Honorary degrees, Medals of Honour and national honours
Each year, we recognise remarkable individuals that have made outstanding contributions to society that embody our values, improve the lives of people in local communities or have created significant impact in their field of work.
Honorary degrees and Medals of Honour are the University’s highest awards and each year we open nominations from current University students, alumni, staff and members of the Board of Governors or General Assembly for these awards.
When thinking about who to nominate in these categories, it’s important to remember that successful candidates are likely to receive their awards in 2025 or later and that we are particularly keen to receive nominations for exceptional individuals who have excelled in ways that link strongly to our core goals and themes and our values, outlined in Our future.
In addition, we welcome nominations for a range of national honours.
Nominations for individuals in all ethnic groups and of all genders are welcomed, as are, in the case of those being put forward for an honorary degree, those for people who have not already received such an award although holding any will not preclude their consideration.
Please note that self-nominations are not permitted. Where you are putting someone else forward they should not be aware that they are being nominated. If the Awards and Honours Group which considers the nominations is made aware that a nominee does know that they are being nominated it will disregard the submission.
Types of honour
Please read the award overviews below to find the most suitable honour for your nominee. For advice on which type of award to put someone forward for and how to draft a nomination, please contact Deborah Black (Secretary to the Awards and Honours Group) or, alternatively, you can contact Professor Nalin Thakkar (Chair of the Awards and Honours Group).
Honorary degrees are the most prestigious awards the University can confer. As such, it is likely that recipients will have high standing nationally or internationally in their chosen field and, in most cases, beyond their immediate sphere of influence.
Nominees will be expected to have made an exceptionally distinguished contribution to their field and/or have made an exemplary contribution to public life.
When considering a nomination account will be taken of whether:
- the nominee serves as an example of ambition and achievement;
- the merit the award brings to the individual mirrors the merit the conferment brings to the University;
- the nominee embodies the vision and values of the University.
A connection with the University, the city of Manchester or the north-west is desirable but not essential.
While the list below is not exhaustive, typically successful nominations include people who have demonstrated an:
- outstanding contribution to education (in research, teaching, administration, philanthropy and so on);
- outstanding contribution to the world’s greatest challenges (through science, technology, innovation, sustainability, poverty reduction, and addressing health inequalities);
- outstanding contribution to business, industry, law;
- outstanding contribution to cultural life (the arts, sport and so on);
- outstanding record of voluntary service or community action and engagement.
Often the strongest nominations evidence a range of the individual's contributions that are in addition to their current or former paid, professional role, such as volunteering in any of its guises (on boards, advisory groups, within local communities, and so on), support for cultural life and, where applicable, giving to charities/the higher education sector, and so on.
The University will not normally honour current or former members of University staff nor current members of the Board of Governors. However, in the case of truly outstanding current or past members of staff, exceptions have been made, such as for former vice-chancellors including Professors Sir Martin Harris and Alan Gilbert, and current Nobel Prize winning staff Professors Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov. Exceptions could also be made for current members of the Board of Governors.
Please note that serving politicians are not eligible to be nominated.
When considering if your nominee meets the criteria for an honorary degree you should reflect on whether the contributions are truly exceptional. If they could be considered outstanding and are in service to the University, city or region in whatever field, a Medal of Honour could be more appropriate. You might also wish to consider if your candidate is suitable for a national honour where the nomination could be submitted directly by you to the Cabinet Office.
See our 2023 honorary graduands.
The University Medal of Honour is the highest non-degree award bestowed by the University. The award is intended to honour and recognise individuals who have made an outstanding and sustained contribution usually to the work of the University, the city of Manchester or the north-west region. Many types of contributions can be considered including those made to the voluntary/community sectors, business, philanthropy, the economy, education, the arts, science, sports and so on.
As with honorary degrees, successful nominations often evidence a range of the individual's contributions which are in addition to their current or former paid professional role, such as volunteering in any of its guises (on boards, advisory groups, within local communities, and so on), support for cultural life and, where applicable, giving to charities/ the higher education sector, and so on.
For most nominees, nominators should set out the nominee’s contributions to the work and aims of the University, city or region and explain why their achievements are seen to merit the award of a University Medal of Honour.
Where the contributions are not directly in service to the University, city or region, nominators will need to make a compelling case for why the nominee should be considered.
The Awards and Honours Group will also consider nominations which are made for national honours that you would like the University to sponsor. The number of cases the University sponsors each year is very small so you may wish, as anyone can submit a case, to consider putting your candidate forward directly for these national awards.
Nominations should highlight how the potential recipient has:
- made a difference to their community or field of work;
- brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation;
- displayed moral courage and vision in making tough choices and hard applications;
- improved the life chances of those less able to help themselves.
The guidance issued on submissions for national honours states that if a nomination is ultimately successful, success will not be immediate and will take at least 12 to 18 months. Your attention is also drawn to the fact that nominations should be made while the nominee is still active and, if possible, at least 12 months before they are expected to retire or stand down.
If the name you put forward on this nomination form is considered appropriate by the Awards and Honours Group you will be asked to work up the full nomination, using the appropriate form supplied by the Cabinet Office or relevant professional association.
Submit a nomination
You can submit nominations for the award of honorary degrees, the University Medal of Honour and national honours using the online nomination form.
If you would prefer to submit your nomination by email, please download a Word version (52KB) of the nomination form and send it to the contact address given on the form.
The deadline for the submission of nominations is Friday, 26 January 2024.
What happens next?
A shortlist of nominations will be agreed by the Awards and Honours Group in February 2024 – it will meet between April and May to determine who will be recommended. These names will then be reviewed by the Senate and Board of Governors.
The names of individuals that will be awarded honorary degrees or the University Medals of Honour will be made public only when the offers have been accepted. You are asked to note that this can take some considerable time (up to two years and sometimes linger).
Nominations for individuals in under-represented groups (including women and ethnic minority groups) will be particularly welcomed in all three categories. In the case of honorary degrees, we would welcome suggestions for individuals who have not already received recognition in this way although holding such awards from other universities will not preclude consideration of nominations.
Eligibility to nominate
To submit a valid nomination, you must be a current University student, graduate, member of staff or Member of the Board of Governors or General Assembly.
All nominations must be made in the strictest confidence. Nominees and members of their family must not be made aware that their names have been put forward. Should the Awards and Honours Group learn that a nominee has prior knowledge of a submission, the nomination will be rejected, however strong the case.
Submit a nomination online
Complete the online form to make a nomination for an honorary degree, University Medal of Honour or national honour.
Submit a nomination by email
Download a copy of our nomination form and submit it via email.
Download Word Document (52KB)