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All full-time students on matriculated courses are required to be in residence in Cambridge, unless they are on a year abroad as part of their course, or they are research students who have been given approval to work away.  

The requirement to be in residence in Cambridge is determined by University regulation, which is based on pedagogical reasons.  For undergraduates and postgraduate taught students, teaching and assessment for all matriculated students on full-time degree programmes is designed to be delivered in person.  Teaching occurs in various forms, including lectures, supervisions, seminars and laboratories, the vast majority of which is held in-person, and which provide context for practical and field-based learning.  The teaching delivered is more than the acquisition of knowledge; it is about the opportunity to explore subjects deeply, to discuss, analyse and criticise ideas and learning, and receive regular feedback. In small-group teaching, students are expected to contribute actively and benefit from listening to the questions raised by their peers and answers given.  Assessment also takes various forms, ranging from invigilated assessment in an examination room to viva.  Full-time matriculated undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are expected to attend all teaching sessions in person. 

For postgraduate research students, many research projects require the use of laboratory or other specialist equipment available in Cambridge.  All postgraduate research students benefit through access to facilities, support, and networking opportunities afforded by residence in Cambridge and in-person engagement with their Faculty or Department and with their College.

It is also a requirement for students on a student visa to be engaging with their studies consistently and actively in person; the terms of the visa do not allow remote study except for limited permitted activities as part of the course (such as a year abroad or fieldwork).

Cambridge places great emphasis on independent and self-directed study and so access to the University’s extensive learning and teaching resources is important (including our libraries and museums).  For undergraduate and postgraduate taught students, the terms are short, and the pace and volume of work is high.  For postgraduate research students, working alone on a research project can be isolating.  For these reasons, easy access to other opportunities is also important, including student societies, sport, music and drama as well as the support services.  In undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes assessment occurs over the year, with the majority taking place in Easter term.  The progress of postgraduate research students is monitored throughout the year.  The facilities and support provided by the University, Colleges, and support services is important. 

The College communities are an essential and enriching part of student life at Cambridge.  For matriculated undergraduates, the Colleges are not only responsible for admission, but also contribute to teaching and learning (e.g. through direction of studies and supervisions and through interaction with other students reading different subjects), provide a hall of residence, academic and pastoral support as well as other opportunities to socialise and to participate in extra-curricular activities.  Postgraduate students have full access to College facilities, even though not all of them might be accommodated in College (or not for the entire duration of their course). They are crucial members of their College community and are encouraged to participate fully in the life of their College. 

It is for all these reasons that the University is primarily a residential institution and does not allow remote study for matriculated students on full-time degree courses.  Of course, there might be short periods, during studies, that require a student to be away from Cambridge and mechanisms exist to allow for these exceptional arrangements.  The International Student Office is available to advise on any implications for those with a visa.   

Students should also take careful note of the Terms of Residence.

For further information please contact Student Registry (


For undergraduates or students on courses leading 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, residing within the precincts usually means living within 3 miles of Great St. Mary's church, in your college or in other accommodation with your college's permission.  If you feel you need permission to reside outside the precincts, you should speak to your College in the first instance.


For postgraduate students (with the exception of those noted above), 'precincts' are normally considered as the 10 mile radius of Great St Mary's church if you are a full-time student. If, however, there are good reasons for this not being possible, you can apply to live outside this limit. Part-time students have no residence requirement, but are expected to attend the University on a regular basis, and therefore do not need permission to reside outside Cambridge.

Residing outside the precincts is not a way to undertake a degree by remote study. It simply means that you still attend Cambridge to study, receive supervision, access facilities and support, and participate in department and College communities as if you were resident, but you live outside the radius of the precincts.

Permission to reside outside the precincts will therefore normally only be granted if the proposed place of residence is in England within a distance that would allow you to comfortably commute to Cambridge on a daily basis, and if all parties are satisfied that there will be no detrimental impact on study and attendance. You will still be expected to engage with your studies in person in Cambridge and to meet any attendance requirements for your course. The Department/Faculty should monitor to ensure residing outside the precincts is not having a detrimental impact on your engagement with your studies. If concerns are raised and these cannot be satisfactorily addressed, approval may be withdrawn. 

How to apply (postgraduates)

Application forms for residing outside the University's precincts are available from your CamSIS self-service. Please see guidance on applying for a change in your student status.