The origins of academic dress date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were beginning to emerge. The dress of the scholar, both student and teacher, was that of the monk.
The academic robe can be traced back to the Council of Oxford in 1222 when the local bishop decreed that all clergy should wear a closed flowing robe then worn by lay people. Both Oxford and Cambridge adopted this practice and continued with it even when the clerical garb changed. In 1895, formal standards were agreed for US universities, which continue to this day. The colour used in US academic dress is indicative of the subject to which the degree pertains. This same uniformity does not apply on this side of the Atlantic. You will find it very difficult to identify a pattern or consistency when staff are assembled on stage.
The hood was intended to serve as a cover for the tonsured head of the cleric. Caps began to be used at a later time. You will notice that some academics wear caps while others do not, depending on the custom at the particular university at which the degree was conferred on them.
Based on the award level, University of Limerick robes vary as follows:
- Certificate, Diploma and Graduate Diploma Awards: Black bachelor degree robe, with striped epitoge over the left shoulder. The number of stripes denotes the level of award, e.g. Certificate: two stripes, etc.
- Bachelor Degree Award: Black bachelor degree robe with short sleeves. The hood is v-necked and fully lined with the relevant award colour at the back.
- Masters Degree Award: Black bachelor degree robe with long sleeves. The hood is v-necked, lined with white and surrounded by a band of the relevant award colour.
- Doctoral Degree Award: Red robe with v-necked hood, maroon in colour.
Click here for detailed information on the colour of UL hoods with respect to award level.
The Significance of the Mace
In medieval times the mace was a weapon of war; it was a heavy staff or club made wholly or partly from metal and was used for breaking armour. In France in the 13th century, the mace was carried by the king's bodyguard and began to acquire a ceremonial function as a symbol of all kinds of secular power. Nowadays, the President hands the parchments to the graduands across the mace.
Click here for further information on the University of Limerick.