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Research sabbatical leave scheme

Understand what sabbatical options are available, if you are eligible and how to apply. The scheme is now open until 20 February 2024.

Research sabbatical leave is a continuous period of release from normal academic duties in order to advance the pursuit of scholarship and research in the University. It leads to the development of individuals, research teams, institutes and centres and to the production of outputs of significant benefit to the University.

About the scheme

What the scheme entails and who is eligible.

Sabbatical leave normally runs for a period of six months, either from 1 February to 31 July or from 1 August to 31 January, or exceptionally over 12 months. Shorter research leave arrangements can be agreed at the discretion of the Head of Department.

The scheme is open to academic staff (lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, professors) who are on permanent contracts and have three years' of continuous service at the sabbatical's start date. The qualifying period normally begins after the completion of probation.

Entitlement to sabbatical leave is not automatic, but is based on the merits of the proposal and the strategic needs of the University, Faculty and Department.

Up to 25 awards of six month leave periods are available each academic year. If there are no applications of sufficient quality in a particular Faculty or School, no sabbatical will be awarded.

The average success rate for awards since October 2011 is 71%.

Types of research sabbatical

These are the research sabbatical options we have available.

  • Taking research further − to extend the outcomes of research to maximise impact

  • Team Sabbaticals − for two or more applicants from different departments to undertake a joint sabbatical

  • Senior Fellowship − for senior members of academic staff to develop a research fellowship application

  • Major Funding Initiative − to establish a major consortium

  • Network building and external initiatives − to use an extended period of time off campus to build new relationships or further establish academic networks

  • Research retreats − to develop a major area of research in collaboration with others

The criteria for the scheme

All awards will be made on the basis of the merit of the applicant, the proposed programme of work and its alignment with the Faculty or School's research strategy.

An application for a sabbatical period must clearly articulate the intended outcomes and demonstrate why focused time is needed to achieve those outcomes. Applications must also set out a SMART scheme of work for the planned sabbatical period presenting suitably ambitious Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound outcomes.

It is important that applications articulate how the research strategies of the University and its research communities (Institutes, Beacons, Centres and Groups) will be realised by the planned activity and demonstrate how the work will further develop internal and external networks for research and knowledge exchange.

The Committee will attend to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Climate Action Framework principles when making recommendations for awards.

Case studies

Hear from colleagues about their experiences of research sabbatical leave.

Apply for sabbatical leave

Download the application form


If you have any questions, please contact us.