Skip navigation to content

Leave of Absence (PG Research Students)

What is leave of absence?

Sometimes, circumstances may require you to take time out from your studies. These situations include:

  • illness
  • bereavement
  • adverse family circumstances
  • the need to earn money to continue studying
  • an internship

Leave of absence "stops the clock" on your study period. It exists to assist students through a period of adverse circumstances. As such, you should not be working on your thesis during a leave of absence.

When should I apply for leave of absence?

You should seek advice as soon as you become aware that leave may be required.  You must first discuss the situation with your Supervisor.

Advice about procedure and the implications for your student record is available from the Registry Officer (PG Research Student Support) (

How do I apply for leave of absence?

Formal approval is required for leave of absence. You should always discuss your leave of absence request with your supervisor in the first instance. Once you have the support from your supervisor, you must apply for a leave of absence using the online form in MMS. Your request will first need to be approved by your Director of Postgraduate Studies via MMS. Registry Support Officer and the Associate Provost (Students) will then be notified. If approved by the Associate Provost (Students), Registry will send you confirmation. Leave of absence is granted in months.

Important points to note:

  • You may request Leave of Absence for up to 1 year at a time, but not for a period of less than 1 month
  • Leave will not be permitted indefinitely; if your leave extends beyond 2 years in total, the Associate Provost (Students) and Registry will discuss your future options with you and your supervisor
  • Leave of Absence is not normally granted beyond a student’s current expected end date. If a student is getting close to their expected end date, the Associate Provost (Students) may decline the request for leave and insist on an application for an extension.
  • The Students' Association has an Education Advocate who is able to advise further if you have a problem in the University.
  • External bodies may not accept the Leave of Absence. This may have implications for funding arrangements and you must check your particular situation. Regulations surrounding leave of absence are especially strict if you are funded by a Research Council. Leave is usually restricted to medical circumstances and medical documentation required must include exact start and end dates for your Leave (in months). It is important for you and your supervisor to seek advice at an early stage from the Registry Officer (Research Student Support) (
  • If you are an overseas student on a Student visa, your leave of absence will be reported to the Home Office on approval. Your Student visa will be revoked and you will have to leave the UK within 60 days. On recommencing your studies, a new Student visa will be required. You must take advice on your individual circumstances from the International Student Adviser (
  • If you have a Student visa, a Leave of Absence will affect any employment you have with the University and you should take advice from the Registry Officer (Research Student Support) (
  • You are not deemed to be a student during leave, and will not benefit from council tax exemption or use of the library. If you are living in student accommodation, your contract will end 5 days after your leave commences.

Leave of absence: related links

Student Services Information for Research Postgraduates: