The Praelector, Dr Jane Spencer, is responsible for matriculating new students as members of the University, and for presenting them for graduation at degree ceremonies.
Arranging Your Graduation
Final-year undergraduates (together with those studying for the LL.M. and the Vet.M.B.) collect their degrees as a group at General Admission, which takes place near the end of June. Details are circulated to eligible students by the Senior Tutor's Personal Assistant, Mrs Maria Booth (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +44 1223 3 38847) during Easter Term.
Graduate students should arrange their graduations by filling in the College booking form and returning it to the Praelector's Secretary, Mrs Angela Parr-Burman (email@example.com) at least three weeks before the planned date of graduation. In order to be eligible to graduate, MPhil students must have received confirmation on CamSIS of Faculty Degree approval; and PhD students must have received confirmation on CamSIS of approval by the Board of Graduate Studies. Students on other courses will need to confirm their eligibility with the Student Registry before booking their graduation.
Graduands (as those about to be admitted to a degree are termed) may proceed to their degrees at any of the ceremonies during the year, with the exception of General Admission. A list of upcoming ceremonies can be found here. Graduands taking their degrees in person may each bring up to three guests to the ceremony and tickets may be requested on the booking form. It is sometimes possible to provide a small number of extra tickets, although this cannot be confirmed until approximately three weeks before the ceremony.
On all graduation days (except General Admission), the college provides a two-course, seated, hot buffet lunch with wine, at no charge to graduands. Guests may join us for lunch at a cost of £20.00 per person (for those graduating in 2012-13). If you wish to bring guests, please indicate this (and any dietary requirements) on the booking form and enclose a cheque (made payable to ‘Sidney Sussex College’) for the cost when you book. Alternatively, you may pay by debit or credit card – please contact the College Office and Student Finance Manager, Mr David Graves (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +44 1223 7 60972) at least three weeks before the date of your graduation in order to arrange this. We regret, however, that it is not possible to bring guests to lunch at the May ceremony, because of the large number of MA graduands present on that day. If you need to cancel lunches for guests, please inform the Praelector's Secretary (above) at least 72 hours before the event.
The degree ceremony incorporates the Christian Trinitarian formula, meaning that degrees are conferred "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". Anyone who wishes this to be omitted should indicate their preference on the booking form. The ceremony also includes a brief period of kneeling. Those who do not wish to kneel for medical or religious reasons may opt out on the form.
Students may elect to take their degrees in absence, in which case they do not need to attend a ceremony and will receive their certificates in the post. Graduates will receive an official degree transcript normally within a month of the ceremony.
Please be aware that a condition for graduation is that all College and University bills must have been paid in full. In order to make sure that you have no outstanding College bill, please speak to the College Office and Student Finance Manager, Mr David Graves (email@example.com, Tel. +44 1223 7 60972).
Please note that there are strict University Regulations concerning correct dress at graduation. The Regulations cover both formal academical dress (gowns and hoods) and the clothing which is deemed suitable to wear with it.
For academical dress, graduands who have not previously received a Cambridge degree should wear the gown appropriate to their formal status in the University (which may be different from the gown they have been used to wearing for social purposes, and for a BTh student will be the Sidney undergraduate gown) and the hood of the degree that they are about to receive. Cambridge graduates (of any degree) should wear the hood and gown of the highest Cambridge degree that they already hold. The relevant Cambridge degrees in descending order of seniority are: PhD; MChir; MA; LLM; MSc; MLitt; MRes; MPhil; MusM; MMath; MASt; MEng; MBA; MFin; MEd; MSci; MSt; MB; BChir; VetM.B; MusB; BA; BEd; and BTh.
MA graduands should note that they need to wear their BA (or MEng, etc) gowns, not the Sidney undergraduate gown.
Non-academical dress is formal in nature, black and white only, and strictly interpreted. Please consult the Dress Regulations and the Academic Dress Flowchart for further details on required academical dress, on outfitters for academical dress hire, and essential guidance on appropriate non-academical dress.
The schedule for each graduation day is not finalised until a week before the event and exact timings will be circulated on the Monday preceding the ceremony. Usually, however, a rehearsal of the ceremony (to which guests are welcome when there is space) is held in Chapel in the morning. Graduands should attend the rehearsal fully dressed for the degree ceremony. Dress will be thoroughly checked, and errors will need to be rectified before graduands may proceed to the Senate-House. Shortly before the ceremony, the Praelector will lead you down to the Senate House in a small procession. The time at which Sidney presents graduands varies for each ceremony, and will fall sometimes before, and sometimes after, College lunch.
Once inside the Senate House, when Sidney has been called to present its graduands, the Praelector escorts the first group to the front. Graduands are presented by degree in descending order of seniority and in groups of up to four at a time. As each group of graduands is presented to the Vice Chancellor or his deputy, they each hold a finger of the Praelector's right hand, with their own right hands, while she recites the Latin formula of presentation. Each graduand then kneels individually before the Vice Chancellor, who clasps their hands in his, and admits them to their degree. The moment of graduation is captured in a photograph which may later be purchased.
Each new graduate then leaves by the Doctors' Door (leading down into Senate-House Passage), receiving their degree certificate en route, and then awaits their fellow graduates and guests on the Senate House lawn. Guests will need to remain in the Senate House until the end of the particular session, although this does not typically produce a long wait. Photographs, and other memorabilia, may be purchased by new alumni/ae at marquees hosted by University staff. But sometimes it will be necessary to return promptly to College for lunch.
Guests at Graduation
Tickets for the ceremony must be collected from the Porters' Lodge on the day of graduation. Guests are sometimes required to be at the Senate House for a particular session before the graduands, who arrive in stages from different Colleges during the Congregation. So guests will need to leave Sidney, to take their places in the Senate-House, before our formal procession from the College takes place.
There is very little shelter near the Senate House and so guests may wish to bring umbrellas or parasols. Please be aware that photography, and the use of video cameras, is not permitted inside the Senate House. Mobile phones must also be muted. It should be noted that the ceremony is not regarded as suitable for young children, and, for preference, only children over the age of seven should be brought as guests. Noisy children will be required to be removed from the Senate-House during the ceremony.
We are often asked about the dress code for guests. The guidelines from the Senate House Officers simply state that guests should dress appropriately for a formal occasion. Graduation is not a party. Guests who are members of the University may wish to wear a gown, although academic caps or bonnets should not be worn inside the Senate House.
The dates of forthcoming Congregations are:
- Next congregation: Friday, 28 June 2013 Degree Congregation: General Admission, followed by Tea
- Saturday, 20 July 2013 Praelector's Lunch; Degree Congregation
NOTE: As graduands are arriving in stages during the Congregation, guests cannot accompany them to the Senate House without causing disruption to the Congregation.
Please note that the June Congregation is reserved as a day of General Admission for the presentation of candidates for 'first' degrees; i.e. MEng, MMath, MSci, MusB, BA, BEd, and BTh, and for the LLM and VetMB degrees, only.
The May Congregation is the College's preferred date for the presentation of candidates for the MA degree as it coincides with our MA Dinner and Reunion. By the same token, it is greatly preferred that graduands for other degrees should choose a different Congregation than May.