Student Support Teams

Interruption of study

Staff-facing guidance on how to support a student wishing to apply for an interruption of study.

What is an interruption of study?

If a student is temporarily unable to engage with their studies, they can apply for an authorised interruption of study. An interruption of study involves taking a complete break from study for an agreed period of time, usually for up to one academic year.

Some examples of common reasons for authorised interruption include:

  • Health reasons (mental or physical health problems)
  • Maternity/Paternity/Adoption/Family leave
  • Extra-curricular opportunities e.g. elite sport, art/music related opportunities
  • Employment opportunities/internships
  • Financial circumstances
  • Military service

Students wishing to undertake their studies away from Edinburgh for a given period of time should contact their School regarding taking a Leave of Absence (this does not apply to students on online programmes).

Support for students considering applying

Students wishing to apply for an authorised interruption of study are expected to contact their Student Adviser, Programme Director or Supervisor to discuss their circumstances and reasons for applying, and to put together a proposed return to study plan. The Student Adviser, Programme Director or Supervisor can offer the student advice regarding any potential implications for their studies of taking an interruption.

Students should be encouraged to speak to Scholarships and Student Funding Services staff for advice on how an interruption of study may affect their fee charge, UK Government funding or scholarship payment. Further information is available at the link below:

Scholarships & Student Funding - Contact

Students are also encouraged to speak with an advisor within the Edinburgh Students’ Association Advice Place who can provide independent advice about the potential financial and other implications of taking an interruption. Further information is available at the link below:

The Advice Place

International students are also encouraged to speak with a member of staff at the International Student Advisory Service who can provide advice and guidance in relation to any visa implications which may arise as a consequence of taking an interruption. Further information is available at the link below:

International Student Advisory Service

Postgraduate Research students should be advised that an interruption of study is not the same as an extension.


Student Advisers and Supervisors can also assist students in completing the application form which requires students to state their reasons for applying. Colleges and Schools provide information regarding the application process they operate.

All students requesting an interruption of study should complete a return to study plan with their Student Adviser or Supervisor.

Postgraduate research students should ensure that a clear plan is in place with their supervisors regarding contact arrangements and their return from interruption, which could be a phased return. Students in receipt of funding should be encouraged to speak with their funding body to ensure that they are aware of any funding or other implications that may result from taking an interruption of study.

Consideration of requests

The University is committed to supporting students who require time away from their studies, where this will assist them in gaining the best possible outcome in their studies, or support their career aspirations.

Applications will be considered sympathetically and decision makers should consider whether the requested interruption would support successful completion of the student’s programme.

Where an application is refused, students have the right to request a review of the decision. Colleges and Schools responsible for making decisions on applications will advise regarding the process for requesting a review.

Supporting students on an interruption

Students on an interruption do not attend classes or undertake assessment, but continue to have access to campus facilities and support services. Students on an interruption are still subject to University policies, rules and regulations, including the Code of Student Conduct. Schools should ensure that students on an interruption have someone to contact regarding their return to study.

Return to study

Schools are expected to make contact with students on an interruption before their scheduled return to study in order to facilitate any support which may be required upon their return. Where a School requires evidence of a student’s fitness to return to study (e.g. after a medical-based interruption), the School should specify the type of evidence required, and provide the student with sufficient notice of any evidence requirements prior to the student’s proposed return to study date.

Further information

The Authorised Interruption of Study Policy and Form can be found on the Academic Policies and Regulations page:

Policies and Regulations

Please check with your School/College whether a different form is used locally.

Student guidance on the Authorised Interruption of Study Policy, and the Authorised Interruption of Study Form can be found online at:

Authorised Interruption of Study - Student guidance