Sam Heughan joined students for an impromptu burst of the Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond as he received an honorary degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The Outlander star was among a trio of groundbreaking artists from stage, screen and music to be honoured alongside the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Class of 2022 on Thursday.

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He joined graduates on the steps of the Renfrew Street venue moments after receiving his honorary degree.

The Herald: Outlander star Sam Heughan celebrates receiving an honorary degreeOutlander star Sam Heughan celebrates receiving an honorary degree

Actors and RCS alumni Heughan and Ncuti Gatwa, and internationally renowned composer Errollyn Wallen CBE, were recognised with honorary degrees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s summer graduation.

Heughan is already a BA Acting graduate, and is best known as the star of time-travelling TV drama Outlander and executive producer of Men in Kilts, the travel documentary series.

He is also a New York Times bestselling author as well as an entrepreneur and philanthropist who is the founder of global movement My Peak Challenge and creator of a new ten-year scholarship programme and creative commission at RCS.

The Herald: Outlander star Sam Heughan urged graduates to dream bigOutlander star Sam Heughan urged graduates to dream big

However, it was his memories of his time at RCS that proved to be his inspiration and he urged graduates to "dream big."

In 2021, Sam announced a new ten-year scholarship to support the next generation as they pursue their dreams at RCS. He is personally funding three annual scholarships for undergraduate students in the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. Sam also created Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission, designed as an annual award at RCS to encourage students to devise new work.

The Herald: Sam Heughan fondly remembers his days at the Royal Conservatoire of ScotlandSam Heughan fondly remembers his days at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Speaking about his honorary doctorate, Heughan said: “I am honoured to share in this special day and would like to thank the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for bestowing on me this wonderful honour.”

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Addressing the Class of 2022, he said they have "a whole career of possibilities" ahead of them: “You have had many wonderful new, first experiences here, and will have many to come. This place has given you the greatest start and I’m incredibly excited for you.

“It is here, where my first dream became a reality. It’s here, where I have been shooting a major US TV show, and have been able to rely on the experience and lessons I learnt in this building.

“I never would have imagined back then, walking down Great Western Road on my way to movement class (where we were working on being a tree) or daydreamed that it was possible to make my own work. I never imagined I’d write my first book or have a whisky business or set up a scholarship for fellow students.

“I’m willing you on, I want you all to succeed and I know you will. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I cannot wait to see what you all achieve.”

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said Heughan was a wonderful ambassador for the arts and Scotland.

"He’s an artist of international acclaim with an entrepreneurial spirit, who passionately believes in giving back and helping others to fulfil their potential," Professor Sharkey said.

“Through his scholarship programme at RCS, he is helping to make the arts accessible for all and supporting the next generation as they follow their dreams.”

Heughan, who was born in Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, will publish his first memoir later this year. Waypoints will explore his life as he journeys through the Scottish Highlands. It follows the New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers Clanlands and The Clanlands Almanac.

He is founder of The Sassenach, his award-winning whisky brand, and a driving force in his life is his commitment to charity. He established the global movement My Peak Challenge, which is dedicated to educating and inspiring its thousands of members around the globe while fundraising to change lives.

Dr Who in waiting Ncuti Gatwa, who graduated from the BA Acting programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2013, addressed the class of 2022: “It is such an honour to be back here to receive this doctorate and to be with you all on your very special day.

“This speech actually was very difficult to write. Because when you get asked to do things like this, the presumption is that you are somebody who has achieved something in life and are in complete control and have total awareness of all the components that have led you to that point. That you have wisdom and knowledge to pass down onto others. All I’ve learned in life thus far, is that you have to roll with the punches and figure it out as you go along. Secondly, I found it difficult because I didn’t know how I was going to address you in some sort of inspirational way when I feel so inspired by you."

On Thursday more than 300 students graduated across the disciplines of music, drama, dance, production, film and education at the nation’s conservatoire, named one of the world’s top five destinations to study the performing arts in the QS World University Rankings earlier this year.