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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


The ScD (Doctor of Science) and LittD (Doctor of Letters) are the highest degrees awarded by the University for distinguished research in science and literature.

Candidates are required to show 'proof of distinction by some original contribution to the advancement of science or of learning'. This will normally amount to a substantial body of published work accumulated over a number of years in a distinguished career. Where works are published jointly, the applicant's contribution will need to be substantial and stated clearly in the application.

If you are unsure whether or not your work is likely to be sufficient for the degree, you may wish to consult a senior colleague in the field. Please do not seek advice from members of the Degree Committee who will need to reserve their judgement for any formal assessment of the work.


Eligibility criteria
Summarised on the Cambridge Students website and Ordinances Chapter VII, Section 16


Application and declaration forms
Available in Word and .pdf format on the Cambridge Students website.


The deciding body for the award of the ScD and the LittD is the Board of Graduate Studies; the Degree Committee advises the Board of Graduate Studies on the result, assisted by assessors and referees who are themselves distinguished workers in the subject area. The summary and list of works are considered by the Degree Committee at the first available meeting and suitable person ('Assessor') will normally be identified to give an opinion on whether or not, prima facie, the application is likely to be suitable to proceed to the full assessment. 

If the application fails at this point, the candidate is informed by the Board of Graduate Studies and the majority of the fee will be returned.
If there is a positive report from the prima facie Assessor, the works will be sent to at least two Referees, who are asked to provide their independent opinions on whether the work meets the standard for the Degree.

There is no viva examination. The Degree Committee considers the Referees' independent reports at a meeting and makes a recommendation on the outcome to the Board of Graduate Studies. Where the two Referees do not agree, a third Referee is normally appointed. In the case of applications submitted after 1 October 2014, Referees' reports will be made available to the candidate at the end of the process by the Student Registry; for earlier applications, the reports remain confidential.

In the event of a negative decision, there is no procedure in University Regulations for an appeal or review of decisions in respect of applications for higher Doctors degrees; the decisions of the Board of Graduate Studies and of the Degree Committees concerned are final.

Candidates may wish to note that this process, being dependent on the availability of suitable Assessors and Referees, can take several months.


Successful candidates are invited to have the degree conferred at a Congregation at the Senate House. Candidates need to contact their College Praelector or Tutorial Office who will make arrangements for the degree to be conferred. Congregation dates are available here. The Chair of the Degree Committee normally makes the presentation (contact him or her via the DC Office), subject to their availability. Advice on academical dress can be obtained from the suppliers or the College Praelector.

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Office closures

The DC 'remote' Office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 28 August 2020 for the August Bank Holiday. We reopen at 9am on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Meetings schedule

Meetings of the Degree Committee and Degree Ceremonies: