New Chapter: MA International Conflict Studies at King’s College London

September 19, 2011

Welcome back!  Thanks for reading the blog for this round of adventure.

Enlarge the above map for a visual reference of King’s in London!

I’m about to begin a postgraduate program at King’s College London, which was founded by King George IV in 1829 as a response to the brand new London University (now University College London, still our arch rival), or the “godless college in Gower Street”.  London University was founded as a secular institution, supported by Jews, utilitarians and non-Church of England Christians to educate those who couldn’t attend Oxford and Cambridge because they only accepted wealthy Anglicans.  Obviously this secular university was unacceptable, so the King and the Duke of Wellington started King’s as a counter move, accepting only the traditional wealthy, Protestant folks.  After a dual between supporters of the opposing universities (it was a draw), the issue of religion fell largely to the wayside, and during the 19th century, King’s College pushed social issues by opening the university to women and accommodating the working class with evening classes, thus ultimately becoming tainted with the underbelly of society the King & Duke were trying to exclude.

Today, King’s College ranks somewhere between 21st and 77th in a list of the world’s top universities, depending on the source.  The War Studies Department is ranked third in the UK, behind Cambridge and Oxford and is rated third worldwide for the quality of their international research.  My program, International Conflict Studies, is a part of that department and boasts Arch Bishop Desmund Tutu as an alumnus. 

The campus is located at Somerset House, dating to the middle of the 1500s and used for a variety of purposes. The Duke of Somerset started the building in 1939, but was beheaded in 1552 and the building became royal property.  Queen Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lived there before ascending the the throne. During the 17th century, it was used as a residence of the queens of James I, Charles I and Charles II (his wife Catherine was a Catholic from Portugal and rumors raised that the residence was a popular spot for Catholic conspiracy (double parenthesis fun fact: Britain attained Bombay, India as part of Catherine’s dowry)). The building is located along the Thames, and is about a 2 minute walk to Trafalger Square, 3 minutes to Covent Garden and maybe 10 minutes to Westminster Abbey.

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