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Frequently asked questions (FAQS)


Last updated: October 2022.

To discuss all aspects of fellowships and honorary degree nominations please contact Xan Kite (

Why should I submit a nomination?

Honorary awards allow King's to mark the contribution made by exceptional individuals to King’s and/or to the wider society. The awards bring prestige to King’s and to recipients. We therefore strongly encourage those who are eligible to do so to submit a nomination.

The Fellowship/Honorary Fellowship of the College has been conferred on hundreds of eminent individuals since 1847 (see Fellows of Kings for its history and a list of current holders). King's has awarded Honorary Degrees since 2007, initially on behalf of the University of London and since 2008 on its own behalf. Recipients of Honorary Degrees have included:

  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner FKC (world-leading orchestra conductor)
  • The Hon. Sylvia Wynter, OJ (Professor Emerita at Stanford University)
  • Baroness Hale of Richmond (the first woman to be appointed a Law Lord)
  • Lord Sainsbury of Turville FRS (Minister of Science and Technology 1998-2006)
  • Professor Peter Higgs FRS FRSE (alumnus, physicist and proposer of the Higgs boson particle); Dr Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury)
  • Senator George Mitchell (former US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace)
  • Bill Bryson (author)
  • The Right Hon Sir John Major (former British Prime Minister)
  • The Right Hon the Lord Judge (Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales)
  • The Hon Mr Justice Edwin Cameron (human rights lawyer and Judge of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa)
  • Professor Thomas Jessell FRS (internationally distinguished neuroscientist)
  • The 9th Duke of Wellington OBE DL (former Chairman of King’s College Council)Professor Mona Siddiqui OBE FRSE (academic, intellectual and broadcaster on religion, ethics and public life).

Who can submit (or second) a nomination?

Nominations may be submitted by anyone who is a member of the College, as defined in the Ordinances. This means that to submit a nomination, you must be:

  • a current full-time or part-time student of King's; or
  • a current full-time, part-time or honorary staff member of King's; or
  • a Fellow/Honorary Fellow; or
  • an independent member of the College Council; or
  • the Visitor of the College (currently the Archbishop of Canterbury).

Nominations will not be accepted from individuals who fall outside these categories. Nominations will not be accepted from relatives.

Which awards are available?

King’s has two types of honorary awards: the Fellowship of King's College (FKC) and honorary degrees.

Honorary Degrees

An honorary degree is the highest honour that King’s bestows and is reserved for exceptional and eminent individuals who are recognised nationally or internationally for their achievements and whose actions reflect and reinforce King’s values and aspirations.  While a prior association with King’s strengthens a claim, it is not a requirement; recipients of a King’s honorary doctorate become alumni of the College.

King’s awards the following honorary degrees:

  • Doctor of Laws (LLD)
  • Doctor of Arts & Letters (DLitt)
  • Doctor of Science (DSc)
  • Doctor of Divinity (DD)

Fellowship of King’s College (FKC)

The Fellowship of King’s College is awarded to individuals who have or have had a transformative impact on the College through the quality of their work or activities.  They may be individuals who have a direct relationship with King’s (e.g., alumni, governors, staff, academic or community partners) or they may be individuals who do not have a current relationship with King’s but who have engaged with King’s, or whose activities and accomplishments align with our activities, aspirations and values and with whom a continued relationship would be welcome.

In either case, it is expected that the individual’s accomplishments will have gone above and beyond the expectations of their regular role.  For those who do have an existing relationship with King’s, while long service may be an element of the award it will not be the primary criterion for the award. For those nominees not currently engaged with King’s, the application process will give attention and consideration to the degree and depth of any prior association and the implications of the award for future association.

Please note that only in exceptional circumstances will an individual who is eligible for the Fellowship of the College be considered for the Honorary Degree instead. The Honorary Degree will generally be considered the appropriate award for heads of state (or those in similar positions) and nominees without a connection to the College whose distinction is their intellectual or professional excellence. It is unlikely that someone would be awarded both an FKC and an Honorary Degree.

Who can I nominate?

You can nominate anyone other than yourself or a family member.

Please note, the Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee would like to improve the diversity of the candidate pool, particularly with respect to women and BAME candidates and to receive nominations addressing a wide range of issues and fields of endeavour. Please do consider this when submitting nominations.

How do I submit a nomination?

By completing and returning the nomination form which can be downloaded from the web page of the Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee. Forms must be received by the Office of the Chairman and College Secretariat, by the date indicated on the form. Please provide the form in an electronic format which is readable in Word, as information will be extracted from the form and incorporated into other documents. Electronic signatures are acceptable but are not required if the form is sent by the nominator (with the seconder copied in) from a recognised email account (e.g., a King's email account).

You will be asked to provide:

  • name, current role, and contact information for the nominee
  • the type of award (Fellowship or Honorary Degree) for which you are submitting a nomination. (Note that the Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee may recommend a different award from the one which you have selected, if it believes that award is more appropriate)
  • biographical details of your nominee
  • why you believe King’s in particular should honour the nominee
  • a draft citation of no more than 400 words in length summarizing the reasons why the honour should be conferred (this will form the basis of the citation read out at the conferral summary if the nominee is successful)
  • details and signature of you and your seconder, who should also be a member of King’s (see Who can submit a nomination?, above) and, in the case of an Honorary Degree nomination, the signature of the relevant Executive Dean or member of the senior executive of the College;

The information which you provide will be used by the Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee to decide whether to recommend to the College Council that an award should be conferred on your candidate.

Only one nomination may be submitted per form. If you wish to nominate more than one person for an award, please complete a form for each nominee.

Should I discuss the nomination with the candidate?

You should not discuss the nomination with the candidate or anyone else.  Nominations are meant to be confidential and only those who are offered and accept an award are made public.  We receive many nominations and given limitations on the number of awards per year not all can be successful. If your nomination is successful, King’s will contact the nominee to determine willingness to accept the award. Please note, you will not be informed of the outcome until we have heard back from all successful nominees.This process can take a few months.

What happens next?

All valid nominations will be considered by King’s Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee, which normally meets once per year (usually in March). The Committee will decide which candidates it wishes to recommend to the College Council for the award of Fellowships and Honorary Degrees. The Committee's recommendations are subject to the approval of the Council. The College will not normally confer more than ten awards in each category in each calendar year.

Once the Council has approved the awards, King’s will contact nominees to determine whether they are willing to accept the award and if so, when they are available to receive it. Fellowships are considered conferred upon acceptance but recipients are invited to attend a graduation ceremony to be acknowledged. Honorary Degrees are conferred at an appropriate graduation ceremony and recipients must attend a ceremony in order to have the degree conferred.

Will I be informed about the outcome of my nomination?

If your nomination is successful, you will usually not be informed until King’s has contacted the nominee and they have confirmed that they are willing to accept the award. Note that this process can take some time. You should treat this information as strictly confidential until the award is publicly announced by King’s.

If your nomination has been unsuccessful, or the Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee has decided to carry your nomination over for consideration in the following year, you will be informed at the same time as those who’s nominations were successful. Please note that this process can take some time.

If my nomination is unsuccessful, can I resubmit it the following year?

Yes, unless informed otherwise. Please submit a new nomination form ensuring that details are up-to-date.

The Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee will occasionally decide to carry a nomination over from one year to the next. If this happens, during the next round you will be invited to update the information which you previously submitted.

Will I be given feedback on my nomination?

No. The Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee does not generate records which enable feedback to be provided on nominations.

Will my nomination be treated as confidential?

All nomination forms are treated by King’s as strictly confidential. We will not disclose any personal information you provide without your permission. If your nomination is successful, some of the information which you provide about the nominee may be used, in consultation with the nominee, to produce a citation and other published information, such as announcements on King’s web pages about the conferral of awards.