School of Social and Political Science

Extension and interruption of study

Body

What is a concession?

Interruptions of study and extensions of study are collectively known as 'concessions'.

Please see below for more information on each of these and how to apply for them.

Supporting you

The University's support services are available to you at any time during your programme.
 

Covid-19 update

Extension of study due to Covid-19

If you require, and are granted, an extension of study due to the current Covid-19 situation, continuation fees will be waived if the reason for your extension is marked as Covid-related. Please highlight this in your application.

Matriculation fees will not be waived but the payment is able to be delayed.

Interruption of study due to Covid-19

If you are granted an authorised interruption of study due to Covid-19 disruption of more than 3 months, no tuition fees will be due for this period and your tuition fees will be updated to reflect this. 

On your return to study in the 2020/21 session, your tuition fees will be re-calculated at the 2019/20 rate of fee for the remaining months of your current year of study.

If you are looking for information about absences from Edinburgh when you are still working on your PhD, or vacation allowance, please visit the PhD information page.

See our dedicated Covid-19 site for more details:

Covid-19 updates for current students

ESRC students -Please review this important guidance prior to any submission.

Interruption of study

There may be points during your PhD when you are unable to work on it for a period of time, this could be due to ill health, personal/family issues, job opportunities, or other reasons.

At those points it may be appropriate to request an interruption of study, with agreement of yourself and your supervisor.

What is an interruption of study?

An interruption of study is 'time off' from your PhD. It can be requested in month-long periods and any single period of interruption cannot exceed 12 months.

This must be requested in full calendar months and the total period of interruption that can be requested for a PhD is 36 months.

An interruption 'stops the clock' on your PhD for the length of the interruption, effectively pausing your programme. On your return from interruption you resume where you left off.

The interruption should start on the 1st of a month and end on the last day of a month. As circumstances that mean you will require an interruption do not generally fall on those exact days, you should pick the closest full months.

Example of an interruption in your Prescribed Period

A Prescribed Period is, for example, 36 months for a full-time PhD, and 72 months for part-time PhD.

If you interrupt after 7 months in any year of your programme, your Prescribed End Date and Maximum End Date will be adjusted accordingly to account for this pause.

You will return to resume the 5 months still remaining of that programme year.

Example of an interruption in your Writing Up Period

Your Writing Up Period will lead to your Maximum End Date. For PhD, this is 12 months for both full-time and part-time students.

If you interrupt after 7 months in your Writing Up Year, your Maximum End Date will be adjusted accordingly to account for this pause.

You will return to resume the 5 months still remaining of that Writing Up year.

How to apply for an interruption of study

If you and your supervisor agree that you need a break from your studies, you must complete an Interruption of Study Form (Word doc) and forward it to your supervisor.

Your supervisor should complete the Online concessions system form (secure login), and attach any relevant supporting documentation. These include your completed form and, for example, a medical certificate, counselling letter, or internship evidence.

The Graduate School Office will then check the request and assuming it is in order, send it for approval to the Graduate School Director (PGR).

Once approved it is forwarded to the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office for further approval. The College PG Office will notify you once it has been approved and will arrange for your student record to be updated.

Important things to note

The interruption period dates you and your supervisor request on your respective forms must align.

Visas

You should check the implications on your visa (if applicable) prior to applying for an Interruption of Study.

The Student Immigration Service can help with this.

Fees and funding

If you are funded for your PhD you must check what the rules of your funding body are with regards to interruptions of study.

It may be that they have tighter restrictions on length and/or reasons for interruptions than the University does, or it may simply be that they have to be kept informed.

You should check also the implication on your fees:

Fees Policy webpages

If you are a full-time student your Council Tax exemption may be affected, please check this with Student Administration.

Retrospective interruptions

Interruptions of study cannot be applied for retrospectively, you must therefore notify your supervisor as soon as the need for the interruption arises, or you encounter a problem that will affect the progress of your study.

If the need for the interruption is sudden and unforeseen then the application must be made as soon as is practical.

Extensions of study

If you are unable to submit your PhD within your maximum period of study (this is 4 years full-time equivalent for a standard PhD), you and your supervisor will need to apply formally for an extension.

Extensions to the period of study are exceptional and not automatic.

What is an extension of study?

An extension of study is an extension to your submission deadline.

It can be requested in full calendar months* and up to 12 months can be requested at a time. The maximum total period of extension cannot exceed 24 months.

As for an interruption, an extension request must start on the 1st of a month and end on the last day of a month. The start date must be the day after your current maximum end date.

Reasons for extension

As stated above, an extension to your period of study is exceptional, not automatic and there must be a strong reason for the request.

Circumstances for consideration of an extension are unforeseen difficulties that have hampered progress, these can include, but are not limited to:

  • unforeseen difficulties with facilities or equipment and hence completion of the thesis has been delayed
  • unforeseen difficulties in obtaining or analysing data
  • serious and unexpected fieldwork difficulties (not simply that it took longer than expected)
  • ongoing medical problems that did not necessitate an interruption of studies
  • ongoing personal issues which have hampered progress - for example, childcare, serious illness of a family member, caring responsibilities
  • supervision problems
  • substantial financial difficulties

How to apply for an extension of study

If you and your supervisor agree that you require an extension to your period of study, you must complete an Extension to Study form (Word doc) and forward this to your supervisor with the mandatory information below.

Your supervisor should then complete the Online concessions system form (secure login) and attach the following mandatory information:

  • your completed form
  • details of work completed to date
  • a timetable to completion (with interim deadlines)
  • any relevant supporting documentation

The Graduate School Office will then check the request and assuming it is in order, send it for approval to the Graduate School Director (PGR).

Once approved it is forwarded to the College of Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office for further approval.

The College PG Office will notify you once it has been approved and will arrange for your student record to be updated.

All extension requests are closely examined and must include details of work completed to date and a timetable to completion (with interim deadlines).

The length of the extension must match the timetable. Any additional extension requests must provide reasons why the original extension timetable was not met.

Important things to note

Extensions can only be taken up to the thesis submission point. They do not include the post-submission period - for example, preparation for viva.

The extension period dates you and your supervisor request on your respective forms must align.

Fees and funding

You will be charged an Annual Continuation Fee during your extension period, the fee amount is stated on the tuition fees webpages and is charged pro rata for the length of your extension.

If you are funded for your PhD you must check what the rules of your funding body are with regards to extensions of study. It may be that they have tighter restrictions on length and/or reasons for extension than the University does, or it may simply be that they have to be kept informed.

You may not continue to be entitled to Council Tax exemption during your extension, you should check this prior to applying for an extension.

Visas

You should check the implications on your visa (if applicable) prior to applying for an extension of study. The Student Immigration Service can help with this.

Continued exemption

If you are entitled to continued exemption, the letter required by Student Administration can be requested from the Graduate School Office.

Any further questions regarding Interruptions or Extensions of study should be directed to the PG Research team in the Graduate School Office: pgresearch.sps@ed.ac.uk.

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PhD Students