Doctor of Civil Law

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An Oxford Doctor of Civil Law, in Convocation dress, from David Loggan's 1675 engraving Oxonia Illustrata.

Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) is a degree offered by some universities, such as the University of Oxford, instead of the more common Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degrees.

At Oxford, the degree is a higher doctorate usually awarded on the basis of exceptionally insightful and distinctive publications that contain significant and original contributions to the study of law or politics in general. As of June 2016, the DCL has been suspended, pending a reform of the higher doctorates.[1] The DCL is senior to all degrees save the Doctor of Divinity which was traditionally the highest degree bestowed by the Universities. The degree of Doctor of Canon Law was replaced by the DCL after the Reformation. The degree of Doctor of Civil Law by Diploma is customarily conferred on foreign Heads of State, as well as on the Chancellor of the University. (The British Sovereign is unable to receive university degrees, since these would, theoretically, place her under the jurisdiction of the Chancellor of the university. Prior to her accession, the present Queen did accept several honorary degrees, including an Oxford DCL in 1948).[2]

The following other higher institutions also provide for awarding a DCL:

In some other universities, the DCL is an honorary degree.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Education Committee: Suspension of higher degrees, Oxford University Gazette vol. 146 no. 5137 (16th June 2016)
  2. ^ See 'Honorary Degrees', in Ronald Allison and Sarah Riddell, eds., The Royal Encyclopedia (London; Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991), p. 264.