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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Information regarding Leave to Work Away, Fieldwork Funding, Ethics, Risk Assessments and other matters relating to your student status and course. 

Policy on Lectures

Lecture policy (Updated October 2022)

A Note on Readings and Materials

Readings and materials for POLIS papers and teaching represent a wide range of different views on major topics in politics and international relations. Many of these topics are subject to intense controversy and debate, and it is common to encounter contrasting and contentious arguments in them. The fact that a text is on a reading list or lecture material is not an endorsement of its content. Students at Cambridge are expected to engage with readings and other materials critically, carefully examining and where appropriate challenging evidence and arguments.

CamSIS applications

You will need to apply for permission from the University in order to intermit, extend the date you are registered as a student, enable you to defer your submission date, work away from Cambridge, or any other application. Applications must be approved by your Supervisor, your Department, your College, your Degree Committee and the Postgraduate Committee

You are in charge of tracking the administration of your application and ensuring it processes through each stage.  

If you need to cancel an application whilst it is being administered, you will need to log onto your Self-Service pages to request this. If your application has already been approved, you will need to email

Research can raise various ethical and risk issues. In this context, ‘ethical issues’ refers to sensitivities and risks related to human participants and data involved in the research, while ‘risk’ concerns any dangers and challenges to the researcher themselves. 

This page provides the relevant information and links that students and staff need for applying for ethical approval, risk assessments and leave-to-work-away applications for their research. The department’s Ethics, Risk and Fieldwork (ERF) committee is responsible for the content of these pages and for assessing and approving the applications. 

Please read these pages carefully before completing and submitting any applications. If you have any further questions, you can contact your programme administrator. 


Ethical Approval for Research

All members of the Department conducting research must follow the processes outlined below for obtaining ethical approval, or in the case of postgraduate students, confirming that approval is not required.

Any research involving human participants or access to sensitive data will require ethical approval to be obtained in advance of the research being conducted. Any research not involving human participants or access to sensitive data should still maintain a record that its ethical requirements have been considered and found not to require approval.

POLIS adheres to University of Cambridge's policies on research standards, including the Policy on the Ethics of Research Involving Human Participants and Personal Data. 

The Research Operations Office website on Ethics, Good Practice and Misconduct gives details of how ethical approval is managed within the University as a whole. The department of POLIS refers to the ESRC framework for Research Ethics in keeping with the HSS School committee. 

The Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSS REC) reviews complex or high-risk ethics issues in research projects in the arts, humanities and social sciences or cognate areas. All research involving vulnerable adults or participants under 18 will be referred to the HSS REC after consideration by the Department’s Research Ethics Committee. Approval times for such cases will be necessarily longer, subject to the content of the application. 

Click here for more information on and how to apply for ethical approval

Risk Assessment Procedure

Keeping yourself safe is also an important consideration, for everyone involved in a study. 

In principle, all students and staff doing research outside of Cambridge should submit a risk assessment. In addition, there may be some forms of research (such as online interviews or participating in online forums) which may also carry risk to the researcher and require a risk assessment. If you are not sure about whether your research requires this, you should discuss this with your supervisor (for students) or with the chair of the ERF committee (for staff).

A risk assessment examines the potential risks involved in your research and how you will mitigate them in order to protect you.  

Important elements to consider are:  

  • risk of physical threat or abuse 
  • risk of psychological trauma, as a result of actual or threatened violence or the nature of what is disclosed during the interaction 
  • risk of being in a comprising situation, in which there might be accusations of improper behaviour 
  • increased exposure to risks of everyday life and social interaction, such as road accidents and infectious illness  

For further guidance on risk, please visit the Social Research Association website: Good Practice ( 

Click here to submit a Risk Assessment

Leave to Work Away

Postgraduate students (with the exception of MSt students) who will be conducting research outside Cambridge for more than two weeks (at one time) will need to apply for Leave to Work Away (LTWA). One of the requirements of this application is to do a risk assessment application.

If students wish to conduct research outside Cambridge for less than two weeks, they don’t need to apply for LTWA but must still complete a risk assessment.  Please refer to the risk assessment section above for further guidance.

Click here to submit an LTWA application

Travel Insurance | Safeguarding Work Away (

Fieldwork Funding

PhD students who have been granted Leave to Work Away may also apply to receive funding towards their fieldwork costs; please see the link below for further information about the Department's procedure. 

More information about fieldwork funding


Intermission is an agreed period of leave from study, for medical or non-medical reasons. Students remain on the register of graduate students (so may use certain facilities) but are not actively studying. The links below contain all the information you need about intermission, including how to apply and any implications for visas. 

Medical Intermission

Non medical Intermission

Extending your End of Registration date

This is the new name for extending your submission date. If you have not yet submitted and wish to extend your 'End of Registration Date' you may apply to do so online using your Self-Service pages. This must be approved before the last day of your fourth year, else you will be automatically removed from the register. The link below contains all the information you need about extending your end of registration date, including how to apply and any conditions. 

Applications to extend your end of registration date must make a clear and convincing case of why it is essential for you to remain as a registered student, and extensions will not be granted for more than one term. 

Extending your submission deadline

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice sets out the University’s guidelines for graduate courses. There is one for Master’s students and one for Research Students (electronic versions can be found on the Cambridge students website).

It is essential that students review the Code of Practice at the start of their study so a signature page has been introduced to the booklet to help encourage this. We will not be checking on students or their supervisor that this has been completed, but please note that if you do not sign the booklet this does not mean that you will not be held against it.

Complaints and Appeals

The Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) provides procedural advice, case handling and oversight of a number of student procedures, which you can find on the web pages in this section. In addition, the Office handles responses and is the point of contact  for the external ombudsman, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), with whom students can raise complaints following the completion of an internal University procedure. The Responsible Officer for POLIS is Professor Pieter van Houten. For more information, please see the OSCCA website.