Dress Code


What do I wear for the ceremony?

Dress Style 1: degree bands, undergraduate gown with hood for the highest degree you are receiving. The gown must be worn ‘in the official manner’, ie, not with the arms through the shoulder slits. You may find some stitching is necessary to make this possible. A square may be carried but is not essential. You also need a dark suit (preferably black), plain black lace-up shoes, plain black socks, plain white shirt (a wing collar is traditional but not essential), white bow tie.

Dress Style 2: undergraduate gown with hood for the highest degree you are receiving. The gown must be worn ‘in the official manner’, ie, not with the arms through the shoulder slits. You may find some stitching is necessary to make this possible. A square may be carried but is not essential. Degree bands are optional. You also need: a dark trouser/skirt suit or dress (preferably black), or a black skirt and a white blouse with (optionally) a black cardigan. The dress, jacket, blouse or cardigan must have long sleeves. Shoes must be plain black. Tights or stockings are obligatory and must be black or neutral.

What dress items are NOT allowed at the Senate House?

Footwear: No sandals or boots, no patent leather, no fancy buckles, no non-functional decoration, no coloured stitching, no punching. Remember that you will be walking up the middle of the Senate House, kneeling and then standing up again, so avoid high heels unless you are confident you can walk tall in them and not stumble or catch them in your gown when you get up from the kneeler.

Personal adornment: no coloured nail varnish, no bright lipstick, no heavy eye makeup, no bling (discreet stud earrings, a watch and a personal ring only), no handbags

How do I get hold of a hood and bands?

You’ll need to either hire or buy these from one of the academic outfitters around town. You’re advised to make your order as early as you can as they do tend to run out of some items. Remember that you’ll need this kit for the photo on the afternoon before graduation as well as on the day itself. Be sure also to tell the outfitter which degree you are receiving as MSci, MEng and LLM graduands have different hoods to the usual BA ones. See:

Ede & Ravenscroft, Ryder & Amies, AE Clothier

Must my suit/dress for the ceremony be black?


You are strongly advised to go for black, although a very dark grey, or very, very dark blue is just about acceptable. Brown, or pinstripe, is definitely out. A black dinner jacket is fine. The idea is that your suit must not look lighter than your gown. Any colour, however dark, looks very conspicuous among the black and white outfits worn by the vast majority of graduands, so it is much safer to opt for black.

Do I need a special gown?

No, you wear your usual gown, but the hood must be right for the degree you are getting. The assistants at the outfitters are very experienced and will know exactly what you need.

What about mortar boards?

Correctly called ‘squares’, these are optional. You cannot wear one in the Senate House. Instead you will have to carry it under your arm, put it down on the dais while you kneel to receive your degree, and then remember to pick it up again afterwards. If you have a burning desire to be photographed in a funny hat, then get one for the portrait photo (you can’t wear it for the group one), but you are strongly advised to leave it behind when you set off for the Senate House.

Can I opt to wear national dress or military uniform instead?

Please seek advice via the Tutorial Office in the first instance. However, the decision ultimately rests with the Praelector and you should give plenty of notice if you wish to seek permission.

I’m not sure whether my shirt/shoes/dress will be OK or not…

Bring the item to the Tutorial Office well before Graduation Day for advice!


How can I make my hood stay in place – it slips back and chokes me?

You’ll probably need to use safety pins to keep everything in place. The Tutorial staff will show you what to do, at the dress checking before the photo on Wednesday. The thicker your shirt, the better chance you’ll have of not looking like a scarecrow. There is a loop on the band at the front of the hood, which goes over a button on either your jacket or your shirt, so avoid garments with no buttons at the front.

Are non-graduating third years in the photo?

No, only those graduating go in the photo, but non-graduands often stand around to watch, cheer, clap etc

What is the dress code for the Graduation Dinner?

Black tie.

Do we wear gowns and hoods for the dinner? What about people who are not graduating?

You all wear gowns, but not hoods, regardless of whether you are graduating or not.

If non-graduands go to the Senate House to watch the ceremony, do they wear gowns?

Yes, all members of the University are required to wear gowns in the Senate House.


What is the dress code for relatives and friends at the Master’s Buffet Lunch and Graduation Ceremony?

The same smart gear will do for both. Mothers, in particular, tend to pull out all the stops! Anything that would do for a wedding will be fine – some will even wear hats, but this isn’t by any means essential. It’s a good chance to dress up, though.

Do graduands have to wear their black and white clothes for the Master’s Buffet Lunch?

No – smart, ordinary clothes will be fine if you prefer to change after the ceremony.

More questions? Please ask in the Tutorial Office!

Link to University page about academical dress

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