This policy is designed to supplement the College's sabbatical leave and leave of absence policies and sets out the approach to requesting sabbaticals (absence of more than one term during the Autumn, Spring and/or Summer terms) for academic staff members in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Sabbatical leave and leave of absence
Type of leaveMaximum amount of leave for eligible staffManager guidelinesStaff guide/conditions
Sabbatical leave for academic refreshment Various, up to three terms maximum, and may be paid or unpaid Review application form and forward to Head of Department Pursue research interests, scholarship or other acceptable activities related to primary employment by the College
Sabbatical leave for personal refreshment Between 3 and 12 months (unpaid) Review application form and forward to Head of Department Undertake extended period of travel, complete a period of charity work, or undertake a course of study not related to role
Extended Leave of absence Various and normally unpaid Review application form and forward to Head of Department Exceptional circumstances
Sabbatical leave and leave of absence
Sabbatical leave and leave of absence

Guidance for sabbatical leave

  • A well-constructed sabbatical confers a long-term benefit on the academic staff member and also confers a benefit on the department.  The purposes of sabbatical leave are staff development and enhancing the reputation of the College.  For this reason, sabbaticals are seen as positive.  However, sabbaticals can cause disruption within the department, so plans must be made so that the absence of the staff member does not lead to disruption in the normal activities of the department.
  • The decision as whether or not to grant a sabbatical rests in the first instance with the Head of Department, who will consult with the Department Management Committee or other committee convened to review requests for sabbatical leave, as relevant to the department. The factors that will be taken into consideration when approving requests include:
    • Effect on teaching commitments (courses, tutorials, project student supervision, etc)
    • Effect on research commitments (satisfying funder and collaborator milestones, research student supervision, postdoc supervision, etc)
    • Effect on research funding
    • Effect on department administrative roles (e.g. Exams Officer, Director of PG Studies, etc)
    • Effect on other academic commitments (e.g. any other positions of responsibility on an individual basis)

It is recommended that this is discussed with the Head of Department before an application is made.

  • In view of the above, the onus is on the academic staff member requesting to take a sabbatical to make arrangements for suitable cover, to ensure the sabbatical is feasible.  The academic staff member could consider the following approaches:
    • Raising funds to provide cover for the work which would be missed during the sabbatical.  The Leverhulme Trust is one agency that may provide such funds;
    • Proposing alternative logistical arrangements so that commitments are covered satisfactorily during the period of leave.
  • In all cases, suitable arrangements must be agreed with the Head of Department and in place before the academic staff member can start their sabbatical.   In this respect, it helps if applications for sabbatical leave are made at least one year in advance.
  • A staff member can, in principle, request a two- or three-term sabbatical over two academic years, but it must be recognised that it can be 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 recognised that although staff members are entitled to apply for sabbatical leave, there is no guarantee that it will be granted.  Because the increased load placed on staff delivering teaching as a result of sabbatical leave must be limited, it is unlikely that the department will recommend sabbatical leave in any one year amounting to more than 5% of the teaching load.
  • Therefore, applications for sabbatical leave must be considered as competitive.  Applications where staff have taken on exceptional teaching or administrative roles 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 enhanced reputation, will be received as evidence of a strong case.

How to apply

Please review the HR guidance on sabbatical leave and leave of absence, and discuss your intention to make an application with your Head of Department.

Submit an application for leave of absence/sabbatical leave form to your line manager. You will need to provide information including:

  • The purpose of the leave (dates requested, duration, reason for the leave, and how the period of leave contributes to your development and enhances the reputation of the College)
  • Service to the Department or College (details of substantive roles undertaken in the qualifying period, including dates)
  • Arrangements agreed with colleagues to cover teaching, research, administrative and other commitments during the period of leave
  • Payments, if any, that will be received from sources other than the College.

The Head of Department will make recommendations to the Faculty as regards approval of applications.