I am now a student again at King’s College, London, studying (part-time) for a Graduate Diploma in Theology and Religious Studies after a career working as a research physicist. King’s is a fascinating college; founded in 1829 under a Royal Charter from King George IV, it was a response by eminent churchmen and politicians to what they saw as “the godless college in Gower Street”. At that time it was just the fourth University in England (although Scotland was well ahead in this regard).
Before KCL began to award degrees with the foundation of London University in 1836, the first award was the Associateship of Kings College (AKC) which is still an optional award for students to take today. Students attend one of two courses of lectures: one for General students and the other for students of Theology and Religious Studies. Needless to say one still has to pass one’s regular degree course as well as the AKC exams to be able to apply for the award.
For me on the Graduate Diploma, the topics this year are Medical Humanities and Climate Change; next year there will be two different topics and another two topics in the following year, although as a student on a two-year course I will be able to apply for exemption for the last year’s topics.
KCL is also quite a widely spread college, so I have one lecture this term in the Virginia Woolf building in Kingsway; one in the basement of the Strand building; one on the second floor of the King’s building (the original college building next to Somerset House, which contains the college’s beautiful chapel) and one in the Waterloo Bridge Wing of the Franklin-Wilkins Building, south of the river. Fortunately, it is possible to walk from one end of the Strand campus to the other in around ten minutes. There are three other campuses in the college: Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Denmark Hill, but all of these are medicine-oriented, so the student in all the other faculties finds their life revolving around the Strand.
The Student’s Union is adjacent to the King’s Building and its Waterfront Bar provides a view of the Thames that you would need to pay a large sum of money for were you to go instead to the Savoy Hotel just along the Strand. So far, I have not made use of it, but that is as much because I realise how much work I have to do to catch up with the undergraduate students (who have already been studying theology for one or two years before taking the modules that I am taking at the beginning of my course).
I will discuss the modules I am taking in my next posting.
[Those who have the patience to search Google for the film with the title of this posting, will discover that it is the story of the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, which after the death of Serge Diaghilev, went to Australia. I saw the film once in London back in the 1980’s and the metaphor of the ballet company travelling to the other side of the world seemed an appropriate one for my journey from being a physicist to studying theology.]