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Academic leave of absence (short term)

If you need to take a leave of absence during term time, please complete a leave of absence form.

Long term leave

If you need to take long term leave, please complete the Long term leave - staff form.

Maternity and paternity leave

Imperial College's policies on maternity and parternity leave can be found on the college website.

If you have further questions regarding maternity or paternity leave, please contact the HR team in the Physics department.

You can also find out about Imperial's childcare facilities at the Early Years Education Centre.

There is a fellowship for female academic staff returning to work following maternity or adoption leave. Find out about the Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award.

Sabbatical leave

At the beginning of Spring Term the Head of Department announces the next round of applications for sabbatical leave by an email to all eligible staff. Eligible staff include Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors. Applications are submitted to the Chair of the Departmental Sabbatical Leave Committee, currently Professor Ulrik Egede.

HR guidance on sabbatical leave is available. 

An application comprises an HR sabbatical leave form, and a case for the Departmental Sabbatical Leave Committee, which should describe:

  • The purpose of the leave
  • How it is to be spent
  • Payments, if any, that will be received from sources other than the College
  • The arrangements agreed with colleagues to cover teaching, supervision of
  • research students, and administrative duties.

The Sabbatical Leave Committee makes its recommendations to the Head of Department who in turn submits the applications to the Faculty.

For a list of current Committee Members, please see the Sabbatical Committee page.


General Guidance

  • The purposes of sabbatical leave are staff development and enhancing the reputation of the College.
  • Applications for sabbatical leave are decided ultimately by the College, but in practice this is delegated to Heads of Departments. According to the HR guidance notes (see above) there is a College Sabbatical Leave Committee, that will consider contested applications.
  • Sabbatical leave will be considered only after 2 years of qualifying service and will be as follows:
  1. up to one term after two years of qualifying service
  2. up to two terms after four years of qualifying service
  3. up to a maximum of three terms after six years of qualifying service
  • Qualifying periods will restart following a period of sabbatical leave.  Sabbatical leave cannot be taken during a probation period, but the probation period counts towards the qualifying period.
  • It helps if applications are made for sabbatical leave two years in advance.  Usually the departmental decision is made around February and consequently by the time College has ratified any decision, it may be too late in that year to organize an October start.
  • A staff member can in principle request a two or three-term sabbatical leave over two academic years, but it must be recognized that it can be very difficult to arrange cover for teaching and administrative duties for both academic years. Consequently, it is unlikely to be looked upon as favourably as a request for leave within a single academic year.
  • It must be recognized that although staff are entitled to apply for sabbatical there is no guarantee it will be granted. Because the number of staff providing teaching is limited (roughly 60 FTEs), and the number applying for sabbatical leave each year has tended to increase, the rising load placed on staff delivering teaching as a result of sabbatical leave has to be limited. In practice it is unlikely that the departmental committee will recommend sabbatical leave in any one year amounting to more than 5% of the total teaching load.
  • Therefore, applications for sabbatical leave must in some sense be considered as competitive. Applications where staff have taken on exceptional teaching or administrative demands and are about to return to “normal duties”, or where the sabbatical is to allow the applicant to lead a major international project giving the College high visibility and kudos, will be received more sympathetically. Consequently, it is vital that a strong case is presented. External funding for a sabbatical leave is always advantageous.
  • The Chair of the committee is happy to discuss applications with individual members of staff.