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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


Terms of research/study and Terms of Residence

In order to qualify for a Cambridge degree, you need to do at least the following: 

  1. pass all the academic requirements for the degree;
  1. do the required number of terms of research / study;
  1. 'keep' the required number of terms of residence (full-time students only);
  1. pay your bills so you have no outstanding financial obligations to the University.


Terms of research/study

degree minimum number of terms required maximum number of terms permitted
MPhil 3  
MSc or MLitt 6 12
PhD 9  (full-time), 15 for (part-time) 12 (full-time), 21 (part-time)

Full-time postgraduate students are expected to be resident in Cambridge and actively pursuing research throughout the year with no break between terms, although you are entitled to short breaks for holidays.


Terms of residence

  Michaelmas Term Lent Term Easter Term
Term dates 1 Oct - 19 Dec

5 Jan - 25 March

or 24 March

 in Leap Years

10 Apr - 18 June

if full Easter term starts before 22 April

17 Apr - 25 June

if full Easter term starts on or after 22 Apr

Total term nights 80 days 80 days 70 days
Nights to keep term 59 nights 59 nights 52 nights

Every full-time postgraduate student must be in Cambridge for at least three terms to meet the residency requirement and qualify for a degree. You are expected to live in Cambridge throughout your postgraduate studies unless you have been given permission to live elsewhere or have Leave to Work Away or during periods of holiday agreed with your supervisor, not normally exceeding 8 weeks in a 12-month period.

To count a term as 'kept', you need to reside in Cambridge for 3/4 of the of total number of nights during each term (i.e. 59 for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms and 52 for the Easter Term).

Most students comfortably meet the residency requirement. However, if you are a Masters student who wishes to undertake fieldwork/working away it is important you are aware of the term dates when making plans to ensure you meet the residency requirement. The dates in Easter Term are also important to MPhil by thesis students as they dictate the earliest date you can submit your thesis.



PhD & MPhil by thesis: The University's standard vacation periods do not apply. If you are a full-time student you are expected to devote around 40hrs per week to your course of study or course of research for the full duration of your course. The academic year for a PhD student runs from 1 October to 30 September - the 'long vacation' applies to undergraduates only.

You may take short breaks for holidays, up to a maximum of 8 weeks per year, at times agreed with your supervisor. Part-time students should receive a pro-rata holiday entitlement.

If you are planning on being away for a purpose other than a holiday, you need to make an application for intermission or leave to work away as appropriate, so that the time away is formally authorised by the University in the normal way.  

MRes & MPhil (taught): Students registered for an MRes or MPhil (taught) should refer to their Course Handbook or Department Postgraduate Office for course-specific guidance on taking holiday.

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Office closures

The DC 'remote' Office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 28 August 2020 for the August Bank Holiday. We reopen at 9am on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Meetings schedule

Meetings of the Degree Committee and Board of Graduate Studies, and Degree Ceremonies: