Quality Manual

Maximum period from initial registration for completion of studies

This page provides guidance to all students about the maximum periods for the completion of studies from their initial points of registration. This information is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Please note that students in the UK on a Student Route visa are also affected by the University's Policy on Immigration Sponsorship. Where academic policies and immigration policies seem to be contradictory, immigration policies will take precedence. For more information, please consult the following:

Immigration sponsorship 

Overview and exceptional circumstances

Includes: expectations; link to the University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework; exceptional circumstances

Students may need to extend their normal period of engagement with an individual programme for a variety of reasons. The University is flexible in making such arrangements, but there is an expectation that students will complete their studies within an absolute maximum time period from their initial registration, regardless of individual circumstances, to ensure the currency of their knowledge, their competency and the quality of their degree. To that effect, please be aware of the following:

  • Where students have changed programme, the set period relates to the initial registration on their original programme except where the student is transferring to the beginning of the first stage of a programme – in which case, the set period relates to the initial registration on the new programme.  
Flag of China   This does not apply to University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) programmes where the Ministry of Education requires that all periods are counted from initial registration, regardless of transfers.

  • The normal period of registered study for each qualification of the University is set out in the University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework (UNQF). For more information about the UNQF, please consult the following:

University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework

  • Regardless of the individual circumstances of the student, such as periods of voluntary interruption, repeat study or enforced suspension for reason of debt, the absolute maxima shown in the table below apply.
  • In addition a student is not allowed to take more than three years to complete teaching and assessment that would normally be completed within one year, whether full or part-time.

Exceptional circumstances

An exception to the application of these maxima is where a student has a disability, or carer responsibility, that is causing, or has caused, the delay in completing their studies. Whilst the University would normally expect the maximum periods from initial registration to provide adequate opportunity for adjustment and support for students with disabilities, or carer responsibilities, there may be exceptional circumstances in which further adjustment to maximum periods could be considered. In this case, the student should provide the school with an explanation of their circumstances, evidenced as necessary.

The school will then need to judge whether, in the light of these circumstances, it is possible for the student to complete their studies within a period that sufficiently ensures the currency of their knowledge, their competency and the quality of their degree. If the school believes that it is, on balance, appropriate to extend the absolute maximum for that student, they will then provide a new absolute maximum to which the student must adhere.


Maximum period from initial registration

Includes: table of absolute maxima; external requirements; VISA related; refusal and withdrawal

Table of absolute maxima for the completion of all full and part-time programmes
 Absolute maximum period for completion – Full-timeAbsolute maximum period for completion – Part-time
Foundation Certificate   3 years  3 years
Undergraduate Certificate   3 years  3 years
Undergraduate Diploma  6 years  12 years
Ordinary Degree (from start of Honours programme)*For students entering Qualifying year or Part I from September 2015, this degree is only available as an exit award  6 years  12 years
Graduate Certificate 3 years 3 years
Graduate Diploma 3 years 3 years
Honours Degree 6 years 12 years
Bachelors Honours Degree with Foundation Stage*Known as Preliminary Year at University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus (UNNC) 8 years 12 years
Integrated Master's Degree 8 years 12 years
Integrated Master's Degree with Foundation Stage 10 years 12 years
Medical Degree BM, BS (five-year programme) 10 years 12 years
Medical Degree BM, BS (four-year graduate entry programme) 8 years  12 years
Veterinary Medicine MVM, MVS 6 years 12 years
Veterinary Medicine BVM, BVS 10 years 12 years
Veterinary Medicine with Preliminary year BVM, BVS  12 years 12 years
Dip Arch with Bachelor's as first element and including year out 12 years 12 years
Dip Arch with Integrated Master's as first element and including year out 12 years 12 years
Postgraduate Certificate 3 years 3 years
Postgraduate Diploma 3 years 3 years
Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education 3 years 4 years
Taught Master's 3 years 6 years
Two Year Taught Master's 4 years 8 years
Taught masters with Pre-Master's year (UNNC) 4 years 8 years
MRes/MSc/MA by Research 3 years 6 years
MPhil  4 years 8 years
Professional Doctorate 6 years 12 years
PhD 6 years 12 years


External requirements

  • If the regulations of an external accrediting body require a shorter time frame for an individual programme, or any legal requirement restricts the ability of a student to study as required or attend the University, the external requirement overrides the University maximum period.
  • Programme specifications state where an external restriction applies to the period of study. Where a student is on an accredited degree or a programme leading to professional registration and their normal period of study has been extended, it may be necessary for them to undertake additional assessment to prove competency prior to conferral of their award.


  • The maxima which are outlined within the table do not imply that where relevant a student will necessarily be able to obtain a visa for the extended period. 
  • Students on a visa should seek advice from the Visa and Immigration team on their campus if their normal period of registration is potentially to be extended.

Refusal and withdrawal

  • A school should refuse to allow a student to interrupt study, repeat study, take external assessments or any other action that would result in it being impossible for that student to complete their studies within the defined time frames or those imposed by external requirements or limitations.
  • A student who for any reason will not be able to complete their studies within the maximum time frame will be withdrawn from the University as soon as this is evident. In such cases, a student will be awarded a lower level qualification if such a qualification exists and they have satisfied the regulations for that award.

For more information concerning regulations for students who have not met their honours requirements, please consult the following category:

Academic regulations

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

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Student Services

This content was last modified on 23 September 2022

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