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Graduation Day

You’ve done it!

A Congregation Day at Hughes Hall normally involves, in the morning or afternoon:

  • Welcome presentation for graduands and guests
  • Rehearsal and dress check for graduands
  • Canapés and drinks reception for graduands and guests (booking required, see What You Need to Do)

Graduands and guests then proceed to the Senate House. However, we are only given our time at the Senate House a week before the Congregation Day itself. Until then we don’t know whether the Hughes Hall events take place in the morning (starting 11.30) or later (starting early afternoon).

This means that you and your guests should plan to be in Cambridge for the whole day. Proceedings could start at 11.30 at Hughes Hall, or could end at 19.30 at the Senate House! In particular, it is unwise to book flights on the evening of graduation until you receive the exact timings for the day.

The graduation ceremony takes place in the Senate House on King’s Parade. As the building is fairly small, graduands move through the building in college groups without sitting down. Meanwhile guests are ushered in and out about every half-hour to witness the appropriate graduations.

The size of each college group, and hence the time at which colleges progress through the building, is only known a week before the day itself. By convention, the time slot for Hughes Hall is late afternoon. However, there are occasional Congregations when other college groups are small and our time slot is earlier.

The ceremony takes place largely in Latin – though graduands do not have to say anything. The college Praelector presents you by degree groups, assuring the Vice Chancellor (or their deputy) that you are worthy to receive your degree. You will be called individually by your first listed name plus your surname. You then kneel in front of the Vice Chancellor (or their deputy), who confers your degree with a traditional Christian formula. You stand, bow, leave by the side door, and proceed round to the lawn where you wait for your guests.

Contact Praelector@hughes.cam.ac.uk in advance if you wish to be called by one of your middle names, or have special requests, e.g. you are unable to kneel, or have valid religious objection to the formula of conferral.

The ceremony is fairly brief, but must adhere strictly to a set pattern, mostly without instructions. Also, you must be dressed entirely correctly or you may not be admitted. So it is vital that you attend the college rehearsal and dress check. See What to wear.

For the Senate House ceremony, you may have up to 2 guests – babies and children count as guests. You will be given tickets for your guests at the rehearsal at Hughes Hall earlier in the day.