Honorary Degrees and degrees by diploma

Honorary degrees are conferred annually at Encaenia.  Degrees by diploma are conferred on heads of state and royalty.  Members of Congregation are encouraged to nominate individuals on whom such degrees might be conferred. Nominations may be made at any time of the year. 

The Honorary Degrees Committee is charged with considering nominations received, consulting Council and making recommendations to Congregation. The Committee appreciates the time taken by members of Congregation to bring names to its attention. It hopes to receive a wide and diverse selection of names for consideration alongside names brought to it in the last three years.

Nominations should be sent on the approved application form - see the right-hand links under Documents. The form should be returned by email to the Secretary of the Honorary Degrees Committee, under 'Strictly Confidential' cover. 

Names which are not selected for Encaenia in a particular year will be (re-) considered the following year.

While informal soundings within the University will often be desirable, every effort should be made to ensure that publicity is not at any stage given to any specific proposal for the conferral of an honorary degree. All nominations will be considered in strict confidence by the Honorary Degrees Committee.  The committee will report to Council and a list of honorands will be put to Congregation in due course.

Points to consider when making a nomination

The following considerations should be borne in mind when making a nomination:

1.  Honorary degrees are awarded to recognise conspicuous distinction in contributions to academic inquiry and society, whether nationally or internationally, and to the life of the University. The list of previous honorands may be helpful in indicating the calibre of individuals recognised in this way (see the right-hand links).

2.  When considering possible honorands, the Honorary Degrees Committee will focus on individuals in the following categories:

(a)   those of high academic distinction in the fields of research and scholarship of specific interest to the University of Oxford;

(b)   those distinguished in the visual, literary, musical, and performing arts;

(c)   those distinguished in business and industry;

(d)   those who have played a distinguished role in public life, for example in contributing to progress and change in society;

(e)   those who have made a significant contribution to the activities of the University of Oxford—such individuals would normally also fall into one of the categories above.

3.  Within those categories, the Honorary Degrees Committee will aim to produce a balanced list, which takes account of the global dimension that characterises this University's activities.

4.  The Honorary Degrees Committee has adopted a target that half of the final list of names proposed to Congregation for the conferment of honorary degrees be women and/or minorities. Members of Congregation are therefore encouraged to nominate individuals of conspicuous distinction with particular reference to diversity.

5.  Honorary degrees will not be conferred on anyone who holds, or who has retired from, a resident teaching, research, or administrative post within the University or in any college or other society, except in exceptional circumstances such as distinguished service outside the terms of his or her paid service. In these circumstances, a proposal for an honorary MA may be put forward.  Further information is available from the Secretary to the Honorary Degrees Committee.

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Membership as at TT 2020 is as follows

 

  Name Conditions of appointment Until
[1] Professor Louise Richardson  The Vice-Chancellor ex officio
[2]

Dr Helen Swift, St Hilda's

 The Assessor ex officio
 [3] Dr Jonathan B Katz, All Souls The Public Orator ex officio
 [4] Professor Geraldine Johnson, Christ Church One of up to six members of Council appointed by Council, one of whom shall be the chair. HT 2022
 [5] Professor Roger Goodman, St Anne’s (Vice-Chair)  As above HT 2021
 [6] Professor Gavin Screaton  As above HT 2023
 [7] Professor Sarah Whatmore, Keble  As above HT 2023
 [8] Professor Karen O'Brien, University  As above HT 2022
 [9] Professor Sam Howison, Christ Church  As above HT 2022
[10]

Ms Christine Fairchild, Jesus

One of up to two other members of Congregation, not on Council, appointed by Council HT 2023
[11] Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Parks  As above  HT 2021
Secretary: Council Secretariat (Ms Sarah Cowburn)

Regulations


For the regulations of the Committee on Honorary Degrees please click here:

REGULATIONS

Contact us


Sarah Cowburn

Assistant Registrar (Governance)

Planning and Council Secretariat

sarah.cowburn@admin.ox.ac.uk