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Academic dress of the University of Dublin

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Academic dress of the University of Dublin

Academic dress prescribed at the University of Dublin and its sole constituent college, Trinity College, follows a relatively complex protocol which, nonetheless, shares some particular characteristics with other universities in Ireland and with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.


Occasions when worn

The 1966 consolidated statutes of the university and the college stated, "The Provost, and every Fellow, Professor, other Academic Officer, Scholar, and other Student shall have a cap and gown, and shall wear them while performing their Academic duties"; the precise significance of "Academic duties" was not made explicit. As late as the 1960s, gowns were still commonly worn for some lectures and examinations, but in practice the wearing of academic dress is now confined to graduation ceremonies and other formal occasions. Some student societies, such as the College Historical Society and the University Philosophical Society, officially require academic dress at their meetings, but this postulation is never now observed.


After the names of the components, the Groves Classification Number is given in square brackets.

For full academic dress on special occasions, the prescribed clothing for men is a dinner jacket, worn with dark trousers, a white shirt, white or black bow tie, black socks and black shoes. Women are required to wear black, white, or a combination of both. Members of the military are exempted from these requirements.


Gowns are open-fronted, like those generally used throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom, but not the United States, and they are largely similar in shape to those of the University of Oxford. The main types seen are the bachelors' and masters' gowns. In addition, for certain formal occasions, Doctors wear special dress gowns, distinguished by the use of scarlet; the sleeves and facings of these are adorned in some cases with various patterns that indicate the exact degree or degrees that they possess, allowing this to be determined even when hoods are not being worn.


Commoners (i.e. those without a scholarship or exhibition) wear a unique gown that is now very rarely seen. It consists of a short, sleeveless gown [u8] made of black stuff with a flap collar. It is similar in shape to the Oxford Advanced Students' gown [u5], but it reaches down as far as the knees, and the "streamers" over the arm are wider and reach only as far as the elbow. It has distinctive decoration: three rows of tassels are found on the flap above each armhole, with another three tassels half an inch below, and a nine-inch slit upwards from the back midline hem. The streamers may be considered the remnants of closed sleeves, as can still be seen on the laced gowns of the higher faculties.

Scholars, both those on the Foundation and non-Foundation, wear the same gown as bachelors.

Fellow commoners / Nobles, there also existed an undergraduate gown for nobles who were enrolled in a special, shorter (3 years as opposed to 4), intensive degree, paying double fees. as they did not want to neglect their estates for too long. This gown consisted of gold tassels etc.

Sizar: A Sizar was a poor student, the son of poor parents, often of clergy. From the writings of William Howitt about Goldsmith, 1847 - "The sizer wears a black gown of coarse stuff without sleeves, a plain black cloth cap without a tassel, and dines at the fellows' table after they have retired. It was at that period far worse; they wore red caps to distinguish them, and were compelled to perform derogatory offices; to sweep the courts in the morning, carry up the dishes from the kitchen to the fellows' table, and wait in the hall till they had dined. No wonder that a mind like that of Goldsmith's writhed under the degradation! He has recorded his own feelings and opinions on this custom: "Sure pride itself has dictated to the fellows of our colleges the absurd fashion of being attended at meals, and on other public occasions, by those poor men who, willing to be scholars, come in upon some charitable foundation. It implies a contradiction, for men to be at once learning the liberal arts and at the same time treated as slaves; at once studying freedom and practising servitude." A spirited fellow at length caused the abolition of the practice of the sizers acting as waiters, and that, too, on grand occasions before the public, by flinging the dish he was carrying on Trinity Sunday, at the head of a citizen in the crowd, assembled to witness the scene, who made some jeering remarks on the office he had to perform.[2]

Sizarships are still awarded at Dublin, to new entrants of limited means who have shown merit in their school-leaving examinations. They receive their evening meal (Commons) free of charge, normally for the first two years of an undergraduate course.


These wear a clerical-type gown [b10] of black Irish Russell cord, in the Oxford BA shape [b1] but with shorter sleeves. It has no collar, but instead has the voluminous material of its back and the open bell-shaped sleeves gathered into a yoke.


Masters wear a gown [m3] in black cloth, silk or poplin, similar to the Oxford MA shape [m1] but with a very high cresentic cut in the sleeves giving a deep blunt point to the bases, and with a cord and button on the yoke.


Holders of University of Dublin doctoral degrees have two sets of costume: undress, and full dress (or scarlet). Full dress is worn on formal college and university occasions.

Full dress

Most gowns are scarlet, with the exceptions of the Mus.D. robe, which is white; the D.Mus.Perf robe, which is white rose; the D.Clin.Psych robe, which is red; and the D.Ed. robe, which is blue. They are in the Oxford doctors' shape [d2]. There is a cord and button on the yoke, and the sleeves, facings and edgings vary in colour according to the degree.


Doctoral undress is as for masters' gowns.


Hoods made of silk are worn on the back as an indicator of academic status. The design of hoods as set by University and College Statutes Chapter XXII is below. Their design is distinctive [f2], having a full shape with an inch-wide edging to the cape and cowl, and in some cases they have poplin or fur decoration.

For several years around the turn of the 21st century, the BA hood was erroneously cut in a modified (with a curved liripipe) Belfast simple-shape [s3] and lined with fur differently. Before 1909, the shape was the same as the Belfast shape but was then changed to the full-shape. However, in recent years, the hood had been made in the modified Belfast shape, for unknown reasons, by the university's authorised robemakers. Subsequently, the MB hood had also been cut in the simple shape, apparently without any official authorisation from the university. Since the 2012-13 academic year, both the BA and MB hoods have once again supplied in the Dublin full shape.


Hoods are edged one inch around the cape and cowl and lined with silk to match the facings of the appropriate full-dress robes.


Graduates of diploma programmes may choose to wear academic dress consisting of an epitoge [e1], a strip of material worn over the left shoulder, on top of an undergraduate's gown. Undergraduate diplomates wear a blue epitoge, while postgraduate diplomates wear a blue and black epitoge.


A form of a black hat known as a square cap (also mortarboard) [h1] is worn or carried. The Consolidated Statutes of the College (Chapter XVIII) state that: "The caps to be worn by Graduates and Undergraduates shall be black, and of the ordinary academical shape; the cap to be worn by Scholars and ex-Scholars shall be covered in velvet, and all other caps in fine cloth; and the caps of Graduates shall in all cases have a black silk tassel added in the usual manner. Students shall salute the Provost and Fellows by doffing their caps."


Certain officers wear distinctive dress.


The Chancellor of the University is elected by the Senate (i.e. the alumni with degrees) of the University. For ceremonial occasions, she or he wears on ceremonial occasions a black corded silk lay-type gown with a long train, decorated with a row of gold lace along the sleeves and with two rows down the front and along the cope, similar to the gowns of the Lord Chancellor. The Chancellor's velvet mortarboard has a gold tassel, like that of the former noblemen commoners.


The Proctors wear the ancient form of the BA hood with their gown. The hood is in the Belfast simple-shape and lined with ermine (white fur with black spots).


Academic dress of the University of Dublin Wikipedia

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