Elements of the Cambridge degree ceremony have their origin amongst the earliest customs of the University, and so the ceremony is still conducted in Latin. Degrees are sometimes conferred by the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor, but usually by a deputy, such as the Master of a College.
Graduands are led in procession to the Senate-House from Downing by one of our two Praelectors. The Praelector presents the candidates in groups of up to four, announcing their degrees and declaring that they are worthy to receive them. Each graduand then kneels in front of the Vice-Chancellor's deputy, who admits the graduand to the degree. The new graduate then rises, bows, and is presented with a certificate.
Those graduating wear formal clothes, following the strict dress code, with the correct gown and hood. There are many different kinds of gowns and hoods, representing the various degrees. The correct combination depends also on whether or not the graduand already has a Cambridge degree.
Those receiving their first Cambridge degree wear the gown which denotes the status they have held in the University before the ceremony.
Undergraduates and affiliated students, including BTh students, wear a Downing College undergraduate gown.
Graduate students who are under 24 wear a BA status gown, while those who are 24 or over wear an MA status gown. They each also wear the hood of the highest degree which they are about to receive.
Those with one or more Cambridge degrees wear the gown and hood of their current highest Cambridge degree. Their dress therefore indicates the status they have held before the ceremony, not the degree which they are about to receive.
The dress code for the ceremony is very strict so please read it carefully. It is possible that someone who is incorrectly dressed will not be allowed to graduate. Please note that national dress is only permitted with prior permission from the University Proctors through the Praelector. If you are in doubt, please consult the Praelector in advance.
If you intend to hire any article of academical dress, you are advised to arrange this with one of the local outfitters as soon as your graduation date has been confirmed.
The principles governing the choice of academic dress are described above. For the degrees at General Admission, these are as follows:
- BA Degree: Downing College undergraduate gown with BA hood (black cloth and white fur)
- BA+MEng Degrees: Downing College undergraduate gown with MEng hood (black cloth lined with bronze silk)
- BA+MSci Degrees: Downing College undergraduate gown with MSc hood (black silk lined with pink and light blue silk)
- BTh Degree: Downing College undergraduate gown with BTh hood (black cloth, black silk and white fur)
- VetMB Degree: Downing College BA gown with BA hood (black cloth and white fur)
- LLM Degree: If this is your first Cambridge degree, then BA status gown (if under 24) or MA status gown (if 24 or over), and LLM hood (black and light cherry silk). If you already have a Cambridge degree, then the gown and hood of that degree.
- MCL Degree: If this is your first Cambridge degree, then BA status gown (if under 24) or MA status gown (if 24 or over), and MCL hood (black and light cherry silk with a part lining of white silk). If you already have a Cambridge degree, then the gown and hood of that degree.
(Please note that the 'fur' used is now made of synthetic material.)
The 2017 General Admission ceremony for Downing undergraduates will be held on Friday 30 June.
Arrangements for attending the Senate-House, booking of tickets for your guests and reservations for accommodation can be made via your self-service page on CamSIS once booking opens towards the end of the Lent Term. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2017.
The maximum number of Senate-House tickets that you can book for your guests is three.
Occasionally spare tickets do become available but this cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list for additional tickets please select the relevant option during the online registration.
The degree certificate will be made out in your name exactly as it appears in the University records unless evidence of a mistake or of a formal change of name is submitted. Any such evidence should be sent to the Tutorial and Admissions Office without delay.
Wednesday 28 June: 7.30pm - General Admission Dinner
Thursday 29 June: 6.30pm - Reception for Graduands and families
Friday 30 June:
9.15am to 11.15am - Registration and collection of ordered gowns and hoods from the Tutorial and Admissions Office (B staircase)
11.15am - Assemble for group photograph outside the chapel and talk by the Praelector about Senate-House procedures
11.45am - Assemble outside Howard Building for procession to the Senate-House
12 noon - Guests advised to leave for Senate-House
12.15pm - Procession to the Senate-House
12.25pm - Guests to arrive at the Senate-House
12.35pm - Graduands to arrive at the Senate-House
12.45pm - Session begins at the Senate-House
13.15pm - Approximate finish time for Downing graduands
13.35pm - Buffet lunch in the Hall and marquee on the Fellows' Lawn
From 15.45pm - Graduation group photographs will be available from the Porters' Lodge
There is no shelter near the Senate-House and visitors are advised to bring umbrellas in case of wet weather.
Please note also that photography, smoking and recording are not allowed in the Senate-House. Your guests will be able to join you outside the Senate-House after the ceremony.
Remember that all guests require admission tickets for entry to the Senate-House. These will be distributed to graduands when they register and collect their gowns from the Tutorial and Admissions Office (B Staircase) earlier in the day.
Note that the University provides full photographic services at the Senate-House when you take your degree. To order official Senate-House photographs see this order form.
The deadline for settling bills with the Bursary will be midday on Thursday 22 June 2017. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, or are anticipating problems settling your college bill you must make contact with your Tutor to discuss this as soon as possible.
All those graduating in person on Friday 30 June are permitted to remain in College accommodation up to and including the night of Friday 30 June, should they wish to do so. It may, however, be necessary for a few students to move rooms at the end of Full Term as with usual out of NPR arrangements. Rent will be charged on a pro-rata basis.
Parents and Guardians may be accommodated in College on the Thursday and Friday nights, as space permits, on a first-come-first-served basis. Requests for accommodation should be made via your self-service page on CamSIS when you apply for graduation.
As the College is able to offer single, twin and double rooms it is important that you specify clearly which type of room(s) you require for your guests under 'Accommodation Requirements'. (For example, 2 x single room on Thursday, 1 x twin room on Friday.) The cost for this accommodation will be published on the booking page in CamSIS.
Please note that all rooms occupied until the morning of Saturday 1 July must be completely vacated and cleared of all belongings, by 12 noon at the latest.
Any further enquiries you may have can be emailed to the Tutorial and Admissions Office or telephone 01223 334811.
If you wish to obtain your degree, the Praelector will be glad to arrange for your degree to be conferred on any of the dates below (subject to approval by the Board of Graduate Studies):
2017: 28 January, 25 February, 1 April, 29 April, 20 May (includes conferment of MAs for Downing 2010 Matriculands), 21 July, 21 October, 25 November.
2018: 27 January, 24 February, 7April, 28 April, 19 May (includes conferment of MAs for Downing 2011 Matriculands), 20 July.
On these congregation dates you may bring up to three guests to the ceremony in the Senate-House. Additional Senate-House tickets are sometimes available but this cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list for additional tickets please contact the Tutorial and Admissions Office.
There is a College Administration Charge of £30. The charge is the same whether the degree is taken in person or in absence.
Lunch for the graduand and one guest are provided free of charge. Additional guests may be invited to the lunch (up to a maximum of three) at a cost of £25 per head. Your total party size cannot exceed five including yourself.
On the May Degree day, due to the numbers involved, MA graduands may bring one guest to lunch and only one guest to the Senate-House. There is a separate online booking procedure for MA Graduands on this date, via the Alumni and Development website.
Please complete and return the Congregation Booking Form. The deadline for submission, and payment, is three weeks before the date of any Congregation at which you wish to receive the degree. Some congregations are very popular so you are advised to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Cheques should be made payable to Downing College. Alternatively telephone 01223 334811 with your credit/debit card details. When we have received both your form and payment, we will send you a confirmation email containing a provisional timetable of the day, together with dress requirements and details regarding gown and hood hire.
If you wish to obtain your degree in absence, your certificate will be posted to your mailing address in CamSIS after the Congregation has taken place. Please ensure that you update this accordingly.
Children attending graduation
Children are required to have their own ticket for the Senate House (babies/very young children do not require a ticket as they are expected to sit on the lap of a parent/guardian, although the University does not recommend bringing such young children to the Senate House).
Children aged 8 and above are welcome to attend the Lunch.Typical timetable for most congregations
Collect academic dress from Outfitters Hire Shop.
12 noon - Assemble with your guests in the SCR, dressed ready for the ceremony, to collect Senate-House tickets and to meet the Praelector
12.30pm - Lunch with your guests
2.30pm - Graduands to assemble for procession to the Senate-House
2.40pm - Guests to arrive at the Senate-House
3.05 - Graduands to arrive at the Senate-House
4.15pm - Approximate finish time at the Senate-House. Meet guests on Senate-House lawn.
Return academic dress to Outfitters Hire Shop.
To be presented at any congregation enquiries should be made via the Tutorial and Admissions Office (B staircase ) or telephone +44 01223 334811.