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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, as well as for their career development.

Pre-travel application process

If you are planning to be absent from Cambridge you must inform your supervisor and the department of your plans, irrespective of whether you are seeking funding from your department to cover the trip.

Prior to booking any travel you must:

Both your completed pre-travel application form and risk assessment must be signed by you and your supervisor.  It should then be submitted to the relevant Departmental contact for approval:

Once your application has been reviewed you will receive an email to confirm whether it has been approved.

Trips of fourteen days or more (extra step)

  • 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.
  • An approved risk assessment must be uploaded to your application in CamSiS.

Departmental and Degree Committee approval for Leave to Work Away is managed by the Faculty Postgraduate Office Manager.

Risk Assessment

It is your responsibility to ensure that any potential risks have been appropriately assessed in advance of travel. You must have a proportional risk assessment approved by your Department before you leave. You should:

Note that there is an expectation from the University insurance provider that Departments are aware of student activity so that any claim can be supported. A copy of your approved pre-travel application form and risk assessment will be kept on file by the Department in case you need to make a claim.

Template risk assessment forms are available here: Travel Risk Assessment templates (Safety Office). In the majority of cases a Low Risk (basic) risk assessment will be sufficient.  However, if the nature of your trip and the research that you plan to undertake require a more detailed risk assessment, further advice should be sought.  Please also read through the Safeguarding Work Away webpage. Note that if travel is to a higher risk area, or the work you wish to undertake puts you at a high risk, or where there are health concerns, an application for leave to work away will not be approved without the agreement of the University’s Study Away Risk Assessment Committee.  In this circumstance you are advised to discuss your plans with the Deputy Departmental Administrator (Education).

Financial support from your Department

If you do not have funding to meet the cost of conferences and travel for research (e.g. as part of your studentship) then, on the recommendation of your supervisor, limited funds may be requested from your Department (approx. £750 per year).  Before you request funding it is expected that you will seek alternative sources of funding to cover part of your costs from, for example:

Your supervisor may be able to point you towards other opportunities, and in some circumstances may be able to provide funding towards these activities from their own grants.  If you have made a funding arrangement with your supervisor or another member of Faculty, you should indicate this clearly on the pre-travel application form when you submit it.

If you are already in receipt of funding either as part of your studentship, funding agreement or some other arrangement, you are expected to exhaust those funds in the first instance.  You are still required to submit a pre-travel application form and risk assessment prior to travel in order to access those funds.  Claims submitted without the necessary approvals may not be accepted.

To claim reimbursement following your trip

Please send your claim to your Department’s Finance Office, ensuring you include the following:

  • Copy of approved pre-travel application form (inc. the funding code/source)
  • Copy of the email confirming your trip was approved.
  • Completed expense form FD1A (signed and dated)
  • List of all receipts and corresponding itemised receipts
  • Use original currency
  • Redacted bank statement (showing bank account number, sort code, name, address)
  • Details of conference/workshop/summer school (website link, participant list, invitation etc).

Additionally, if you have more than 10 individual receipts please itemise them on a separate piece of paper, one receipt per line.

Advice on claims can be sought from your Department finance office:

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.

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 an Academic Verification 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 many reasons such as:

  • 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.