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Working in the UK during your studies

How many hours can I work?

If you are studying in the UK at degree level or above with a Tier 4 or old-style student visa you will usually be permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and an unlimited number of hours during University vacation periods.

If, however, you are studying on an International Foundation Programme you can work no more than 10 hours per week in term time. If you are on a Pre-Sessional English course and you are thinking about working, please contact us first.

When is it term time?

Undergraduate students - Check official term and vacation dates

Undergraduate term dates are published on our website here.  During official University vacation periods you can work more than 20 hours per week on a Tier 4 Student visa.  

Postgraduate Taught Students 

Your vacation dates may be different to those published on our website so please check the dates with your School.  Please note that just because your classes or exams have finished, you may not be in your official vacation period. Please speak with your School if you are unsure about your official term dates.

Your dissertation period is term time

If you are writing up a dissertation or thesis, even if you are not attending classes, this is not a vacation period for you. This means that you should not work more than 20 hours per week during this time and should not work full-time until the official end date of your course.

Be careful about re-sits

If you have re-sits to do during vacation periods you must not work more than 20 hours per week during this time as this becomes term time for you again.

Postgraduate Research students

Postgraduate research courses are run over 52 weeks and as such you do not have vacation periods.  All Postgraduate research students can book up to 30 days annual leave and provided that this has been booked officially, is authorised by your School and is recorded on your record you may work more than 20 hours per week during this time.  

Working at the end of my course - Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students

You are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week once your course end date has passed for a period of 4 months or until your visa expires, whichever is shorter.  

Working at the end of my course - PhD students

You are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week once you have handed in your final bound thesis as you will have no more academic work left to do at this stage.  You can only work full-time for a period of 4 months or until your visa expires whichever is shorter.  

What kind of work can I do?

If you are studying in the UK with a Tier 4 or old-style student visa you will be permitted to do most kinds of work but you must NOT:

  • Be employed as an entertainer

  • Be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach

  • Be self-employed or engage in business activity (see below for details*)

  • Take a permanent full-time job

  • Work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme.

* The Tier 4 policy guidance states:
283. You will be considered to be engaging in business activity where you are working for a business in a capacity other than an employee in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest.
284. This would include the following:
  • setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence;
  • being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for you); or
  • working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a director.
This is not an exhaustive list but provides examples of the types of circumstance in which you will be considered to be engaged in business activity.
285. You are permitted to undertake MBA and other academic business programmes and work placements as part of your course, including secondments to businesses.

Check the UKCISA website for further information.

Last checked 16/05/2016 LB