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Working Away from Cambridge

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. Research students are entitled to eight weeks of holiday per year, to be taken at times agreed with their supervisor.

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.

If you want to study, carry out research or write up your thesis away from Cambridge for more than two weeks at a time, you need to apply for ‘leave to work away’. Part time students, who are not required to live in Cambridge, need to apply for leave to work away if they will be studying, writing up or carrying out research for more than two weeks away from where they usually live.

You do not need to apply for leave to work away if you are going on holiday. 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.

You cannot apply to work away retrospectively. You must obtain permission to work away before you leave Cambridge.
 

Applying for leave to work away

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

Approval of leave to work away can take several weeks, so you should submit your application at least two months before you plan to leave Cambridge.

Risk Assessment

Apart from students returning home to write up their thesis, all students applying for leave to work away must have a thorough risk assessment approved by their Department. Your department can provide you with a template risk assessment form.

Insurance

With the exception of students returning home to write up their thesis, students must arrange appropriate insurance to cover their period of working away. 

More information about University insurance can be found on the Insurance Section website: https://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/insurance/travel/students/bgs/index.html.
 

When to apply for leave 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 students in their first year of study may not be given leave to work away from Cambridge until they have successfully completed their first year registration exercise. If you are a first-year student, you should speak to your Degree Committee office 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.

When completing corrections to your thesis after examination
If, following your viva voce examination, you are notified by the 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.
 

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.

The information below shows the dates that a student must be in Cambridge in order to keep term.

Keeping term

To keep Michaelmas, a student must spend 59 nights in Cambridge between the 1st October and the 19th December.

To keep Lent, a student must spend 59 nights in Cambridge between 5th January and 25th March (24th March on a leap year).

To keep Easter, a student must spend 52 nights in Cambridge between 10th April and 18th June.
If Full Term begins after 22nd April a student must spend 52 nights in Cambridge between 17th April and 25th June).

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 in the UK, you must continue to sign in at your College in person. If you are working 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 Office at international.students@admin.cam.ac.uk.