Talking Points

Graduation caps being thrown in the air against a blue sky

The university student’s guide to graduation in Leeds

Congratulations! You’ve completed your degree at a Leeds university, and graduation is just around the corner.

A long-awaited moment in your academic journey is arriving, and it’s time to celebrate your accomplishments with your fellow students and loved ones.

With its vibrant culture, historic buildings, and thriving student community, Leeds provides the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable graduation experience.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to make the most of your graduation day in Leeds.

What is graduation?

Graduation is the completion of a course of study at a university or college. It is also the name given to the special ceremony where students are awarded their degrees and diplomas on completion of their courses.

In this guide, we are referring to the ceremony aspect, also known as graduation day.

When is graduation?

Each university’s graduation dates and times are unique. Large universities like the University of Leeds will run many graduation days annually to process the thousands of graduates from its many faculties and schools.

The date of graduation changes annually for each university but the month and location stay the same.

What happens before a graduation ceremony?

Before your graduation ceremony, you must register your intent to attend with the university, decide who will attend as your guests, and book your tickets.

If you have any accessibility requirements, contact the university in advance so they can ensure you’ll have no issues on the day.

Next, you must order your compulsory graduation gown and photography package (if you want one) and decide how you and your guests will travel to the venue.

Book travel and accommodation now, if possible, as public transport and hotels will be busy around graduation season.

Consult the university’s graduation timetable to finish planning your day.

What happens on graduation day?

Leeds Beckett University Graduations | Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022

Aim to arrive on site between 120 and 90 minutes before your ceremony starts.

The University of Leeds and Leeds Arts University students must collect their graduation tickets in person, so head straight to the ticket desk if you studied there. Once you have your tickets, it’s time to collect your gown.

Leeds Beckett students receive digital tickets via email so you can go straight to collect your academic gown on arrival at campus.

Once you’ve collected your gown, head to the official photography area for individual and family portraits. Remind your guests to snap plenty of candid memories throughout the day, whether or not you have paid for an official package.

After the ceremony, take any final photographs and videos and then return your cap and gown to the drop-off area.

Your university or school of study may hold a drinks reception after graduation.

What happens at a graduation ceremony?

Ensure you are seated in the correct gown 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

Graduands sit together (sometimes alphabetically to help you get in and out of the seats efficiently), and guests sit separately.

Academic staff will enter the room first and take their seats on stage.

To begin the ceremony, the vice-chancellor or president of the academic board will welcome everyone to the event. Speeches and notable mentions will follow.

Next, each student will be called onto the stage individually to be presented with their ‘degree’ (although this will be a plastic tube or paper cylinder — you’ll receive your actual degree at another time).

You’ll walk across the stage when your name is called and shake the chancellor’s hand. You’ll be handed the ‘degree’, and you’ll then exit the stage and make your way back to your seat.

The university will ensure the service is highly organised to run smoothly, and people will be on hand to help you if you’re unsure where to go or what to do next.

Once all the presentations are done, the ceremony will draw to a close. There may be a final speech.

Academic staff will leave the stage, and the graduates will exit afterwards, followed by the guests.

How long is a graduation ceremony?

A graduation ceremony’s length depends on how many students are graduating, so a ceremony could take one and a half hours or it might even take up to four hours.

What to wear to graduation

Graduation is a formal occasion, so all universities like students to dress appropriately in smart clothes. Denim, leisurewear, and partywear are not permitted under any circumstances.

Dark clothing, such as a suit, dress, or something from your cultural tradition, is a reliable choice.

You might consider a buttoned shirt or blouse, as a button can help fasten the academic hood in place. However, you can use a safety pin to secure the hood and wear a dress or top without buttons.

We recommend sensible footwear, as graduands may have to walk a lot on the day and up steps onto the stage.

How to measure for a graduation cap and gown

You don’t wear a graduation cap and gown often, so you may wonder how to measure for them.

This video explains how to measure your head for the cap:

How to measure your head for a graduation cap

For your gown, ask someone to measure your height from the top of your head to the floor using a tape measure.

Finally, measure your chest under the arms around the fullest part of your bust. The tape measure should be firm but not overly tight.

How much is a graduation gown?

At the University of Leeds, gown hire costs from £45 for an undergraduate gown booked in advance to £65 for a doctoral gown booked on the day.

Due to the cost of living crisis, gown hire is free at Leeds Trinity University in 2023, but must be booked in advance. Otherwise, it costs £49 on the day.

Gown hire is also free of charge this year at Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Arts University.

How to wear a graduation cap and gown

This video shows you exactly how to wear your graduation gown, hood, and cap:

How to wear your graduation gown and cap

Hair grips can help keep the cap in place and grab a safety pin for the hood if you’re not wearing a shirt or blouse.

What to do after the graduation ceremony

After you’ve enjoyed the ceremony, it’s time to celebrate your success with your family and friends. Some graduates go for a sit-down meal, others have a party at home, and some hit the town.

Whatever you do, enjoy your celebrations!

If you’re staying at university to study for a Master’s degree, ensure you secure student accommodation in Leeds if you haven’t already.

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