Residency requirements | University of Oxford
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Residency requirements

The University's residence requirements apply to all full-time students.  The Examination Regulations for your course set out the minimum number of terms you must live in Oxford. Residence limits do not apply to students on part-time courses, students carrying out approved study abroad, or D.Phil. students who have permission to work away from Oxford.


For undergraduate students, this usually means both that students are required to live within a certain distance from the University (called limits in the regulations) and for a set period of time during their studies (called terms in the regulations). Typically undergraduate students must generally reside within 6 miles of Carfax Tower. However if a student holds the status of Senior Student , or has already satisfied the examiners in a Second Public Examination, or resides in the home of a parent or guardian, they can reside within 25 miles of Carfax Tower.

In addition undergraduate students are required to be in residence for at least six weeks of each term of their course. The exact number of terms is dependent on the degree, the subject and the candidate’s status. Further information can be found in the course examination regulations.


For postgraduate students, this usually means residing within 25 miles of Carfax Tower, unless given special permission to work away from Oxford for a period of time (typically agreed and approved by the department).

In addition, postgraduate students are required to be in residence for a minimum number of terms. The exact number of terms is dependent on the degree, the subject and the candidate’s status. Further information can be found in the course examination regulations

Postgraduate research students

Individuals requesting dispensation from the residence requirements

Residency requirements for postgraduate research students (PGR) are more flexible than those for post graduate taught students.

The DPhil residence requirement is for 6 terms over the duration of the programme for full-time students if they have no prior study at Oxford and 3 terms if the student has successfully completed a Masters at Oxford (students applying for an MSc by Research should discuss residence requirements with their department in the first instance as the requirements are different to the DPhil). The terms do not need to be consecutive. Students on part-time programmes are exempt from the residence requirement altogether (General Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, section 6).

Most PGR students are first admitted as a Probationer Research Student, unless they are admitted directly to DPhil status having successfully completed an MPhil and are pursuing research in the same field as their MPhil thesis. The General Regulations Governing Research Degrees include the expectation that Probationer Research Students (PRS) are physically studying at Oxford. Departments should inform students about the practical and academic arrangements in place for Michaelmas term 2020 and the implications these may have. However, the regulations do allow boards to approve a student being resident elsewhere whilst studying. Residence outside of Oxford for COVID-19 related reasons are acceptable grounds for boards to grant a PRS student permission not to be resident in Oxford while they hold this status. To apply for such a dispensation, new students will need to complete a GSO.8 Application from Dispensation from Residence form, existing students will need to apply using the online GSO.8 form available via Student Self-Service.

Once admitted to DPhil student status (having passed Transfer of Status) students must meet their residence requirement across the duration of their programme (normally between 9 and 12 terms, inclusive of the time spent as a PRS). If returning students (or those admitted direct to DPhil status) are unable to return and connot fulfil the residence requirement in their time remaining on course, they should apply for a Dispensation from Residence using the online form available via Student Self-Service. This should be subject to discussions with the supervisor and/or DGS to determine what the student can reasonably do on their DPhil outside of Oxford.Options such as suspension or extension could also be explored, if appropriate.

Individuals requesting to live outside University residence limits

The Proctors may excuse a student from residing within the specified limits, if there are good reasons why this is not possible. Students should discuss this first with their College, or with their department if they have no college, as they will need support from both the College (where applicable) and department for the Proctors to consider approving a request.

For Postgraduate research students only, a distinction needs to be made between students who are not able to physically study in Oxford and those who can commute into Oxford to study but wish to live outside of the 25 mile radius of Carfax Tower residence limit. Students in the former category should apply to the relevant board as described in the section above. Students who require dispensation to live greater than 25 miles away from Carfax Tower, but commute into Oxford should read the section on living outside University residence limits and apply to the Proctors' Office using the dispensation form below.

residency limits application form should be submitted to the Proctors’ Office, detailing the support for the request from both the college (where applicable) and department, along with any supporting evidence. 

Departments requesting blanket dispensation for a specified student cohort 

A Department can make an application to the Proctors for a blanket dispensation of the residency requirement for Michaelmas Term 2020 for students on a specified postgraduate taught course. An online form should be completed and submitted to the Proctors’ Office. Students on postgraduate research courses would need to submit individual dispensation requests if required.

List of Approved Blanket Dispensations from Residency for Michaelmas

Blavatnik School of GovernmentMaster of Public Policy (MPP)
Department of EducationMSc Education (all pathways) 
Department of EducationMSc Applied Linguistics for Second Language Acquisition
Faculty of LawBachelor of Civil Law (BCL)
Faculty of LawMagister Juris (MJur)
Faculty of Law / SBSMSc in Law and Finance
Oxford Internet InstituteMSc in Social Science of the Internet 
Oxford Internet InstituteMSc in Social Data Science
Saïd Business SchoolMSc in Financial Economics
Saïd Business SchoolMasters of Business Administration MBA

Additional advice for the Covid-19 pandemic

The University’s expectation is that most students will be in residence from the start of the 2020/21 academic year. Nevertheless, it is recognised that there is a need to consider individual student circumstances in a sensitive and supportive manner. Additional advice has therefore been provided on how applications to reside outside the University limits will be managed during the pandemic.

The Proctors will consider applications on the additional grounds of: 

  • Inability to travel because of government travel restrictions
  • Declared disability, including a mental health condition that can be defined as a disability
  • Health grounds, including vulnerability or increased susceptibility to infectious diseases

However, applications on the following grounds will not normally be considered:

  • Changes to the mode of teaching and assessment introduced by the University in response to the pandemic
  • Quarantine requirements, social distancing or other arrangements put in place in response to Public Health England requirements
  • Financial difficulties

For more information on these matters please visit the Coronavirus (Covid-19): advice and support for students webpages.

Individual departments may provide exemptions for student cohorts on specific courses. If this is the case, your department will be in touch in the near future. If you feel you need to apply for a residency exemption because of your personal circumstances, you do not need to wait to hear from your department, and should instead  discuss this with your college or department as soon as possible. A completed application form will need to be endorsed by your department and signed by your college. The Proctors will not need to see evidence for any application associated with Covid-19.

There may be some wider implications that need to be agreed before an application is formally made. For example, colleges may not have accommodation available for students who do not come into residence in Michaelmas term.

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