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. 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.

Your PhD Supervisor must complete a Leave of Absence form for you before the requested leave period, and submit this to the PGR Support Team. This does not apply to vacation periods.

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 a PhD student away for one month or more on fieldwork (for which you must submit additional required documents) and you are no longer based in Edinburgh - for example, you are on an internship or visiting another university and this contributes to your PhD study, you must submit a Leave of Absence form.

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. If your application does not meet the requirements for a Leave of Absence, you may need to consider taking an Interruption of Study.

Note that the Postgraduate Degree Programme Regulations state that, except when registered on a designated online or distance learning programme, or where remote participation is specifically stated, students are expected to attend and participate in person. Students on SPS programmes, none of which are approved as distance learning programmes, are expected to be located in Edinburgh for the majority of their studies. This is noted in our Subject Area PhD Handbooks and the Research Degree Programme Tables (DPTs).

Please note that the School cannot approve a Leave of Absence request for writing up your thesis outside Edinburgh as this is not covered under the University's Leave of Absence policy.


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

Visa-holders must consult with the Student Immigration Service before submitting a Leave of Absence request.

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. The eight week period begins from your anniversary month, which you can find in your EUCLID record. Your supervisor needs to agree to and approve the leave with you. Please follow up by emailing the confirmed dates to your supervisor and copy in the PGR Support team ( You do not need to submit a Leave of Absence form for your vacation period. 

Please ensure you and your supervisor keep a track of your vacation leave days. Please also remind your supervisor to record this in your EUCLID record within the Engagement tab. 

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

Parental Leave Policy

The University provides flexibility to all students on matters relating to pregnancy, who have partners who are pregnant, or who are about to become parents, including through the adoption of a child.

Find important information in the Student Maternity and Family Leave Policy, and further details in the Code of Practice for  Supervisors and Research Students.

For maternity leave, your midwife or doctor will provided you with the MATB1 form after your 20-week scan. This document needs to be included in your Interruption of Study application.

For awardees of School/College/University funded scholarships, please find full guidance specific to your award here.

For awardees of external scholarships, please contact your funding body for guidance.

For students on visas, please contact Student Immigration Service for guidance.





Student category
PhD Students