Frequently asked questions
Imperial usually holds two graduation ceremonies each year. Commemoration Day for undergraduates in October and Postgraduate Graduation in May.
We have had to take the difficult decision to postpone both ceremonies in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please see the updated frequently asked questions below for more information.
Frequently asked questions
Why aren’t in-person graduation ceremonies taking place this year?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK government restrictions on large scale gatherings limiting guest numbers to 30 people, delivering an in-person graduation ceremony is impossible at present. The Royal Albert Hall is closed until further notice and many events have been cancelled. We understand that this is disappointing for many students and their families. The College is committed to ensuring our graduands’ achievements are celebrated.
Will the October 2020 Graduation Ceremony at Royal Albert Hall go ahead?
Unfortunately, the October 2020 graduation ceremony will be postponed as was the May 2020 ceremony.
Am I affected by the graduation ceremony postponement?
The following students are affected:
- Postgraduate students (MSc, MREs, PhD, MPhil) whose conferral dates are between 2 March 2019 and 1 March 2020.
- Undergraduate students whose conferral dates are between 2 September 2019 to 1 September 2020.
Your conferral date is the date that your degree is confirmed by your department and Registry.
What is the College proposing instead of Graduation ceremonies in the Royal Albert Hall?
The College has launched a consultation to seek the views of graduands on a range of possible options. These options include:
- A congratulatory message from the President and access to a series of video messages from the College and your department to celebrate the conclusion of your time at the College
- An online graduation event – either streamed following a specific schedule or pre-recorded and accessible at any time. It could be hosted on a visually striking bespoke website. Alongside the ceremonies there could be interactive content by department and functionality to build a sense of community.
- In-person events held at a later date when UK government restrictions have been lifted.
We understand how important graduation is to every student. It’s an integral part of the university experience and a milestone moment for students that concludes and recognises their significant achievements. Input from graduands on both the virtual and in-person events will guide our planning. All eligible graduands have been sent an email asking for their views.
Will I be able to attend a graduation ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall at a later date?
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to offer replacement graduation ceremonies in the Royal Albert Hall for several reasons:
- For the time being the Royal Albert Hall is closed and no date has yet been confirmed when the venue will re-open.
- The Royal Albert Hall is in high demand and there is very limited availability for non-commercial events. The College is allocated two of those dates annually. The Graduation Team has requested additional dates in the past but have been unable to secure any.
- The ceremonies already run very close to capacity, with three ceremonies on any given day. We have previously explored adding a further ceremony and the timings mean this has been ruled out.
Will I be able to attend a ceremony in a different location in London at a later date?
The College is committed to delivering an in-person event for all graduands at a later date although we are unable to make any specific plans presently due to the ongoing closure of large venues and the government’s limits on gatherings. Our consultation with graduands will help shape the approach we take.
Can I defer to a graduation ceremony next year?
Due to the numbers of students affected by the postponement of the ceremonies, you are not able to defer to the usual ceremonies planned for May/October each year. In order that we can offer the same opportunity to each student we will plan a series of events specifically for all 2020 graduands. When the government has lifted restrictions and we are able to organise an in-person event, all graduands will be invited to attend.
Will I still graduate prior to a ceremony being held?
Yes, your degree will still be conferred by the College following your marks being passed by your department to Registry. This is not impacted in any way by your attendance or non-attendance at a graduation ceremony.
I have already opted to graduate in absentia, can I still attend a future event?
Some eligible postgraduates may have opted to graduate in absentia prior to the cancellation of the May ceremonies. Given the pandemic affected some graduates’ planned attendance, we will give any of May’s postgraduates who indicated they wished to graduate in absentia the opportunity to attend a future ceremony.
We had not opened registration for Commemoration Day in October and so undergraduates are not affected.
When/how will I receive my certificate?
Unlike some universities, there is no connection with graduation and receiving your certificate. Certificates are normally issued three months from when a student is referred, however there are currently some delays due to the certificates team working remotely. If you have a question regarding your certificate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will we know whether the May 2021 ceremonies are going ahead?
Due to the scale of Imperial’s ceremonies, planning and delivery takes approximately five months, so a decision will need to be taken in December as to whether we can go ahead as planned. Eligible students will be informed as soon as possible after a decision is made.
How likely is it that the May 2021 ceremonies will go ahead?
Due to the decision needing to be taken in December, if social distancing measures are still in place with no indication of when they will be lifted, then the May 2021 ceremonies would be postponed too. This is because it would not be possible to deliver the Royal Albert Hall ceremonies with social distancing measures in place due to the numbers of graduands and guests who attend the ceremonies. If this is the case eligible graduands will be informed as soon as possible.
You can contact the Graduation team by email. Our office is open from 09.00 until 17.00 Monday to Friday.
We aim to respond to emails within three working days.