ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Our cookies

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience with personalized content, relevant ads and enhanced functionalities. By allowing all you agree to the use of cookies as per the cookie policy and remember you can manage your preferences anytime.
The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to London

The UK's vibrant capital is an outstanding place for living and learning. From top universities to unique opportunities, our London international student guide explains all.

Multi-coloured composite illustration of several London landmarks and icons, including Tower Bridge, the Shard and a red bus

You’ve seen Big Ben and the big red buses, but what is it like to study in London? International students have made the UK capital their university home for generations, all seeking top opportunities, new experiences and a whole lot of fun. From the bright lights of the West End to the energy of the East, you’ll never tire of this ever-changing city – but moving there comes with a lot to consider. To make things simple, our London international student guide explains everything you need to know.


What is London like?

Location and demographics

Situated in the southeast of England around the winding River Thames, London is the centre of so much of what happens in the UK. People travel in from nearby towns and cities every day to work and enjoy an unrivalled list of things to do and see.


A colour-coded map of the boroughs of Greater London, with neighbouring counties also labelled.


Some of these places are also popular with Londoners. The seaside destinations of Brighton and Southend, for instance, are within an hour of the capital by train, and many people enjoy taking a trip out to them for a day at the beach. Good public transport links mean that a lot of the country is easy to reach, and if you have a car, you will also have quick access to the countryside. Much of the area surrounding London is protected rural land, and it is ripe for visitors to explore.

London is also the most multicultural city in the UK, with few other places in the world being home to as many people from as many countries and with as many different backgrounds. Around 37 per cent of people in the city were born outside of the UK, so wherever you have come from, you will be able to find people who made the same journey.

Wondering where else you could study in Britain? Learn about some of the country’s other great university destinations with our guide to the best student cities in the UK.


Culture and history

From its Roman roots up to the present day, the history of London is as fascinating as it is lengthy. It has been Britain’s most important city for almost 1,000 years, remaining so through centuries of kings, queens, wars and world developments.

Today, the city remains at the forefront of social, cultural and technological change. While studying in London, you will constantly be reminded that you are not only in the capital of the UK, but also in one of the major capitals of the world. As such, there is no single London culture: all human life is here.


What universities are in London?

London is home to dozens of universities – as well as several campuses for ones that are centred in other locations – and has many other institutions where you can study for a degree.

Some of the most notable include:

Of course, you don’t have to study in London to enjoy what it has to offer. There are many other cities nearby which are also home to great universities and are usually less expensive. For a good introduction to them, read our ultimate student guide to South East England.


What does London offer students?

What is transport like in London?

London has the most well-developed public transport system in the UK, so you will always find plenty of ways to get around.

The famous London Underground might seem complicated at first, but its 272 stations and 11 lines are all very well signposted and carefully connected. If you ever do get lost, don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff for advice – there is no question that they have not heard before.

Buses are the most commonly used part of the public transport system in London, and like the Underground, they are looked after by the organisation Transport for London (TfL). Although buses are typically the cheaper of the two, you should bear in mind that Underground journeys are often quicker.

Whichever method you use, though, you can keep track of your transport costs with an Oyster. This is a travelcard which can also offer you discounted fares, including 30 per cent off for students.

Black cabs – the iconic taxis that you may have seen many times on TV and in film – are also readily available, and are driven by extremely knowledgeable drivers who have to pass a thorough test on the city’s roadmaps to receive their licence. However, you should be aware that these represent one of the more expensive ways to get around London. Alternatively, popular app-based taxi services are also available, and may offer you a cheaper ride.


What are the entertainment and food like in London?

From hit musicals and world-class sport to exciting open mic nights where you may just spot the next Ed Sheeran, the entertainment in London has something for everyone. That is why people come from every part of the planet to experience it.

For fans of stage shows, it is the West End that should be first on the list. Legendary musicals including Les Misérables and the Phantom of the Opera are always playing in this part of the city, while more recent productions including Matilda and Frozen have proved popular with audiences of all ages. Elsewhere in the West End, you could also see a play – perhaps the Mousetrap, which has run in London since 1952 – or even an opera.


A poster for Les Misérables dominates a busy Shaftesbury Avenue at night in London's West End


If you’re more interested in galleries and museums, London is also one of the most appealing places on the planet. Fascinating exhibits can be seen for free at the likes of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum. The same is also true of the National Gallery and the two internationally famous Tate galleries: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Beyond all of this, there are a world of other institutions in which you can take a look at and learn about almost anything that interests you – and when it isn’t free, you might get a student discount.

The food in London is also world-renowned, reflecting the city’s international status with an incredible diversity of flavours and cuisines, stretching across exclusive Michelin-starred restaurants to surprisingly good takeaways. If one thing is for sure, you will never be short of somewhere to eat.


What is the accommodation like in London?

You may have already heard that student accommodation in London is in high demand. Along with the fact that rent in the city is the most expensive of any in the UK, this means that you should think very carefully about where you plan to live. Above all, you should never make your way to study in the city without having arranged a permanent place to stay.

A convenient and safe way to begin your study abroad journey in London is by staying at one of the city’s many university halls of residence. These places offer you the chance to live in a welcoming environment alongside other students, and are most popular with first-year undergraduates. Halls often also offer single-person accommodation – something appreciated most by postgraduate students – so if you would rather not share, it may not be necessary.

Privately rented student accommodation in London tends to be more expensive, but should give you a greater sense of independence. Of course, it also comes with other concerns. While university halls are often located close to where you will be studying, it may be more difficult to achieve this elsewhere. As such, you should put a lot of thought into deciding exactly where in London you wish to stay. If you are commuting regularly, the cost can add up.

Want some more advice on where to live? Try our guide to student accommodation in the UK.


Are there public services for students in London?

The public services available to international students in London sometimes differ from those which are available to permanent UK residents, and this is something you should be aware of in advance.

For example, one of the most important public services you may need is healthcare, which – outside of emergencies and other times when it is is deemed “medically necessary” – does not come free to international students. Accessing the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) ultimately requires payment of the compulsory immigration healthcare surcharge. For students, this costs GBP 470 per year, but once paid, it will allow you to use the NHS as and when you need it.

Issues like this are understandably a common concern for international students. For some related advice, take a look at our guide on how to apply for a student visa in the UK.


How much does it cost to live in London?

The general cost of London

Studying in London means studying in the UK’s most expensive city. You may have to think very carefully about whether you can afford it before making plans, and be equally careful once you arrive.

Student budget in London

Although the cost of studying in London will vary according to a few factors, including the part of it in which you choose to live, your overall monthly budget should likely fall between GBP 1,250 and 2,000.

Depending on which country you are from, you may also need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself before you can receive a UK student visa. If you are from one of the countries subject to this – which includes India, Pakistan and Nigeria – you will need to show that you will have at least GBP 1,334 available per month while you study in London.

Feel like you need more information on budgeting? Try our list of top money tips for studying in London. For more general advice that will apply wherever you go in the country, read our guide to the student cost of living in the UK.


What are the main attractions in London?

You will never run out of things to see and do in London. In the heart of the city alone, you will find some of the UK’s most famous landmarks, some of which you can look around for free. Among the most popular are:

  • London Eye You will only be able to appreciate the size of this observation wheel on the south bank of the Thames when you see it up close. Views from the top can stretch for dozens of miles.


The huge London Eye is lit up in the evening and is by far the tallest structure visible on both sides of the Thames. Others include Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.


  • Hyde Park The largest of London’s four Royal Parks, this is a great place to have fun for free in the centre of the city.
  • Tower of London The history of this 1,000-year-old castle on the north side of the Thames will tell you a lot about the story of the British monarchy and London itself.
  • Madame Tussauds This world-famous waxwork museum is home to stunning likenesses of celebrities and characters from TV and film – you could easily mistake them for the real thing.
  • Houses of Parliament Take a guided tour around the centuries-old heart of British politics and learn more about what goes on within its famous walls.


Feel inspired to look more closely at studying in London? For some extra help in making decisions, try our course matcher tool.

Study in the UK


'Study in the UK' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the UK into one handy digital book.

Get your eBook

Must read

article Img

5 Reasons you should study in Scotland

Have you considered studying in Scotland? No? Why not? When most international students think of studying in the UK, they think of studying at Oxford or Cambridge, two of the top universities in the world; however the likelihood of gaining admission to one of these institutions is slim due to the heavy competition. Others automatically think of studying in London; yes, one of the top tourist cities in the world, but everyone heads there.   Why don’t

article Img

A beginner’s guide to studying in the UK

Some of the world’s best universities, unforgettable cities, brilliant nightlife and a welcoming environment for international students.   Those are just some of the reasons you might have for wanting to study abroad in the UK, but there’s actually so much more. Want to find out more about the University of Edinburgh’s essay proofreading service for students that don’t list English as their first language? Or more about the University of Sheffield’s

article Img

Common cultural misconceptions about the UK

When most people think of Britain, they conjure images of gents in top hats, sipping tea and speaking the Queen’s English. They imagine warm pints, endless queues and people too conservative and polite to take seriously. This narrow idea of British life is damaging and prevents us from understanding what living like a Brit really means.   Dispelling the following myths will no doubt make it easier for you to understand British culture, and make