Arranging Your Graduation
Students may elect to take their degrees in person or in absence. Graduating in absence means you do not need to attend a University Congregation held in the Senate-House, and will receive your degree certificate in the post. However, you still need to make a formal application to graduate. Everyone who graduates will receive an official degree transcript, normally within a month of the Congregation.
Undergraduate students (together with those studying for the LLM and the VetMB) normally collect their degrees as a group, at the end of their final year, at General Admission. This takes place near the end of June, and details are circulated to eligible students by the Tutorial Assistant, Rebecca McKnight (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +44 1223 3 38844), during Easter Term.
Graduate students must be eligible to graduate before booking their graduation. 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) should arrange their graduations by completing the Graduation Booking Form and returning it to the Praelector's Secretary, Mrs Angela Parr-Burman (email@example.com) at least three weeks before the intended date of graduation.
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 Tutorial and Student Finance Manager, Mr David Graves (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +44 1223 7 60972).
Graduands may proceed to their degrees at any of the University Congregations held in the Senate-House during the year. A list of upcoming ceremonies can be found below. But at the November and February Congregations graduands at Sidney may only proceed in absence. Those wishing to graduate in person should choose an alternative date. A graduand may each bring up to three guests to the Senate-House, and tickets should be requested on the booking form. It is sometimes possible to provide a small number of extra tickets, although this can only be confirmed a week before the ceremony.
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'. This formula can be omitted, if requested on the booking form. A further alternative is to request that a simpler formula, in nomine Dei, 'in the name of God', be used instead. 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 booking form.
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.
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.
Graduands who have not previously received a Cambridge degree should wear the gown appropriate to their formal status in the University. This will be a BA or MA status gown (depending on age), and may be different from the gown they have been used to wearing for social purposes; in particular, a BTh or affiliated student will need to wear the Sidney undergraduate gown. The gown is then worn with the hood of the degree that the graduand is about to receive.
Non-academical dress is formal in nature, black and white only, and strictly interpreted. Please consult the Graduation Congregations Dress Requirements and the Academic Dress Flow Chart for further details on required academical dress, on outfitters for academical dress hire, and essential guidance on appropriate non-academical dress.
On all Congregation days when graduands are proceeding in person, the College provides hospitality for both graduands and their guests, as part of the celebrations. From 2014/15, there will be a Graduation High Tea at the October, January, March and May Congregations and a Graduation Dinner at the April and July Congregations. (General Admission has separate arrangements.)
Graduation High Tea will include a glass of sparkling wine, cake, scone, sandwiches and other items, and, of course, tea and coffee; there will be no charge to graduands for the High Tea, and guests may join us at a charge of £20.50 per guest. Graduation Dinner will comprise three courses, with tea and coffee, at a charge of £28.65 for both graduands and their guests. Wine for the dinner may be purchased by graduands from the College Buttery, from 6.00 p.m. Purchases must be made in cash (and there are no card facilities) because students' College accounts will have been closed (and all bills settled) prior to graduation. To comply with Licensing Regulations no wine or other alcohol may be brought in from outside the College. Up to five guests may attend High Tea or Dinner, apart from the July Dinner, when only three guests can be accommodated, owing to limitations of space. And we regret that no guests may attend High Tea at the May Congregation, because of the large number of MA graduands present on that day. Dress for Graduation Dinner (graduands and their guests) is 'smart casual', gowns optional; however, it would nonetheless be entirely appropriate, and welcome, if a graduand wishes to attend in their graduation academical dress.
Bookings for Graduation Dinners will be taken on a 'first come, first served' basis, until the Hall limit is reached. And bookings can only be taken when eligibility to graduate has been confirmed. Graduands eligible to proceed at, or before, the April Congregation may only book Dinner for April (and not July).
If you wish to bring guests, please indicate this (and any dietary requirements) on the Graduation Booking Form. You may pay by debit or credit card for guest High Teas or graduand and guest Graduation Dinners - please contact the Tutorial and Student Finance Manager, Mr David Graves (email@example.com, Tel. +44 1223 7 60972) at least three weeks before the date of your graduation in order to arrange this. If you need to cancel any guest bookings, please inform the Praelector's Secretary (above) at least 72 hours before the event.
The schedule for each Congregation is only finalised by the University just a week before the event, so exact timings will be circulated to graduands on the Monday preceding the Saturday Congregation. A rehearsal of the ceremony is held in Chapel in the morning (to which guests are welcome when there is space). Graduands should attend the rehearsal fully dressed for the degree ceremony. Dress will be checked by the Praelector, and any errors will need to be rectified before graduands may proceed to the Senate-House. After the rehearsal, graduands and their guests will make their own arrangements for lunch (including, if wished, College Brunch). Then, in good time to arrive promptly at the Senate-House, the Praelector will lead a small procession from the Porters' Lodge, according to the time scheduled for Sidney graduands to proceed to their degrees. The time at which Sidney presents graduands varies for each Congregation, but usually falls between noon and 2.00 p.m.
Once inside the Senate House, Sidney is 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 alphabetical groups of up to four at a time. As each group is presented to the Vice Chancellor or his deputy, each graduand holds a finger of the Praelector's right hand, with their own right hand, 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 the new graduates at marquees hosted by University staff.
New graduates and their guests will then make their way back to College, to attend the Graduation High Tea, or Graduation Dinner. The time (and venue) of the High Tea will vary (a little) according to the day's timetable, but is likely to be at 3.00 p.m. Graduation Dinners will take place at 7.00 p.m. in the Hall.
Guests at Graduation
Guest 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. If so, guests will need to leave Sidney, to take their places in the Senate-House, independent of our formal procession from the College.
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. The Congregation 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: Saturday, 16 May 2015 Degree Congregation followed by Graduation High Tea
- Friday, 26 June 2015 Degree Congregation - General Admission & Master's Buffet Lunch
- Saturday, 18 July 2015 Degree Congregation and Graduation Dinner
- Saturday, 24 October 2015 Degree Congregation followed by Graduation High Tea
- Saturday, 28 November 2015 Degree Congregation. Students from Sidney can only graduate 'in absentia'
- Saturday, 23 January 2016 Degree Congregation followed by Graduation High Tea
- Saturday, 20 February 2016 Degree Congregation. Students from Sidney can only graduate 'in absentia'
- Saturday, 26 March 2016 Degree Congregation followed by Graduation High Tea
- Saturday, 23 April 2016 Degree Congregation followed by Graduation Dinner
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.