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Request leave from your research

Requesting leave allows you to take a break from your research. There are several types of leave that you can request, depending on your circumstances and the period of leave you wish to take.

Types of leave

If your leave will be for one full research period or longer, you will need to request a suspension.

Your candidature duration is not affected by any leave type other than a suspension. See the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule 2011 (known as the HDR Rule) for more information.

Leave of absence

If you want to take leave for less than a full research period, for personal reasons or illness, you should submit a leave of absence request.

This type of leave does not change your latest submission dates, and your enrolment continues during your time away. A leave of absence may explain any difficulties with your progress or provide background information for a later extension of candidature.


You can apply to suspend your research for one or more research periods, up to a maximum of one year during your candidature. Further suspensions are only granted in compelling circumstances, at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Research Education). We may ask you to provide documents to support your request.

As a research student, a period of suspension will always affect your thesis submission as well as milestone completion dates. If you suspend, your dates will be automatically adjusted in the Research Education Candidature System (RECS) in accordance with the duration of approved suspension.

If you have a scholarship, or are receiving any financial assistance from the University, you need to notify the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre about your decision to suspend your course.

You need to submit your request by the deadline for the research period you're applying to suspend. These are listed in the table below.

Deadline to apply for suspension Date
Research Period 1 (S1CRR1) 17 January 2024
Research Period 2 (S1CRR2) - student visa holders 17 March 2024
Research Period 2 (S1CRR2) 24 March 2024
Research Period 3 (S2CRR3) - student visa holders 17 August 2024
Research Period 3 (S2CRR3) 24 August 2024
Research Period 4 (S2CRR4) - student visa holders 17 October 2024
Research Period 4 (S2CRR4) 24 October 2024

In compassionate and compelling circumstances you may be able to apply for suspension after the deadline. You will need to provide supporting documents as part of your application. In these cases, you will need to contact the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre.

When your approved period of suspension is nearly over, we will email you with instructions on how to recommence your studies.

Paid leave (parental/sick leave)

If you are receiving a Research Training Program or a similar scholarship and have completed 12 full-time months of your award, you may be entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks paid parental leave.

If you are receiving a Research Training Program or a similar scholarship, you may be entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks paid sick leave.

You should lodge a request four weeks before you want to commence the period of leave (if possible), and submit the appropriate documents through RECS.

Counting time away

You may complete part of your work off campus within Australia or overseas. This may include conducting fieldwork, data collection or other research away from the campus. Your enrolment continues during this time away.

Your request for counting time away will need to be supported by your supervisor and postgraduate coordinator. Suitable arrangements will need to be made for your continued supervision and access to adequate facilities while away from campus.

You can also request counting time away if you're undertaking an internship as part of your research degree. Your request will need to include information about the host organisation, proposed dates and how it will help the completion of your research degree.

The equivalent of at least two semesters of candidature for a doctorate or one semester for a master’s by research needs to be completed within the University for your degree to be conferred. This may be completed at any time during candidature, either continuously or over several non-consecutive periods.

How to apply for leave

You can apply for a suspension, leave of absence, or paid leave through RECS. Go to ‘My project’, ‘Candidature maintenance’, then ‘Start new request’ and then select the appropriate leave type.

You will also be able to track the status of your request in RECS.

For requests for counting time away, you will need to submit your request through Sydney Student. Go to ‘My studies’, ‘Course details’, then ‘Request a period of counting time away'.

Once your request has been assessed, we will notify you of the outcome.

If you have a scholarship or are receiving any financial assistance from the University, taking leave may impact on your payments. You should contact the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre for advice before submitting your request.

You will only be able to take leave from your research under certain circumstances. You should first speak to your supervisor and contact the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre for advice.

Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre


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Last updated: 21 December 2023

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