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The University of Southampton

Academy-award winning Titanic director is "King of the World" at degree ceremony

Published: 16 July 2004

Academy-award winning director James Cameron will receive an honorary degree from the University of Southampton on Tuesday (20 July). The award of Doctor of the University is in recognition for his outstanding contribution to marine science and maritime archaeology as part of his film-making.

James Cameron first visited the wreck of RMS Titanic in 1995, after having developed a fascination with the ill-fated liner, which sailed from Southampton on 10 April 1912. His epic 1997 feature film Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, included real footage of the wreck on the ocean floor and won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Film.

A few years later, he returned to the Titanic to direct the 3-D motion picture Ghosts of the Abyss, documenting the wreck on the ocean floor in greater detail. Cameron developed new underwater film and remote vehicle technology to dive down and explore the sunken vessel.

Manned submersibles were used to reach the depths of the ocean floor before mini-ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles) were released from the submersibles. James' crew then unleashed two mini-robotic cameras to investigate the nooks and crannies of the ship, producing hundreds of hours of footage. In the documentary, the Titanic appears from the murky gloom like an eerie vision and the cameras tour the interior of the ship revealing views which have not been witnessed since 1912.

Commenting on his award, James Cameron said: "I am deeply gratified to be receiving an honorary degree from a University that is so distinguished in the research of ocean sciences, and I look forward to attending the ceremony."

As part of his visit to the University of Southampton, Cameron will meet experts at the University's Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC). There he will be given a tour of the facility and be shown some of the Centre's research involving underwater exploration.

The Director of SOC, Professor Howard Roe commented: "James Cameron's work has generated huge interest with the deep ocean. He has ignited the imagination of audiences worldwide and provided a glimpse of a world previously only seen by scientists.

"This significant contribution of bringing our scientists' research to the attention of the public is reflected in him receiving the award and we welcome him to the Centre.

"During his visit we hope to show him our deep ocean ROV which is capable of reaching depths of 6,000 metres, some 2,000 metres deeper than the Titanic's final resting place," added Professor Roe.

James Cameron is also famous for directing, producing and writing a number of Hollywood blockbuster films. His filmography includes: Aliens, True Lies, The Abyss, The Terminator, and Terminator 2 - Judgement Day.

Press call - Tuesday 20 July

Photo opportunities for members of the press with James Cameron:

1. Southampton Oceanography Centre at 3pm.

James Cameron will tour SOC and there will be a photo opportunity with the ROV dockside. Located at the Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton.

2. The graduation ceremony starts at 4.45pm at the Turner Sims Concert Hall.

Located on the University of Southampton's Highfield Campus. There will be an opportunity for photography after the ceremony at approximately 5.45pm.

*Please note: No extra tickets are available for the ceremony and space is extremely limited. There is strictly no flash photography during the ceremony.

If members of the press plan to attend the above photocalls please inform Lisa Chung in advance on (023) 8059 4993 or email

Notes for editors

  1. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4,800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.
  2. Southampton Oceanography Centre is a joint venture between the University of Southampton and the National Environment Research Council (NERC). It is a centre of excellence in marine sciences, earth sciences and marine technology.
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