Royal College of Science Union

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Royal College of Science Union
Royal College of Science Union logo
Institution Royal College of Science
Location South Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom
Established 1881
President Serena Yuen
Affiliations Faculty union of Imperial College Union

The Royal College of Science Union (RCSU) is a student sub-union at Imperial College London, which represents over 3000 students of the Sciences at the university.


The Union was founded in 1881, following the merger of the Normal School of Science with the Royal School of Mines. This later merged with the City & Guilds Institute of London to form modern day Imperial College. With the disappearance of the RCS as an independent institute, it was felt necessary that all students of the Sciences at the new Imperial College be represented by a union which carried on the name and spirit of the RCS. The first president of the RCSU was H.G. Wells, who was later to become a famous science fiction author, and many distinguished names have held that position since then, with the Union currently being led by Plabon Saha.[1]

The RCSU was briefly disbanded for a few years in the early 2000s following the College's decision to split up the Sciences Faculty into separate Faculties of Physical and Life Sciences, with the RCSU at the time deciding to follow suit, splitting into the Physical Sciences Union (PhysSci) and the Life Sciences Union (LifeSci). In 2006 however, following the College's rapid decision to re-merge the faculties,[2] it was decided to also re-merge the two student unions, with the new union named the Royal College of Science Union, following a popular vote. The RCSU was first led by Jad Marrouche and is currently led by Serena Yuen.

Nowadays, the RCSU is an active union which organises many varied events for science students at Imperial College, such as the Science Challenge[3] - a science-based essay competition with over £20,000-worth of prizes, a football league and a number of social events throughout the year, such as the Freshers' Ball, bar nights, club nights and a host of RAG week events such as tours of the Queen's Tower.

Past Presidents[edit]

2006 - 2007: Jad Marrouche
2007 - 2008: Jenny Morgan
2008 - 2009: David Charles
2009 - 2010: Katya-yani Vyas
2010 - 2011: Scott Heath
2011 - 2012: Luke Kanczes
2012 - 2013: James Tsim
2013 - 2014: Plabon Saha
2014 - present: Serena Yuen


The RCSU has many traditions, including the chanting of the kangela at bar nights and other occasions when seen fit and the sport of mascotry, guarding a college mascot called Theta. Theta takes the form of a thermometer, chosen as an instrument used by all scientific disciplines. Theta has had a number of incarnations, with the current mascot, Theta Mk.IV being a seven-foot steel thermometer weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg).

The RCSU also keeps an 'inviolate mascot' (i.e. it cannot be stolen), which is a Dennis N-Type fire engine known as Jezebel. Built in 1916, 'Jez' was donated to the college in 1955 when she finished her working life, and is equipped with 9-litre engine capable of pumping around 400 gallons of water per minute. There is a dedicated RCS Motor Club which maintains and takes care of Jezebel. She is involved with charity work and appears at various motor shows.


The Kangela is reputed to be an ancient Swahili Fertility Chant [Royal College of Science Handbook, 1973] first adopted by the RCSU in the middle 1950s as a War Cry on the occasion of Morphy Day.

The words are as follows:

Kangela Armadola
Kangela Armadola
Kangela Armadola
Teia, Teia, Teia,
Pakamisso, Pakamisso,
Inkangala, Kubinala,
Watsi, R.C.S.

There is no specific tune but anything flat and loud will do.

The first line has been translated (roughly) and interpreted to mean "Knickers to the Government" [Royal College of Science Handbook, 1973]. The word kangela means "to watch" in Zulu.[4]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 51°29′59″N 0°10′42″W / 51.4997°N 0.1782°W / 51.4997; -0.1782