History of Academic Dress at Cardiff University

Styles of Academic Dress at Cardiff University

6th January, 2020

The academic dress for the University of Cardiff originated when Cardiff University was still part of the University of Wales.

It was in 1893 that gowns and hoods were first designed and used at the University of Wales. Rarely used, almost unique fabrics called 'shot silks' were introduced into the lining of the hoods. These were aimed at differentiating the different faculties.

The gowns at this time were based off the Oxford scholar's shape. To top the look off, a standard academic cap, (mortarboard) was used by bachelors and masters students. It was a square black board, on top of a black skullcap with a black tassel. This mortarboard is the only remaining part of the academic dress used at the original University of Wales which is still used at Cardiff University graduations to this day.

In 1997, when Cardiff university received its own degree-awarding powers, a new scheme of academic dress was designed for use at graduation ceremonies.

Cardiff University Bachelors Graduation Gown
A Cardiff University graduate wearing a mortarboard, gown and bachelors hood


Since then all hoods at Cardiff University graduation ceremonies are plain red fabric on the outer 'shell'. The other university colours commonly used for Cardiff University are red and white. Where the variety in hoods comes into play it is in the colours of the silk hood linings. Each level of degree has a different style of hood, so you can spot who is graduating on any given day if you’re eagle-eyed enough to pick up on the different flashes of colour.

Diploma: powder blue silk lining

Certificate: beige silk lining

Bachelor: soft white silk lining

Taught Master: royal blue silk lining

Research Master: lilac silk lining

Doctorate: lining edged with silver grey

Whilst the graduation gowns for all students, apart from doctorates, are still black, the shape and style has slightly changed. Cardiff University no longer uses the Welsh gown used by the University of Wales but has switched to the London shape of gown. This gown can be identified by the front of sleeve being pleated and held in place by a black cord and button. It is unknown why Cardiff University adopted the London style of gown, as it is one of very few Universities outside the capital to use that design. All the other major Universities in Wales, including Bangor University and Swansea University still use the Welsh style of graduation gown.

Academic dress for Cardiff University graduations can be hired from Churchill Gowns for £34, or purchased for £79