The Student Room Group
University of Oxford, Pawel-Sytniewski
University of Oxford
Oxford

How does academic dresses/gowns work as a PhD/postgraduate student?

Hey all, I am starting a Dphil this autumn, and am preparing for all sorts of things, including lesser ones such as the formal wear one is required to wear during formal dinners.

I am a bit confused about which colours/getup PhD students are supposed to wear and would like to just confirm, though I realise I might get an info email about this closer to term start.

Am I right in that as a phd/postgraduate student I should be wearing the subfusc + the «advanced student» gown? I see that there is a red and purple hood/gown for phd-students, but that is only for when you actually have the degree right?

Also, I have a MPhil from a University in my home country which does not have any traditional gowns etc, am I still supposed to wear a MPhil hood/gown or not?

Apologies if this is a commonly asked questions, I have been looking at various webpages regarding this but I haven’t been able to make sense of it really.

Thank you for any answers!
Original post by Anonymous
Hey all, I am starting a Dphil this autumn, and am preparing for all sorts of things, including lesser ones such as the formal wear one is required to wear during formal dinners.

I am a bit confused about which colours/getup PhD students are supposed to wear and would like to just confirm, though I realise I might get an info email about this closer to term start.

Am I right in that as a phd/postgraduate student I should be wearing the subfusc + the «advanced student» gown? I see that there is a red and purple hood/gown for phd-students, but that is only for when you actually have the degree right?

Also, I have a MPhil from a University in my home country which does not have any traditional gowns etc, am I still supposed to wear a MPhil hood/gown or not?

Apologies if this is a commonly asked questions, I have been looking at various webpages regarding this but I haven’t been able to make sense of it really.

Thank you for any answers!


You only need to wear sub fusc + advanced student gown for matriculation and examinations. Some colleges may require you to wear your gown to formals but you can wear whatever clothes you like under the gown.

For DPhil graduation, "Students having a DPhil conferred should wear the gown of their existing University of Oxford status (and the hood if there is one) during the first part of the ceremony. You will change into the gown (and hood) of your new degree at the appropriate time during the ceremony." You are correct that you are entitled to wear the PhD gown and hood only after you have graduated.

Very few people buy the full academic gowns and hoods because they're quite pricey and you really only wear them once (at your graduation ceremony). The vast majority of people will rent these for the day, and your college will provide more information closer to graduation.

See https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/dress for details
(edited 7 months ago)
University of Oxford, Pawel-Sytniewski
University of Oxford
Oxford
Reply 2
Original post by mishieru07
You only need to wear sub fusc + advanced student gown for matriculation and examinations. Some colleges may require you to wear your gown to formals but you can wear whatever clothes you like under the gown.

For DPhil graduation, "Students having a DPhil conferred should wear the gown of their existing University of Oxford status (and the hood if there is one) during the first part of the ceremony. You will change into the gown (and hood) of your new degree at the appropriate time during the ceremony." You are correct that you are entitled to wear the PhD gown and hood only after you have graduated.

Very few people buy the full academic gowns and hoods because they're quite pricey and you really only wear them once (at your graduation ceremony). The vast majority of people will rent these for the day, and your college will provide more information closer to graduation.

See https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/dress for details

Thank you very much, that clears it up better. I am still somewhat confused as to the difference between gown and subfusc, as images on Oxford Uni’s website + Google doesn’t really highlight the differences. Is the subfusc literally just the basic outfit one would have underneath the gown?

Thanks again
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you very much, that clears it up better. I am still somewhat confused as to the difference between gown and subfusc, as images on Oxford Uni’s website + Google doesn’t really highlight the differences. Is the subfusc literally just the basic outfit one would have underneath the gown?

Thanks again


I think strictly speaking, sub fusc refers to the full academic dress, which is:
1. One of:
Dark suit with dark socks, or
Dark skirt with black tights or stockings, or
Dark trousers with dark socks
2. Dark coat if required, worn beneath the gown
3. Black shoes
4. Plain white collared shirt or blouse
5. White bow tie, black bow tie, black full-length tie, or black ribbon

Plus:
The appropriate academic gown (for you, as a DPhil student, this would be the advanced student gown. It's basically this: https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listing/207674688583908/?media_id=0&ref=share_attachment&locale=en_GB)
Mortar board or soft cap (I've never seen anyone wear a soft cap though)

You can probably buy items 1 to 5 in Oxford (I think I bought the skirt, tights, shoes and blouse which I wore to final exams from Primark), or alternatively, you can choose to bring your own. Oxford really isn't fussed so long as whatever you wear meets the sub fusc criteria (e.g. any black shoes will do, can be formal leather shoes, heels, ballet flats, loafers etc.). For 1 and 2, black is the safest colour (since whether any other colour is sufficiently "dark" is potentially debatable).

Gown, mortar board and (I think) bow tie/ ribbon can be bought as a package from certain shops in Oxford (e.g. Shepherd & Woodward, Walters, Ede & Ravenscroft). You can buy them when you come to Oxford, or alternatively, you can get them second-hand (e.g. on Facebook Marketplace).
(edited 7 months ago)
Reply 4
Original post by mishieru07
I think strictly speaking, sub fusc refers to the full academic dress, which is:
1. One of:
Dark suit with dark socks, or
Dark skirt with black tights or stockings, or
Dark trousers with dark socks
2. Dark coat if required, worn beneath the gown
3. Black shoes
4. Plain white collared shirt or blouse
5. White bow tie, black bow tie, black full-length tie, or black ribbon

Plus:
The appropriate academic gown (for you, as a DPhil student, this would be the advanced student gown. It's basically this: https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listing/207674688583908/?media_id=0&ref=share_attachment&locale=en_GB)
Mortar board or soft cap (I've never seen anyone wear a soft cap though)

You can probably buy items 1 to 5 in Oxford (I think I bought the skirt, tights, shoes and blouse which I wore to final exams from Primark), or alternatively, you can choose to bring your own. Oxford really isn't fussed so long as whatever you wear meets the sub fusc criteria (e.g. any black shoes will do, can be formal leather shoes, heels, ballet flats, loafers etc.). For 1 and 2, black is the safest colour (since whether any other colour is sufficiently "dark" is potentially debatable).

Gown, mortar board and (I think) bow tie/ ribbon can be bought as a package from certain shops in Oxford (e.g. Shepherd & Woodward, Walters, Ede & Ravenscroft). You can buy them when you come to Oxford, or alternatively, you can get them second-hand (e.g. on Facebook Marketplace).

Thank you again, that clears up all my questions and explains it better than most websites. I’ll be having a look at those shops when I do arrive in Oxford then.

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