Thousands of graduands celebrate at Imperial’s biggest ever graduation


Graduands and guests seated at the Royal Albert Hall

It is a day of celebration for thousands of Imperial postgraduate students who will graduate at the iconic Royal Albert Hall today.

With three ceremonies, 4,700 graduands and 8,500 guests, this will be the largest graduation Imperial has ever seen.  

All ceremonies will be available to watch live for family members, friends and supporters around the world.  

Imperial's President Hugh Brady congratulated graduates and praised their hard work and resilience, particularly during the pandemic: 

"I know that I speak for everyone on this stage, and so many others across the College, when I say that it has been such a privilege for us to have been part of your journey. We are incredibly proud of what you have achieved and look forward to following your success over the years ahead."

Honorary degrees 

Imperial College London honorary degrees are conferred on persons of conspicuous merit who are outstanding in their fields. 

Dr Noubar AfeyanIn today's ceremonies an honorary degree is being awarded to Dr Noubar Afeyan who is the founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture creation company, and co-founder and Board Chairman of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna. 

Throughout his 35-year career, Dr Afeyan has worked to break down boundaries in biomedical engineering to address fundamental global priorities. Since Flagship Pioneering’s founding in 2000, it has developed more than 100 scientific ventures, thousands of patents and patent applications, and more than 50 drugs in clinical development.  

In 2010 Dr Afeyan co-founded Moderna, a bioplatform company focused on developing messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Moderna translated mRNA research into clinical use and, in 2020, designed a safe and effective mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. 

Born in Beirut to Armenian parents, Dr Afeyan is a passionate advocate for human rights, Armenia and Armenian immigrants. He has launched philanthropic projects including the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST). 

On being awarded an honorary degree by Imperial, Dr Afeyan said: 

“It is a great privilege to receive this honor from Imperial, one of the world’s greatest universities.  I appreciate Imperial’s global example of the link between diversity, innovation, and excellence. As an immigrant fleeing a war first to Canada and later moving to the United States, I strongly believe that each of us must cultivate a talent for border crossing – across disciplines, nationalities, languages, and cultures. In so many ways, Imperial is a model and inspiration, and it is my honor to receive this degree alongside such deeply impressive and accomplished thinkers and scholars.” 


Imperial College Medals  

The Imperial College Medal is awarded for meritorious or praiseworthy service to Imperial or for having otherwise enhanced its reputation, mission and objectives. 

Dr Kenny Weir

Dr Kenny Weir is being recognised with an Imperial College Medal today. He is a Reader in Photonics and during his 29-year career at Imperial has also been an integral part of the running and management of the Department of Physics, serving as the Associate Head of the Department until 2021. 

Dr Weir is proud to have represented the department and to have contributed to its ongoing and future success. As Associate Head, he managed the collation and delivery of research metrics for rigorous external assessments, from the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) programmes in 2014 and 2021. In 2015, Dr Weir also assumed the role of Director of Research, overseeing the securing of a typical annual research income in excess of £30 million, while directing and advising staff on new directions for research themes. 

On receiving the medal, Dr Weir said: “I am extremely pleased and proud to be awarded the Imperial College Medal and to be recognised for the contributions that I have made to the Department of Physics and to the wider optics community”.  

One achievement he is particularly proud of is his leadership of the MSc Optics and photonics degree, since it began in 2001: “Each year we have had around 25 – 30 students on the course, meaning they graduate and join the optics community and go on to make their own contributions in the field.”   

Dr Weir is no stranger to graduation ceremonies, having attended every postgraduate graduation since 2002. He hopes to see some familiar faces today, as he will be sharing the ceremony with students graduating from last year’s MSc Optics and Photonics cohort. He will also have special guests joining the ceremony: “I’m looking forward to seeing my wife and my daughter in the audience, cheering me on.” 

A selection of photos from the celebrations 

  • Professor Hugh Brady speaking at the graduation ceremony

    President Hugh Brady speaking at the graduation ceremony

  • A view of the Royal Albert Hall full of people

    Inside the Royal Albert Hall

  • The Scopes, Imperial College's A Cappella Society, perform on stage

    The Scopes, Imperial College's A Cappella Society, perform on stage

  • A Professor shaking hands with a new graduate on stage
  • Graduands walking through campus in their gowns
  • A student walking through campus with their family
  • Two students and a dog on fire engine and a mascot "Jezabel"
  • A view of the Royal Albert Hall and the steps full of people


Beth Lloyd

Beth Lloyd
Communications Division


Graduation, Comms-strategy-Inclusive-community, President
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