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Welcome to Sotheby’s Institute of Art Gap Year!

We are really looking forward to meeting you this Fall 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.

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.

Pre-Departure Orientation

If you were unable to attend our virtual pre-departure orientation on August 21, you may watch a recording here.

Covid 19 Health & Safety

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

Arrivals & Departures

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

Students may move in from 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 19 and must complete move-in before 10:00 a.m. on Monday, September 20. Students attending Session Two only may move in from 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 31 and must complete move-in by 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 1. 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 on the last Friday of the session from 5:00 p.m. All Session One only students must vacate the residence by 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 30. All remaining students must vacate by 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 11.

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 London locations using Transport for London (TfL) services, including London’s bus network and the London Underground. Students will be provided with an Oyster Card pre-loaded with a Zones 1-2 Travel Card for the duration of the program, which will cover the majority of their travel needs. For any occasional travel beyond these Zones within London, students may use a contactless credit/debit card or top up their Oyster Card with additional funds.

Train travel beyond London will be covered where it is a required part of the program. Students will be expected to cover the costs of their travel beyond London for extracurricular activities.

Lost or damaged Oyster Cards will be replaced at the student’s cost.

Student Orientation Week

For Session 1 students, Orientation Week begins at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, September 20. Students are expected to attend all activities and training during Orientation Week, unless designated as optional. Please see below for an outline of Orientation Week activities. Further details will be provided before the programme begins.

Monday 20th September

10:00 a.m. Meet in the lobby of Ability Towers to travel to Sotheby’s Institute of Art (Oyster Cards will be distributed at this time)
10:30 – 1:00 a.m. Breakfast (provided) at the Institute, Welcome and Program Overview
1.00 – 2.00 p.m. Lunch (provided)
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Building Tour, Library and Facilities Induction
3.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. Personal Safety in London
5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. Bloomsbury Tour and Dinner (provided)

Tuesday 21st September

9.30 a.m. Travel to Sotheby’s Institute of Art
10:30 – 12:30 a.m. One-to-One tutorials with Gap Course Directors
12.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Guided Tour of the Royal Academy of Arts
3.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. Students visit research project organisations and receive briefing

Wednesday 22nd September

9.30 a.m. Travel to Sotheby’s Institute of Art
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Group activity
12.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Talk with Museum Director and Camden Visit
3.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. A Queer History of London walking tour
5.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m. Cookery class (optional)

Thursday 23rd September

9.30 a.m. Travel to Sotheby’s Institute of Art
10:30 – 12:30 a.m. What is Contemporary Art? Talk and discussion
12.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Visit to the Foundling Museum
3.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. Visit to Sir John Soane’s Museum
5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. Kingsway Tram Tour

Friday 24th September

9.30 a.m. Travel to Sotheby’s Institute of Art
10:30 – 12:30 a.m. How to Talk about Contemporary Art? Talk and workshop
12.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Guided tour of Mayfair Galleries
3.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m. Tour of the Serpentine Pavilion 2021
5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. Self-catered dinner or small-group activities local to residence


Students will be responsible for their own meals throughout the week. SIAL will provide one weekly dinner experience and any applicable meals during activities that interrupt a mealtime. SIAL will make every reasonable effort to meet food accommodations for students with dietary for any meals provided. Please ensure you notify SIAL of these using the Program Form.

A shared kitchen is available for student use at the accommodation. Students will also be invited to attend a cooking class during orientation week to help manage self-catered mealtimes.


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 LFD COVID asymptomatic tests. Results are received within 30 minutes.


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: Gap Year Fall will see autumn weather slowly turn into winter. 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.