Sir Ian McKellen, known for his roles in X-Men and The Lord of the Rings, has been nominated to receive an Honorary Doctorate. The announcement was made by the University Council on Thursday. Among the seven other nominees are Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal since 1995, and astronomer Catherine Cesarsky.
The University has stated that Honorary Doctorates are only awarded to those who have achieved “the highest national or international prominence in their field.”
Ian McKellen has received six Olivier Awards, two Academy Award nominations and Honorary Doctorates from Bath and Lancaster universities. He is an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College and a prominent LGBT rights campaigner.
Honorary Degrees waive usual degree requirements, including matriculation, study and examinations, and they are not recognised by employers as the same stature as an ‘earned’ doctorate.
Students do not feel that this undermines the acheivements of their own degrees however; Will Reis from Magdalene said: “Nobody who receives one tries to pass it off as actually studying here.” Colm Murphy, also from Magdalene, proposed an “honorary pat on the back” as a preferable alternative.