Groves classification system

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The Groves Classification is a numbering system to enable the shape of any academic gown or hood to be easily described and identified. It was devised by Nicholas Groves to establish a common terminology for hoods and gowns to remedy the situation of individual universities using differing terms to describe the same item. As such it is used in same manner as an heraldic blazon whereby a textual description enables a coat of arms to be drawn. The system was first described in the Burgon Society's annual in 2001 and adopted as standard by robe makers and scholars of academic dress.[1]


The major classes of academic hoods.
Cape Cowl Liripipe Parts of a hood
Full Template:Yan Template:Yan Template:Yan
Simple No Template:Yan Template:Yan
Aberdeen Template:Yan Template:Yan No

The original Groves Classification included a standardization for shapes and patterns of hoods and gowns worn by graduates and undergraduates. Further information was given regarding the use of different fabrics and standardization of colors, but the focus was placed on gowns and hoods which are explained further below.[1]

The Classification undergoes periodic revision as new hood and gown patterns emerge.


Hoods in the Classification are divided into three different types as summarised in the table below. Unlike the gowns and robes, these are based on the shape of the hood rather than the degrees for which they are worn.

  • [f] full shape hoods are those that have a cape, a cowl and a liripipe.
  • [s] simple shape hoods have only a cowl and a liripipe.
  • [a] Aberdeen shape hoods have only a cape and a vestigial cowl.
Name Pattern
Rear view.            Flat view
Full shape hoods
[f1] Cambridge Cambridge Cape with square corners.
[f2] Dublin Dublin hood outline.svg As [f1] but the liripipe is curved at the inner corner.
[f3] London London hood shape outline.svg As [f1] but the cape corners are rounded.
[f4] Durham

Durham doctors hood shape.svg Used for doctoral degrees at the University of Durham. As [f7] but the liripipe is cut at a 45 degree angle and the cowl is slanted downwards.
[f5] Oxford Full Oxford full shape outline.svg Used for doctoral degrees at the University of Oxford. As [f7] but larger and with a narrow squared 'slot' between the liripipe edge and the cape.
[f6] Durham BA Durham BA outline.svg Traditional shape for BA degrees at the University of Durham. As for [f7] but with a large, semi-circular cape, and the space between the cape and liripipe is cut in a quadrant arc. The liripipe is sewn on separately.
[f7] Durham BSc Durham BSc hood shape outline.svg As [f3] but the bottom of the cape has a rounded, semi-circular edge.
[f8] Edinburgh
Edinburgh full hood outline.svg As [s4] but with a cape sewn on the back.
[f9] Glasgow Glasgow hood shape outline.svg Larger version of [f1], with a longer cape and a long narrow liripipe. Typically made with a wide neckband.
[f10] St Andrews St Andrews hood shape outline.svg Similar to [f3] but the liripipe is slightly slanted outward and has a slight bell-shape to the end.
[f11] Warham Guild
Warham Guild hood shape outline.svg Created to resemble the more ancient version of the hood.
[f12] King's Full KCL full shape outline.svg Designed by Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2008 and features two long (4') streamers which serve as gown facings. There is no neckband, and the hood is held in place by a button fixed to the each shoulder of the gown. Owing to its unique shape the hood cannot be folded flat. For clergymen that require it, a version with a neckband is available.
[f13] UMIST UMIST hood shape outline.svg
[f14] ICC Doctors American ICC hood shape outline.svg
[f15] Toronto Toronto hood shape outline.svg As [f14] but the liripipe is vertical rather than slanted.
Simple shape hoods
[s1] Oxford

Oxford simple shape hood outline.svg
[s2] Oxford

Oxford Burgon hood shape outline.svg
[s3] Belfast Belfast hood shape outline.svg
[s4] Edinburgh Edinburgh simple hood shape outline.svg As for [f8] with the cape portion removed.
[s5] Wales Wales hood shape outline.svg
[s6] Leicester
Leicester bachelor hood shape outline.svg
[s7] Leeds Leeds hood shape outline.svg
[s8] Sussex Sussex hood shape outline.svg
[s9] Victoria Victoria hood outline.svg
[s10] Aston Aston hood shape outline.svg
[s11] Glasgow
Glasgow Caledonian hood shape outline.svg Designed by Aileen Stewart in 1993
[s12] King's

KCL simple hood shape outline.svg
Aberdeen shaped hoods
[a1] CNAA CNAA hood shape outline.svg
[a2] Leicester
Leicester masters hood shape outline.svg
[a3] Kent Kent hood shape outline.svg
[a4] East Anglia UEA hood shape outline.svg
[a5] Leicester

Leicester doctors hood shape outline.svg
[a6] Dundee Dundee outline.svg
[a7] Aberdeen Aberdeen hood shape outline.svg


Gowns in the Groves system are divided into three classes. These generally follow the shapes associated with each different academic degree in the British educational system.

  • [b] bachelor's gowns typically have large open sleeves
  • [m] master's gowns typically have long closed sleeves with armhole at elbow level
  • [d] doctor's robes vary in shape widely between institutions and are all classed as [d].


Code Example Notes
Bachelors gowns
[b1] Basic bachelor plain open sleeves, point reaching knee
[b2] Cambridge BA sleeve has slit in foream seam
[b3] Cambridge MB front of sleeve has foldback and cord and button
[b4] London BA front of sleeve is pleated and held by cord and button
[b5] Durham BA lower 8" of forearm seam left open, and held by button and loop
[b6] Wales BA lower 6" of forearm seam left open and folded back, held by 2 buttons, with third button on seam in middle
[b7] Bath BA as [b5], but with button at top of slit
[b8] Oxford BA as [b1], but sleeves reach hem of gown
[b9] Belfast BA bell sleeve, pleated as [b4]
[b10] Dublin BA as [b1], but sleeves much smaller
[b11] Reading BA as [b2], but sleeve point is rounded off
[b12] Sussex BA bag sleeve with small armhole


Sleeve pattern Oxford MA outline.svg Cambridge MA gown outline.svg Dublin MA gown outline.svg Wales MA gown outline.svg London MA gown outline.svg Victoria MA gown outline.svg Lampeter BD gown outline.svg Leicester MA gown outline.svg Bristol MA gown outline.svg
Degree Oxford MA Cambridge MA Dublin MA Wales MA London MA Victoria MA Lampeter BD Leicester MA Bristol MA
Code number [m1] [m2] [m3] [m4] [m5] [m6] [m7] [m8] [m9]
Basic master gown outline.svg Lancaster MA gown outline.svg Scottish MA gown outline.svg Open gown outline.svg Warwick MA gown outline.svg Bath MA gown outline.svg Sussex MA gown outline.svg Manchester MA gown outline.svg KCL MA gown outline.svg
Basic Master Lancaster MA Scottish MA Not used Open Warwick MA Bath MA Sussex MA Manchester MA King's MA
[m10] [m11] [m12] [m13] [m14] [m15] [m16] [m17] [m18] [m19]


Code Example Notes
Doctors/Special gowns
[d1] Cambridge doctors wide open sleeves, similar to [b1], with the wrist turned back and held with a cord and button
[d2] Oxford doctors bell sleeves
[d3] Cambridge MusD small bell sleeves with cuff
[d4] Cambridge LL.D undress flap-collar (QC's) gown
[d5] Oxford convocation habit sleeveless habit closed with two buttons at the front
[d6] Sussex doctors MA-style sleeve with vertical slit, base hollowed into B shape
[d7] Aston narrow sleeves
[d8] Cambridge DD undress bell sleeves gathered at wrist


Code Example Notes
[h1] Mortarboard a square board attached to a skull cap, often with a button and tassel
[h2] Tudor bonnet a round soft hat with brim, often with a cord and tassels
[h3] John Knox cap a square soft cap
[h4] Bishop Andrewes cap like [h1] but soft and with a silk tuff in lieu of button and tassel
[h5] Oxford ladies' cap a soft square cap with a flap at the back and held up with two buttons
[h6] Sussex pileus a round cylindrical cap with a covered button on the top
[h7] Leicester doctoral cap a modified biretta
[h8] UEA BA a skull cap with upturned brim (no longer used in practice, though still prescribed officially as the undergraduate cap)
[h9] UEA MA a skull cap with a triangular structure on top (no longer used by students, though worn by the Registrar at congregation ceremonies)


The Groves classification system was first published in 2001. Since that time, it has been adapted and changed to include newly devised academic dress and revisions of existing schemes.[1] The Burgon Society maintains a comprehensive listing of system shapes on its website. In addition to those included above, the current list classifies undergraduate gowns in use throughout the United Kingdom and academic headwear.[2]

American doctoral robes

An American doctoral robe as originally prescribed by the ICC

In 2012, David Boven devised a system of classification to include unique doctoral robes in the United States of America. The Intercollegiate Code describes the form of dress for doctors at American institutions, but many have changed the colors of their robes.[3] Several institutions have even developed unique forms of robes for the doctoral graduates. In all of these instances, there are some cases where [3]

ICC Shape

Code Gown Color Facing/Bar Color Piping
[c1] ICC black ICC black (or discipline color) Colored
[c2] ICC black Colored Colored (or black)
[c3] Colored ICC black (or discipline color) Colored (or black)
[c4] Colored Colored Colored (or black)

Unique shapes

Code Name Description
[c5] Princeton Similar to ICC, but velvet removed from the robe and replaced with faille orange facings and sleeve bars. Sleeves shortened and orange lining added. Designed to be worn open.
[c6] Stanford Modified version of the Cambridge doctors [d1] robe. Side panels of gown body cardinal red with black facings and black yoke. Sleeves black with cuffs covered in red and also lined in satin indicating discipline. Facings bear coat of arms. Designed to be worn open.
[c7] Stony Brook Blue robes with no sleeve bars, but three gold rays extending from bottom of sleeves and coming to point at shoulder. Right shoulder bears small representation of university’s seal. Rays attached to sleeve at wrist and shoulder, but remain unattached for rest of length.
[c8] RIT Based on standard ICC robe with velvet facings and sleeve bars, but with addition of long pointed sleeves similar to the Cambridge doctor’s [d1] robe


Further reading

  • Nicholas Groves (ed.) (2011) Shaw's Academical Dress of Great Britain and Ireland; 3rd ed. Published by the Burgon Society, ISBN:978-0-95612723-5