What London Offers IDIG Students
As student in our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG), you’ll be studying and living in London, the greatest global city. The city is filled with many different institutions and home to a range of events that will help you in your studies and careers. It’s also got lots more going for it when you’re not studying. In this blog, we asked our IDIG academics to name some of the places in London they think will be invaluable to IDIG students. See what they had to say below.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, is one of the world’s oldest think tanks and one of its most famous and prestigious. Located in St James’s, it is often the venue for talks and events with leading people in government, diplomacy, business and civil society.
A need for discussions that were both discreet and candid let to the world-famous Chatham House rule: ’that participants in a meeting are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed’. IDIG has institutional membership meaning you’ll have access to Chatham House’s hundreds of events and world-leading research.
The Sir John Soane’s Museum
The Soanes museum is quite an Alladins cave filled with beautiful and some rather macabre curiosities in the lower ground level. It is situated discretely away from the main London attractions in a quiet square around the corner from Holborn Tube station.
The museum is free to the public and only recognisable by its light-colored façade. Formerly the house of London architect Sir John Soane, who designed the Bank of England.
Soane was a philanthropist and collector of the bizarre, sculptures, paintings, books, classical and historic antiquities. There is even a sarcophagus of the former Egyptian King Sety I. And if you have time you can pop across the other side of the square to visit the Surgeons Museum which is also free and full of scary looking implements one might expect to find in the dungeons of the Tower of London.
Imperial War Museum
All students of international relations know the quote, ‘you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you’. Thankfully, you needn’t experience war first-hand to take an interest in some of the weapons and consequences of modern war. The Imperial War Museum does that for you.
There are several branches of the museum, each focusing on conflicts since 1914. The main museum is in Lambeth, just over the Thames from Westminster. There are two others in London. The Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall allow you to see the bunkers from which the British Government operated in World War II. HMS Belfast, a former Royal Navy cruiser moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge, focuses on naval warfare.
There are libraries and there are libraries. The British Library is the latter. In fact, it and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. are in a league of their own. Like its counterpart in the USA, it is home to more than 170 million items, with the British Library estimating it may have up to 200 million items.
All items are accessible (to varying degrees depending on age, size etc.) but to do so you’ll need to register for access to the reading rooms. If you don’t want to register for access you can still work in the study spaces (get their very early to claim a space) and cafes elsewhere in the publicly accessible parts of the library building on Euston Road, next door to St Pancras Station. The building itself is a spectacular piece of work.
The Palace of Westminster is home to the UK’s parliament. Members of the public – whether from the UK or anywhere else – are welcome to visit to watch the House of Commons and the House of Lords at work, either in the main chambers or in smaller committee meetings. Tours of the palace are available when Parliament is not meeting. If you have questions about parliament then contact Dr Oliver who spent several years working there.
Wimbledon takes place every year over two weeks in late June and early July. If you are thinking of going and seeing world-class tennis (this is the tournament ‘they all want to win’), the IDIG team is more than welcome to share tips on how to get there (either through the public ballot, or the famous queue, or any other methods).
Bank of England Museum
‘Money, money, money’ makes the world go round. There’s no getting away from money whether you’re interested in politics or business, trade or war. Located inside the UK’s central bank, the museum isn’t simply about the history of the bank, which is one of the world’s oldest central banks having been established in 1694. They tell a much longer and wider history of modern finance, money and banking.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Our campus is next to the flourishing and inviting Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park. Opened in 2012 for the Olympics, the park has plenty to offer all. With state-of-the-art sporting venues at every corner, the opportunity is there to spectate sporting greatness whilst also giving you the chance to swim, run, cycle or walk.
You will find beautiful corners of the park filled with blossoms (from Europe to Asia) to the UK’s largest sculpture (the red tower thing) and tunnel slide that will whizz you back down to earth. Several large bridges connect the park together and offer many picturesque views. You can even watch the Hammers in the London Stadium itself (the home of West Ham United).
National Maritime Museum
If there’s a centre of the world it’s the place from where time and distance are measured. That place is London, specifically Greenwich. Home to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, it’s also home to a series of museums known as the Royal Museums Greenwich. One of them is the National Maritime Museum, which tells the story of both British and global maritime history.
This is not simply about trade and war, but also about the social, political and cultural effects of maritime links.
The South Bank of the Thames contains some of London’s most famous landmarks. Take some time to visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a world-renowned theatre in the heart of London with a diverse programme of events, plays and projects. Nearby Borough Market offers a wide range of food that will meet and exceed everyone’s expectations and is an ideal complement to an evening performance at the Globe.
There’s also the Tate Modern and the London Eye. This is also a good place to join one of the two best ways to see London: the River Bus. Run by TFL, you pay by touching in and touching out, which is the same way as you do on the Tube or a bus. River buses run up and down the Thames, offering great views and each has a little onboard café. The other best way to see London is to simply grab the front seats on the top deck of any of the double-decker buses that cross London. Routes 24, 9 and 11 offer the best sights.
One of the hidden gems of London is the system of its canals. You can walk, run or cycle there in a relaxing and charming atmosphere. While walks around the river Thames (AKA the Thames Path) might be well known, the size and width of the London canals are less so.
The Regent’s Canal is probably the most famous part of the system, especially around Little Venice or Camden Town. But the canals are also close to the Loughborough University London campus in East London. From there, you can reach Victoria Park and get to Angel; or take another route, go south and meet the Thames around Limehouse.
There’s also a Canal Museum.
We would like to thank our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance academics for putting together this blog.
If you would like to find out more about our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.
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