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International Students


Working during your studies

The University applies strict working restrictions on students, which continue for graduates even after submission of thesis for examination:

Undergraduate students are expected not to work during term-time.

Graduate students undertaking a course of less than twelve months are expected not to work during term-time.

Graduate students undertaking a course of more than twelve months may work up to a maximum of ten hours per week but only:

  • on the approval of your supervisor prior to undertaking the work;
  • where the work is academic-related;
  • if the work occurs within a Department or Faculty or College. The work cannot take place outside the University or College.

Please note some grant-awarding bodies only allow a maximum of six hours per week.

Working after submission of PhD thesis for examination

Whether you can work after submission of your thesis for examination varies depending on the stage of the process:

  • The period between submission of thesis for examination and official notification of viva outcome is considered to be 'vacation' period and you can work full time. Please note that the restrictions on the type of work you can do on a Tier 4 visa, as outlined below, still apply.  
  • The period between official notification of the viva outcome and unconditional approval of degree, which includes times working on corrections if applicable, is considered a return to full-time study and full-time work is not permitted.

If you wish to work full-time after submission of your thesis for examination, you should contact Student Registry to discuss your options. Please note that students on Tier 4 visas will be subject to Home Office requirements as outlined below.

Working on a Tier 4 student visa

A Tier 4 visa allows you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time. This is a maximum of 20 hours in any one week and cannot be averaged over a longer period.  A 'week' is defined by the Home Office as any 7 day period as long as it is consistent. This also includes both paid and unpaid work. The University imposes greater working restrictions, as outlined above, and you will need to adhere to these.

A Tier 4 visa allows you work full-time during official vacation periods. Term and vacation dates differ depending on the level of study you are undertaking so it is important you check these before undertaking full-time work. This includes a full-time internship or placement unless it is part of your course. Please note that the term and vacation dates used by undergraduates do not apply to graduate students. Masters students should consult their Faculty or Department for further details regarding official vacation periods. The academic year for graduate research students is continous throughout the year, from 1 October to 30 September. It is therefore not possible, for example, for a graduate research student to undertake full-time work during the summer period. Whilst breaks for holidays are permitted, at times agreed with your supervisor, these are not periods that would permit full-time work.

Students on Tier 4 visas can do most kinds of work, but you must not:

  • be self-employed
  • engage in business activity
  • take a permanent full-time job
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach
  • be employed as an entertainer
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.


A Tier 4 visa does not allow self-employment. This means in order to undertake work you should be given a formal document by the employer such as a 'contract of employment' or a 'worker's agreement' or some other written statement confirming your employment status. This includes where you will be undertaking work for one or more of the Colleges, or for the University.  Please note you may find that other students (who are not on a Tier 4 visa) may not need to have the same documentation in place.

Self-employment includes activities such as freelance writing, private tutoring or selling goods or services directly to an end customer. If tax will not be deducted automatically from your wages, it is likely the work being offered is on a self-employed basis. If you are unsure, it is very important you check your employment status prior to starting work.

Engaging in Business Activity

A Tier 4 visa does not allow you to engage in business activity. The Home Office defines this as working for a business in a capacity other than an employee in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest. You would not be permitted, for example, to set up a business that is trading or has a trading presence, be employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more or work for a company where you hold a statutory role, such as a director. This is not an exhaustive list but provides examples of the types of circumstances in which you would be considered to be engaged in business activity.

Working after studies

Once you have completed your course and whilst your visa remains valid, the Home Office allows you to work full-time, within the following limits.

  • You cannot fill a full-time permanent vacancy (other than on a recognised Foundation Programme);
  • You cannot be self-employed;
  • You cannot be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised Foundation Programme) or as a professional sportsperson, coach or entertainer.

For PhD students, course completion means receiving the official notification of unconditional approval of degree.

For Masters and undergraduate students, course completion means either receiving official notification of approval of your degree OR the course end date as stated on your CAS as long as you have completed all required assessment by this date, whichever is earlier. 

If you need any clarification about the working conditions on a Tier 4 visa, contact the International Student Team for further advice.

You may also wish to consider opportunities for switching to a work-related visa.