Honorary Degrees

An honorary degree is the University's highest honour. We award honorary degrees to eminent individuals who have made an exemplary contribution of regional, national, or international significance to their field. We recognise a diverse range of inspiring individuals from all walks of life, including academia, industry, and the arts.

Nominations may be proposed by students, alumni, members of staff, including honorary members of staff, or Lay Members of the Council of the University.

An honorary degree is the highest honour the University can bestow on an individual and is normally conferred at one of our Degree Congregations in July or December at which the recipient makes a speech to graduating students and their guests.  In conferring the honour, we bring interesting people into the University as a basis for further development of their relationship with the University and to provide an inspiration to graduating students.
As such, Public Honours or other forms of recognition (such as the Guild Awards or various staff and alumni awards) may be a more appropriate form of recognition in some cases.

The University is a global community. We believe our diversity is a source of strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate at the heart of our academic mission. The University welcomes nominations for honorary degrees for a diverse range of people.

In this environment, freedom of speech is fundamental – the ability of all our members freely to challenge prevailing orthodoxies, query the positions and views of others, and to put forward ideas that may sometimes be radical or dissenting in their formulation, all within an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Nominations are now closed. The deadline was 5 April 2024 for honorary degrees to be conferred at the Degree Congregations in December 2024 and July 2025. It is anticipated that nominations will next open in 2025.

Nominations must demonstrate:

  • particular eminence in, and an exemplary contribution of high international, national, or regional significance to, their field, noting that an honorary degree is the highest honour the University can bestow and the recipient normally makes a speech to graduating students and their guests;
  • the ways in which the nominee embodies the University’s values: ambitious, innovative, open, collaborative, responsible.

Nominations should also normally demonstrate:

  • clear links with, or contribution to, the University, the City of Birmingham, or the West Midlands. Alternatively, demonstrate clear links with, or a contribution to, the University’s research specialisms or its activities overseas;
  • clear evidence of a significant continuing relationship or clear potential for a significant future relationship between the nominee and the University.

Further information can be founded in the guidance document under ‘related links’ below.

You can find out more about some of the honorary degrees the University has awarded recently through the following press releases:

Inspirational figures from sport and journalism receive honorary degrees - University of Birmingham

University awards 2019 honorary degrees - University of Birmingham

Welcoming two giants of classical music to receive their Honorary Degrees

The awarding of honorary degrees is overseen by the Honorary Degrees Committee. You can find out more information on the relevant webpage: Honorary Degrees Committee - University of Birmingham

Contact details

Chris Ellison
Governance Officer
E-mail: c.ellison@bham.ac.uk