Student Registry


Leave to Work Away From Cambridge

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When to Apply for 'Leave to Work Away'

You will need to apply to work away if:

  1. Your research project requires you to be away from Cambridge
  • There must be good academic reasons for seeking leave to work away; for example, a need directly related to your approved topic to conduct fieldwork. If you secure permission to work away from Cambridge for a part of your course you will be required to work under adequate supervision and to pursue your research on the same basis as you would during residence in Cambridge
  • You will need to include particulars relating to the circumstances in which you expect to be working and the name of the authority with whom you propose to work during your period of absence from Cambridge. For many students the research project will require extended visits to other places in order, for example, to consult archives, to make use of specialist collections or equipment, or to gather data in the field
  • Leave to work away is normally granted on a termly basis, or for a specific period of time, after which the student returns into residence in Cambridge
  • Part-time research students seeking leave to work away should consider whether a change of mode to full-time might be appropriate for a period of fieldwork; the number of terms allowed towards the total research requirement will be calculated by the Student Registry accordingly
  • Practice varies according to subject: a number of Degree Committees do not permit candidates to work away from Cambridge until the first-year assessment and registration has taken place; some other Degree Committees, in which extended fieldwork is the norm, do not carry out the assessment and registration exercise until the fieldwork has been completed. If you are not sure, please check with your Degree Committee directly before making your application
  • Students granted 'leave to work away' are considered still to be under the active supervision of their Cambridge Supervisor unless alternative arrangements have been approved. Degree Committees should satisfy themselves that adequate supervisory cover is available for students working away from Cambridge and may think it appropriate to appoint a second supervisor locally who can monitor and guide the student
  • Students funded by one of the Research Councils or the Cambridge Trusts must inform the sponsor in advance of their plans to work outside the University
  • You may be eligible for exemption from fees with the approval of your department. Note this does not apply to students beginning PhD study on/after October 2010.

  1. You remain a registered graduate student but you are away from Cambridge, but not for the purpose of conducting fieldwork
  • For example to 'write up' prior to submission of your thesis. If you wish to apply to work away solely for the purpose of 'writing up', please note that this is not automatically agreed. Each case is considered on a case-by case basis. For example, it may be unreasonable in terms of your research or not possible for your Supervisor to continue to supervisor you if you are not in Cambridge. You should therefore not consider leaving Cambridge until you have received the permission of the Student Registry to work away. For information - it is not necessary to apply to work away if you are taking a short break from your studies, normally no more than 3 weeks and if you have the permission of your Department/Degree Committee and College. (If you are an International Student you would also need to advise the International Student Team Office). If you are registered as a PhD/MSc or MLitt student, normally work away would not be agreed if you have passed your 4 year end date. You may wish to consider withdrawal at this stage with a view to later reinstatement when ready to submit.

Important Information

  • You need to state, on your application, the exact dates you will be away from Cambridge
  • If the working away is a compulsory element of you course, you will still need to formally apply to work away
  • Students registered for the MPhil Degree (one-year course) are not allowed to work away from Cambridge
  • If you are a candidate for an MPhil Degree (two-year course) you may be allowed to spend term(s) of the course working away from Cambridge under conditions approved by the Board
  • You may need permission from your sponsor. Please consult your sponsor's handbook for information on this and if in doubt contact the Board
  • You must ensure you have undertaken a risk assessment which has been approved by your Department/Degree Committee prior to you leaving Cambridge
  • Part-time research students may apply for leave to work away for full-terms if appropriate
  • If you are resident in Cambridge for 21 days or more of a term you will be liable for the University Composition Fee for that term. The term will also be counted as a term of research in Cambridge
  • If you have been granted permission to work at another university, and are awarded a degree or other qualification from that university, you will not be allowed to count towards the requirements for your Cambridge PhD, MSc or MLitt Degree, any time during which you have been completing the requirements for the degree or other qualifications awarded by the other university
  • You may be eligible for exemption from fees with the approval of your department. Note this does NOT apply to students beginning PhD study on/after October 2010 when a 'fee for course' will be implemented
  • Work away is not granted when taking time away for employment.

Please note that for 2010 PhD cohort onwards, PhD, MSc and MLitt students will be automatically removed from the Register of Graduate Students at the 4 year point, (7 years of part time) unless you make an application to extend the date you remain registered as a graduate student, and this is agreed by the Board in advance of your 4/7 year date being reached. Please see the Board's information on Extending Your 'End of Registration Date'.

Please also check the pages below for further information if you are not sure if you should apply for work away or intermission.

Application forms for Work Away From Cambridge are available from your Self-Service pages.

  • Further information

Please ensure that you let your college and sponsor know if you make an application to work away.

If you are a registered graduate student, it is very important that the University has a record of where you are working. For those students sponsored under Tier 4, it is absolutely essential.


'Fee For The Course'

'Fee for the Course' will apply to graduate students who commence a research course on or after the 1st October 2010. This means that the University Composition Fee (UCF) will be charged during terms of 'leave to work away', except if the following apply (please mark on the 'leave to work away' application form if applicable):

  1. If a student is participating in an approved exchange agreement where there is a period spent at another institution and a fee waiver has been explicitly agreed by the Student Registry. Approved exchange agreements to date, are: A*, NIH OxCam, Faculty of the Future and the Henry Fellowship. This does not include outgoing Erasmus students, as fees should be waived at the European University, rather than at Cambridge.
  2. If a student is registered at an approved Non-University Institution (NUI).

Students in the above categories cannot apply for the fieldwork funds below.

Please note: whether or not to charge the College Fee is at the discretion of the College.


University Fieldwork Funds

Students admitted from October 2010 who require additional funding to complete fieldwork and who have been granted permission from the Board of Graduate Studies to work away can apply for a grant on the basis of need, by completing a form to attach to the LTWA application:

If you are AHRC or ESRC-funded, you may be able to apply for additional fieldwork funding through these schemes. Please consult ESRC DTC, for AHRC please check our website page: AHRC.

The Board's Office currently manage applications received centrally


  • Students must be given permission to leave Cambridge for fieldwork but not necessarily for a term of 'Leave to work away' and this can include the long vacation
  • Students must be within the fee paying period of their course
  • Students may apply for up to 80% of the amount of the University Composition Fee paid during the terms of 'work away', if this amount can be shown to be required to complete the fieldwork successfully. In exceptional circumstances students may apply for more, with a well supported case
  • Students may claim for UK or international fieldwork costs, language learning, or visits to other institutions
  • Allowable items are research-related costs that exceed those that the student would ordinarily meet if staying in Cambridge e.g. tuition fees payable at another institution; travel costs; research related costs; exceptional living costs
  • Students will be required to state their source of funding and should approach their sponsors in the first instance to apply for research costs. Students with sponsorship that includes adequate resources for fieldwork expenses are excluded
  • Students must apply in advance providing details of the proposed fieldwork and a breakdown of the exact costs involved.

If for any reason the fieldwork is abandoned or is unsuccessful and the student returns to Cambridge early, the student must inform the Student Registry to allow it to recover the fieldwork allowance, less any reasonable expenditure already incurred. This also applies if a student withdraws from study during the period of fieldwork claim.


University Travel Insurance

Graduate students may only apply for University Travel Insurance for periods where working away from Cambridge has been agreed by the Board of Graduate Studies.

Although 'work away' is normally only granted if your period away means you will be resident in Cambridge for less than 21 days of a term, should you wish to apply for University Travel Insurance for a shorter trip, you MUST still make an application to 'work away' to the Board in the normal way.

The 'work away' application must include full particulars relating to the circumstances in which you expect to be working; the name of the authority with whom you propose to work during your period of absence from Cambridge; and the exact dates you will be away from Cambridge.

As you will be resident in Cambridge for sufficient nights to keep term, and therefore do not formally require permission to conduct your research elsewhere, the Board of Graduate Studies on receipt of your application to work away, can with the consent of your Supervisor, College and Degree Committee agree for you to be absent between specified dates. You will therefore receive an email from the Board confirming the agreement to work away between specified dates which will enable you, if you wish, to apply for University Travel Insurance to cover those dates.

  • Further information


Please note: if you are an overseas student requiring entry clearance to study in the UK, please ensure you comply with the conditions of your visa during periods where working away has been agreed by the University and recorded on your CamSIS record.

For further information please contact the Student Registry and if applicable the International Student Team with regards to your visa:

Student Registry (

International Student Team (