The ceremony commences when the Vice-Chancellor's procession enters the Senate-House, led by the Esquire Bedells. All stand. When the Vice-Chancellor/Vice-Chancellor's deputy reaches their place on the dais, the audience sits. The University Officers remain standing.
The Congregation itself begins when the Proctors cross the House and take their place on the dais. They leave their Statute Books on the table.
After welcoming visitors, the Senior Proctor proposes any special Graces relating to individual graduands. After each Grace the Proctors allow a pause to permit any member of the Regent House present to call a vote, which is done by saying 'Non Placet' ('It does not please.'). If this does not happen, the Junior Proctor indicates the tacit approval of the Regent House by saying 'Placet' ('It pleases'). All formal proceedings are thereafter in Latin.
The Senior Proctor puts the following Grace:
"Supplicant reverentiis vestris viri mulieresque quorum nomina juxta senaculum in porticu proposuit hodie Registrarius nec delevit Procancellarius ut gradum quisque quem rite petivit assequantur."
"Those men and women whose names the Registrary has today posted in the arcade beside the Senate-House and which the Vice-Chancellor has not deleted beg your reverences that they may proceed to the degree for which each has properly applied."
If there are no objections, the Junior Proctor says 'Placet'.
One of the Bedells then leads the Vice-Chancellor to the Chair at the front of the dais and the presentation of graduands starts. Candidates for Higher Degrees (DD, LLD, MD, LittD, ScD, MusD, BD, VetMD and MChir) are presented first, followed by certain Candidates for the MA by special Grace.
The Praelector presenting the graduand holds the candidate by his or her right hand and says:
"Dignissima domina, Domina Procancellaria et tota Academia praesento vobis hunc virum (hanc mulierem) quem (quam) scio tam moribus quam doctrina esse idoneum (idoneam) ad gradum assequendum (name of degree); idque tibi fide mea praesto totique Academiae."
"Most worthy Vice-Chancellor and the whole University, I present to you this man (this woman) whom I know to be suitable as much by character as by learning to proceed to the degree of (name of degree); for which I pledge my faith to you and to the whole University."
The graduand's name is called and they step forward and kneel. Clasping the graduand's hands, the Vice-Chancellor says:
"Auctoritate mihi commissa admitto te ad gradum (name of degree), in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti."
"By the authority committed to me, I admit you to the degree of (name of degree) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (The 'Trinitarian formula' may be omitted at the request of the graduand).
The new graduate then rises, bows to the Vice-Chancellor, and exits through the Doctor's door of the Senate-House to receive their degree certificate.
When any candidates for Higher Degrees and candidates by special Grace have graduated, the presentation of graduands by Colleges begins. By custom, candidates from King's, Trinity and St. John's Colleges are presented first, followed by other Colleges in order of foundation or recognition by the University. The procedure is the same as for Higher Degrees, but Praelectors may present candidates for the same degree in groups of up to four at a time. After the first group has been presented for the same degree, abbreviated formulae are often used; the Praelector saying:
"Hos etiam praesento et de his idem vobis praesto."
"These I also present and of them I give you the same pledge."
and the Vice-Chancellor saying in turn:
"Te etiam admitto ad eundum gradum."
"I admit you also to the same degree."
After the last graduand has been admitted, one of the Esquire Bedells calls the Congregation to order with the word 'Magistri' (Masters). All stand. The Vice-Chancellor dissolves the Congregation with the words 'Nos dissolvimus hanc congregationem' and leaves in procession led by the Esquire Bedells and followed by the Registrary, the Proctors, the Pro-Proctors and the University Marshal. Others present remain standing until the procession has passed out of the House and may then leave.