useful learning" and to teach the "doctrines and duties of Christianity".[202]

Today, the AKC is a modern tradition that offers an inclusive, research-led programme of lectures that gives students the opportunities to engage with religious, philosophical and ethical issues alongside their main degree course. Graduates of King’s College London may be eligible to be elected as associates of King's College by the authority of the college council, delegated to the academic board. After election, they are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "AKC".

Fellowship of King's College

See Category:Fellows of King's College London

The Fellowship of King's College (FKC) is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual by the College. The award of the fellowship is governed by a statute of King's College London and reflects distinguished service to King's by a member of staff, conspicuous service to the college, or the achievement of distinction by those who were at one time closely associated with King's College London.[203]

Student life

Students' union

File:Kclsu logo new.gif
The logo of King's College London Students' Union
Reggie the Lion, the mascot of KCLSU, outside the Great Hall in King's Strand Campus

Founded in 1873, King's College, London Union Society which later developed into King's College London Students' Union, better known by its acronym KCLSU, is the oldest Students' Union in London (University College London Union being founded in 1893)[204] and has a claim to being the oldest Students' Union in England.[205][206] The Students' Union provides a wide range of activities and services, including over 50 sports clubs (which includes the Boat Club which rows on the River Thames and the Rifle Club which uses the college's shooting range located at the disused Aldwych tube station beneath the Strand Campus),[207] over 200 activity groups,[208] a wide range of volunteering opportunities, two bars/eateries (The Waterfront and Guy's Bar), a shop (King's Shop) and a gym (Kinetic Fitness Club). Between 1992 and 2013 the Students' Union operated a nightclub, Tutu's, named after alumnus Desmond Tutu.[209]

The former President of KCLSU, Sir Ivison Macadam, after whom the Students' Union building on the Strand Campus has since been named, went on to be elected as the first President of the National Union of Students.

"Reggie the Lion" (informally "Reggie") is the official mascot of the Students' Union. In total there are four Reggies in existence. The original can be found on display in the Macadam Building in the Students' Union student centre at the Strand Campus. A papier-mâché Reggie lives outside the Great Hall at the Strand Campus. The thrid Reggie, given as a gift by alumnus Willie Kwan, guards the entrance of Willies Common Room in Somerset House East Wing.[210] A small sterling silver incarnation is displayed during graduation ceremonies.

Student media

KCLSU Student Media won Student Media of the Year 2014 at the Ents Forum awards[211] and came in the top three student media outlets in the country at the NUS Awards 2014.[212]

Roar! News is a tabloid newspaper for students at King's which is owned and funded by KCLSU. It is editorially independent of both the university and the students' union[213] and its award winning website[214] is read by tens of thousands of people per month in over 100 countries.[215] In 2014 it had a successful awards season,[216] scooping several national awards and commendations.


There are over 50 sports clubs, many of which compete in the University of London and British Universities & Colleges (BUCS) leagues across the South East.[207] The annual Macadam Cup is a varsity match played between the sports teams of King's College London proper (KCL) and King's College London Medical School (KCLMS). King's students and staff have played an important part in the formation of the London Universities and Colleges Athletics.

Student-led think tank

In February 2011, King's College London students founded London's first student-led think tank, the KCL Think Tank. With a membership of around 2000, it is the largest organisation of its kind in Europe.[217] This student initiative organises lectures and discussions in seven different policy areas, and assists students in lobbying politicians, NGOs and other policymakers with their ideas. Every September, it produces a peer-reviewed journal of policy recommendations called The Spectrum.[218][219]

All the King's Men

All the King's Men (AtKM) is an all-male a cappella ensemble from King's College London. Founded in 2009, it has since risen to prominence in the collegiate scene, becoming the first group outside of Oxford and Cambridge to win The Voice Festival UK.[220][221]

Rivalry with University College London

Competition within the University of London is most intense between King's and University College London, the two oldest institutions. Indeed, the University of London when it was established has been described as "an umbrella organisation designed to disguise the rivalry between UCL and KCL."[222] In the early twentieth century, King's College London and UCL rivalry was centred on their respective mascots.[223] University College's was Phineas Maclino, a wooden tobacconist's sign of a kilted Jacobite Highlander purloined from outside a shop in Tottenham Court Road during the celebrations of the relief of Ladysmith in 1900. King's later addition was a giant beer bottle representing "bottled youth". In 1923 it was replaced by a new mascot to rival Phineas – Reggie the Lion, who made his debut at a King's-UCL sporting rag in December 1923, protected by a lifeguard of engineering students armed with T-squares. Thereafter, Reggie formed the centrepiece of annual freshers' processions by King's students around Aldwych in which new students were typically flour bombed.

Although riots between respective college students occurred in central London well into the 1950s, rivalry is now limited to the rugby union pitch and skulduggery over mascots, with the annual London Varsity series culminating in the historic match between King's College London RFC and University College London RFC.[223][224]

Rivalry with the London School of Economics

On 2 December 2005, tensions between King's and the London School of Economics (LSE) were ignited when at least 200 students from LSE (located in Aldwych near the Strand Campus) diverted off from the annual "barrel run" and caused an estimated £32,000 (The Beaver, LSESU student newspaper, 26 September 2006) of damage to the English department at King's.[225] King's principal, Sir Rick Trainor, called for no retaliation and the LSE Students' Union were forced to issue an apology as well as foot the bill for the damage repair. While LSE officially condemned the action, a photograph was published in The Beaver which was later picked up by The Times that showed LSE director Sir Howard Davies drinking with members of the LSE Students' Union shortly before the barrel run and subsequent "rampage" began. King's appears to have been targeted, however, principally owing to its close proximity to LSE rather than by any ill-feeling. There is also somewhat of a sporting rivalry between the two institutions, albeit to a lesser extent than with UCL.

Student residences

Halls of residence

The Great Dover Street halls of residence

King's has a total of nine halls of residence located throughout London. Priority is given to students whose home address is outside the M25 motorway.[226]


Intercollegiate halls of residence

In addition to halls of residence run by King's, full-time students are eligible to stay at one of the Intercollegiate Halls of Residence offered by the University of London. King's has the largest number of bedspaces in the University of London Intercollegiate Halls.[227] The halls are:

Additionally, students can apply to live in International Students House.

Notable people

Notable alumni

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (BD '65, MTh '66) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984
Discoverer of the Higgs boson Peter Higgs (BSc '50, MSc '52, PhD '54) was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics

King's has educated numerous foreign Heads of State and Government including two former Presidents of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos (Law, 1955),[234] and Glafcos Clerides (Law, 1948),[235] Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gherman (War Studies, 1999), Prime Minister of Jordan Marouf al-Bakhit (War Studies, 1990),[236] President of the Seychelles France-Albert René (Law),[237] Prime Minister of the Bahamas Sir Lynden Pindling (Law, 1952),[238] President of Uganda Godfrey Binaisa (Law, 1955),[239] Prime Minister of Iraq Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz (Law, 1938),[240] Prime Minister of Grenada Maurice Bishop; Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Lee Moore (Law & Theology),[241] Governor General of Ghana William Hare, 5th Earl of Listowel (PhD, 1932), Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sir Sydney Gun-Munro (Medicine, 1943), and Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands Martin Bourke (War Studies, 1970).[242] At ministerial level King's alumni include Deputy Prime Ministers of Canada (Anne McLellan), Singapore (S. Rajaratnam) and Egypt (Ziad Bahaa-Eldin); Vice Presidents of Kenya (Michael Kijana Wamalwa) and Sierra Leone (Francis Minah and Abdulai Conteh); Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria (Nikolay Mladenov, now UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process), Japan (Hayashi Tadasu), Malaysia (Rais Yatim), Pakistan (Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, later President of the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice), Ghana (Obed Asamoah), Kenya (James Nyamweya), Sierra Leone (J. B. Dauda), Jamaica (Marlene Malahoo Forte) and Guyana (Sir Shridath Ramphal, later Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and Frederick Wills); and Irish Finance Minister Michael Collins.

Notable King's alumni to have held senior positions in British politics include a British Foreign Secretary, Lord Owen, two Speakers of the House of Commons in Lord Maybray-King (English) and Lord Ullswater, and the former Cabinet ministers Lord MacGregor (Law, 1962), Lord Watkinson (Engineering), Lord Passfield, and Lord Wilmot. As of the current Parliament there are 18 King's graduates in the House of Commons and 16 King's graduates in the House of Lords.

Notable alumni in the sciences include Nobel laureates Peter Higgs (Physics, 1954),[243] Michael Levitt (Physics, 1967),[244] Max Theiler and Sir Frederick Hopkins;[18][245] polymath Sir Francis Galton; pathologist Thomas Hodgkin; pioneer of IVF Patrick Steptoe; discoverers of Hepatitis C Michael Houghton and Qui-Lim Choo; DNA researchers Raymond Gosling and Herbert Wilson, and the botanist David Bellamy.[246]

In law, King's alumni include the current High Court judges Sir David Foskett (Law, 1970), Dame Geraldine Andrews (Law, 1982) and Dame Bobbie Cheema-Grubb (Law);[247][248][249] Judge of the International Court of Justice, Patrick Lipton Robinson (Law, 1972);[250] a former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile (Law, 1969);[251] Chief Justice of Western Australia, Wayne Martin (Law, 1975) and the Attorneys General of Trinidad and Tobago (Faris Al-Rawi) and Bermuda (Trevor Moniz).

King's alumni in religion include the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu (Theology, 1966),[252] former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey (Theology, 1962),[253] Head of the Church of Ireland, Richard Clarke (Theology & Religious Studies, 1975), former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, Lord Sacks (Theology & Religious Studies, 1981),[254] Archbishops of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane and Joost de Blank, Archbishop of the West Indies, John Holder, Archbishop of New Zealand, Churchill Julius and the Ethiopian cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel.

Notable King's alumni in poetry and literature include the poet John Keats (Medicine) and the writers Thomas Hardy (French), Sir Arthur C. Clarke (Mathematics & Physics), Virginia Woolf, Alain de Botton (Philosophy), Michael Morpurgo (French & English), W. Somerset Maugham, Charles Kingsley, C. S. Forester, John Ruskin, Radclyffe Hall, Susan Hill, Hanif Kureishi (Philosophy), Maureen Duffy, Khushwant Singh, Sir Leslie Stephen and the Booker Prize winner Anita Brookner (History). In addition, the dramatist Sir W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan graduated from King's.

King's alumni in the arts include the impressionist Rory Bremner (Modern Languages, 1984);[255] Queen bassist John Deacon;[255] Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House Alex Beard; Oscar winners Greer Garson and Edmund Gwenn; Grammy Award winners Boris Karloff, Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Music) and Peter Asher (Philosophy); Emmy Award winning director Sacha Gervasi (History, 1988), and the Golden Globe winning composer Michael Nyman (Music, 1971).

King's alumni in the military include the current Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Petr Pavel (International Relations, 2006), Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Sir Adrian Bradshaw (Defence Studies & International Relations), the former head of the British Army Lord Harding, head of the Singapore Armed Forces Neo Kian Hong (engineering, 1988), head of the Nigerian Armed Forces Ola Ibrahim (War Studies), head of the Maltese Armed Forces Martin Xuereb (International Relations), head of the Malaysian Army Md Hashim bin Hussein (War Studies, 1991), head of the Pakistan Air Force Sohail Aman (Defence Studies, 1998), head of the Sri Lankan Air Force Harsha Abeywickrama (International Studies) and two heads of the Indian Air Force (Pratap Chandra Lal and Sir Richard Peirse; three Commandant General's of the Royal Marines, Ed Davis (Defence Studies), Andy Salmon (Defence Studies), and Sir Robert Fry (War Studies, 1987); Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Stuart Skeates (History & Defence Studies), and two recipients of the Victoria Cross, Ferdinand Le Quesne and Mark Sever Bell.

King's is also the alma mater of the founder of Bentley Motors, Walter Bentley; Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai; journalists Martin Bashir (Religious History, 1985), Sophie Long (War Studies), Jane Corbin (English, 1975), David Bond, Sean Fletcher (Geography) and Anita Anand;[256] and the Olympic gold medalists Katherine Grainger (Law, 2013),[257] and Kieran West (War Studies, 2005).[258]

Heads of state, government and international organisations

State/Government Individual Office
 Bahamas Sir Lynden Pindling Prime Minister (1969–1992)
Premier (1967–1969)
Commonwealth of nations.jpg Commonwealth of Nations Sir Shridath Ramphal Secretary-General (1975–1990)
 Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos President (2003–2008)
 Cyprus Glafcos Clerides President (1993–2003)
 Cyprus John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton Governor (1955–1957)
 Ghana William Hare, 5th Earl of Listowel Governor-General (1957–1960)
 Gibraltar Ed Davis Governor (2016–)
 Grenada Maurice Bishop President (1979–1983)
 Iraq Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz Prime Minister (1965–1966)
 Ireland Michael Collins Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government (1922)
 Jordan Marouf al-Bakhit Prime Minister (2005–2007; 2011)
 Moldova Natalia Gherman Acting Prime Minister (2015)
 NATO Petr Pavel Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (2015-)
 Saint Kitts and Nevis Sir Lee Moore Prime Minister (1979–1980)
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sir Sydney Gun-Munro Governor (1976–1979)
Governor-General (1979–1985)
 Seychelles France-Albert René Prime Minister (1976–1977)
President (1977–2004)
 Turks and Caicos Islands Martin Bourke Governor (1993–1996)
 Uganda Godfrey Binaisa President (1979–1981)
Flag of the United Nations.svg United Nations Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan President of the UN General Assembly (1962)

Nobel laureates

There are 12 Nobel laureates who were either students or academics at King's.[18]

Name Year Prize Affiliation Reference
Charles Glover Barkla
Nobel Prize in Physics Wheatstone Professor of Physics (1909–1913)
Sir Owen Willans Richardson
Nobel Prize in Physics Wheatstone Professor of Physics (1914–1924)
Sir Frederick Hopkins
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine MD (1894)
Sir Charles Scott Sherrington
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Professor of Systemic Physiology (1887–1891)
Sir Edward Victor Appleton
Nobel Prize in Physics Wheatstone Professor of Physics (1924–1936)
Max Theiler
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine MD (1922)
Maurice Wilkins
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Professor of Biophysics (1970–1981)
Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize BD (1965), MTh (1966)
Sir James Black
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Professor of Analytical Pharmacology (1984–1993)
Mario Vargas Llosa
Nobel Prize in Literature Lecturer in Spanish American Literature (1969–1970)
Peter Higgs
Nobel Prize in Physics BSc (1950), MSc (1952), PhD (1954)
Michael Levitt
Nobel Prize in Chemistry BSc (1967)

Notable academics and staff

King's has benefited from the services of academics and staff at the top of their fields, including:

In popular culture

Fictional alumni

In the Sherlock episode "The Blind Banker", King's College London can be seen listed in Watson's curriculum vitae.

In Philip Roth's novel The Professor of Desire, the main character David Kepesh spent a certain period of time studying comparative literature at King's on a Fulbright Scholarship.

In some of the paintings of Henry Hudson, Young Sen – a Chinese scientific prodigy who has been offered an unconditional place at King's to read medicine,[271] is depicted his biographical painting series, showing the rise and fall of the protagonist.[272]

Fictional staff

In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Resident Patient", Dr Percy Trevelyan describes himself as a "London University man" who joined King's College Hospital after graduating.

Non-fictional staff

Nicole Kidman has been playing the life of Rosalind Franklin in a play called Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End of London which started at the beginning of September 2015. The title refers to Photo 51, an x-ray crystallography image of the DNA double helix structure produced by Franklin and a PhD student in 1952 at King’s College, London.[273]

Fictional settings

The Round Reading Room of the Maughan Library plays a widely fictionalised part in Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code.[274]

Film settings

The neoclassical facade of King's, with the passage which connects the Strand to the Somerset House terrace has been utilised to reproduce the late Victorian Strand in the opening scenes of Oliver Parker's 2002 film The Importance of Being Earnest. The East Wing of King's appears, as a part of Somerset House, in a number of other productions, such as Wilde, Flyboys, and The Duchess.

The Maughan Library has also been the location of some film shoots of popular movies, most notably The Da Vinci Code, Johnny English (see Maughan Library description), The Imitation Game and V for Vendetta.[275]

See also


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Further reading

  • Hearnshaw, F. J. C. (1929). The Centenary History of King's College, London, 1828–1928. George G. Harrap & Co. 
  • Huelin, G. (1978) King's College London, 1828–1978.
  • Jones, C. K. (2004) King's College London: In the service of society.
  • Taylor, Claire; Williams, Gwyn; Kenyon-Jones, Christine (2006). King's College London Contributions to biomedicine A continuing story. King's College London School of Medicine. ISBN 978-0955262005. 

External links