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Welcome to Sotheby’s Institute of Art Gap Year!

We are really looking forward to meeting you in London. Before the start of term, please:

1. Review our Student Handbook and the information below.
2. Complete the Program Form. Students must complete this form before the start of term.

Pre-Departure Orientation

If you were unable to attend our virtual pre-departure orientation, you may watch a recording here.

Program Overview

Designed to support you in your next steps on your educational or professional journey, the Gap Year program is for curious, passionate, creative people aged 18-21 who want to explore themselves and the world through one of its most international, historic and dynamic metropolises. During your 6 or 12 week program you’ll be guided and nurtured on a journey that opens doors to people, places and ideas that will inspire you, challenge you, even amaze you, and always help you to reflect on the world and your role within it. You’ll emerge with an understanding of the creative and cultural sectors, the people and professionals that drive them, and a wealth of skills in preparation for your future studies or career.

Covid 19 Health & Safety

London Campus COVID-19 Health & Safety Resources (regularly updated)

Before Your Travel to England

There are some COVID-preventative measures you must action before traveling to London:

  • Though it is no longer a legal requirement for most countries, we ask you to please take a COVID-19 test in the 2 days before you travel to England​. This can be a Lateral Flow / Rapid Antigen test.
  • It is a legal requirement complete a Passenger Locator Form - 48 hours before you arrive in England​. You will need the reference number from your booked COVID-19 test to complete this.​

If you coming to the England via any other country (including Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland), different rules may apply. Please check this in advance:​

These rules are constantly updated, in light of changing scientific advise. We recommend checking the rules that apply to your home nation before you depart:

Arrivals & Departures

Sotheby’s Institute of Art- London (SIAL) Gap Year students will live at Ability Towers, Macclesfield Road, London EC1V 8AE.

Students attending Session 1 or Session 1+2 may move in from 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 14 and must complete move-in before 5:00 p.m. A welcome dinner will be provided that evening. You are welcome to arrive in London earlier and make contact with us, but access to the residence is only permitted from the dates and times stated.

Students attending Session 2 only may move in from 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 28 and must complete move-in by 5:00 p.m. A welcome dinner will be provided that evening. You are welcome to arrive in London earlier and make contact with us, but access to the residence is only permitted from the dates and times stated.

Students may depart at any time during the last Friday of the session.

Air Travel

Ability Towers is accessible from all major airports in the Greater London area: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend. Taxi service and ride sharing services (Uber, Bolt, etc.) are available from all airports. Additional information about airport transportation and other forms of public transportation is available online through the airport website or Visit London, including any train or coach connections to the city centre.

Travel in London and the UK

Students will travel to locations within London using Transport for London (TfL) services. Students will be provided with a Bus & Tram Pass for the duration of the program, which will provide access to travel in the city during their stay in London. Students may wish to use their contactless card to use London Underground services and other modes of transport within the TfL network, but please note that we will provide enough time between activities for students to walk or travel by bus to their destination.

Lost or damaged Bus & Tram Passes will be replaced at the student’s cost.

Travel costs for UK field trips are also included. Some optional and extracurricular trips may be offered that incur modest additional travel costs.


Students will be responsible for their own meals throughout the week. SIAL will provide one weekly dinner or lunch, usually with special guests. SIAL will make every reasonable effort to meet the dietary requirements of students for any meals provided. Please ensure you notify SIAL of these using the Program Form.

Shared kitchens are within each student apartment and are equipped for the use of students to cook for themselves and entertain their peers. Students will also be able to attend a cookery class during orientation week to help inspire their culinary choices.


As a guideline, we would suggest that student's budget approximately £250 - £280 per week for food, drinks and additional spending money including weekend activities.


All students, faculty and staff are expected to undertake twice weekly Lateral Flow COVID asymptomatic tests. You will need to show recent proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain access to some venues in London, and to our Reception colleagues on entry to the Institute on teaching days.

Results are received within 30 minutes. We just need to see an email notification (or text message), once you have logged the result via this free service:

SIAL will provide the tests, but please let us know as and when you need more.


Students will be staying at Ability Towers, managed by trusted accommodation provider Anglo Educational Services (AES), and located between Angel and Old Street. This prime location offers easy access to SIAL, Central London, Shoreditch and the West End.

Each apartment is self-contained and will have its own open plan lounge/dining area and a fully equipped kitchen including utensils, cutlery, crockery. All bedrooms are to sleep a maximum of 2 persons and will have a minimum of 1 bathroom. The exact apartments will be assigned closer to the beginning of the program allowing for firm student numbers. If you have any concerns or preferences regarding room allocation, please indicate this in the Program Form.

The Residential Life Coordinators (provided by SIAL) will also reside at Ability Towers and will be on call for any student concerns or emergencies. Students will be provided with a phone number which they can use to contact the Residential Life Coordinators 24 hours a day.

In addition, AES will ensure the availability of a dedicated Student Liaison Coordinator (SLC), who will be the first point of call for any issues within the apartments. The SLC is available by telephone and email and after normal working hours, AES also provides a Duty Manager available on a mobile telephone, 7 days a week, who can be contacted if and when the need arises.

Accommodation services include:

  • All utilities including: gas, electricity, council tax, WIFI, water rates, sewer charges, and any other utility or service
  • Cleaning of each flat once a week
  • Provision of bed linen for each student
  • Full maintenance cover to include but not limited to plumbing, heating, electrical appliances and fixtures
  • Regular treatment for pest control
  • 24-hour emergency cover

Apartments will include:

  • Independent heating
  • Washer/dryer
  • Dishwasher
  • Microwave oven
  • Lounge with a flat-screen TV
  • Telephone line for incoming calls
  • Safe for valuables


SIAL welcomes requests for student provisions (academic, personal, or other) from students using the Program Form. We ask that students submit requests and other important information that may affect student experience in the Gap Year Program Form as early as possible in order to provide us with sufficient time to make any necessary arrangements, and ensure that all students have a fulfilling, enjoyable and safe experience.

*We encourage students to disclose and mental or physical health conditions or concerns as soon as possible, so we can ensure that necessary provisions are in place before the program begins.


Please note that SIAL staff are unable to divulge any information about students without their written permission. Parents are strongly advised to discuss this with students before the start of the program and encourage them to complete the Consent Form.

Where consent has been given, the main phone line available for parent/guardian(s) goes directly to the Residential Life Coordinators. This number will be provided closer to the start of the program. SIAL will primarily communicate with parent/guardian(s) through email. Please be diligent about checking and reading emails from the program.

Some students might feel homesick at the start of the program, and they may need a few days to adjust to the new surroundings and routines. Residential Life Coordinators will be especially attentive to the needs of students at the start of the program. Once settled in, students typically become fully engaged in the program and calls home may become less frequent. We suggest establishing reasonable communication expectations between parent/guardian(s) and students before the start of the program.

Packing List

  • Clothing: Depending on your session, you may see winter weather slowly turn into spring. Students should pack clothes for colder weather including a winter coat, boots, hat and gloves. As well, light casual clothing, jacket or sweatshirt, raincoat, sandals, comfortable walking shoes, and a set of nicer, professional clothes.
  • Weather gear: sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrella, reusable water bottle
  • Academic supplies: laptop, notebook or journal
  • Personal electronics: smart phone, camera, alarm clock, headphones, etc.
  • Personal items: toiletries, towel, hair dryer, etc.
  • Passport and copy of health insurance details
  • Spending money

*Students should bring clothing that is smart casual and appropriate for class site visits to offices and workspaces (comfortable, but presentable). Formal wear is not necessary for Gap Year (dress clothes, dresses/gowns, suits and ties, dress shoes, sports jackets, etc.) but students may wish to bring a few smarter pieces for graduation and evening meals.

What NOT to Bring:

  • Students may not bring flammable materials, including but not limited to candles, incense, matches, lighters, explosive devices or fireworks. Violators of this policy will be subject to immediate dismissal.
  • Students are not allowed to bring weapons of any kind, including but not limited to knives, firearms, paintball guns, laser pointers, pepper spray or other dangerous items. Violators of this policy will be subject to immediate dismissal.
  • Students are not allowed to use or possess drugs or unauthorized medications. Violators of this policy will be subject to immediate dismissal.
  • Students may not bring pets except for licensed service animals.
  • Students may not bring kitchen appliances, such as toaster ovens or hot plates.
  • Students may not bring drones or any other motorized objects.
  • We recommend that students not bring any valuables; SIAL does not take responsibility for lost, damaged or stolen items.