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What is ‘working away’?

You will need to apply to work away if at any time during your course you plan to be  away from Cambridge, other than short breaks for holidays.  This includes periods of fieldwork or completing any compulsory element of your course or for you to undertake work directly related to your studies. As a graduate student you do not have breaks between terms or a long summer break.  You are expected to be in residence in Cambridge working on your research throughout the year, with short breaks for holidays.

If you are granted permission to work away you are considered still to be under the active supervision of your Cambridge Supervisor unless alternative arrangements have been approved.


When can I apply to work away?

You should apply to work away 2-3 months before you plan to leave Cambridge, to allow time for your application to be reviewed.

If you are in your first year of study, you should check with your Degree Committee whether you are permitted to work away before you have completed your first year registration (a number of Degree Committees do not permit you to work away from Cambridge until your first-year assessment and registration has taken place; some other Degree Committees, in which extended fieldwork is the norm, do not carry out the assessment and registration exercise until your fieldwork has been completed).

You must receive an email confirming the approval of your application to work away from the Student Registry before you leave Cambridge.

If you will be studying on a programme which permits students to work away in their first year of study you will still need to apply to work away using the online system.


What can I apply to work away for?

What you can apply to work away for varies depending on where you are in your course.    In all cases you must clearly state for what purpose you are away.

During your period of research

There must be good academic reasons for seeking permission to work away; for example, a need directly related to your approved topic to conduct fieldwork or to complete an internship relevant to your course or sponsored by your funding body.

There may be particular requirements of your course for which you will need to apply to work away.  For example, students on the BBSRC DTP should apply to work away in order to complete their PIPS.  Similarly, ESRC and STFC offer placements for which you would need to apply to work away.

When writing up your work prior to submitting your thesis

If you wish to return home to write up your thesis you will need to apply to work away. In these instances you will not be required to submit a risk assessment or acquire insurance.

When completing post-examination corrections to your thesis

When you have submitted your dissertation and are waiting for the outcome of your examination, you are not required to apply to work away for this period. If you are later notified that you are required to undertake further work to your dissertation, such as corrections, revisions etc. you are expected to apply to work away if not in Cambridge

You do not need to apply to work away for short periods, such as attending conferences.

Students are  not usually able to apply to work away for the purpose of employment.  If you wish to take a period of employment you must apply to be removed from the Register (add link).

Applications are considered on a case by case basis and must have the support of your supervisor, Department, Degree Committee and College.


How long can my period of working away be?

You should apply to work away for absences over 3 weeks.  Permission to work away can  be granted for a maximum of 3 terms at any one time.   If, during your period of working away, you find that you need additional time, you can apply to extend your period of working away by submitting another application to work away.

You are required to spend at least 3 terms of residence in Cambridge; any request to work away which would limit your time in Cambridge to less than 3 terms will be approved only in very exceptional circumstances.


Where can I work away?

You can apply to work away anywhere in the world.  However, before you apply to work away outside the UK, you must refer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for travel advice for the country or countries you plan to visit during your period of working away.  If you plan to visit a country or countries which are subject to an adverse FCO rating you must be aware of the Insurance Office statement in this regard.


How do I apply to work away?

  • Go to your CamSIS Self-Service Page/Apply for Things/Application Forms
  • Use the drop down/calendar look up to select the term(s) you wish to work away.  Please note Easter Term runs from April to the end of September.   In the Text box, state the actual dates that you will leave and return to Cambridge
  • Give details of the reasons for your application
  • Give details of  where you will be based (Country/City/Region) whilst working away
  • By submitting an application to work away you are confirming that you have an approved risk assessment and appropriate insurance.  You should not submit an application if you do not have these in place.  These are not required for working away at home, for the purpose of writing up)
  • You may also wish to upload additional material in support of your application


Why do I need a risk assessment?

  • The University has a legal obligation to assess the risks of all its activities where they affect staff or students.  This includes students working away from Cambridge even if this involves working at another institution in the UK or abroad.   You must therefore have an approved risk assessment in place before you apply for permission to work away.

    The Head of your Department is responsible for ensuring that appropriate risk management is in place for periods of working away and must therefore approve your risk assessment.  For information, the University Safety Office has detailed advice on their website


Why do I need insurance?

You will need to show that you have adequate insurance for any period of working away unless:

  • You are remaining in the UK
  • You are applying to return home to write up your thesis or to undertake further work to your thesis, such as corrections).
  • Further details on University insurance can be found at

    University insurance is not available for students who are return home to work on their thesis or for students who are away from Cambridge but remain in the UK.


How can I track my application?

  • You can track your application via your CamSIS self-service where you will be able to see who has next to decide on your application
  • It is for you to ensure your application progresses in a timely manner
  • The process of application runs from you as the student initiating an application, to your Supervisor then to Department, College, and Degree Committee and finally to the Student Registry.


How will I know the outcome of my application?

  • When a final decision has been made, you will receive notification from the Student Registry by email. This email will be copied to other interested parties


Can I apply to work away retrospectively?

No, applications to work away must be made in advance of any planned period of working away, and approval must have been granted before you leave Cambridge.  It is not possible to consider retrospective applications.

You must not start a period of working away without formal email approval from the Student Registry.


What can I do if my application is denied?

You will receive an email from the Student Registry which will give the reason(s) why the application was denied.  If your circumstances have changed or you have additional information which was not included in the original application, you can request a review of the decision not to approve your working away by emailing


I am on a Tier 4 visa.  Can I still apply to work away?

If you are studying on a Tier 4 Student Visa your work away is recorded as an authorised absence. This means that we do not have to inform the Home Office of this temporary change, but you are required to maintain your termly contact with your College whilst away from Cambridge. If you are in the UK you must continue to do this in person. For leave to work away overseas, this contact must be made by e-mail at the start of each term; in this e-mail you should confirm your current circumstances to your College i.e. continuing fieldwork overseas or writing up at home.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding your Tier 4 visa you should contact the International Student Team (


How can I extend my period of working away?

If you wish to extend your period of working away you will need to complete a new application via your CamSIS self-service pages in the normal way for the extended period.


What do I need to do if I wish to return from working away earlier than planned?

If your plans change and you wish to return to Cambridge earlier than planned, you do not need to make a formal application but should notify your supervisor, Department, College and the Student Registry ( of the date of your return to Cambridge.


How does a period of working away impact on my fee payments?

You will be charged fees during any periods of working away, except:

  • If you commenced a course of study before  the 1st October 2010
  • You are participating in an approved exchange agreement where there is a period spent at another institution and a fee waiver has been explicitly agreed by the Student Registry. Approved exchange agreements to date, are: A* and NIH OxCam.  This does not include outgoing Erasmus students, as fees should be waived at the European University, rather than at Cambridge.  If you are on one of these programmes, please include this in your application to work way.
  • You have completed 9 terms and are working away to write up your thesis.


I am a Research Council funded student, what implications are there for me?

If you are funded by a Research Council you may be required to have a period of working away as part of your progarmme.  You may still be eligible for your maintenance stipend for periods of working away, depending on the reason for the work away.  Most  Research Councils allow for periods of working away to complete fieldwork or to complete language training.

You should consult your funding administrator in advance of your plans to work outside the University to clarify your position.


I have a UK student loan.  Will a period of working away affect my loan?

Applying for a period of working away from Cambridge may have an impact on your eligibility for UK student loans.  You should contact the Student Loans team in the Student Registry ( for more information.


I have a US/Canadian federal loan.  Will a period of working away affect my loan?

Applying for a period of working away from Cambridge may have an impact on your eligibility for US/Canadian federal loans, and for the deferment of any undergraduate loans.  You should contact the Student Loans team in the Student Registry ( for more information.


How can I access fieldwork funds?

If you are funded by a Research Council you may be eligible to apply for additional fieldwork funds from that Research Council.   You should contact your funding administrator for details of any available funding.

Your School and College may also have fieldwork funds which you can apply for.  Details of the contacts for fieldwork funding held in Schools are below (these funds are not available for students based at University Partner Institutions.

School of Arts and Humanities:  contact your Department administrator.

School of the Biological Sciences:  contact your Departmental Graduate administrator.

School of Clinical Medicine:  contact the Higher Degrees Office.

School of Humanities and Social Sciences: contact your Department administrator (School of Humanities and Social Sciences)

School of Physical Sciences:  see the websites at Degree Committee for the Faculty of Earth Sciences and Geography and Fieldwork Fund for Physics and Chemistry

School of Technology:  see the website at Graduate School of Technology


If I have further queries, who should I contact?