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Full-time Students

Taught postgraduate students

Taught students undertaking taught Masters courses (for example, the MPhil by Advanced Study) are normally expected not to work during term-time. Students should consult their Faculty and Department for further details regarding vacation dates when they may be able to work. Any time between the end of the final term and the dissertation submission deadline should not be considered as vacation as students are still expected to be working on their studies at this time.

Research postgraduate students 

[Note: this guidance does not apply to current University of Cambridge employees who are approved to undertake a postgraduate research degree at the staff fee rate.]

Full-time postgraduate research degrees at Cambridge are academically demanding. Postgraduate Research students are expected to devote around 40 hours per week to their studies throughout the year, except during holidays (up to 8 weeks per year) agreed with their supervisor. They should therefore regard the time spent on their studies as similar to a full-time occupation.

Students are encouraged to balance their academic study with personal interests, extra-curricular activities that enhance their Cambridge experience, and activities that support their wellbeing. The University recognises that some students may also wish to combine their studies with paid or voluntary work.

Before engaging in work, students are advised to give careful thought to what would be realistic and manageable alongside their 40hr/wk full-time study commitment plus any extra‑curricular activities or other demands on their time.

Students on a Student/Tier 4 visa must comply with immigration working conditions that restrict the type of work permitted, and ensure they have a formal contract of employment/worker's agreement or similar in place before undertaking any employment including undergraduate supervisions (see information under 'Students holding a Student/Tier 4 visa' below).

Type of work

Work can take many forms, both paid and voluntary, either within the University or in external organisations. Within the University, students usually work in academic-related or voluntary/outreach roles. Examples of academic-related work include supervising undergraduates, invigilating examinations, working in a University/College library, demonstrating in a laboratory, or (for clinicians) working within Cambridge University Health Partners.

Students should engage with some basic training before undertaking any teaching/supervising; to this end, the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning offers training.

Students who wish to work, especially those considering a future career in academia, are encouraged to consider academic-related employment opportunities that may arise. The transferable skills that students receive from academic-related employment are also valuable for other career pathways.

Hours of work

The University recommends limiting work to 6-10hrs/wk. In exceptional circumstances, and to accommodate one-off events, students may be able to combine effective study with longer working hours, but this must only be undertaken after explicit discussion with their supervisor and their college tutor.  Even in such exceptional circumstances, students must never in any case exceed a maximum of 20hrs work each week, which includes both paid and unpaid work.

Students may work for more than one employer but must ensure that the combined number of hours worked each week does never in any case exceed the limit allowed. Students are responsible for monitoring the number of paid and unpaid hours they work each week.

The vacation dates used by undergraduate students do not apply to postgraduate research students. Students may take breaks for holiday of up to 8 weeks per year at times agreed with their Supervisor, but such periods should not be used for the purpose of undertaking work.


Permission to work is not required, but the University strongly encourages students to discuss their plans in advance with their supervisor, in order to assess any potential impacts on their academic progress.  Supervisors can provide advice specific to the student’s research activities, stage of their studies, and proposed timeline for completion, as well as helping the student explore how to manage work in the context of their commitments and wellbeing. Students should also discuss their plans with their College Tutor. As stated above, students who wish to work over 10 hours per week must discuss this with their supervisor and their college tutor.


Students who wish to work alongside their studies are expected to follow these principles:

  • Academic study must take priority: any work should still allow the expected full-time hours to be spent on research and private study.
  • Work should be scheduled around academic commitments: students may find that the timing of certain types of work is easier to accommodate outside their academic commitments.
  • Work should not impact negatively on a students’ studies, or delay or interfere with research: the consequences of working cannot be used as extenuating circumstances for late submission of work or an extension to the thesis submission deadline.
  • Paid work may provide an additional income but should not be required to support essential living costs. Students who are experiencing financial pressures should speak to their college tutors, and access maintenance grants that are available via the colleges and the university.
  • Funding bodies may impose their own limitations on the amount of paid employment that can be undertaken: students in receipt of funding are responsible for checking the terms and conditions of their award before undertaking any paid work.
  • Students on a Student/Tier 4 visa are responsible for ensuring they comply with the working conditions of their immigration permission which includes restrictions on the type of work permitted (see below).

After thesis submission

  • Students who have submitted their thesis for examination are no longer subject to the University's restriction on working hours during their examination period. They are not required to apply for leave to work away for the period between submission of the thesis and formal notification by Student Registry of the outcome of the examination.
  • Whilst making (minor or major) corrections to their thesis, students are no longer subject to the University’s restriction on working hours, but if they are working in a job outside Cambridge whilst making corrections to their thesis they will need to apply for leave to work away.
    Students who work whilst undertaking corrections to their thesis are not expected to apply for an extension to the deadline for submission of their corrected thesis.
    Students on a Student/Tier 4 visa will still be subject to restrictions laid down by UK Visas and Immigration (see below).  

Revise and resubmit

The policy outlined on this page refers to students working on their research or writing up.  Students who agree to revise and resubmit their thesis can work up to 20 hours per week as per this policy but would need to apply for a change of mode of study if they needed to work in excess of 20 hours. An approved change of mode allows students to be working more than 20 hours a week, but does not move the deadline for submission of the revised thesis.

Taking up full‑time employment

Students who wish to suspend their studies to take up full-time employment for a limited period will need to apply for temporary withdrawal from study for this period. Students who have not yet completed the required minimum number of terms of study may be able to apply to change their mode of study to part-time in order to take up full-time employment. Intermission may be a possibility in certain circumstances. 

Students who hold Student/Tier 4 visas should be aware of any visa implications before taking this course of action and are advised to contact the International Student Office for further advice.

CASE studentships

Students on a CASE studentship, for whom a placement at an industrial partner is an integral component of their PhD studies, may work full-time at their industrial partner for the duration of their placement subject to approval for leave to work away.

Students employed as a full-time Research Assistant

Research Assistants who are employed by the University (this does not include University Partner Institutions) and whose research employment activity is the same as their research degree may work their contracted hours whilst being registered as a full-time student. This arrangement is not normally possible for  students on a Tier 4/Student visa.



Students holding a Student/Tier 4 visa

Students on a Student/Tier 4 visa must ensure they fully understand and comply with the working conditions of their immigration permission. A student visa restricts the number of hours a student can work and does not permit self-employment, engaging in business activity, or certain other types of work. It is essential that students on a Student/Tier 4 visa obtain a formal worker's agreement or employment contract before undertaking any work, including undergraduate supervisions or other work within the Collegiate University. Please note that you may find that other students (who are not on a Student visa) may not need to have the same documentation in place. Students are advised to read the full guidance about working on a student visa to prevent working in breach of their visa conditions.

Income Tax

Students who wish to undertake work:

  • should ensure that they are aware of any visa or tax implications with regards to their employment or employment status. 
  • may be liable for tax and potentially national insurance payments depending on their circumstances. Any monies earned would be considered income which is potentially taxable.

The taxable status of a studentship may depend on whether the recipient is required to provide work as an element of the studentship.

Further information can be found at or should be sought from the Faculty, Department, College or external employer, although the University is not able to provide personal tax advice to students.

Staff unions

Research students may be interested in joining their local Unite or University and College Union (UCU) branches. Their websites can be found here:

Part-time students

Part-time students are not restricted in the hours they can work, but their admission interview will explore the extent to which they will be able to manage their work and study and their Supervisor is asked to keep the balance between these elements under review.