The Sheldonian Theatre is the main venue for degree ceremonies, including Matriculation and Graduation.
Ceremonies are only for students and their families to attend. They take place throughout the academic year and include a number of traditions, such as proceedings conducted in Latin and how the students enter and leave the building.
The painted ceiling plays a symbolic part of Matriculation. Entitled Truth Descending upon the Arts and Sciences and comprising thirty-two panels, the painting depicts Truth triumphing over Envy, Rapine, and Ignorance - representing students joining the University to seek and source truth in their studies.
Encaenia is the annual ceremony at which the University of Oxford awards honorary degrees to men and woman who have made a significant contribution in their field.
Derived from a Greek word, Encaenia is traditionally translated in St John’s Gospel as “festival of dedication.”
The Oxford Encaenia is steeped in history and is a surviving part of a more extensive ceremony called 'The Act'. This used to include ambitious musical works, often composed for the occasion, and traditional features such as a satirical speech, often scurrilous and sometimes scandalous, by an anonymous speaker known as Terrae Filius, 'Son of the Earth'.
The Act was originally held in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, a setting many people thought unsuitable. Such feeling prompted its move in 1670 to the Sheldonian Theatre.
It is an important event in the University calendar and is held on the Wednesday of the ninth week of Trinity Term.
The Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors meets annually in autumn to receive and discuss matters relating to the work of the University.
Created in 1991, membership of the Chancellor's Court of Benefactors is a distinction bestowed by the Chancellor, at the request of Council, on those who have made a major contribution to the development of the collegiate University.
A formal Ceremony of Admission welcomes new members to the Court.