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Absences, Interruptions, Extensions & Withdrawals

Changes to the Period of Study

Students require permission to be absent from their studies (or from Edinburgh). In some cases it is also necessary to interrupt, extend the period of study or completely withdraw. The University recognises that things may not always go according to plan and that unforeseen medical, academic or personal circumstances can prevent students from studying effectively and therefore completing and submitting their thesis on time. 

Leave of Absence

Interruption of Study

Extension to the Maximum Period of Study


The period of study is the regulatory length of time associated with each postgraduate research degree, described as maximum (total number of months associated with the programme) and prescribed (an initial portion of the maximum period spent doing experimental or research work and for which tuition fees are paid) periods. Students who have completed the prescribed period of study are deemed to be writing-up rather than conducting experimental/research work, and are therefore normally registered as a continuing student until the end of the maximum period of study. The periods of study are generally:


Full time

Part time


Prescribed period 36 months, maximum period 48 months

Prescribed period 72 months, maximum period 84 months


Prescribed period 24 months, maximum period 36 months

Prescribed period 48 months, maximum period 60 months

MSc by Research

Maximum period 12 months

Maximum period 36 months

Note that any request to be absent, interrupt or extend the period of study will not automatically result in an adjustment or suspension of stipend payments. Students wishing to adjust their stipend payment schedule should contact the Graduate School to make this request.