August 16, 2012

Holidays for PhD students – how does it work? – by Salma

Follow-up to Summer Busy–Ness – by Tomi from PhD Life: a blog about the PhD student experience

phd image

I've been inspired to write this post after Temilola wrote a post below asking about tips to stay focused when everyone else is enjoying their holidays in the sun. My tips are in the comments on that post, but this lead me to wondering how holidays/annual leave for PhD students work? I am currently on what I call annual leave :)

In my first year, I would book holidays around two months in advance, and notify my supervisor. As far as I know she didn't keep count of the amount of days (she trusts me :)), and has always encouraged me to take holidays. I did ask her regarding the number of days we can take off in a year and I think she said (as far as I can recall) around 4 weeks (20 days) plus statuary holidays. This was roughly the same as what my husband can take off from work, so it was easy to keep count as most of our holidays were on the same day.

Before the start of this year though, with my husband in a new job where he had to book all of his annual leave days at the beginning of the year, we both booked our annual leave days a year in advance, and I sent my annual leave (holiday) dates to my supervisors, who approved them. In many ways this is working better for us (even though it limits spontaneity), because it means as we know when we have off in advance, we have something to look forward to and of course can book and plan holidays (overseas or in the UK) months in advance instead of struggling trying to find a decent deal at the last minute ;)

I also think it may be better to refer to the days off as annual leave and not holiday, because even if you feel like you don't need a holiday, or don't deserve a holiday you will still then take your alloacted annual leave days off (like I am currently doing) and I'm sure the break would do you some good (a chance to blog in my case ;-))


Is there an official limit to the number of days PhD students can take off? If there is no official limit to holidays, how do you take holidays? Does your supervisor keep a count of the number of days you take off? Has your supervisor ever told you you can't take a holiday, and if so why? Has your supervisor ever forced you to take a holiday? Do you have to notify your department/supervisor when you take days off?

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Nice phd comics picture:)You should notify your supervisors about your holiday leave or any absence.If you think that you do not want any holiday in the summer for example,you can extend your holiday at Christmas…

    16 Aug 2012, 14:10

  2. Pravin

    Why would or should our superviser or the university stipulate how much holiday we take? We are not employees and the superviser isn’t our boss. It’s our responsibility to plan our time so that we get our PhD done. I’m a bit confused why this would even be an issue.

    16 Aug 2012, 17:50

  3. Salma Patel

    Hi Pravin,

    Nice to see you here :-) Interesting question.

    Even if our supervisors were our bosses, it would still be our responsibility to plan our time, so whichever way it is looked at, of course we need to plan our own time, and this includes taking appropriate time off for holidays and ensuring others are aware of it.

    I am funded hence I do treat my PhD like a job as far as I can, even though I do spend out of work hours on it too. For me and from others I have spoken, treating it as a job helps maintain the work-life balance, which is so easy to loose when doing a PhD. But at the end of the day, different things works for different people, and people have to find what works for them the most :)

    17 Aug 2012, 11:39

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