School of Computer Science

Attendance & Absences

We expect PhD students to be in attendance during the whole of the academic year.


According to University rules (see the code of practice on "supervision and monitoring progress of postgraduate researchers"), research students can take up to 8 weeks of holiday per year. This includes public holidays and University closed days. You should take your holidays outside of term time and should discuss the dates with your supervisor. International students need to complete Authorised Absence forms before leaving the UK (see below).

Authorised absence (International students)

Please remember, that when leaving the UK (for example, to go on holiday or to attend a conference), international students need to complete an authorised absence form in advance, and then report back to the Research Students Administrator on their return. The form is completed online and the response should go to your University email address. If you have queries about an existing application, contact

Leaves of absence and extensions

There are two ways to gain extra time.

A leave of absence is for a period when you are not working, or cannot work, on your studies. A common reason is illness, but there are other situations where a leave of absence would be appropriate. It is assumed that during that period you do not need facilities or supervision, and you do not pay fees. Your submission deadline is delayed by the length of the leave of absence. For international students, it is important to note that taking a leave of absence will affect your right your right to remain in the UK.

An extension is a recognition that you simply need a longer period of working in order to complete. Our aim is always to avoid extensions, since the School's effectiveness in research student supervision is judged in part (by the University and public funding bodies) on the rate of on-time submission. One focus of thesis group meetings in the later stages is to look for ways to ensure that submission is on time. The School will generally approve an extension if it is necessary, but the final decision is taken by the University, not the School. Note that you cannot submit late without an extension.

In both cases you will need to say how much extra time is needed, and justify that amount of time. In welfare cases you should consult the welfare team and you may also need documentation such as a letter from your doctor.

The Graduate School website has guidance and request forms for Leaves of Absence (including a whole Code of Practice) and Extensions. In both cases you download the form and fill it in, and then get it signed by your supervisor who will pass it on to the Research Students Tutor for School approval. It then goes to Research Students Admin for central approval. Always download a fresh form. Do not use old paper forms - sometimes the forms are updated in important ways.

For most cases of extensions, the Research Students Tutor will expect to see that the extension has been discussed in a Thesis Group meeting and that the Thesis Group are explictly recommending it. Important questions are -

  • Is it possible to scale back the ambitions of the thesis so that it can be finished by the deadline but still be passable?
  • If not, how long an extension is needed?
  • What is the workplan for finishing within the extension? (Any extension application has to include a workplan)

Remember that while you are writing up you should still be producing regular progress reports and holding meetings if your Thesis Group have any doubts about your progress. So an extension application should naturally follow a Thesis Group meeting.