pausing your studies for a year

Interruption allows students to take an authorised break in their studies for one calendar year

An interruption allows students to take an authorised break in their studies for one calendar year. Following the interruption period, you will return to your studies at the beginning  of the respective term. For example, an interruption at any point in the Winter term will require you to return at the beginning of the Winter term the following year.

You should discuss the options with your Academic Mentor or Supervisor before making the decision to interrupt. Requests to interrupt studies will usually only be considered on the basis of exceptional circumstances.

When can I interrupt?

If you are experiencing health or personal difficulties, or you have access to an exceptional opportunity, that affects your ability to attend classes or otherwise engage with your studies then requesting an interruption at the earliest opportunity is often the best option. This enables you to take a break and then return the following year to fully benefit from teaching.

You can interrupt during the Autumn or Winter terms only (except for Executive Programme, see section below). If you have received all your teaching for the year you will only be permitted to interrupt from the beginning of the next academic year. If you feel unable to take your exams in the meantime you can apply for a Deferral instead.

The deadline for interruption applications is the last day of the term in which you wish to interrupt. It is not possible to backdate an interruption so you should discuss the options and make a decision as early as possible. You can contact either your department or the Student Advice and Engagement Team for guidance. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.  

If your interruption is approved you will be required to return at the beginning of the same term the following year.  Therefore if you are considering interruption near the end of a term you should discuss with your academic Mentor of Supervisor whether it would be best to interrupt immediately or complete the term and interrupt from the start of the following term.

If you interrupt a term before it has started (i.e. you submit a Winter Term interruption during the Christmas break, or an Autumn Term interruption during the Summer break) you will still be expected to sit your January or IRDAP exams.  If you are unable to you should seek to Defer them.

How to interrupt

1. If you think that you would like to interrupt then arrange to speak with your Academic Mentor or Supervisor. You may also wish to speak to your Departmental Tutor or Programme Director.

2. If you are living in Halls of Residence you should also discuss your intention to interrupt with the Residential Services Office, because an interruption will have implications on your right to continue to live in student halls. You will remain liable for accommodation fees for 28 days after the date of your departure.

3. If you are sure that you wish to interrupt, complete an Interruption of Studies form

4. You may be asked to provide evidence to support your request.  Your Academic Mentor or Supervisor will tell you more about this. Evidence should be uploaded electronically using the online form.

5. Once you have submitted your interruption request form, it will automatically be sent to your Academic Mentor or Supervisor and also the Departmental Tutor or Programme Director for review.  They will receive an email to confirm your submission, so you do not need to tell them yourself.

6. If your request has been recommended by your department, it will be sent to the Student Records Team in the SSC. Once they have processed your request, you will be notified via your LSE email address. This will usually be within five working days from the point that it's received by the SSC.

NB: If you interrupt in Winter Term but your circumstances also affected you during Autumn Term you may wish to apply for Repeat Teaching for Autumn Term.  We recommend submitting your Repeat Teaching form at the same time as your Interruption form so that you don’t forget to submit it later in the year. Further information can be found on the Repeat Teaching webpage.

Executive Masters Students 

Executive Masters Programmes are modular so the usual restrictions on interrupting only in Autumn and Winter Term do not apply. However you must request your interruption before the end of the teaching block that you wish to interrupt. The School will not consider retrospective requests to interrupt.

Due to the modular nature of your programme you should discuss an appropriate point of return with your Department prior to submitting your interruption request.

Please use the Interruption of Studies form to request your interruption. 

Once you have submitted your interruption request form, it will automatically be sent to your Academic Mentor or Supervisor and also the Departmental Tutor or Programme Director for review.  They will receive an email to confirm your submission, so you do not need to tell them yourself.

General Course Students

General Course study abroad students are not permitted to interrupt their studies. General Course students wishing to interrupt should speak with the Dean of the General Course and will be advised to withdraw and apply to join the programme again in a later year.

MPhil and PhD Students 

MPhil / PhD research students should contact the PhD Academy for advice on interruption. 

Get advice if you are on a Student visa

Being granted an interruption of study will have an impact on your Student visa.   LSE would be required to report this to the UKVI and your Student visa would be curtailed.  You can find out more in the 'Changes to your Programme of Study' section of the following web page:

When you have your visa

You would also need to apply for a new Student visa, so would have to be confident that you are in a position to meet the immigration rules.  

When applying for an interruption of studies, you should seek advice from the Student Advice and Engagement Team visa specialists so you understand the full implication of your application.

Fees, Financial Support and U.S. Federal Loans

Tuition Fees

You are not required to pay tuition fees during an approved interruption and any fees you have already paid for the term you interrupt can be refunded by the Fees Office at your request, or banked and taken off the fees due when you return to your studies.

When recommencing your studies after an approved interruption period, you will be charged the fees effective in the academic year of your return.  You can view the Table of Fees for more detail.

If you are granted an interruption of studies and later decide to permanently withdraw from your programme your fees will be recalculated to account for the teaching you received prior to interruption. For more information about the tuition fee policy as it relates to interruptions and withdrawals, please visit Fees Income and Credit Control

Student Loans Company

If you are reliant on funds from the Student Loans Company (SLC) to pay your fees and interrupt during the Autumn or Winter Term will be charged a fee in line with the schedule of loan payments from the SLC (i.e. 25% of the fee if the interruption applies after the end of Autumn Term and 50% of the fee if the interruption applies after the end of Winter Term).

Financial Support

Once you have interrupted your studies, you will not be eligible to apply for financial support from LSE. If the reason for interruption is financial difficulty, you may wish to contact the Financial Support Office prior to interrupting to check if there is any support available that may allow you to continue with your studies. 

If you have interrupted your studies and re-registered in a subsequent academic session, you will not be eligible to apply or re-apply for pre-entry financial support schemes such as the Graduate Support Scheme, the Undergraduate Support Scheme or other awards and scholarships. 

If you have an LSE or external scholarship you should check the terms of their award before requesting an interruption, since there may be implications for your scholarship. 

U.S. Federal Loans

Students in receipt of Federal aid are only permitted to take a break for a maximum of 180 days in one academic year. Please note that the 180 rule is a U.S. Department of Education regulation. If you take leave for more than 180 days in a calendar year and/or cannot resume your studies at the point you left off before you took your leave of absence, you will be deemed withdrawn for the purposes of Federal Student Aid. This means you will not be able to borrow any further federal aid for your programme of study.

For a student on an approved interruption, Title IV loans remain in “in-school” status for the period of the Interruption, if a student does not return from an interruption, part or all the loan grace period could be used impacting when a student will go into repayment on their loans.

Please refer to the Schools RT24 Policy for further details.

During interruption

During an Interruption, you are still a student of the School however you are a non-enrolled student. While on an approved interruption of studies the following applies:

  • You will have access-only rights to the Library; you will not be permitted to withdraw books (unless authorised by your department)
  • You will have access to Student Support Services including the Students’ Union, Student Wellbeing Services and the Faith Centre
  • You will keep your LSE login and email account, but must remember to update your password when requested in line with the password policy
  • Your department will ensure that you have a point of contact available to advise you about you return to study and any other student related concerns
  • You remain subject to all the School’s Regulations, Procedures and Policies
  • You cannot stay in LSE accommodation
  • You are not entitled to a TfL student-rate Oyster Card
  • You are not entitled to council tax exemption
  • You are not eligible for LSE financial support
  • You are not permitted to attend teaching. You must not attend lectures, seminars, tutorials etc.
  • You will not be expected to sit/submit any assessments*
  • You are not entitled to other teaching support e.g. dissertation supervision or office hours

*If you interrupt a term before it has started (i.e. you submit a Autumn Term interruption during the Christmas break, or a Winter Term interruption during the Summer break) you will still be expected to sit your January or IRDAP exams.  If you are unable to you should seek to Defer them.

Returning from interruption

The School will contact you by email before your scheduled return to study to confirm your course selection (if applicable) and to facilitate any support which may be required upon your return. It is essential that you check your LSE email regularly, even during Interruption, as you will continue to receive important information from the School.

If you require a visa in order to study in the UK, you should contact the Student Advice and Engagement Team at least 3 months prior to your agreed return to study date.

If you wish to return to your studies earlier than originally planned, you should discuss this first with your departmental point of contact and then submit a request to the Student Services Centre for consideration. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Further information is available on the Returning to LSE webpage.

Interruption FAQs

For further information please read the School’s Interruption of Studies Policy.

Can I interrupt more than once?

Second interruptions are only approved in very exceptional circumstances.  All second interruption requests require additional authorisation at School level and it is more likely that you’ll be asked to provide evidence to support your interruption request.

What if my programme or courses change?

If you are granted an Interruption, you should be aware that programmes and courses may change whilst you are away and you may need to take alternative courses when you return. In certain circumstances, such as if your Programme is due to be discontinued, we may not be able to grant an Interruption at all.

Support and advice 

If you are facing difficulties with your studies, whether for academic or personal reasons, there are lots of people that may be able to help. 

If you are not sure which service is best for your situation please contact the Student Advice and Engagement Team in the first instance. You are also encouraged to contact the Student Advice and Engagement Team if you hold a Tier 4 Visa to discuss your options.

The School’s Interruption of Studies Policy is available via the LSE Calendar.

Unapproved interruptions 

If you take a break from your studies without having an interruption approved you will be considered to be on an ‘unauthorised break’. Unauthorised absences are not permitted and you are encouraged to communicate with the School if you intend to be absent for any length of time.

The School’s Break Unauthorised Policy is as follows:

  • Students who take unauthorised breaks will have their student records amended to reflect this. They will not be considered to be registered students and will have no right to access School facilities or teaching. This status will remain in place for one academic year. 
  • If the student makes contact with the School during this time, they will be encouraged to meet with the Head of Student Services to discuss their situation. Whilst there are no guarantees, the School will do what they can to facilitate a return to studies if the circumstances have been extenuating and can be supported with appropriate evidence.
  • If the student does not contact the School in this time, when that academic year ends they will be formally withdrawn from their programme. If students wish to re-join that programme again they will have to go through the admissions application process.

The School encourages all students to avoid this route if at all possible. Full advice can be given on interruption and formal withdrawal processes, which students should seek in cases where they are unsure.

Standards of evidence 

If your department asks you to submit evidence to support your interruption request, it should meet the following standards.  If you are unable to meet the standard as set out below then please submit any corroborating evidence that you do have. 

  • Written by appropriately qualified professionals (e.g. health professionals, police authority) who are independent from you. 
  • On headed paper and signed and dated by the author. Evidence presented by email may be acceptable in some circumstances and only if the email has been sent by the author from the official domain name of the author's organisation. Where evidence is submitted in email form, the School reserves the right to request further information from you.
  • Confirming specifically that the circumstances were witnessed on the relevant date as opposed to being reported retrospectively.
  • In English. If your evidence is not in English then you must submit an original source-language copy of the evidence together with an officially translated copy. The translation must include a statement signed by a Notary Public, attesting that the translated text is an accurate and complete translation of the source-language text.

The LSE Language Centre may be able to help with official translations of some languages. It is your responsibility to attach all relevant documentation and to obtain an official translation at the time of submission.

  • Original. Copies will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.
  • Unaltered. Documentation that has been amended for any reason will be deemed inadmissible by the School. 

It is your responsibility to attach all relevant documentation and to obtain an official translation at the time of submission. The School will not obtain any documentation on your behalf. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes if you have submitted evidence to the School through another procedure. If there is evidence that you have fraudulently presented documentation to the School, the matter will be referred to the Disciplinary Regulations for Students.

Please refer to the Standards of Evidence Table for a list of the types of evidence the School would expect for various types of exceptional circumstances. Please note this list is not exhaustive.



Required evidence


 Acute illness


A medical certificate/letter dated from the time of your illness. It must confirm the nature of your symptoms, the likely impact these symptoms may have on your performance, the diagnosis (if possible) and the time during which this has affected you.





As 1 above but also confirming any time period during which you were an inpatient




External Factors: E.g. Family illness; bereavement; victim of crime


Evidence of external factors where possible. In the case of bereavement you must normally provide a death certificate. You must also normally provide evidence to confirm the impact this has had on your wellbeing and performance.




Unexpected financial problems


The School expects students to have registered with sufficient funds for the duration of their programme of study. Therefore, students need to clearly demonstrate something unexpected has subsequently occurred to disrupt these arrangements or to cause additional expenditure. The unexpected circumstances must have occurred after you commenced your studies. The School cannot consider students who have knowingly registered without sufficient funds for their fees and living costs. The types of evidence you need to provide are as follows: Medical certificates (as 1 above), if the financial difficulties relate to illness; A death certificate; Original scholarship/sponsorship letter and evidence of non-continuation; An employer's redundancy letter, if you or a member of your family has been made redundant; Suitably redacted bank statement from the time of affected assessment.





Only where there is a specific illness or injury during pregnancy. Medical evidence must be provided as 1 above.


The following evidence is normally not acceptable:

  • Technical medical reports that do not contain the required information set out at point one in the table above.
  • Prescriptions.
  • X-rays.
  • Photographs.
  • Statements from friends or family.