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Non-Medical Intermission (postgraduates)

A non-medical intermission is an authorised break from study for such things as maternity or paternity leave, family emergencies and internships or placements.

Postgraduate students who find thesmselves unable to study for more than two weeks due to a medical condition (including Coronavirus), should apply for a period of medical intermission. More information about medical intermission can be found on the ‘medical intermission’ page of the Cambridge Students website.

Applying for non-medical intermission (postgraduates only)

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

Intermission can only be backdated by a maximum of 30 days from the day you make your application. For example, if you submit your application on 31st October, the earliest start date for your period of intermission will be 1st October.

Once submitted, your application will be considered by your supervisor, Department, College and Degree Committee before arriving at the Student Registry for the final decision.

If applying for intermission in order to undertake an internship or placement outside the UK, although you are not required to complete a risk assessment, you are encouraged to do so - please contact your Department’s Postgraduate Office for the appropriate risk assessment form. Useful information on assessing risk and other safeguarding measures can be found at

Reasons for non-medical intermission

The following are valid reasons for non-medical intermission:

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Family circumstances such as nursing or supporting a sick relative
  • Dealing with an emergency or other serious situation (you will need to specify what this is)
  • Bereavement or serious illness of a close family member or partner
  • Undertaking a language course that is not intrinsic to your research
  • Undertaking a research fellowship that is not intrinsic to your research
  • Undertaking an internship or placement which is not intrinsic to your research, which will be beneficial for your career development. This includes both paid and unpaid internships and placements, such as opportunities offered (but not required) by funding bodies, such as the Research Councils policy internships schemes.
  • Taking up a position as a Cambridge SU Sabbatical Officer (President, Vice President, Welfare and Rights Officer) 
  • COVID-19 Students who are unable to work at all on their research as a result of having no access to facilities or resources due to the covid-19 pandemic can apply for a period of intermission. However, in most cases it will be possible to do some work, albeit at a reduced capacity. Students in this position should not apply for intermission but will be eligible to apply for an extension to their submission deadline when this is approaching.

The following are not valid reasons for non-medical intermission:

  • Taking up employment unless this is in the form of a short-term paid internship or placement
  • For part-time students - regular 'pressures of work'
  • Funding issues (with the possible exception of a sudden and unexpected financial crisis)
  • Personal events that were planned or could reasonably have been expected
  • Visa/ATAS issues
  • Failing an assessment
  • Undertaking a language course that is intrinsic to your research You should apply to work away for such absences
  • Undertaking a research fellowship, internship or placement which is intrinsic to your research You will need to apply to work away for the period of the fellowship, internship or placement. This includes the BBSRC Professional Internships for PhD students (PIPS) scheme.
  • Holiday Full-time postgraduate research students are expected to be in residence in Cambridge working on their research throughout the year, with short breaks for holidays. Postgraduate research students are entitled to take between 4 to 8 weeks of holiday (for which permission to work away is also not required) in a year, at times agreed with their supervisor.
  • Requests for intermission based on changes to modes of teaching and assessment put in place as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic do not meet the criteria for intermission.  Therefore, an application to intermit on this basis is unlikely to be approved, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

Length and timing of intermission

You can apply for a period of intermission if your break from study will last for more than two weeks.

Full-time students can apply for up to a maximum of three consecutive terms. Part-time students can apply for a maximum of five consecutive terms. PhD, EdD, MSc and MLitt students are not normally permitted to intermit for more than six full-time or ten part-time terms in total.

Masters students (or students undertaking any other one year programme) are not normally permitted to intermit for more than three full time or five part-time terms in total.

Intermission during the first term of study will only be approved in exceptional circumstances, and can’t normally be used as a way of deferring admission. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis and will need the strong support of the student’s Degree Committee. With regard to the impact of coronavirus/covid-19, the Colleges and University will consider a disability or a health condition which results in an individual being more susceptible to infectious diseases as potentially ‘exceptional circumstances’ which may justify a period of medical intermission if remote working is not possible. Students who cannot travel to Cambridge because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic and who are not able to study remotely may also have a valid case to claim ‘exceptional circumstances’ which may justify non-medical intermission. The Colleges, Faculties and Departments will do what is possible to ensure that students can work remotely away from Cambridge through provision of online and recorded lectures, online supervisions and access to educational materials but there may still be circumstances in which intermission is the appropriate course of action. Intermission on grounds of covid-19 will normally only be approved for one term at a time.

It is not normally expected that you would apply for intermission in or after the final term of your course of study, where it would be more appropriate for you to temporarily withdraw. You will not be able to intermit once you have completed the maximum number of terms for your degree.

Keeping term and fee liability

Depending on the timing of your intermission, it is possible that you will not ‘keep’ one or more terms. Full-time students must spend at least three terms resident in Cambridge.  For a term to be 'kept' a student has to reside in Cambridge for a minimum number of nights (59 for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms and 52 for the Easter Term).   Normally if you are studying for 21 days or more of a term you will be liable for the University Composition Fee for that term. Intermission will not impact on the overall number of terms for which there is fee liability. However, students returning from a period of intermission of six or more consecutive terms (which is very rare - see above for the usual limit on consecutive terms) will normally be liable to pay the rate that prevails upon their return which will almost certainly be higher. Further information about terms of study, research and residence can be found on the Terms of Study page.

During intermission

Intermission is a complete break from study. Your submission date will be extended to take account of the time you have not been studying.

Whilst intermitting, students are not permitted to study or undertake any form of employment. You can remain in Cambridge during a period of intermission and may choose to maintain contact with your Supervisor, but you are not expected to be actively engaged in your studies or to be accessing laboratories or other facilities.  

You should not use College facilities during intermission, nor engage in social activities within College, without the express permission of the College.

Returning from non-medical intermission

If your application for non-medical intermission is successful, your date of return to study will be made clear in a confirmation email. You will be expected to return to study on your return date. If you aren’t able to return to study after your intermission, you will need to notify Student Registry at and you may be temporarily withdrawn from study. If you wish to return early from intermission, please let us know ( - the remainder of your period of intermission will be rescinded and your submission deadline brought forward accordingly.

If you are due to return from intermission but are unable to return to Cambridge due to Coronavirus/covid-19 you should apply for either a further period of intermission (if unable to study due to the impact of Coronavirus) or leave to work away (if able to study, even if at a reduced capacity). In some cases an extension to your submission deadline may also be possible. If you are unsure which option is most appropriate please contact Student Registry (

Intermission and Funding

If you are funded by the SLC, a Research Council or other funding body, you should always discuss your plans for intermission with the relevant administrator before submitting an application. Depending on the reason for your intermission, your award may continue or be suspended for the period of your intermission. 

If you are not eligible for funding during your intermission, it is possible that any maintenance payments received during a period of intermission may be considered an 'overpayment' which will have to be repaid.

Hardship Funds 

If you are not in receipt of funding for a period of intermission and are experiencing financial hardship because of this, you may be eligible to apply for hardship funding.  You should talk to your College Tutor about any college hardship funds for which you may be eligible. You may also be eligible for support from the Postgraduate Hardship Fund

The Students’ Unions’ Advice Service  can also signpost to other relevant sources of funding (see also Turn2Us).

US/Canadian Federal loans

If you are planning on applying or have been granted intermission whilst in receipt of a current federal loan or hold one that is in deferment or require further information please contact:

Information for students studying on a Tier 4 sponsored visa

A Tier 4 visa is granted for the purpose of full-time study in the UK. If a student is not engaged in full-time study for a period of time, the terms of Tier 4 sponsorship no longer apply and the Home Office expects the student to leave the UK.

If a period of intermission is granted, the University is required to cease Tier 4 sponsorship and report the change of circumstances to the Home Office. The Home Office act on this change by curtailing the Tier 4 visa to sixty days and the student is advised to leave the UK.

In certain circumstances the University is able to continue sponsorship for a Tier 4 visa for a period of intermission up to a maximum of sixty days. This would only be considered in cases where the student can still complete their course within their existing visa expiry and would not include intermission for the purpose of either internship or course which does not contribute to studies at Cambridge. If sponsorship is continued but the sponsored student does not return to studies after this intermission, the University is required to cease sponsorship in line with the above.

Any previous intermission will be taken into account when considering whether Tier 4 sponsorship can be continued.

In cases where Tier 4 sponsorship is ceased, the University will be able to issue a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for a new visa application once return to study is approved; please contact the International Student Office to request this CAS.

For further information please contact the International Student Office:


If you have any questions about medical intermission, please write to the Student Registry at