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Hoodata Introduction
Hoodata 1 (Spring 1974)
Hoodata 2 (Summer 1974)
Hoodata 3 (Autumn 1974)
Hoodata 4 (Winter 1974/75)
Hoodata 5 (Spring 1975)
Hoodata 6 (Summer 1975)
Hoodata 7 (Autumn 1975)
Hoodata 8 (Summer 1977)
Hoodata 9 (Autumn 1978)
Hoodata 2.1 (April 1980)
Hoodata 2.2 (November 1980)
Hoodata 2.3 (May 1981)
Hoodata 2.4 (December 1981)


An occasional newsletter on academic hoods Volume 2 Number 3: May 1981

Editor: R.L.D. Rees-----------------------[address removed]

Publication and Distribution

"Hoodata 2.4" will probably be published in January 1982. If you have already subscribed for 2.4, this is shown by a tick inside the brackets below. If, however, there is a cross and you wish to receive a copy, please send an addressed unstamped envelope, plus 30 pence to cover production costs and postage. You may send payment in the form of stamps (maximum denomination 14p, please) if you wish. If you send two envelopes and 60p, you will receive the next two issues.---(tick)


I have been asked to comment on certain of the qualifications whose hoods have been described in "Hoodata", but feel this would not be entirely appropriate. Prospectuses of institutions in general provide a fair indication of the merit of their qualifications. I am willing to send to readers such details as I have of any particular hood-awarding body (s.a.e., please).

"Hoodata" may well form the basis of the next hood reference book, and one might ask whether the inclusion of a hood in "Hoodata" grants to a bogus qualification a respectability which it does not merit. A list of hoods should, however, be as complete as possible, thereby perhaps preventing a future genuine qualification from acquiring the same hood as an existing bogus one.

Who should or should not be entitled to wear a hood and, if so, what sort? Some would argue, although I am not certain that I agree, that anyone can wear a "literate's hood" (all-black non-silk) normally in a non-full shape to avoid overlap with certain BD hoods. Graduates of British universities are entitled to wear a "graduate's hood", more decorative than a literate's hood. Many theological colleges conform to the 1882 Act of the Upper House of Convocation of Canterbury, which specified black hoods with a coloured border, so indicating a status intermediate between literate and graduate (see "Hoodata 1.4").

If an all-black hood represents no formal qualification at all, might not an institution whose entry requirement was, e.g., two A-levels, legitimately prescribe a black hood with perhaps a single 0.2 inch coloured cord around the perimeter? Looking at the problem of bogus qualifications purely from the viewpoint of academic dress, I suggest that their crime is not that they have hoods, but that often they have ornate ones, obtainable merely on payment of the appropriate fee.

The Act of Convocation celebrates its centenary next year. It is now believed that this Act was passed for the guidance of theological colleges, rather than strict observance by them. However, it seems a pity that so many of them have in recent years introduced multi-coloured hoods, and also that the music colleges never adopted any code of practice. No-one doubts the respectability of LRAM but it is actually a qualification slightly below degree level, and a hood rather less like Liverpool LLD might have been more appropriate.


The following new hoods, not previously listed in "Hoodata", have been introduced since "Haycraft 5". The information has been taken from University Calendars.

MANCHESTER-- BArch broad edging of pale blue silk. MA(Theol) lining of heliotrope silk. MBA lining of gold silk. BNurs broad edging of red silk with white fur lining inside the edging. BA(Ed) double edging of pale blue silk and bluish-green silk with white fur lining between. BSc(Ed) double edging of salmon silk and bluish-green silk with white fur lining between. MSc(Ed) lining of bluish green silk with broad edging of salmon silk. MSc(Med) lining of red silk with broad edging of salmon silk. MSc(Tech) lining of terra-cotta corded silk. (Simple shape, black. "Doubly edged hoods" may really mean what it says, or it could mean doubly faced, faced and edged, bound and edged, or bound and faced. Readers may care to speculate, after reading the Feature Article, on how many different ways it would be possible to make such a hood, given only the information in the Calendar. Smith states that the "edging" and "broad edging" are in fact bindings applied to each edge 0.3 inch outside and, respectively, 1 and 2 inches inside; the "fur lining" a strip 1 inch wide next to the inner edge of each binding. This corrects information in "Haycraft 5". Presumably the 2nd "edging" is a facing 1 inch wide, immediately inside the fur. Master's hoods are believed to be lined and edged - Ed.)
ABERDEEN-- DMus scarlet cloth, lined with light brown silk. MMus white silk, lined with light brown silk. BMus black silk lined with light brown silk. BTh black silk, lined with purple silk and edged with waved white silk. BLE (Land economy) black silk edged with pale blue silk, and bordered inside, within the pale blue edging, with white cloth one half inch wide. LLM white silk lined with pale blue silk. (Full shape, but without liripipe - Ed.)
DUNDEE-- MMSc and MSSc (Medical and Surgical Science) black, clover (229) lining. BMSc black, clover lining, white fur edging. MPH (Public Health) black, begonia (183) lining. MDSc (Dental Science) same as MDS, namely black, ruby (38) lining. LLM black, old gold (115) lining. BAdmin black, forget-me-not blue (84) lining, with fur edging. MPhil black, eggshell blue (221) lining. DSc (Environmental Studies) Stewart blue, gault grey (71) lining. MSc (Env.St.) black, gault grey lining. BSc (Arch./Env.St/Town and Regional Planning) black, gault grey lining, white fur edging. BArch black, heliotrope (178) lining, white fur edging. MA (Soc.Admin.) black, chartreuse green (171) lining - degree apparently no longer awarded. (Aberdeen shape: the numbers here and at St. Andrews refer to the British Colour Code - Ed.)
ST. ANDREWS-- MLitt black silk lined with saffron yellow (54) silk or cloth. MPhil black silk lined with gold (114) silk or cloth. (Cambridge shape - Ed.)
STRATHCLYDE-- LLB white lining, bound with scarlet cord. BEd white lining, bound with gold cord. BEng gold lining, edged with white fur. LLM white lining, white edging bound with scarlet cord. (Full shape in saltire blue - Ed.)
STIRLING-- BSc black, lined with dove grey and edged with malachite green ribbon. BEd black, lined with bunting azure blue. MEd black, lined with bunting azure blue and bordered with white fur. (Edinburgh shape - Ed.)

This almost clears the backlog of university hoods. There will be a list of new hoods of other institutions in the next issue. I have been asked to clarify some of the Liverpool degrees (see "Hoodata 2.2"). These were in Civic Design, Transport Design, Business Administration, Public Administration and Community Health. Readers wondered why new hoods had been introduced for existing degrees. Can anyone (a Liverpool graduate, perhaps) throw some light on this? [This refers to the exchange of hoods between MA and MPhil; a new MPhil hood was introduced c 1998, and I think the MA has gone back to black and pink - NWG.]

INFORMATION WANTED - Can anyone identify the following hoods seen by "Hoodata" readers?

* Aberdeen shape in black, lined in royal blue with a two-inch facing of white or cream brocade. It was being worn by a cathedral organist, so we must assume that it is a genuine qualification! [This is obviously MMus Surrey - NWG.]
* (This description may not be wholly correct, as the hood was seen but briefly.) Full shape in black with purple silk lining and an apparent diagonal bar of yellow (red?). The gown was similar to London BA, but with yellow/orange strip on the sleeve. The hood may be that of Brantridge School (whose proprietor also runs the Sussex College of Technology, believed to be another hood-awarding body) [but see Hoodata 2.4 - NWG]). However, the owner claimed it to be LST at the Gregorian Institute, Rome.


Readers report that several other simple shaped hoods are worn with the inside turned out on both shoulders. These are Manchester, Royal Manchester College of Music, Liverpool and Edinburgh. Of these, only the first two have a 'stitched-in' reversal of colours at the neckband.


In "Hoodata 2.2" I suggested that it would be helpful if some standard method of defining hoods could be agreed and implemented, and that I hoped to discuss the matter further in this issue. A reply from a reader provides a contrasting view, and perhaps an appropriate starting point.
- "You say that '... the official hood descriptions of some universities are such that it would be impossible correctly to construct hoods from them'. That is not how the process works. A university .. does not lay down, for example, 'BEng will be turquoise' and leave everybody to choose the shade of that colour that takes their fancy. When a university designates the hood for a new degree it chooses the colour to be used and it is then specified by depositing a 'sealed pattern' with the robemakers. This settles the colour for ever more and the robemakers have a permanent standard against which any new batch of material must be matched, irrespective of the brief word-description given in the Regulations. Thus the colour should never vary. This is the 'standard method of defining hoods' for which you ask, and it is most desirable to purchase the robes of any university only from that university's own appointed robemaker."

I do not altogether share the reader's view. What is the objection to an institution specifying its hoods as accurately as possible? If one were supposed simply to take on trust everything supplied by the robemakers, would there be any point in universities publishing their academic dress regulations at all? The authors of reference books often have to rely on the goodwill of robemakers for correct and unambiguous information on gowns and hoods. This is surely putting the cart before the horse, and takes no account of: a 'evolution' (such as the reported fashion for edging Cambridge MA hoods in the 1930s); b genuine error on the part of the robemaker or; c misunderstanding over terminology between robemaker and author. Furthermore, a graduate may require a hood when he is several thousand miles away from his university's official robemaker. The London regulations would enable an overseas tailor to make a BEng hood correctly in all but two respects. The specification "turquoise" would probably result in the actual colour approaching the shade of turquoise ink, instead of the very pale shade that it is supposed to be. Secondly, it is not clear from the regulations that the cape should not be edged. However, these problems pale into insignificance compared with those of Manchester hoods.

In general my proposed definitions coincide with those on page 27 of Shaw's [1966] book. When the lining is extended beyond the edge of a hood onto the outside surface, the hood may be said to be "edged" or have an "edging". (Unfortunately the word "edging" has at present three separate meanings at different universities.) The compound term "lined and edged" would describe an Oxford MA. I prefer "facing" to Shaw's word "border" since, when a hood is being worn over the head, it is this part of the hood that is nearest to the wearer's face. An edge of a hood may be covered by a binding material, hence the term "bound". I accept the use of this term to describe a hood which has been both faced and edged with the same material, but to different depths on either side (e.g. 3 inch facing, half inch edging). A Nottingham Bachelor's hood is thus "bound with the faculty colour and faced with blue". The alternative method yields "a facing and edging of the faculty colour, with a second facing of blue". For my standard I choose the former.

The terms "cape" and "cowl" can be used to define the edges of full and Burgon hoods, but are less satisfactory for describing simple shape hoods. Have readers any suggestions for this?
(This article will be concluded in the next issue.)

© R. L. D. Rees 1981