Interruption of Study

The University’s Interruption of Study and Extension to Time Limit Policy and Procedure (Research Students) allows research students to request an authorised absence of between 28 days and 12 months and/or to request an Extension to their time limit to submit.

Interruption of Study

Your School can approve absences of less than 28 days. For absences of more than 28 days, the University’s rules state that you must apply for an Interruption of Study.

The University expects research students to make up any short absences (less than 28 days) or impact on progress, either within the same reporting period, or over the duration of the candidature by adjusting the Research plan where necessary. If this is not possible due to the cumulative impact of several short periods of time lost, you may apply to extend your submission deadline if you are supported in doing so by your School.

If an Interruption of Study is approved by the University, the deadline for submission of your thesis should be automatically adjusted by a period commensurate with the length of the interruption (if 28 days or more in length).

If your interruption is granted, you will remain registered on your programme of study but your student record will be updated to show that you are not actively engaged with your course.

Your Rights During a Period of Interruption

During a period of interruption of study, you are permitted to:

  • retain IT login, email and intranet access, including SIMS;
  • retain access to electronic library resources;
  • have public access to libraries and University buildings;
  • have access to the Students' Union Student Advice;
  • have recourse to the student Complaint, Review and Appeal procedures;
  • continue to have access to Student Support services, where ongoing support, such as counselling, has commenced;
  • continue to have access to use the University's Day Care Centre;
  • retain access to all Council Tax Certificates which have been issued to you. (Some students on an interruption will be entitled to a new certificate, but this is dependent on the Council Tax Regulations in force at the relevant time.)

You are not permitted to:

  • receive supervision, either through meetings or correspondence;
  • have your progress be subject to progress monitoring;
  • access to laboratories, work or office space in your School, or to work space in the Doctoral Academy;
  • engage in training workshops, research seminars or events delivered or facilitated by your School or the Doctoral Academy;
  • undertake teaching, demonstrating or assessment of students' work, or other activities that relate to professional researcher development (e.g. knowledge exchange, outreach, representation);
  • you will not normally be expected, or be supported, to present your work at conferences, though there may be some circumstances where this is appropriate;
  • receive information about employment or voluntary opportunities;
  • depending on the length, remain in University accommodation. You should seek advice from Residential Services in advance of your application. Your contract will be adjusted without penalty and you will be provided with notice to quit in accordance with your accommodation contract.


  • If you are employed by the University through Jobshop, they may also need to suspend your employment contract if interrupting on the grounds of ill health.
  • If you are employed by the University and are interrupting on the grounds of ill health, the information submitted will also be considered by Human Resources in relation to your employment contract.

Grounds for an Interruption of Study and Extension to Time Limit

Interruptions and Extensions are not granted as of right but will need to be applied for with at least one valid ground and with appropriate evidence.

The grounds for submitting an application for an Interruption and Extension are as follows:

  • Ill health – a serious time-limited illness or a long-term health condition or disability that has worsened or is fluctuating, and adjustments (such as a previous extension) have not or cannot be put in place.
  • Compassionate grounds – a change in your personal, domestic or family circumstances, such as the death of a close family member or significant person, an unanticipated change in caring responsibilities (ill health of a dependent, for example), financial hardship, or being a victim of a serious crime.
  • Exceptional professional commitments (part-time students only) – if you are a part-time student working alongside your studies and your work commitments change unexpectedly and unavoidably. Note that an extension or interruption will not be granted where your submission is delayed as a result of commencing full-time employment during the ‘thesis completion’ stage. Taking up employment is considered a normal outcome of doctoral study and is not justifiable grounds for an interruption or extension since submission of the thesis should be the priority.
  • Professional placements/internships/work experience – if you undertake a placement/internship or period of work experience supported by your supervisor during the fees-payable period of
  • your studies and this is not considered to be integral to your programme and within its planned timeframe.
  • Unavoidable practical/logistical difficulties – if you encounter unavoidable and disruptive difficulties beyond your control that affect your progress for a discrete period of your candidature (the unanticipated unavailability of your supervisor at a key stage in your studies, for example). Any particular concerns or issues around supervision should be reported to your School at the time that they occur as they will not be permitted as retrospective grounds for an extension.
  • Maternity/Shared Parental/Adoption Leave - an interruption of study may be granted in relation to a period of Maternity, Shared Parental or Adoption Leave, as defined in the Policy on Maternity, Adoption, Paternity/Partner and Shared Parental Leave for Research Students. Interruptions of study on the grounds of Paternity/Partner Leave are an exception. Students are entitled to up to 2 weeks’ leave for Paternity/Partner Leave and any leave taken for this purpose will result in an adjustment to the latest submission deadline by a commensurate period.
  • Jury service or compulsory military service.
  • Sabbatical office.


  • The University will not approve Interruptions applied for solely on the grounds of insufficient academic progress.
  • A maximum of 12 months’ Interruption or Extension will be approved at a time. You can reapply with new evidence if new circumstances arise or your current circumstances change or worsen.
  • Some Research Councils do not permit funded students to interrupt their studies while undertaking an approved placement or internship. If you are in receipt of Research Council funding we strongly advise to check the terms and conditions of your studentship before applying for an Interruption of Study
  • For students starting their study after 1st October, 2019, an Interruption or extension will not be permitted where it will result in the total length of your candidature exceeding the overall time limit for your programme. Overall time limits are listed on pp 71-72 Research Degree Regulations.
  • The grounds for taking an Interruption are more limited during the ‘Thesis Completion’ stage. If you need to take a clear break from your studies on a temporary basis (if you require parental leave or become unwell for a prolonged period of time, for example), you should apply for an Interruption of Study. An Interruption of Study will not be granted for professional commitments or for professional placements, internships or other work experience in the thesis awaited stage.

Extension to Time Limit

If you experience significant disruption to your studies, caused by one of the grounds as detailed above, and are unable to make up the time lost within the remainder of your candidature, you may be able to apply for an extension to your time limit to submit:

Thesis Completion Stage

If you experience unforeseen circumstances during the ‘thesis completion’ stage of your studies that have a significant adverse impact on your progress and it is not possible to adjust to your Completion Plan to enable timely submission, you can apply to extend your time limit by a period commensurate with the time affected.

Fees Payable Period

In exceptional cases, you may apply for an extension when you are in the fees-payable period in accordance with the Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Procedure (Research Students). An application will be considered only where there is clear evidence at the 9-Month/Annual Review stage that (further) adjustment to your Research Plan to enable submission by your current deadline is not feasible.


You must report your circumstances as soon as they occur, or as soon as possible afterwards. An extension to your time limit will not be granted on the basis of unreported circumstances that occurred earlier in your studies, unless you can evidence good reason to argue otherwise.

The University will not grant an extension for circumstances that should more appropriately have led to an Interruption of Study (where an Interruption is applied for an approved, your time limit should be automatically extended, within the rules covering overall timescales for your Programme.

You may apply to extend your time limit on more than one occasion, but an application for a further extension should demonstrate new or ongoing circumstances that meet the criteria for an extension and which have occurred in the extended period only.

Applications will not be considered where the deadline for thesis submission has passed, unless there is a strong case to justify the late application.

Process of Applying for an Interruption of Study

  • An application for an Interruption of Study must be made prior to the beginning of the proposed interruption. Retrospective applications will be considered only where the School have approved an absence of 28 days or less, or it is shown that there are compelling grounds to do so (which may include chronic and/or mental health-related circumstances).
  • Applications for Interruptions of Study should be made to your School, using the Adjustment to Study Form (Section 1).
  • You are normally expected to discuss your request for an Interruption with your supervisor first and decide on the best course of action. You do not have to disclose any details or evidence of any extenuating circumstances to your Supervisor if you do not want to. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your Supervisor, or would like advice first, please contact Student Advice.
  • If you are applying on the grounds of ill health, compassionate grounds, unavoidable practical/logistical difficulties or exceptional professional commitments, your completed form will be considered by the Extenuating Circumstances Group. If your circumstances are accepted, the Group will also estimate the likely extent of the impact on you and report this to the Director of Postgraduate Research.
  • Requests for an Interruption of Study on the grounds of Maternity, Adoption, or Shared Parental Leave, or relating to work experience (including a professional placement/internship), sabbatical office, extended Jury Service, or compulsory military service are considered as ‘special categories’, and do not need to be reviewed by the Extenuating Circumstances Group. They should be considered by the Director of Postgraduate Research in the first instance, before being provided to the PGR Quality and Operations Team for review by a College Postgraduate Dean.
  • Your School will consider your request and will make a recommendation to the relevant College Postgraduate Dean, who will take the final decision on behalf of the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC).

An application for an extension should be made 2 to 4 months before your submission deadline, unless you have been granted permission by your School to apply for an extension, exceptionally, during your registered, fees payable period in response to extenuating circumstances reported. Applications received less than 2 months before the deadline 8 will not be considered, unless there are compelling circumstances to justify the late application.

You should complete an Adjustment to Study (Extenuating Circumstances) Form (Research Students) and provide appropriate contemporaneous supporting documentation in English or Welsh. This might include medical certificates, a University support service letter, or evidence from a third party. All documents must be authentic and unaltered, and signed and dated by the relevant authority. You are responsible for covering the costs of providing the documents, including the translation, if relevant.

The application and supporting documentation should be submitted to your School’s Extenuating Circumstances Group via your School Office.

They will consider the application in accordance with the Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Procedure (Research Students) and provide a report to your School’s Director of Postgraduate Research.

On the basis of the information provided in the application and the report from the Extenuating Circumstances Group, the Director of Postgraduate Research will determine the outcome and any further action to be taken in consultation with you and your supervisor(s). In making their decision, they will take account of the academic viability of the interruption or extension, the currency of the research, and a statement from your supervisor(s).

The application will be forwarded to the Registry with a recommendation from your School for consideration by a College Postgraduate Dean.

Special Category Applications

If you wish to take time away from your studies or extend your time limit on any of the following grounds, a separate procedure applies:

  • Maternity/Shared Parental/Adoption Leave
  • Professional placements/internships or work experience
  • Jury service or compulsory military service
  • Sabbatical Office

You should complete the relevant sections of the Adjustment to Study (Extenuating Circumstances) Form (Research Students) and submit the application with supporting evidence to your School Office as described above.

In the case of maternity or adoption leave, suitable evidence may include a MATB1 form, the child’s birth certificate, or evidence of the placement of a child for adoption. Where the request is for shared parental leave,

This does not apply for applications to extend the 12-week time limit for the completion of thesis corrections and amendments (post-viva), which should be submitted as soon as possible before the deadline.

There is a separate procedure for ‘special category’ applications (see section 7). Applications made on these grounds will not be considered by your School’s Extenuating Circumstances Group but will be reviewed by your School’s Director of Postgraduate Research in the first instance. The application will be forwarded to the Registry for the consideration of a College Postgraduate Dean.

Communicating the Outcome

You will be informed of the decision of the College Postgraduate Dean in writing within 14 days of the decision being taken. This will include any conditions associated with the approval and/or, in the case of an interruption of study, any conditions which must be satisfied before you will permitted to return to your studies.

Unsuccessful Applications

If your application is not approved, your student record will remain unchanged. Any unauthorised period of absence will be dealt with under the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure (Research Students). If you do not submit your thesis by your deadline, your candidature will lapse and you will be withdrawn from your programme of study.


If your application for an interruption of study or extension is not approved, or if it is approved for a different duration to the period requested, you may request a review of the decision under the University Review Procedure. A request for review must be made on one or more of the grounds set out in the Procedure and must be received by the Student Cases team in the Registry within 14 days of the notification being sent.

Important Considerations

You should be aware that taking an interruption of study may affect any loan or studentship that you receive. If you have a financial sponsor, they will also be notified by the University of your interruption of study in accordance with the timescales arising from statutory and other requirements. Where there is objective justification, some funders will not permit an interruption of study of any significant period (e.g. where a project must be completed within a specific time-scale).

If you are a visa holder, taking an interruption of study may affect your right to remain in the UK; the University is obliged to report any absences of more than 60 days to UK Visas and Immigration. You are advised to seek advice from International Student Support prior to applying for an interruption of study.

If you are granted an interruption of study for reasons of ill health, you may be required to provide evidence that you are fit and able to return to your studies before being permitted to re-enrol. This may include statements from a GP or treating practitioner, and/or an occupational health assessment.

Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410