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Postgraduate Study in Mathematics


There are a variety of reasons why students may wish to have time away from the Department.  In summary they are:

You may also wish to consult University guidance on 'Working while you study'.

Conference attendance and research visits

There are a variety of research related activities that students may undertake during the course of their studies, for example conference attendance and workshops, research visits, summer schools and fieldwork. Students are encouraged to participate in such opportunities where these are relevant to their intended research projects, and for their career development. Where the activity involves a period of absence from Cambridge both DPMMS and DAMTP expect students to keep both the supervisor and department informed of such activity through the application process outlined below. 

Application process

If you are planning to be absent from Cambridge you must inform your supervisor and the department via the pre-travel application form.  This must be done irrespective of whether you are seeking funding from your department to cover the trip:

Pre-travel application form (pdf)

In advance of travel you must:

  • Discuss your plans with your supervisor and obtain his/her approval.
  • Complete the pre-travel application form, to include risk assessment, costs and sources of funding, and obtain approval from the Department.
  • Take out University travel insurance or other insurance as appropriate.
  • If you are planning to work away for fourteen days or more you must also apply formally to the University for Leave to Work Away. Approval from the University must be obtained before you travel. A separate risk assessment must be uploaded to your application in CamSiS.

After your trip:

If the Department agreed to reimburse all or part of the costs for your travel you should complete a claim form and submit this to your Department’s Finance Office for payment together with a copy of the email confirming your trip was approved: 

Travel expense claim form (xlsx)

Financial support

Limited funds are available to meet expenses incurred for research related activity. Both Departments will normally provide support towards the costs incurred for approved activity (see your Handbook for limits). Students whose funding awards include an allowance for, for example, conference travel are expected to claim from those sources in the first instance. All students should also seek funding from alternative sources wherever possible, such as:

University Travel Insurance

Students of the University of Cambridge can be covered by the University’s Group Business Travel Insurance Policy whilst travelling outside of the UK on University of Cambridge business (e.g. to conferences).  There is no charge for this cover but you must apply before you travel. Details of how to apply are available from the Insurance website.  We strongly advise students to apply for this insurance, particularly if you don't have your own travel insurance.  You are advised to book insurance at the time of arranging your travel to take advantage of the cancellation and rearrangement cover provided by the policy. For the insurance to be valid the trip must be declared in advance of travel and each journey must commence from the UK and return to the UK and the purpose of travel must be for University business.  The trip does not necessarily have to be funded by the University but must be authorised by the relevant department and a proportional risk assessment must be carried out. Please also read through the Safeguarding Work Away webpage.

Visas for Travel

If you need to apply for a visa for your trip and require a letter to confirm your student status you can request a ‘proof of study’ letter via your CamSiS Self-Service.  If for any reason this letter does not provide sufficient detail for your purposes please contact the Faculty Postgraduate Office.

Intermission (medical or non-medical) – an authorised break from study

Intermission is an authorised break from your programme of study. Normally your submission date will be extended for the same amount of time as the period of agreed intermission. If granted intermission you may continue to engage with the Department or your Supervisor on an occasional basis, but you are not expected to be actively engaged in research or study. Note that retrospective intermission is only permitted for a maximum of thirty days from the date your application is initiated in CamSiS.  You are advised to consult the relevant Student Registry guidance prior to making an application.  An application for intermission can be initiated for:

  • Illness;
  • Maternity, parental or adoption leave;
  • Family circumstances (such as to nurse/support a sick relative);
  • Deal with an emergency situation – specific details will be required;
  • Language course that is not intrinsic to your research;
  • Research fellowship that is not intrinsic to your research;
  • Internships/placements which are not intrinsic to your research but may be for your career development or personal interest.

Writing up and post-viva corrections

  • If you wish to return home for the purposes of writing up your thesis prior to submission for examination, you must apply to the University for Leave to Work Away.  Approval must be obtained before you travel. In all cases this will only be approved with the agreement of your supervisor. A risk assessment is not required.
  • You may also apply to work away if you are required to complete post-examination corrections to your thesis and will complete these from somewhere other than Cambridge.
  • You do not have to apply for leave to work away for the period between submission and being formally notified of the examination outcome.


The University does not expect postgraduate students to have breaks between terms or a long summer break. The academic year runs from 1 October to 30 September and you are expected to be resident in Cambridge working on your research throughout the year unless you have formal permission to be elsewhere. Full time students are expected to devote around 40 hours per week to their course of study or course of research.

As a postgraduate student you are able to take short breaks for holidays of normally no more than two weeks at any one time, up to a maximum of 8 weeks per year. It is not expected that leave will be accrued from one year to the next. Holidays must be agreed with your Supervisor and your College Tutor.

No application for leave to work away is required for these periods. Periods of holiday should not be used for absences which should be covered by procedures for intermission or leave to work away.