Frequently Asked Questions

1. Congregation Ceremony

2. Guests

3. Tickets

4. Academic Dress

5. Visiting Newcastle

6. Parchment

1. Congregation Ceremony

What is a congregation ceremony?

A congregation ceremony or graduation ceremony is a celebration of the achievement of those who have been awarded Undergraduate degrees, Postgraduate degrees, Certificates, and Diplomas.

What happens at a Newcastle University congregation ceremony?

Graduates and guests will be allowed to take their seats 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony. The beginning of the ceremony is marked by the academic procession entering King's Hall. The Presiding Office (the Chancellor or his representative) will make an opening speech. Graduates will be called to the stage in order of their academic School, award and surname. They will be hooded with the appropriate colours of their award, and will shake the hand of the Presiding Officer before returning to their seat. At the end of each ceremony, one graduate selected to act as Student Orator will give a speech, which will reflect on their time as a student at Newcastle University and look forward to the future. The whole ceremony will last approx 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When is my ceremony?

Our website gives the dates of upcoming ceremonies. You will be eligible to attend a ceremony if your name has appeared on an official Newcastle University pass list by the deadline prescribed, and you are debt-free to the University by that date too.

I want to apply to attend a Congregation ceremony - how do I do that?

Go to our How to Apply page, which will tell you what to do.

I am not able to attend the ceremony, can I attend a future ceremony instead?

If you are unable to attend, you can choose to defer until a future date. Ceremonies are usually held in July and December of each year. Please indicate your preference when completing your Congregation application form.

Graduates may only defer their graduation ceremony for up to 18 months after they pass their course.

I haven't completed my course yet - can I still apply to attend a Congregation?

Yes, please submit your application as soon as possible. If you wait until you have completed and passed your course, it may be too late. You can always cancel your attendance nearer the time, if it turns out that you cannot attend, for whatever reason. Go to our Before the Day page, for information about deadlines for applying to attend a Congregation.

Will my final grade or classification be read out during the ceremony?

There will be no mention of your classification (e.g. 2:1) during the ceremony or in the programme. However, this information will be stated on your degree parchment (certificate).

Will I receive my parchment (certificate) on stage?

At Newcastle University (as at most other universities) we do not present you with your degree parchment on stage. The graduation ceremony is a hooding ceremony, during which your award is recognised publicly and you shake the hand of the Presiding Officer. This is usually a special occasion for your friends and family to recognise the hard work that you have undertaken. More information about parchment issuing.

Can I choose not to shake hands on stage?

It is the tradition at Newcastle University, when crossing the stage during your ceremony, to shake the hand of the Presiding Officer. However, if you do not wish to do this (for example for religious reasons), please carry your programme booklet (which you will find on your seat) in both hands when you approach the stage.

How can I make sure that my name is pronounced correctly?

If your name is difficult to pronounce, you can help us by submitting the name pronunciation form. The information you provide on this form will be passed to the person who reads the names at your graduation ceremony.

How long is the Congregation ceremony?

The ceremony usually lasts between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

Is photography allowed during the Congregation ceremony?

Guests are welcome to take photographs or video images during the ceremony, but we ask that you remain seated to avoid blocking the view of those around you. Remember that a photograph will be taken of each candidate crossing the stage, by our official photographers (wherever possible). This photograph will be available for purchase after the ceremony.

2. Guests

How many guests can I bring to my ceremony?

The standard number of guest tickets issued to a student applying to attend a Congregation is two tickets in King's Hall, where the ceremony takes place. You are guaranteed to be allocated these two guest tickets in King's Hall, provided you submit your application before the deadline.

All extra guest tickets are offered on a first come, first served basis. Most extra tickets will be for the Live Screening (a room in the Armstrong Building). Live Screening tickets cost £10 each and extra King's Hall tickets (which are usually in short supply) cost £15 each.

What is the Live Screening?

A room in the Armstrong Building where there is a large screen onto which we broadcast the Congregation ceremony as it is happening. Entry to the Live Screening is by ticket only.

Are children allowed to attend my ceremony?

Children are welcome to attend the graduation ceremonies provided that they are under the direct supervision of an adult guest who is not graduating at that ceremony. We kindly request that the adult removes the child from the venue if the child becomes restless, in order not to disrupt proceedings. Children will require their own ticket, unless they will be sitting on the knee of a guest.

Please note that graduates will be seated in a different area King's Hall from their guests; this of course means that children will not be able to sit with their graduating parents but must sit with the other guests in your party.

How do I inform you if my guests require special arrangements?

Please inform us of any specific access requirements you or your guests may have by completing the relevant section of the application form when you register for graduation. If you did not include this information on your application form you can also contact the Congregations Team.

We will be in touch to confirm arrangements near the time of your ceremony.

Can my friends and family watch my ceremony online if they are unable to attend?

Your ceremony will be streamed onto our website live for your friends and family to view. Please provide them with the following link: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/congregations/ceremonies/view_online/index.php.

3. Tickets

How are tickets allocated?

Each student is issued with two guest tickets free of charge. If extra tickets are available for your ceremony they will be available to purchase online on a first come, first served basis. Graduates will be emailed with details of the ticket release dates and a special payment link.

Any tickets which still remain after the online ticket releases will be available to purchase from the Ticket Desk on the day of the ceremony (cash only).

Are tickets posted out?

Tickets are not posted out, but will be available for collection from the Ticket Desk by the candidate only, on the day of the ceremony. Please bring ID with you. The ticket desk will open one and a half hours before the first ceremony of the day.

One of my guests can no longer attend - can I get a refund?

Tickets are non-refundable, except in the case where a student does not pass their course in time to attend the Congregation ceremony. You may wish to offer your spare ticket to a friend instead.

4. Academic Dress

What should I wear for my ceremony?

Although the Congregation Ceremonies represent a chance to celebrate your achievements, they are also traditional formal events and therefore you are encouraged to dress accordingly. We advise candidates to wear a light-coloured shirt or blouse with dark trousers or a skirt. A buttoned shirt or blouse is recommended as there is a loop on the academic hood which can be affixed over a button. Alternatively you may wish to bring a safety pin to help hold the hood in place. Traditional and national dress is encouraged. All attendees are also advised to dress in a manner appropriate to the weather, noting that there may be queues outside the Congregations venues.

Is wearing a gown (academic dress) compulsory?

All graduates who wish to take part in a Congregation Ceremony must wear academic dress. Please view our Gown Hire page for further information. Watch our video on how to wear your gown.

Why do Newcastle University graduates not wear a mortar board (hat)?

The story goes that when Newcastle became an independent university in 1963, students celebrated freedom by throwing their traditional hats into the River Tyne. Since then, Newcastle University academic dress has not included a mortar board.

5. Visiting Newcastle

Will refreshments be available on the day?

All graduates and guests attending the ceremony are invited to a reception after the ceremony where drinks and a light buffet will be served.

The Courtyard Restaurant and The Bistro will also be open for most of the day.

Is parking available on site?

Due to space restrictions, we are not able to offer parking on campus for everyone, although we do have a limited number of spaces for visitors with mobility issues. If you or your guests require a disabled parking space, please contact the Congregations Team.

Our Campus is located in Newcastle City Centre and is easily accessible by public transport. Information on travelling to Newcastle and parking in the city centre.

Can you recommend accommodation nearby?

We are unable to provide hotel recommendations. However, you may find the NewcastleGateshead tourism website useful.

Can you store my luggage for me?

Luggage may be left in the Cloakroom on campus. Belongings are left at the owners' risk.

6. Parchment

What is a parchment?

Parchment is the official word which the University uses to mean your Award Certificate.

How will my name appear on my parchment?

Your full legal name will appear on your parchment, with your surname in capital letters. When we invite you to a graduation ceremony, we show you how your name will be displayed on your parchment. If any part of your legal name is missing, please contact your School Office or Research Institute so they can update your student record accordingly.

I haven't received my parchment yet - what should I do?

Go to our Issuing Parchments page, which will tell you our procedure and timescale for issuing parchments.

I have lost my parchment - what should I do?

You can apply for a duplicate copy of your parchment by visiting our online webstore.

I still have my parchment but I need to get a copy of it certified as a true copy - can you do this for me?

Yes, this service is also available via our webstore.