Graduates on Guildhall steps

What to expect on the day

Everything you and your guests need to know


Please note, your E-Ticket will be available to download 24 hours before your ceremony.

Here's everything you need to know for your in-person ceremony in July 2021.

These measures are subject to change, depending on Government guidance.

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Before the ceremony

Arrive an hour early 

If possible try to ensure that you and your guests arrive at Portsmouth Guildhall one hour before your ceremony for your Covid and ETicket checks. This may take a short period of time so it is in your interest to arrive early. This will make sure you’re seated in time for your ceremony. 

The doors will be closed once the ceremony starts and latecomers will not be able to join that ceremony. Subject to capacity and availability we may be able to accommodate you at a later ceremony but this cannot be guaranteed.


Your e-tickets will be available to download 24 hours before your ceremony. You need to download these from your Student View via the MyGraduation tab. Make sure you send your guest tickets to your guests as you will not be entering Portsmouth Guildhall through the same entrance. You will need your e-ticket for scanning on arrival (on a mobile device or printed). Please don’t take screenshots of your ETickets as these cannot be scanned. It must be the original ETicket on Student View, either downloaded on a phone or printed.

If you have any queries you should go to the Helpdesk at MyPort Nuffield.

Travel information

For information on parking in the area and transport links into the city, please see the University's maps and directions information. Please note, for the safety of our graduates and guests there will be restrictions on parking in St Paul’s Road, Waltham Street, Guildhall Walk and King Henry I Street.


Your academic dress should have been posted to you prior to the ceremony. If you ordered your academic dress after the deadline or it doesn’t fit, you should make your way to the Spinnaker Sports Centre via the car park and enter via the main entrance. You should arrive 1-1.5 hours before your ceremony to ensure you have plenty of time and are not rushed. 

Graduates will be guided into Spinnaker Sports Centre. One guest will be permitted to come in with you to assist with robing. Gown collection is open 7.30am - 5.00pm on the day of your ceremony.

You can also collect your gown the evening before your ceremony to save time on the day itself, as long as your ceremony isn't on a Monday morning. Drop in between 4.00pm - 7.30pm the night before your ceremony - except on Sunday evenings. 

Graduation ceremonies are formal occasions and we expect our graduates and their guests to come dressed smartly. There's more advice available on what to wear under your academic dress and there will be videos showing you how to put on your academic dress. Staff will be available to check you have them on correctly.

At your ceremony

You should arrive in Guildhall Square at least 1 hour before your ceremony, which will take place in the Portsmouth Guildhall. There are separate entrances for graduates and guests. 

One hour before your ceremony start time (for example 8.00am for a 9.00am ceremony), venue doors open and attendees will be invited to seated.

Covid safety at the ceremonies

Upon arrival at the Guildhall you and your guests will be expected to follow government guidelines for entering the venue:

Covid status

You and your guests will need to demonstrate one of the following:

  • Full vaccination (first and second dose); OR
  • A negative lateral flow test taken within 48 hours prior to your visit (for those aged 11 and over); OR
  • If you are resident in England, and you have had a positive PCR Covid test result since February 2021, so have natural immunity. This information will be on your NHS COVID Pass on the NHS App.

More detailed information and guidance on Covid status follows here:

Covid status

Bring one of the following to be checked on arrival:

  • Proof of a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool. This can be on your mobile device (including a screenshot) or a printout. The test needs to have been taken within 48 hours of your ceremony.
  • Proof of full vaccination, with the second dose administered at least 14 days before your visit. It must be demonstrated either via the NHS App, or the English vaccination letter (not a vaccination card), or via the Scottish vaccination record services.
  • For residents of England, you may demonstrate your Covid status – either full vaccination, or negative lateral flow test, or proof of natural immunity (positive PCR test within the last six months, after self-isolation has ended and up to 180 days after taking the test), demonstrated via your NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App. For more information on how to do this, please see the Government website.
  • For residents of Wales, please check the latest guidelines from the Welsh Government on demonstrating your status for travel and events. 
  • For residents of Northern Ireland, you may demonstrate your Covid status through a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool.

Bring proof of a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool. The test needs to have been taken within 48 hours of your ceremony.

Other test results will not be accepted, such as a PCR test result from a private company, or an international vaccination card or letter.

Lateral flow tests help to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can give the virus to others. The test involves taking a sample from your tonsils (or where they would have been) and from your nose, using a swab. They are free of charge, can be self-administered at home and you can get a result in 30 minutes. 

You do not need to take a PCR test (a fee-based test sent to a lab) for graduation.

Request a lateral flow test

You have three ways to access rapid lateral flow tests:

  • Order your test to be sent to your home address via the Government website.
  • Pick up a lateral flow test from your local chemist, use the NHS website to find your nearest pick-up point.
  • Go to your local community testing centre, use the NHS website to find your nearest location.

The test needs to be taken within 48 hours of your ceremony. Lateral flow tests are free of charge and should be self-administered.

The result of the lateral flow test needs to be uploaded using the NHS self-report tool, whether you are a UK resident or a ticket-holder from abroad. Please do this within 24 hours of taking the test.

If you forget to take a test beforehand, you will be required to visit a local chemist to collect a lateral flow test, self-administer the test, and upload the result using the NHS self-report tool before entering the Guildhall or any other Graduation venue. 

Proof of your negative result

You must show proof of your negative test result. You can show that by:

  • Via email or text message from the NHS self-report tool. This can be on your mobile device (including a screenshot) or a printout.
  • Via your COVID Pass on the NHS App (available for England residents only).

Positive result from a lateral flow test

A positive result from a lateral flow test means it is likely that you had coronavirus when the test was done. Attendees and anyone they live with must not attend Graduation and should self-isolate immediately in line with Government guidance.

You should get a PCR test (a test that is sent to a lab) to confirm your result as soon as possible.

Please contact without delay. We will arrange a refund of your gown hire.

They can demonstrate their COVID status through proof of a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool. The test needs to be taken within 48 hours of their entry to Graduation.

Your vaccination paperwork or card is not sufficient to prove vaccination status.

England residents

If you are fully vaccinated (first and second doses) and you live in England, you can show your COVID Pass on the NHS App when entering the Guildhall. You’re required to have had your second dose administered at least 14 days prior to your visit. Please note the ‘NHS App’ is different to the ‘NHS COVID-19’ app.

If your app is only showing one of two doses, please instead show proof of a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool.

A non-digital COVID Pass letter is also available through the NHS website, but please be aware of the potential time involved before you receive your letter, should you choose this option.

Scotland residents 

If you live in Scotland, you can obtain your vaccination status through the NHS Inform Scotland website

Wales residents

If you live in Wales, please check the latest guidelines from the Welsh Government on demonstrating your vaccination status. 

Residents of any other country

At this stage, there is no process for residents of Northern Ireland or any other international country to evidence their vaccination status. 

Instead, please show proof of a negative lateral flow test, reported and demonstrated via a text message or email from the NHS self-report tool. You may undertake the lateral flow test upon your arrival to England by following the instructions above. You do not need to be a resident of England to upload your result using the NHS self-report tool. The test needs to be taken within 48 hours of your entry to the Guildhall. 

There is strictly no admittance if you are a close contact of someone with COVID or you have been triggered as a close contact by the NHS Covid-19 App - even if you tested negative and/or double vaccinated.

It is your legal and civic duty to comply with the Government rules around close contact.

Please note the following paragraph from our Conditions of Entry: 

Ticket Holders must not attend the Guildhall if they have been identified by any competent authority as having had any Close Contact (as defined below) with a person who is or may be infected by COVID-19 and their self-isolation period includes the date they are due to attend Graduation (“Infected Person”).

For the purposes of these COVID-19 Conditions, “Close Contact” means the Ticket Holder in question: (a) lives in the same household as another person who has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, (b) has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19: (i) face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre, (ii) been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact, (iii) been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day) or (iv) has travelled in the same vehicle or plane with such person.

In the event that a Ticket Holder is notified by a competent authority that they have had Close Contact (as defined above) with an Infected Person and asked to self-isolate, they shall leave the Guildhall immediately and return to their place of residence as soon as possible, using best endeavours to use means of travel which would reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Other Covid safety measures

On arrival you and your guests will also have to:

  • Scan your e-tickets
  • Have a temperature scan
  • If you are entering the event as a group, one member of each party will be asked to check in using the NHS Covid-19 app
  • Sanitise your hands

You will also be required to wear face coverings while entering and moving around Graduation - including while seated in the Guildhall. 

Ceremony practicalities

All attendees are to be seated 15 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. Late entry will not be permitted.

Infants and children are welcome to attend the ceremony as long as they have booked in advance. Ceremonies can last around 1 hour and are very formal so it depends on the child as to whether they would be happy to sit still for that length of time. 

Please note that we are not able to accommodate pushchairs or buggies in the ceremony. We kindly request that buggies and pushchairs are left in the designated area as you enter the Guildhall.

Anyone without a ticket can watch the ceremony via the University’s Graduation YouTube channel.

Access information

Step-free access

There is step-free access to all our Graduation venues, please ask a member of University staff to direct you on the day.  


Please be advised that dogs (except for registered assistance dogs) are not permitted inside the Portsmouth Guildhall, or other Graduation venues. 

Sign Language Interpreter

If you specified via the online booking system that you or one of your guests need a sign language interpreter, one will be provided for your ceremony and their seating will be arranged so that the interpreter is visible as necessary. 


To make sure everyone is safe at Graduation you need to be aware of the following security arrangements:

  • No rucksacks, holdalls or large bags will be allowed in any of the venues
  • Random bag searches may be carried out by Portsmouth Guildhall staff as part of their security measures.

Please make sure all your guests are aware of these arrangements. If you see anything suspicious, let a member of the Graduation Team know.

Late arrivals

If you believe you are going to be delayed and may arrive late, you should call the Graduation Hotline on 023 9284 3434. Whilst every effort will be made to allow you to graduate with your School or Department, this may not always be possible. 

Any guests who arrive after the ceremony has started will be shown to the Portsmouth Room within the Guildhall where they will be able to watch a live stream of the ceremony.

After your ceremony


If you have pre-booked your professional photography for before your ceremony, you should make your way to St Paul’s Sports Centre (see map) for your professional studio photography. Otherwise, you can do this after your ceremony. 

Professional photography is available 7.30am - 7.00pm and you should allow 30 minutes. This is optional, though you will need to wear your academic dress. To guarantee a slot, we advise that you pre-book - and if you're short of time, we recommend you get your photos taken after your ceremony.

Gown return

You must return your gown to the Spinnaker Sports Centre by 7.30pm the day of your ceremony.

Social media and Graduation bag

Follow us on Twitter @UOPGraduation. Share your day with us using #uopgrad20 for Class of 2020 and or #uopgrad21 for Class of 2021 - and like the Alumni team's Facebook page to receive updates throughout your Graduation day and access your photos from the photo booth.

You will then collect a souvenir canvas bag containing a small gift from the University. There will be some picnic benches available for use on Gun House Green. These are available on a first come first served basis and graduates and their guests are reminded to adhere to social distancing rules. 

Graduation Selfie Lounge and Students' Union Shop

Head to the Graduation Selfie Lounge in Eldon Building and snap some selfies with your family and friends - a perfect way to capture those Graduation memories you want to last forever.

The Selfie Lounge is available every weekday between 11am - 6pm until Wednesday 28 July.

The Students' Union shop will also be open in the Union building every weekday between 9am - 6pm during graduation.

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