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The Graphic Design Student’s Guide to Studying Abroad in London

Ever thought about studying graphic design abroad in London? Well you can do that with Shillington’s graphic design course. The Big Smoke is an amazing city to study graphic design, with some of the world’s best culture and design studios right on your doorstep. It doesn’t stop there though—London is also home to some top nightlife, restaurants, architecture and green spaces. All in all, it’s a great place to live and a better place to study design.

Want to make your dreams a reality? Here’s our guide to learning graphic design in London. How to get here, where to live and how to get around, with some tips from local creatives thrown in for good measure.

Shillington Study Abroad Program in London   

Shillington’s London campus is in the heart of the City of London, the historic centre of the city. The area is a mix of modern skyscrapers and medieval alleyways—so is a fascinating place to explore on a lunch break. The campus is also a quick walk from the major transport hubs, Liverpool Street and London Bridge stations, and also walking distance from other Tube stations including Aldgate, Bank and Monument. This makes it super accessible from across London and the surrounding areas. The famous Gherkin building is also right next door to campus—and you can’t get more London than that.

In other great news, Shillington London fees are the same if you’re an international student as they are for domestic students—so it won’t cost you any extra to study with Shillington if you’re coming from abroad.

UK Visa Information

The United Kingdom offers the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa, which allows 18—30 year olds from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand or Taiwan to live, study and work for up to 24 months. Perfect to graduate from our 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time course, then work or travel for the remainder of your visa. Visit GOV.UK to learn more.

If you have a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) passport, you don’t need a visa to study in the United Kingdom.

Please note: Shillington is unable to sponsor the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa, so we can’t accept students from Hong Kong or the Republic of Korea.

What to do Around the London Campus  


We all need our morning caffeine fix—or a lunchtime or afternoon one for that matter—and there’s no shortage of great coffee shops around the Shillington London campus. Rosslyn Coffee, which was named the best coffee shop in the City of London and the second best independent coffee shop in Europe, is a short walk from campus. They also have espresso soft serve on tap—perfect for those hot summer days.

Also close by is two branches of Watchhouse, which comes strongly recommended by Shillington’s Head UK Jack Trotman. Their loyalty app makes every seventh coffee free and you can’t argue with that. AnAustralian run coffee joint, Association, is also just across the road.


The Shillington London campus has a lot to offer culturally—with loads close by and further afield. London Teacher Dan Wilson suggests “heading down to Southbank—which is a great way to see iconic London landmarks and follow the river Thames whilst taking in some amazing culture at the BFI, Tate Modern and brutalist icons, the Hayward Gallery and the National Theatre.”

More locally to campus, Dan also recommends the Barbican Centre. He says it’s “always inspiring with its multiple amazing exhibition spaces, concert hall, conservatory and iconic architecture.” It’s a great place to see some art, a play or gig or just get some headspace amongst the greenery or out amongst the man made lakes of the estate.

Over in South Kensington, there’s also the world famous Design Museum. Alongside its main collection that focuses on the history of design, there’s always brilliant exhibitions—on fashion, football, film and loads more.

London’s also home to some of the world’s top design agencies—Pentagram, Studio Koto, Wolff Olins, AKQA and Mother all have studios in the city. As well as the big names, it also boasts some incredible smaller, independent studios. Human After All, Studio Myerscough, Studio Moross, Moving Brands, Kellenberger-White, to name a few, and many talented freelancers call the city home.

After Class

London is the city of the pub—so you’ll have no trouble finding a good place for an after class drink with your classmates. Just on Shillington’s doorstep is The Old Tea Warehouse, a more traditional pub, and a brand of Craft Beer Co, which has 20 craft beers and 3 ciders on tap.

Though Shillington’s Head of Experience Clay Allison recommends heading slightly further afield for some of the best boozers London has to offer—The Pride of Spitalfields, The Commercial Tavern, The Owl & Pussycat and The Well & Bucket are all within a 15 minute walk from the studio.

Don’t fancy a drink? The Garden at 120 is a great place to soak up some rays after class. The free roof garden is open ‘til 9pm and is 15 storeys above the London streets so offers some amazing views of the capital. Can you spot the Crystal Place transmitting tower? London’s underwhelming answer to the Eiffel Tower is visible on clear days almost 8 miles away.

How to Feel Like a Londoner While Studying Abroad  

Where to Live in London

Shillington London’s studio is located in the City of London, close to Liverpool Street station. This means that the campus is easily accessible from most of the capital but East London in particular. Shoreditch, Hackney, Dalston and London Fields are all walkable, or a short train journey when the weather’s not your friend. Clapton, Walthamstow, Leyton and Stratford are also a 15 minute journey into Liverpool Street. All are friendly neighborhoods with plenty going on in the evenings and at the weekends to keep you busy.

The central location of campus also makes South London a good place to live. The neighbourhoods of Borough and Elephant & Castle are south of the river but are still walkable from campus—with some incredible views of the London skyline and Tower Bridge on route.

Where to Look for Accommodation

If you’re looking for accommodation in London—whether you’re after just a room or a whole flat to yourself—then your best bets are SpareRoom, RoomGo, Moveflat, Rightmove, Zoopla or Gumtree. All allow you to search by location, budget, number of rooms and many other specifications. If you’re here for a shorter amount of time then Airbnb is a useful place to search as well.

How to Get Around 

London’s transit system is world class. The London Underground, or The Tube as it is often referred to, stretches across the entirety of London—and out to the surrounding counties of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire in the West and Essex in the East. So the likelihood is, if you’re living in London, there will be a Tube station nearby. The Tube Map app is a great way to plan how to get from A to B on the Underground.

In the rare case that you don’t have a Tube station in your neck of the woods, then you’ll probably be served by the Overground (the orange line on the Tube map) or London’s extensive bus network. Google Maps is the best way to efficiently and easily plan your journey.

Paying for the Tube, buses and the Overground couldn’t be easier. Grab yourself an Oyster card, a prepaid travel card that you simply need to touch in and out of stations with—or, better yet, just use your contactless card or device. Fares on the Tube and Overground vary depending on distance and time of day, but there’s daily caps so you don’t spend too much. Bus fares are £1.65 all day, every day.

Fancy a cycle? Over the past few years, London has become a much more cycle-accessible city with bike lanes on a majority of major roads and quiet routes established and signposted citywide. If you don’t have your own bike, Santander Cycles costs just £2 a day for unlimited 30 minute cycles and Jump/Uber and Human Forest have electric bikes for rental through their apps across Central London.

Finally, just walk! Walking is a great way to get to know your local area and to see things that you might otherwise miss.

Study Abroad Tips From London Locals  

London might be a bit overwhelming at times—so we asked our teachers and staff at the London campus for their top tips. And, remember, always stand on the right hand side of the escalators on the Tube—social etiquette goes a long way in this city.

For a city of its size, London boasts a huge amount of green space. From Victoria Park, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Wanstead Flats in the East, to Hampstead Heath (complete with open air swimming ponds) in the North, Hyde Park and Regents Park in the West and Brockwell Park, Greenwich Park and the colossal Richmond Park in the South. And that’s just a start—there’s no shortage of space for walks, picnics or just getting some fresh air.

Clay also suggests “taking a long walk or cycle along the canals—exploring the Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow Wetlands. Get exploring areas outside the city—Clapton, Stoke Newington, Dalston—and go to Mangal 2.”

In addition to The Garden at 120, Experience Assistant Meg Bathard says there’s three other amazing roof gardens to get photos of the London skyline to boast to your friends on Instagram: the Sky Garden (make sure you book though!), Coq D’Argent and One New Change.

Dan also advises taking a trip down to Brick Lane. He calls it “a hive of artistic activity with great spaces showcasing street art, vintage clothing and records. The surrounding area is a prime location for innovative pop up events as well as being a canvas for inspiring advertising campaigns, poster designs and murals.”

Benefits of Studying Abroad in London at Shillington

There are a long list of benefits of why studying abroad in London at Shillington is an incredible opportunity. You’ll be studying graphic design abroad in one of the best cities in the world, surrounded by some incredible culture, architecture and even nature—everything from the Tate Modern to the Hackney Marshes are a short hop from campus.

London is also home to some of the world’s best graphic design studios and graphic designers so there are plenty of events and other networking opportunities to whet your appetite. 

London is a truly great city to embark on your graphic design adventure, but just don’t take our word for it. Check out some interviews with Shillington graduates who moved to London to study with us:

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not—this could be you. Apply now and you could be living out your dreams of studying graphic design in London before you know it.

Artwork by Shillington’s Head New York, Cathy Sison.

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