Academic dress | University of Oxford
Academic dress
Graduands listening to the Vice-Chancellor's speech on Degree Day
Copyright © Rob Judges Photography. This image comes from Oxford University Images - All rights reserved.

Academic dress

Full academic dress, known as sub fusc (from the Latin sub fuscus meaning dark brown), must be worn at all formal University ceremonies including matriculation and degree ceremonies. Sub fusc is also required when sitting examinations (mortar boards and gowns may be removed during the examination). 

Your sub fusc

You should wear the appropriate gown (your college / department can advise), a mortar board or soft-cap, and your preferred items from the following list:

1.    one of:

  • dark suit with dark socks, or
  • dark skirt with black tights or stockings, or
  • dark trousers with dark socks or dark hosiery

2.    dark coat if required
3.    black shoes
4.    plain white collared shirt or blouse
5.    white bow tie, black bow tie, black full-length tie, or black ribbon.

Ministers of religion may wear clerical dress, with a gown over, when attending ceremonies. If you wear a head dress / scarf for religious reasons, a black scarf should be worn. Members of the armed forces may wear service dress under their gowns.

In addition, students traditionally wear carnations for examinations: a white carnation for first examination, a red carnation for last examination and a pink carnation for all examinations in between.

The wearing of academic dress should be seen not simply as a sign of achievement, but as a collective symbol of the responsibility which falls on all members of universities.

Student gowns 

Student gowns: Commoners (left), Scholars (middle), Graduates (right)Student gowns: Commoners (left), Scholars (middle), Graduates (right)

Copyright © Oxford University Images John Cairns

Commoners – Black gown of cotton or synthetic material with a turned over collar. It has no sleeves but has a streamer on each side with square pleating hanging to the full length of the gown, which falls to the hip.

Scholars – Black gown of Russell cord or synthetic material in full style with a gathered stiffened yoke behind and short open sleeves. The gown should reach the wearer’s knees. 

Graduates (not already a graduate of Oxford) – Black gown of cotton or synthetic material of the same style as the Commoners’ gown, but reaches to the knees of the wearer.

Degree ceremonies

For all degrees you must also wear the gown of your existing University of Oxford status (and the hood if there is one) during the first part of the degree ceremony. You will change into the gown (and hood) of your new degree at the appropriate time during the ceremony. Your college will let you know which gowns and hoods you will need. Members of the University serving in HM Forces are permitted to wear dress uniform together with a gown. The uniform cap must be removed when in the Sheldonian Theatre.

Hoods

Doctor of Divinity

Full shape, scarlet cloth lined with black silk.

Doctor of Civil Law/Doctor of Medicine
Full shape, scarlet cloth lined with crimson shot silk.

Doctor of Letters/Doctor of Science
Full shape, scarlet cloth lined with grey silk.

Doctor of Philosophy
Full shape, scarlet cloth lined with dark blue silk.

Master of Surgery
Dean Burgon shape, black silk lined and edged with blue silk.

Doctor of Clinical Psychology
Dean Burgon shape, dark royal blue ribbed silk, edged and lined red.

Doctor of Engineering
Dean Burgon shape, red ribbed silk, edged grey and lined petrol blue.

Master of Letters / Master of Science
Dean Burgon shape, blue ribbed silk edged and lined with grey silk.

Master of Philosophy /Bachelor of Philosophy
Dean Burgon or Oxford shape, blue ribbed silk, edged and lined with white silk.

Bachelor of Music
Dean Burgon or Oxford shape, lilac ribbed silk trimmed with white fur fabric.

Bachelor of Medicine and of Surgery/ Bachelor of Civil Law/Magister Juris
Dean Burgon shape, blue corded silk or poplin with white fur fabric.

Master of Studies
Dean Burgon shape, deep green ribbed silk, edged and lined with white silk.

Bachelor of Divinity
Doctors’ shape, black corded silk lined with a fine black ribbed silk.

Master of Arts
Dean Burgon or Oxford Shape, black corded silk, edged and lined with crimson or shot crimson silk.

Bachelor of Arts/Master of; Biochemistry, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Mathematics and Philosophy, Physics and Philosophy
Dean Burgon or Oxford Shape, black corded silk, lined and trimmed with white fur fabric.

Master of Theology
Dean Burgon shape, black corded silk, edged and lined with magenta silk.

Master of Business Administration
Dean Burgon shape, claret corded silk, edged and lined with dark grey silk.

Master of Fine Arts
Dean Burgon shape, gold corded silk, edged and lined with white silk.

Bachelor of Fine Arts
Dean Burgon shape, black silk with a narrow band of gold silk inside.

Bachelor of Theology
Dean Burgon shape, black silk with a narrow band of magenta silk inside.

Caps

When caps are called for either hard caps (mortar boards) or soft caps may be worn.