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Cardiff ConnectNews

Know your robes

16 July 2018

Graduation is the culmination of years of hard work, and the pageantry and processions rightly celebrate that. But just what is the significance of those robes? Why are some hoods different colours? Our Surviving Graduation series continues, with our Graduation Gown Guide (or, Know Your Robes!)


First up let’s look at the most familiar ones. Black gown, with a square black cap. The academic cap, sometimes called a mortarboard, is a square black board, on top of a black skullcap with a black tassel. The undergraduate gown is black, with a bell shaped sleeve (that realistically you don’t see that much because of the way it’s worn). But where things start to get interesting is in the hood.

All the hoods at Cardiff University graduation ceremonies are red on the outside. Where the variety in hood colours comes into play is in the lining. Each type of degree has a different style of hood, so you can spot who is graduating on any given day if you’re eagle eyed enough to pick up on the different flashes of colour.

Diploma: powder blue silk lining. These will be worn by any graduands (which is what a student becomes when they’ve successfully completed the examinations to attain a degree but not been awarded it) receiving the Diploma of Higher Education, Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma

Certificate: beige silk lining. Worn by those receiving the Certificate of Higher Education, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate, and Postgraduate Certificate in Education.


Bachelor: soft white silk lining. Probably the one you’ll see most frequently during graduation week because of the wide range of degrees studied that this covers. They are…breathe…BA, BArch, BD, BEd, BEng, BSc, BScEcon, BMedSc, BMid, BMus, BN, BSD, BTh, LLB. If you see two people arguing about who has the better degree, but they both have white lined hoods, it’s safe to assume that’s the old BA vs BSc rivalry in action!

Extended Bachelor and Integrated Master: soft white silk lining edged with royal blue. Worn by those who have studied a Bachelors and Masters in one go: BDS, MBBCh, MArch, MChem, MEng, MESci, MMath, MPharm, MPhys. The lining is the same colour as the Taught Masters indicating that the two were studied together!


Taught Master: royal blue silk lining. Worn by those receiving…deep breath again…LLM, MA, MBA, MClinDent, MEd, MEP, MMus, MPA, MPH, MSc, MScD, MScEcon, MTh

Research Master: lilac silk lining. A slightly less commonly seen Masters robe – so we’re awarding you an extra ten points if you spot anyone receiving an MPhil, MRes, or MScD by Research

Masters graduands wear a different gown, it’s still black but the sleeves are full length – but they are closed off at the end, with the arm poking through a slit above the elbow.

Which brings us on to the Doctorates. Those receiving Doctorates wear a Cardiff Red gown with full sleeves that have a coloured lining. They also get additional splashes of colour, known as facings, on the front of their gown. They also wear a slightly different hat, known as a bonnet – which is round and has a black and silver tassel. Doctorates come in two flavours:

Doctorate: forest green facings, sleeve linings and hood lining edged with silver grey. As well as the well-known PhD, people wearing this configuration may be receiving DAHP, DClinPsy, DDS, DEdPsy, DHS, DNurs, DNursSci, DSW, EdD, EngD, MCh, MD, or SPPD

Senior Doctorate: pale gold facings, sleeve linings and hood lining edged with silver grey. Absolutely top i-spy honours if you manage to spot anyone receiving the prestigious DD, DDSc, DLitt, DMus, DSc, DScEcon, or LLD.

And finally…

The Honorary Doctorate. This is the big one for you keen robe spotters as it might go hand in hand with a bit of celebrity spotting. So let’s be nice and clear. You’re looking for: red gown, no hood but with black facings. They may try and blend in with a black bonnet, but fear not, the red tassel means you’ll know you’ve spotted a real high scoring gown.

So now, armed with our i-spy guide to the streets of Cardiff, you’re a little bit better equipped for Surviving Graduation.