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Frequently asked questions about membership

Browse through our frequently asked questions about membership. Not found what you're looking for? Just get in touch by calling +44 (0)20 7591 3080 or email membership@rgs.org and we'll gladly help.

Membership – general questions


School membership

Visiting the Society


Have we missed something? Phone +44 (0)20 7591 3080 or email membership@rgs.org if you have any further questions.

Membership – general questions

1. What category of membership should I apply for?

Our Join now page gives a brief overview of all the membership categories. If you are still unsure about what membership category is best for you, please do not hesitate to contact the Membership Office for advice at membership@rgs.org

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2. How do I renew my membership?

Further details on how to renew your membership are available here.

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3. Can I pay by Direct Debit?

Yes, you can pay by Direct Debit. Direct Debit mandates are included on the online and hard copy membership forms.

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4. Can I join online or over the phone?

At the moment you cannot join online, although we hope to improve this in the future. We are happy to take payments over the phone on +44 (0)20 7591 3080 but we will require a membership application form to be submitted, either via email or by post.

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5. Can I give membership as a gift?

Ordinary Membership, Young Geographer and School membership are available to give as gifts. Fellowship and Postgraduate Fellowship cannot be given as a gift due to the nature of the application process.

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6. How can I update my personal details?

You can update your personal details online, email membership@rgs.org or call the Membership Office on +44 (0)20 7591 3009.

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7. I’ve lost/have not received my membership card

Please contact the membership office either by email membership@rgs.org or on +44 (0)207 591 3009 for more information.

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8. Who can become a Fellow and how?

Anyone who is over 21 and meets the eligibility criteria can become a Fellow.

Briefly, this requires either

  • being able to demonstrate using geographical skills and/or knowledge in the workplace or
  • having relevant education/qualifications in geography (or related subject) or 
  • being an Ordinary Member for five years

Further information on eligibility is available on the Fellowship page and on our guidance sheet. The Membership Office will also be able to answer any eligibility queries on +44 (0)20 7591 3080.

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9. Can I buy Fellowship as a gift?

Fellowship cannot be purchased as a gift due to the nature of the application process (a CV is often required, for example). Young Geographer, Ordinary Membership and School Membership can be purchased as gifts.

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10. What if I do not know another Fellow to propose and second my application?

If you are an academic working in an higher education institution, your application does not need to be proposed, although a CV is still required.

For non-academics, if you meet the eligibility criteria of Fellowship then the Society can help you to arrange proposers and seconders for your application. We will still require a completed Fellowship application form, a CV and a short covering letter explaining how you feel you meet the criteria required for Fellowship.

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11. Can I still apply if I do not live in the UK?

Yes. We have Fellows of the Society based all over the world.

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12. How long does it take to become a Fellow?

From start to finish, the process can take up to six weeks.

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13. Do I need to have been an Ordinary Member for five years before applying for Fellowship?

No. If you meet the other criteria you can apply directly for Fellowship.

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School Membership

14. How is School membership different to Fellowship?

School membership is an organisational membership predominantly based on access to teaching resources such as our School Members Area (you can find out more here).

Both Fellows and School members can receive discounts on our CPD events for teachers and students; however School members receive a preferential booking arrangement for these events.

Fellowship is an individual membership and Fellows are able to attend member only events. School members, like other group memberships, do not have access to Monday night lectures in person. However, School members are able to view these lectures online through our School Members Area.

Fellows are able to apply for Chartered Geographer (Teacher) status, and are eligible for the £50 application fee for this to be waived if they are also a School member.

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15. Are international schools able to join?

We welcome membership applications from international schools. Details of how to pay internationally are on the invoice we will provide you with once we have received your application.

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16. How can I pay for School membership?

School membership costs £83 for 12 month's membership. If your school requires an invoice, once you submit your membership application one will be sent to you. Your school can then pay via BACS, cheque or credit card and we ask that you send a remittance advice to us if possible. To speed things up, you can provide payment when you submit your application form. Your membership will be processed and started once we have received a your payment, and your welcome pack and School Members Area login details will be sent to you in the post.

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17. Does it run for an academic year or calendar year?

School membership runs for 12 months from the 1st of the month after which we have received your payment. However, you will receive your welcome pack and School Members Area login as soon as your membership is processed.

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18. What if I change schools?

If you change schools, you will not be able to use your login at your new school. We advise that your new school joins as a School Member. Please ensure that you let us know who the new membership contact will be at the school you are leaving. You can email us at education@rgs.org or call +44 (0)20 7591 3053.

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19. Can I bring students to Monday night lectures?

Unfortunately our group memberships, including School membership, do not allow access in person to our Monday night lecture series. School members are able to buy tickets for ticketed lectures at the Society, such as the 21st Century Challenges events. School members can view our Monday night Lecture series online in our School Members Area, where we also provide teaching materials to accompany more curriculum relevant talks.

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Visiting the Society

20. How can Fellows and members use the Society building?

Fellows and members are welcome to visit the Society in South Kensington. Further details about how to find us and our opening hours can be found here.

Fellows and members can use the Members’ Room – an elegant, informal working space for Fellows and members only. Wi-Fi and tea and coffee are available. Meeting rooms can be booked in advance for £10 for a two hour slot.

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21. When can I visit and do I need to book in advance?

Opening hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays and the period between Christmas and New Year).

Fellows and members do not need to book to come to the Society, unless you wish to use a meeting room in the Members’ Room.

If you are attending an event, you may need to book your place in advance.

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22. Is food and drink available if I visit the Society?

The Tea Room is open to Fellows and members for lunch from 12.30pm to 1.45pm. Tea and coffee are available throughout the day, both in the Tea Room and the Members’ Room.

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23. Is there Wi-Fi available?

Free Wi-Fi is available at the Society.

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24. Can I bring guests to the Society?

Please contact the Society either by email reception@rgs.org or on +44 (0) 207 591 3000 for more information.

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25. Do Fellows and members get a discount if they wish to hire the building?

A discount is available for personal use. Please contact the Venue Hire team on +44 (0)20 7591 3090 or email venuehire@rgs.org for further information.

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26. How do Fellows and members find out about Society events?

The Society runs three seasons of events: autumn (September-December); spring (January-March); and summer (April-August). Prior to each season, all members are sent a printed Bulletin, which features news from the Society and the full events programme for that term. Please expect to receive your Bulletin by post in late-August, early-December and early-March for the autumn, spring and summer programmes, respectively.

The What’s On page of the website contains the most up to date information, including any necessary changes to events following the production of the printed programme.

Event highlights are included in the monthly e-update, which is sent on the first working day of the month to Fellows and members. Please ensure that we have a valid email address for you.

Members whose main address is within one of our nine UK regions or in Singapore and Hong Kong will be emailed periodically with information on events and activities specific to that region. Members may opt to receive emails about activities within another region – please just let us know which additional region is of interest by email events@rgs.org

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27. What events can Fellows and members attend for free?

Most Society events are free to attend for Fellows and members, including Monday night lectures, City lectures, Be Inspired afternoon talks and exhibitions in the Pavilion. Regionally, many events are free to attend although a small fee may be charged to help cover event costs.

Most chargeable Society events and some non-Society events held in the Society’s premises in Kensington offer a discounted rate for our members. Details on all our events are available on the website.

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28. Do I need to book for events?

Many Society events, both in London and regionally, do not require booking and spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Where advance booking is required, full details are provided in the events programme in the Bulletin or on the website. Booking methods may vary, depending on whether payment is required and how payment can be made. If you are unsure, please get in touch with the contact listed in the programme or on the website, or contact the Society’s Events Office (events@rgs.org; +44 (0)20 7591 3100).

For a very few Monday night and City lectures (those lectures which we anticipate will be extremely popular and would exceed venue capacity if offered on a first come, first served basis), we may operate a balloted ticketing system where Fellows and members can apply for a ticket in advance and all applications are subject to a random electronic selection process after the ticket application deadline has passed. This is to ensure that all Fellows and members who are interested in attending a particular event have an equal chance of getting a place. Information on the application deadline and approximate result date for any balloted lectures is included in the Bulletin and online.

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29. Can I bring guests to events?

For most Society events, Fellows and members are welcome to bring a guest. Events with restricted capacity will be indicated on the website and in the events programme in the Bulletin.

Monday night lectures and City lectures are members’ events. However, for most lectures members are welcome to bring one guest – these lectures are clearly indicated in the termly Bulletin sent to all members and on the website and are indicated by “M+G” in the summary and “RGS-IBG members + one guest” in the event description. If a lecture is designated as ‘members only’, indicated by “M” in the summary and “RGS-IBG members only” in the event description, strictly no non-member guests are able to attend.

If you are bringing a guest to an event, please arrive together or meet in the foyer of the venue so that Society staff and volunteers can allow you and your guest access.

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30. I want to go to an event but it is open to ‘members only’ or has a special discounted rate for members. If I join now, will my membership be processed in time?

Membership is open to all. If you wish to join as an Ordinary Member or Young Geographer, as long as we have a completed application form and payment we can usually process one-off requests on the same day. We cannot process a new membership application by telephone, but you may present the form in person, or the completed form could be sent to us by email or fax, with a follow-up telephone call to provide your payment  details.

On receipt of completed forms and payment we can send an email confirmation with your membership number, and you can use this to access events or apply for discounted rates until you receive your membership card through the post. Please note that it will not be possible to access discounted rates through online booking until your online account has been set up.

Our membership team are available between 9.30am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays and the period between Christmas Eve and New Year. In addition, they are present until 6.30pm before Monday night lectures at the Society and can accept completed Ordinary Membership and Young Geographer applications delivered by hand before a Monday night lecture.

Unfortunately due to the nature of the application, we cannot process Fellowship or Postgraduate Fellowship application forms on the same day.

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31. Do I need to bring my membership card to Society events?

We recommend bringing your membership card to all Society events.

If you are attending a non-ticketed members’ event, such as the Monday night lectures in London, or if you would like to purchase discounted-rate tickets for an event, you will be asked to present your membership card. Should you forget your membership card, in some instances we may be able to look up your membership details however, it is more straightforward if you have your card with you whenever attending RGS-IBG events or visiting the Society.

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32. I am attending an event at the Society that I can’t find on your website or in the members’ Bulletin. Where can I find the details for that event?

The Society’s building is a popular events space and is hired by third parties to run a range of events. We recommend getting in touch with the organisers directly if the event you are attending is not listed as an RGS-IBG event on our website or in the Bulletin. If we have been asked to list the event on the website details should be available from the Non-Society events calendar, along with contact details for the event organisers.

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33. How can I propose a lecture?

Details on how to propose a lecture or topic are available here.

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34. I am a wheelchair user. Is there step-free access to the event venue?

The Society’s building in Kensington has step-free access to Exhibition Road and Kensington Gore (via a ramp) and has three accessible toilets. The Ondaatje Theatre has a limited number of wheelchair spaces and a personal assistant or carer can usually be accommodated; please email the Events Office in advance.

As a variety of venues are used for events outside London, please contact the venue directly for queries on accessibility and other facilities.

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