skip to content

Cambridge University Library


The occasion when one commenced the exercises of a higher degree (Master or Doctor), and hence the part of the ceremonial of admission to those degrees; for many centuries the chief academical festival of the year always on the first Tuesday in July, but in the earliest times individuals could apparently incept and commence at any time outside vacation. For an account of the medieval procedure see M. B. Hackett, The original statutes of Cambridge University... (Cambridge, 1970) 126 ff., and for early modern accounts see Hackett’s notes. In the 19th century the expression ‘Commencement’ was applied to a congregation on the penultimate Tuesday in June, when prize exercises were recited (see prolusiones) and all MAs and Doctors in all faculties were created. The term was abandoned in 1900. For the festivities which accompanied commencement see H. C. Porter, ‘Cambridge Commencements’, Cambridge 22 (1988), pp. 21-26. See also inception.