Authorised interruption of study

If you are temporarily unable to engage with your studies, you 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).

Before you apply

If you are considering requesting an interruption of study, you should first discuss this with your  Student support team, Student Adviser, Programme Director, or Supervisor.

Taking an authorised interruption of study may have financial and visa implications. You are encouraged to speak with an advisor at the Edinburgh University Students’ Association Advice Place who can provide independent advice about the potential financial and other implications of taking an interruption. Further information is available via the link below.

The Advice Place

International students may also wish to speak with a member of staff at the Student Immigration 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 via the link below.

Student Immigration Service

If you are undertaking a taught programme, or a programme with taught components, you should be aware that courses and programmes may change while you are interrupted, which may mean, for example, returning to a different set of course options from those available before you took an interruption.

If you are a postgraduate research student, you should ensure a clear plan is in place with your Supervisor regarding contact arrangements and your return from interruption, which may be a phased return. Where relevant, you should also speak with your funding body to ensure that you are aware of any funding or other implications that may result from taking an interruption of study.  Please note that an interruption of study is not the same as an extension.

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


Your School or College will ask you to fill in a form to apply for an interruption, and may also ask you to provide relevant evidence to support your application. The form requires you to provide information on why you are requesting an interruption of study. You should provide as much relevant detail as possible and explain how taking an authorised interruption of study would be beneficial to you.

You can also ask for advice and assistance in completing the form from your  Student support team, Student Adviser or Supervisor, who can help you put together a return to study plan.

How will the decision be made?

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.

Once you have submitted your application, the relevant authorising officer within the School or College will consider this and decide whether you will be offered an authorised interruption of study.

Applications will be considered sympathetically and decision makers will consider whether the interruption would support successful completion of your programme.

Your College or School will inform you of the decision via e-mail.

If your application is refused, you have the right to request a review of the decision. Colleges and Schools responsible for making decisions on applications can advise regarding the process for requesting a review. The Advice Place can support you in this process.

While you are interrupted

While you are interrupted, you will not attend classes or complete assessments, but are still regarded as a student of the University. You can still access campus facilities and student support services including:

  • Advice from your School regarding return to study
  • The Students’ Association (including the Advice Place)
  • Chaplaincy
  • Student Counselling Service

During an interruption you will still be subject to University policies, rules and regulations, including the Code of Student Conduct.

Return to study

Ahead of your return to study, your School will make contact with you to make sure that any necessary arrangements can be made to support your return. They will also be able to answer any queries that you may have and update you regarding any changes which have taken place during the period of interruption. In some cases, the School may request evidence of your fitness to return to study, such as when you have interrupted your study for medical reasons.

If you do not feel able to return to your studies, it may be possible to request an additional interruption.

The Authorised Interruption of Study Policy can be found here