School of Social and Political Science

Leave of Absence, Vacation Leave and Parental Leave


Leave of Absence

You may be away from Edinburgh at times during your period of study, e.g. on holiday. If you are going to be away from Edinburgh for a short while (less than one month) then no formal action is needed. However, you should inform your supervisor.

If you are going to be away for one month or more, you must discuss this with your PhD Supervisor or MSc by Research Programme Director.

Your PhD Supervisor or MScR Programme Director must complete a Leave of Absence form for you before the requested leave period, and submit this to the PGR Support Team.

The start and end dates for Leave of Absence are not restricted to full calendar months.

When Leave of Absence applies

This applies to all SPS PhD students and Visiting Students:

  • if you are away for one month or more on holiday
  • if you are an MSc By Research student in your dissertation period
  • if you are away for one month or more on fieldwork (you must submit additional required documents)
  • if you are no longer based in Edinburgh - for example, you are not living in Edinburgh, writing up your thesis elsewhere, on an internship or visiting another university, or commuting here several times a week

Please note that you have a right to request a Leave of Absence, but there is no automatic entitlement to being granted one. All Leave of Absence requests must be approved by the School in advance of the leave period.

Prior to application, consideration should be given to course requirements, tutoring or employment obligations, visa requirements, and scholarship funding terms and conditions. Students should discuss these with their supervisor before applying.

What a Leave of Absence means

Leave of Absence means that you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh, you still have access to the University's facilities, and you are still undertaking work in relation to your degree programme, but that you are not physically in Edinburgh.

If, however, you are on an officially approved Interruption of Study, you are not a student for the duration of the interruption and the above does not apply.

While you are on leave of absence you should remain in touch with your supervisor, and it will be assumed that you receive any University emails sent to you. We advise you to check your University email account weekly.

Reassigning your desk

If you are a PhD student with an allocated desk, and you are away for three months or longer, your desk will be reassigned to another student, as set out in the PhD Student Desk Allocation Terms and Conditions.

Given the need to use space wisely, it is unfair to leave a desk empty and unused for significant periods of time when other eligible students are waiting for an office space. 

Please vacate your office, and return your office (and pedestal) key when requested before leaving Edinburgh. If eligible, you will be assigned another office on your return.

Vacation Leave

PhD students may be absent from their studies for up to eight weeks of the year without applying for an interruption of study. You should notify your supervisors and the PGR Support Team of any such planned absences.

Any visa-related queries should be directed to Student Immigration Service.

Parental Leave Policy

Please see our briefing below on maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave for more information. For maternity leave, your midwife or doctor will provided you with the MAT1B form after your 20-week scan. This document needs to be included in your Interruption of Study application.

Briefing on Maternity, Paternity, Shared Parental and Adoption Leave Pay (PDF)

Student category
PhD Students