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Graduate students at the University are required to be in residence for a set number of terms; however, due to the nature of graduate study, there may be times in which you will need to be away from Cambridge.  The information below provides further details about your responsibilities.

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Terms of Residence

  • The University year consists of three terms. Term dates are published on the University's website.
  • Candidates for research-only courses normally start in October, but may start in January or April, subject to the approval of their degree committee.
  • No full-time student can be a candidate for a Cambridge degree unless he or she has spent at least three terms resident in Cambridge; for a term to be 'kept' a student has to reside in Cambridge for a minimum number of nights (59 for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms and 56 for the Easter Term).
  • Research students are expected also to attend between terms, except during periods of holiday agreed with their supervisor, not normally exceeding 8 weeks in a 12-month period.
  • Graduate students who have been undergraduates in Cambridge for at least a year have already met the residence requirement.
  • All full-time graduate students are expected to live within 10 miles of the centre of Cambridge while carrying out research in the University. Students who have good reason to live further away must apply formally for permission to do so and have the agreement of their supervisor that this will not impair their ability to study and to attend the University as required, and the consent of their College. (this is not the same as leave to work away from Cambridge).  Students who wish to make an application can do so via their CamSIS self-service.
  • Part-time students have no residence requirements but are required to attend the University on a regular basis as prescribed by the degree committee.

To keep residence you need to be in Cambridge for three quarters of the total nights of each term (see below). Although there are no residence requirements for students registered on a part-time basis, there are attendance requirements and you will need to live close enough to Cambridge to fulfil these.

Each graduate course has a minimum number of terms of study which must be undertaken before you can be approved for your degree unless you have been granted an exemption or allowance for up to 3 terms of research.

The minimum number of terms are as follows:

Qualification Minimum No. of Terms
Full-time Part-time
Certificate of Postgraduate Study (CPGS) 3 5
Diploma in Economics 3 N/A
Diploma in International Law 6 N/A
Diploma in Legal Studies 6 N/A
MPhil (one-year) 3 N/A
MRes 3 N/A
MPhil (two-year) 6 N/A
MSc and MLitt 6 10
PhD 9 15

If you are registered on a full-time basis and are resident in Cambridge for 21 days or more of a term you will be liable for the University Composition Fee for that term. The term will also be counted as a term of study.

For further information please contact the Student Registry (


Terms of Research

  • All research students must undertake a certain number of terms of research in the University or one of its approved University Partner Institutions (UPIs) to be of standing to submit their dissertation; the requirement for each qualification is set out below.
  • Students whose studies require research facilities located outside the University may apply to spend some time working away from Cambridge providing at least a minimum period of research is carried out in the University of Cambridge or one of its UPIs as set out below.
Description Qualification Terms
Full-time Part-time
Minimum number of terms of research
(earliest date thesis may be submitted is the first day of the Term shown)
MRes/MPhil/ CPGS
Minimum number of terms of research required in Cambridge or approved NUI PhD/EngD
3 5
Submission of thesis deadline, last day of Term shown PhD/EngD*
Exemptions/allowances - maximum number of terms that can be exempted or allowed for previous research or research preparation PhD/EngD
3 5

* special arrangements exist to accommodate 4-year research programmes - i.e. the EngD and a small number of PhD programmes in Medicine and Developmental Biology of specifically four years' duration.


Hours of Attendance and Holidays

You are expected to attend according to the basic rules set out for your qualification.

Whilst the Board does not officially set rules on the hours of attendance nor on the number of days holiday you may take, it does recommend that full-time students work for 40 hours per week and part-time students 20 hours per week. The University also limits the hours of paid work a full-time research student can take.

Your supervisor, course director, department and sponsor may, however, all have a view on what hours you are expected to attend and how much holiday you can take. You are expected to comply with their reasonable requirements and you should establish what these are at the earliest opportunity.

Please note that the Research Councils require as a condition of your award that you to attend as specified by the institution and set limits on the number of days paid holiday you can take. For example, the Arts and Humanities Research Council requires holidays to be taken outside of term and that they be authorised by the institution for no more than 8 weeks in any 12 months. Please check the terms and conditions of any awards you hold carefully.

For further information please contact the Student Registry (