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Working and Studying at Cambridge

Important information for postgraduates

How Cambridge works as a Postgraduate

All Postgraduates are taught in their Departments and not in the College.  Principal Supervisors are appointed by the Department, not the College, so expect to hear from them before the beginning of term. Each Faculty/Department should also have an administrator who will be a useful person to make contact with.  

Find information at this link about the Cambridge Supervision system for Postgraduates

The Faculty/Department will also contact you with information about accessing course materials and with a schedule for beginning of term activities. Again, none of this information comes from the College. Allocation of a Postgraduate Tutor, however, does come from the College. See the item below.  

As a postgraduate student you will not have a College-appointed Director of Studies (with the exception of students on the LLM, MCL, PGCE, some Architecture courses and MASt degree programmes).  You may receive emails from Directors of Studies for the undergraduates who are keen to meet postgraduate students and involve them in subject-specific academic and social activities within the College.

Each of you is allocated one of five Postgraduate Tutors who will be in email contact with you at the start of term to arrange an introductory meeting.  They each have weekly office hours during term and are available via email, in person, on Teams or Zoom. 

In addition to being available to talk to you on all things pastoral, your Postgraduate Tutor will have access to reports submitted online by you (via the Self-Evaluation System) or your supervisor concerning your academic progress, and can add comments on any reports submitted. Your Postgraduate Tutor can also liaise where necessary with academic supervisors and departments or faculties, particularly if you are experiencing difficulties. If you are worried by what a report says, or want a different perspective on any aspect of your work, go and talk to your Postgraduate Tutor. 

The College also runs a programme of academic skills and interdisciplinary academic sessions geared to Postgraduate students via its Girton Skills Programme for which you will receive emails about termly schedules.  

"Terms" can be confusing for postgraduates at Cambridge.  The Cambridge academic year begins on 1 October and runs to 30 September and, for undergraduates, is divided into three teaching terms (Michaelmas: October to early December; Lent: January to early March; and Easter: April to mid-June).  As a postgraduate, your year runs for the full 12-month period, so, in most cases, does not include Christmas, Easter and Long vacations as the undergraduates' year does.  When thinking about vacations, please consult this webpage and discuss any plans with your Postgraduate Tutor before booking.  

Please read the section on residence requirements on the University website carefully to understand the “Term of Residence”. 

Some of your degrees may have fewer than 12-months in length. “Keeping” a term by residence means being in Cambridge for the central 8-week period of each term, known as Full Term, which is the period when lectures, seminars, etc., take place. Postgraduate students do not follow terms like undergraduates and are expected to be in Cambridge throughout their course.

There is a requirement that “registered Postgraduate students and candidates for the MBA degree must live within ten miles of Great St Mary’s Church” (three miles for LLM students). You may request permission to live outside the “precinct” by applying to do so on your CamSIS self-service (only after 1 October when it will be available to you).  The application will go to your department, supervisor, College and then finally to Student Registry for approval. 

Throughout your time here, there will be occasions where you may need to apply for things – e.g. deadline extensions, intermissions, leaves to work away, permission to live outside Cambridge.  Please speak to your Postgraduate Tutor about any of these requests before you go ahead and make plans.  All permissions are applied for using your CamSIS self-service account (with your Raven login). 

Information about changing your status whilst at the University is at this link. 

You can't apply for anything until you have started your course as that’s when your Camsis self-service account becomes active.  It's important to note that the University does not allow Remote Working under any circumstances so if you are working on your degree, you should be in Cambridge or have permission to be away for one of the following:   

Fieldwork / Leave to Work Away:  If you wish to apply for Leave to Work Away, you can do this via your CamSIS self-service page. We are aware there are many reasons why you might need to work away during your studies, aside from fieldwork; for example, to visit an archive, or to care for a loved one at a level that would not require intermission. Please speak to your Tutor if you feel you would benefit from a period of working away.

Intermission for medical or non-medical reasons. This is a planned break from your studies in the case of ill-health or serious personal issues. You must speak to your Tutor in the first instance.

Coursework Extensions:  If you require an extension to your submission deadline, you should complete the application form on your CamSIS self-service pages in addition to speaking to your Tutor.

Removal from the Register (temporarily withdrawing from the University): You can elect to be removed from what’s called the Register (where you are no longer a current student until you apply to reinstate, for example, to submit your thesis) for a variety of reasons:

a) by choice;  b) if you have surpassed the four/seven-year mark and/or; c) need to undertake paid work, for instance.

You can apply to be reinstated at a later date but should make sure to be connected to CamSIS via Extended Self Service in order to do this via Camsis.  

Postgraduates need to “keep term”, as in live in Cambridge for at least 59 nights per Michaelmas and Lent terms (52 nights in Easter Term) but are also considered full-time students (40 hours a week) between 1 October and 30 September. 

We advise you to PLEASE wait before making Christmas plans until you can speak to a course supervisor and your Postgraduate Tutor.    

PhD & MPhil by thesis: 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.  The Christmas, Easter and Long vacations listed on the Cambridge website apply to undergraduates only. 

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.  Please note that you are no longer allowed to "work remotely" - you are required to be in Cambridge or have permission to leave for short periods.  

MRes & MPhil (taught): Students registered for an MPhil (taught), MRes or other taught degrees like LLM or MAST should check with their Faculty/Department before making any vacation plans, advising your Postgraduate Tutor and the Postgraduate office as well. 

Camsis is the University’s official database and is where all of your personal details are stored as well as exam and result information. 

You may apply for changes of student status within your Camsis self-service as well as keep your personal details up to date. You access Camsis using your crsid and Raven password obtainable when you go through the Student Registration process.   Camsis Login.  

Please note that you DO NOT apply for Graduation from within Camsis but instead via the Graduation link on the Girton website.  

Some postgraduates do take examinations whilst at Cambridge. Students with long-term medical conditions, or specific learning difficulties (e.g., dyslexia or ADHD supported by a recent assessment) may be allowed exam access arrangements. Such permission must be sought in advance, so it is important that you inform your Tutor and the Postgraduate Administrator at the earliest possible opportunity (and by the start of Lent Term (January) at the latest) if you think that you may be eligible, sending along supporting evidence.

The Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre offers advice and support for Specific Learning Difficulties affecting assessments. We recommend making an appointment with the ADRC as soon as you can in the first term as they can have a waiting list. 

IMPORTANT:  Cambridge’s exam system is such that you are not able to take resits without extenuating circumstances. If something happens before or on the day of an exam, you MUST contact your Tutor and the Postgraduate Administrator to log the issue and then, if at all possible, after your exam, seek some medical assistance, either from the College Nurses or your GP Surgery so that we have concurrent evidence of the difficulty. It is in your best interest to write the exam if at all possible and do as well as you can and we can then discuss a plan afterwards. 

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.

Working over and above your studies as a postgraduate student is to be taken on carefully and with consultation. If you are an international student, your BRP indicates you may work 20 hours per week but the University allows between ten and 20 hours of work per week check this link for details.   

If you are here on a one-year course, you are not to work at all until your course is completed.  Only after completion, can you work full time until the expiry of your visa.  

College does have some working opportunities that come up, particularly as an undergraduate supervisor or an exam invigilator.  The Postgraduate team will send out information about both.  

Cambridge offers graduation opportunities throughout the year (known as “Congregations”). Once you have been approved for your degree by the relevant Degree Committee and by the Student Registry (which can take some time after the completion of your degree), you may then apply to take the degree either in person at Senate House in the centre of Cambridge or in absence.  The list of dates and application forms can be found on the College website.

There is no time limit within which you need to take your degree. However, do know that you will not receive a degree certificate until you have gone through a ceremony either in person or in absence.  If you take it in absence, the certificate will be posted to you after the relevant Congregation. (Please always ensure that the College has your correct home address).

In order to take your degree, either in person or in absence, you must complete a booking form that will appear on the College website a number of weeks before the congregation at which you wish to receive the degree – the degree list closes two weeks before a congregation date, so it’s wise to plan ahead. Please note that you do not apply via your Camsis self-service but through your College.  If you have any queries, please email

Although primary provision is for undergraduates, Girton's Library does possess extensive collections of interest to postgraduate students, although you should expect to use the University Library and your Faculty / Departmental Libraries for research material.   You may also find Girton's Library a good place to study.  Opening times and guidelines are available at the Library News section of the website and the Library’s Facebook Page.  

The Girton College Library catalogue can be searched via the Library’s website.  Most of Girton's holdings are also listed in the iDiscover catalogue along with those of other libraries within the University.  The Duke Building includes an IT Resources Area and the Librarians offer professional advice and training in the best use of electronic sources, including bibliographical and full-text databases and electronic journals.

The College's Archive and Special Collections are also housed in the Duke Building. Our holdings are particularly strong on the history of women’s higher education, and attract international scholars and researchers, but there are collections on other subjects as well. 

The first time you come in, please make yourself known to the Library staff who will be pleased to show you around and arrange to set up your borrowing rights with your University card. 

Additional study resources are: University Spacefinder and Access full text anywhere.