Queen Mary University of London

Number of attendees


Spaces used

A spread of spaces across both floors

Number of sponsors/exhibitors

27 graduation ceremonies

Event Duration

10 days

Graduation ceremonies

a breakdown of the Queen Mary, University of London event

After a Covid-induced two-year hiatus, Queen Mary University of London were delighted to be able to deliver in-person graduation ceremonies to their students in January 2022. The struggles of the pandemic meant it was very important to the university to be able to provide a memorable experience for graduating students to enjoy alongside their friends, family and academic staff.

Over the course of 10 live days, Tobacco Dock saw over 25,000 attendees, including 7,500 graduates, attending 27 graduation ceremonies.

Facilities and facts

Room for a crowd

With 7,500 graduating students and their families and friends set to attend, it was important to find a venue that could accommodate high numbers safely and comfortably

Great location

Queen Mary University of London is proud of its East London location and wanted to hold their graduations in the area in a venue that reflected that heritage

Versatile spaces

Keeping the attendees safe was a priority, so the flexible spaces and ample room for one-way guest flow made the setup straightforward

Why Tobacco Dock?

Queen Mary had several very specific requirements, all of which helped them to identify Tobacco Dock as an ideal fit.

With a long and distinguished history in East London, they needed a local venue which reflected the character and atmosphere of the area. Tobacco Dock, with its own rich past inextricably linked to its immediate and wider surroundings, felt like a natural fit.

With such a large number of students and guests, Queen Mary needed to find a venue which could accommodate high numbers of attendees with the option of creating a smooth guest flow to prevent crossover between different groups. In consideration of the Covid pandemic, it was particularly important they delivered a safe event. Holding their event at Tobacco Dock, a venue with so many external spaces and open courtyards, meant they could make the most of the natural ventilation and deliver a safe event.

Branding to express Queen Mary’s unique identity was a key factor and the stripped-back, yet characterful stylings and the flexibility of our spaces meant they were able to curate the venue to reflect their own personality and brand values.

Another draw was the customer service and support they received even prior to the signing phase, giving them reassurance that they would have a positive experience once they reached the planning stages.

Ground Floor
Vaults level
Ground Floor

Ground Floor

The main ceremonies were held in the Great Gallery with an overspill for additional guests in East Mall 1. Little Gallery, Quayside 1 and Quayside Bar were used for catering. Guests entered through Pennington Street East entrance and left through the iconic Wapping Lane gate 
Vaults level

Vaults level

North Dock spaces were used for registration and photography, while the Bandstands were used for serving tea and coffee to guests. Meanwhile, North Vaults 6 transformed into a bustling merch store. 

The end results

Graduation ceremonies are an important celebration of the students’ achievements, and the Queen Mary team were determined to deliver a positive and in-person event following the restrictions of the pandemic. Inevitably those very restrictions were one of the biggest challenges they needed to surmount in the planning stages. The constantly changing parameters of government guidelines during the run up to the event meant that it was imperative that the Tobacco Dock team were able to advise the Queen Mary team on the latest compliant and safe ways of accommodating the attendees while still producing an engaging and atmospheric experience.

We worked with the Queen Mary University team to create multiple scenarios to ensure everything ran to plan when the event arrived.

Managing guest flow was another challenge. Delivering three graduation ceremonies a day meant there needed to be a slick approach to movement and flow. The Queen Mary team were delighted with the support and collaboration they received from the Tobacco Dock Event Operations team, Oracle Security and Horner Salus.


The Queen Mary University of London team made use of our strong list of service partners including Tobacco Dock Food, Anna Valley, Oracle Security, Nu Kleen, Horner Salus and Jupiter Visual Communications.

They commented on our preferred suppliers’ efficiency and dedication in supporting the smooth planning and delivery of the event. The ability to hold plentiful site visits and meetings allowed the Queen Mary team to build relationships with all the suppliers and plan effectively together.

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