What to expect during your ceremony

Graduation ceremonies are presided over by either the ChancellorVice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor or one of the Pro Vice-Chancellors, all of whom have the authority to confer degrees.

Each ceremony begins with staff processions, which are conducted into the Great Hall by the Bedells, or Ceremonial Officers, who are members of the University staff. Information about who is involved in the processions is given in the graduation programme, which is available to all graduands and guests on the day of the ceremony.

After‌ the processions have entered the Hall the presiding officer will declare the ceremony open.  Each graduand is presented to the presiding officer by the Dean of the relevant Faculty, or their representative.  The graduand approaches the presiding officer holding their hands out in front of them pointing forward with palms together.  The presiding officer clasps their hands around the graduand's hands, and at this point the degree is conferred.  An illustration of the hand position can be seen at Hands at conferral (PDF, 276kB).

After the last new graduate has returned to their seat, an honorary degree is awarded to an individual who has made a significant contribution to society.  A speech presenting the honorary graduand is given by the public orator before the presiding officer confers the degree.  The honorary graduate may then address the congregation offering inspirational words to our graduates.

Once all the degrees have been conferred the presiding officer addresses the new graduates and their guests.  The ceremony concludes with the singing of the National Anthem, led by a student singer from the University of Bristol, after which the processions are led out of the Hall by the Bedells, followed by the new graduates.

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