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Working Away from Cambridge

Applying for leave to work away

You apply for leave to work away via your CamSIS self-service. General information on how to apply for a change in your student status is available on the ‘Applying for a change in your student status’ page.

Detailed guidance specifically on how to apply for leave to work away can be found here. A training video can be found here.

Approval to work away can take several weeks, so you should submit your application at least two months before you plan to leave Cambridge. You cannot apply to work away retrospectively. You must obtain permission to work away before you leave Cambridge.

Risk Assessment and insurance

Unless you are returning home to write up your thesis or to complete corrections, you must upload a risk assessment which has been approved by your Department. If you wish to write up your thesis or complete corrections somewhere other than your home country, you must upload a risk assessment. This is to ensure that risks are considered and where possible mitigated before you travel.  Even if you are working away for less than two weeks and therefore do not need to apply for leave to work away, you are strongly advised to still complete a risk assesment to ensure you consider all potential risks of your planned trip. Please contact your Department’s Graduate Office for the appropriate risk assessment form.  Useful information on assessing risk and other safeguarding measures can be found at

If your risk assessment is revised after you have submitted your leave to work away application, but while the application is still pending, your Department will be able to upload a revised risk assessment to your application.

Unless you are returning home to write up your thesis or to complete corrections, you must arrange appropriate insurance to cover your period of working away.   More information about University insurance can be found on the Insurance Section website. You can also find useful information here.

When to apply for leave to work away

Full-time graduate students undertaking a research course (such as a PhD) are required to live and study in Cambridge throughout the year, with no breaks between terms. Full-time students who want to study, carry out research, write up their thesis or complete corrections away from Cambridge for more than two weeks must apply to ‘work away’.

Part time students, who are not required to live in Cambridge, need to apply to work away if they will be studying, carrying out research, writing up or completing corrections away from their normal place of residence for more than two weeks away.

Non-research graduate students (such as ‘taught MPhil’ students) are expected to live and study in Cambridge during term time, but do have holiday breaks between terms (depending on the requirements of their course).  Students on taught programmes who need to leave Cambridge to undertake research for their dissertations must apply to work away.

During your period of research

To work away during your period of research there must be good academic reasons for you spending time away from Cambridge, for example:

  • Undertaking essential fieldwork
  • Completing an internship or placement that is integral to your course or research
  • Completing language training required by your course or integral to your research

PhD and EdD students are unlikely to be given leave to work away from Cambridge until they have successfully completed their first year registration exercise. If you have not yet passed your registration exercise, you should speak to your Degree Committee before submitting an application for leave to work away.

When writing up 

You can apply for leave to work away if you wish to return home to finish writing your thesis before submitting. You can also apply for leave to work away if you wish to finish writing up somewhere other than your home country, provided there are good reasons for this. 

When completing corrections to your thesis after examination

If, following your viva voce examination, you are notified by Student Registry that you are required to make corrections or revisions to your thesis, you need to apply for leave to work away if you are planning to complete the corrections outside Cambridge.

Note: If you have submitted your thesis and you are waiting for the outcome of your examination to be confirmed by the Board of Graduate Studies, you are not required to apply for leave to work away.

You do not need to apply for leave to work away if you are going on holiday. Research students are entitled to eight weeks of holiday per year, to be taken at times agreed with their supervisor. Information about this can be found here.

If you need to take a break from study because of illness or other reasons, you should read the pages on medical intermission and non-medical intermission.

Residency requirements

All full-time graduate students are required to keep at least three of terms of residency in Cambridge in order to be eligible for their degree. This is particularly relevant for students undertaking a one-year MPhil, as it restricts the amount of time they can spend away from Cambridge.

Information about the dates that a student must be in Cambridge in order to keep term can be found here.

Students studying on a Tier 4 visa

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa, your period of working away will be recorded as an authorised absence. This means that the University does not have to inform the Home Office of the temporary change, but you will be required to maintain your termly contact with your College whilst away from Cambridge.

If you are working away at another location in the UK, you must continue to sign in at your College in person. If you are working away at an overseas location, 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 eg.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 Office at