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What You Must Know About UK Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies are one of the most anticipated events for students studying in the UK from December to January and during the summer months. Undergraduate graduation ceremonies are usually held in the summer, while postgraduate graduation ceremonies are held in the winter. As a ceremony to end your student life, you will not only be excited and nervous when you attend the graduation ceremony but also have a sense of “grandeur” that you will finally enter society as a decent adult. In this article, I will talk about the UK graduation ceremonies for undergraduate, master and doctoral students, including the graduation time, the specific process, and the dress code you are most concerned about, and we will help you sort it out!

UK Graduation Ceremony Time

UK Graduation Ceremony

In the UK, the graduation ceremony for undergraduate degrees is held around July every year, just like in China. For postgraduate students, the semester is longer. They usually hand in their final dissertation in September, and if they need to do a resit, they may have to attend the resit immediately after handing in their dissertation. After that, whether you are looking for a job or having a good time in the UK, you will be able to find out all your results and get your degree in mid to early November after waiting for two months.

You will be notified by the school through email and then attend the graduation ceremony in December or January. However, these timings vary from school to school, depending on the school’s arrangements. I have a friend who turned in his thesis in September, got his grades in December, and attended the graduation ceremony with undergraduates in July of the following year.

The graduation ceremony is usually held in the school’s auditorium because the number of graduates is significant, so it will be divided into different times according to different majors. For example, some schools hold the ceremony on certain days in mid-July, with three sessions per day, each lasting about 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Graduation Preparation Guide

UK Graduation Ceremony TimeAfter booking your Graduation Ceremony, the school will usually send you a Graduation Guide, which will explain in detail what you need to prepare in advance. These are some of the things you need to prepare in advance:

  • Degree Uniform: If you have rented a degree uniform, you can collect it from the designated place the day before the commencement of the Graduation Ceremony.
  • Tickets for spectators: The graduation ceremony will have “Friends and Family” tickets, usually with a maximum of two spectator places. Booked your spot? Great! Expect an e-ticket to land in your inbox a week before the graduation ceremony. This ticket is your loved ones’ golden pass to share in your big moment. Depending on the school, however, the requirements may vary.
  • Plan your travels: A series of tasks await you: registration, fetching your graduation attire, and awaiting admission. All before the graduation ceremony kickstarts. Punctuality is key here. Late arrivals are usually not permitted to register for the ceremony. However, this rule varies, with some schools allowing registration up to 10 minutes before the event begins.
  • Bring a photo ID: Arrive at the graduation ceremony ready for on-site registration. Carry with you a photo ID, a beacon of your identity or a BRP card.
  • Ensure you’ve completed your degree: If you have delayed graduation or haven’t received your degree yet, you won’t be able to enter the graduation ceremony when you arrive on-site, so check the status of your degree on the school’s official website before doing so.

Graduation Ceremony Procedures

UK Graduation Ceremony Time

  • Step 1: Register at the ceremony site and get your degree suited. Don’t get so excited that you forget to register. Your name will only be read during the ceremony if you register. After registering, you can go to the designated place to receive your bachelor’s degree uniform.
  •  Step 2: Generally speaking, there will be a temporary cloakroom at the graduation ceremony site where you can change into your degree uniform, but remember that large items, including luggage, cannot be brought in. However, it is essential to remember that large items, including luggage, cannot be brought in. So it is enough for you to bring your ID, mobile phone and camera.
  • Step 3: Enter the graduation ceremony. In most schools, parents or other invitees are seated in a different area from the graduates. Graduates cannot bring bags to leave their mobile phones and other items with friends and family.
  • Step 4: After the entrance, each person will be arranged according to the order of the first letter of different surnames to the seat; we will remember to keep seats. Everyone will be given a booklet with the names, degrees, majors, etc., of the school leaders present at the graduation ceremony and each graduate. Once everyone is seated, the leaders and teachers make a special formal entrance and take their seats on stage. Then the school’s orchestra will start to play solemn music or the school’s song, and after the music is finished, there may also be the entrance of the school flag or the college flag and lastly, the president or dean will make a speech!
  • Step 5: In the process of the ceremony, everyone will sit on the stage waiting, and then, according to the order of the last names, one by one, on the stage, they will shake hands with the headmaster or dean. When it’s almost your turn, a staff member will come over and verify the information of your lineup and then ask you to stand up and wait on the side of the stage. Throughout the process, your name may be confirmed several times before you go on stage to ensure everything runs smoothly. The final confirmation is done. Your name echoes through the hall. As you ascend the stage, the dean awaits, his congratulations ready. Your graduation moment has arrived!
  •  Generally speaking, whether or not you should wear a cap when you go on stage to shake hands varies according to each school’s rules, and before you go on stage, someone will also help you tidy up your graduation clothes again. After all, the moment your name is called out on stage is the brightest moment of the graduation ceremony!
  • Step 6: Receiving your diploma and transcripts is a milestone moment. It might happen on stage or off stage. Schools have different traditions and different ways of honouring your achievement. Imagine the commissioner receiving a commemorative canvas bag or a school badge. A symbol of trust and authenticity. Each item is a testament to your journey and your hard work.  After the handshake ceremony, there might be speeches from outstanding students and teachers, which inspire you to break through your limits and work hard to create your future, and the whole atmosphere with the diploma you just got is still very relaxed. Throughout the entire process, whether you know your friends or don’t know your classmates, everyone will applaud everyone on stage; the atmosphere is still very harmonious. In the end, the school orchestra played the British national anthem as the end, and everyone stood up and applauded themselves; committee members now think about that scene, and their hearts are still a little excited!
  • Step 7: After all the graduates had gone on stage, the group circled again and exited the auditorium. Step out of the auditorium, a sea of smiles and photos awaits. Group shots everywhere, memories in the making. Many schools host a small cocktail party, a cherry on the graduation cake. Post-photo, friends gather there, swapping stories and sharing laughter. The campus buzzes with joy. Yet beyond the merriment, there’s a palpable thrill, a mix of excitement and anticipation. A new chapter in life is about to begin, right?

About Academic Dress

UK Graduation dress

For students, the most ceremonial moment of the graduation ceremony is still when they put on the academic dress, right? Generally speaking, academic dresses can be rented or bought directly. The price of renting is usually 50 pounds and above; you need to book in advance, fill in your dress size online, pay the rent in advance, and fill in the contact information. You’ll receive a confirmation email once your academic attire is dispatched to the institution. Please present this email to participate in the graduation proceedings. You’ll collect your gown thereafter. If you buy it, it will be more expensive and can be sent to your address or the school.

Dress code

dress code

Need help deciding what to wear under your graduation gown? According to most schools, participants must wear formal dress, so invitees should also pay attention to the dress code. Degree gowns, have you ever noticed the collar colours? They change based on the centre and degree. Sometimes, even the style varies.


  • Don’t carry a backpack. Many graduation ceremonies don’t allow bags to be brought in. So when choosing your dress, try to choose one with pockets.
  • Bring a pair of slippers or flat shoes. Girls, the right footwear matters. High heels may be tempting, an echo of elegance and charm. But consider this: comfort trumps style. Opt for low to medium heels.
  •  Spend a little while fixing your hair because you will be wearing a graduation cap, after all.
  • Don’t worry about wearing your degree suit; someone will be there to dress you up for the day. It is also recommended that you prepare a brooch or pin, as some degree dresses have collars that cannot be fixed and easily strangle your neck.


When and where do UK graduation ceremonies take place?

Graduation ceremonies in the UK usually occur between July and September, depending on the university’s academic calendar. They are held at the university campus or a nearby venue, such as a conference centre or cathedral.

Can I bring guests to my graduation ceremony?

Yes, graduates are generally allowed to bring up to 2 guests to the graduation ceremony. Arrangements vary from school to school, so you must check with the university in advance and prepare tickets for your guests.

What happens during the graduation ceremony?

The graduation ceremony typically includes a formal procession of graduates, speeches from university officials and special guests, and the presentation of degrees. Graduates are called to the stage individually to receive their degree from a university official while their name is read aloud. The ceremony ends with the throwing of hats in celebration.

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