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Please note this guidance does not apply to the LL.M., M.A.St., M.C.L., M.Eng., M.Sci., M.Math., Vet.M.B., Mus.B., B.A., or B.Th. Degree, or the M.B., B.Chir. Degrees - students on these courses should contact their College and/or Department in the first instance if they have queries about the requirement to keep terms for their degrees.

Terms of Residence

The University year consists of three terms. Term dates are published on the University's website (University of Cambridge Term Dates) Research students are expected also to be in attendance and actively working on their research between terms, except during periods of holiday agreed with their supervisor, not normally exceeding 8 weeks in a 12-month period.

Full-time students:

  • Must spend at least three terms resident in Cambridge in order to be eligible for their degree. For a term to be 'kept' a student has to reside in Cambridge for at least 59 nights in Michaelmas and Lent Terms and 52 in Easter Term. These nights must be between 1 October and 19 December (Michaelmas), 5 January and 25 March (or in any leap year on 24 March) (Lent) and 17 April and 25 June (except for any year in which full Easter Term begins before 22 April, in which case the dates are 10 April and 18 June). Although the minimum residence requirement is three terms, full-time students are expected to be in Cambridge throughout their studies unless they have valid academic reasons for working away from Cambridge for any of the remaining terms.
  • 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 reside outside the University's precincts (via their CamSIS self-service) and all relevant parties must agree that this will not impair their ability to study and to attend the University as required. Students whose research requires them to spend a period of time of more than 2 weeks away from their Faculty or Department must apply formally for permission to work away. There may also be exceptional circumstances in which doctoral students might be permitted to work away for up to 4 weeks (see above link).

Under particular circumstances approved by the Degree Committee and General Board, MPhil students granted permission to work away outside the University may be granted an exemption of up to one full-time term of residence.

Part-time students have no residence requirements but are required to attend the University on a regular basis as prescribed by their Degree Committee. In general we expect part-time research students to be in Cambridge for around 45 days per year, spread throughout the year.

If their research requires them to spend a period of time away from their normal place of residence, they must apply formally for permission to work away

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 thesis; the requirement for each qualification is set out in the relevant Statutes and Ordinances, and are detailed below:


Minimum terms of research

Maximum terms of research

Full-time PhD



Part-time PhD 0.75 FTE



Part-time PhD 0.60 FE



BusD (full-time only) 12 12

Full-time MSc/MLitt



Part-time MSc/MLitt 0.75 FTE



Part-time MSc/MLitt 0.60 FTE



Full-time MPhil



Part-time MPhil




For PhD, EdD, MLitt and MSc, the earliest date the thesis may be submitted is the first day of the Term shown (eg: the first day of the 9th term for full-time PhD).

For the MPhil (both by Thesis and by Advanced Study) the submission date shall be determined by the Degree Committee. In setting the deadline, the Degree Committee will take into account the requirement to keep terms.

Under particular circumstances doctoral students can apply for an exemption of up to 3 full-time or 5 part-time terms of research (Allowance and Exemption of Research Terms)

Hours of Attendance and Holidays

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

Whilst the University does not officially set rules on the hours of attendance, it does recommend that full-time students work for 40 hours per week and part-time students 20 hours per week. You may wish to study for longer hours but this is not an expectation, as it is important to maintain a good balance between study, rest, and other activitiesThe University also limits the hours of paid work a full-time research student can take.

Research students are entitled to take up to 8 weeks of holiday each year, in agreement with their supervisor and are normally expected to arrange their holiday so that they still keep term. Students on taught courses should limit their holidays to periods between terms when they are not required to be in Cambridge. You are not expected to study while on holiday. If you receive funding, you should be aware that your sponsor may also set a limit on the number of days paid holiday you can take. Please check carefully the terms and conditions of any awards you hold.

Students whose research is subject to export control should comply with Export Control law if you plan to take controlled materials outside of the UK with you on holiday. The law applies even if you have no intention of using the material that you are carrying, for example on your laptop or phone.

For further information please contact the Student Registry (

Statutes and Ordinances

Information about the regulations for all courses can be found in the Statutes and Ordinances: Chapter VII: Degrees, Diplomas, and Other Qualifications.

For further information please contact the Student Registry (