Working during your studies

Working during your studies

If you are thinking of looking for part-time work while you are studying in the UK, you need to check your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or visa vignette (in your passport) first to see what work conditions UK Visas and Immigration have endorsed your visa with.

If you have a digital visa status please check the email you received from UK Visas and Immigration when your visa was granted.

You will either have a work restriction or prohibition.

Student work restriction

If you are studying on a full-time degree level programme  and  have a Student visa your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should state '20 hours max in term time' or similar. If you have a digital visa, your work conditions can be found in your UKVI account. With this endorsement, you can work up to 20 hours per week in term-time and there's no restriction on the amount of hours you can work outside of term-time which includes the time before your course begins and after your course has finished. Refer to your CAS for your official course dates. 

There are restrictions on the type of work you can do:

  • You cannot be self-employed, work freelance or run a business.
  • You cannot be a professional sports person or entertainer.
  • You cannot be medical doctor or dentist in training. 
  • You cannot take up a permanent position.

UKCISA provides a useful article about working in the UK as a Student visa holder.

A 'week' has been defined in the Immigration Rules as "a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday". It is essential that you work no more than 20 hours in any seven-day period starting on a Monday. If you work irregular hours and / or have more than one employer, you will need to keep accurate records of how many hours you work each day to ensure you are not in breach of your work conditions.

During holidays

There's no restriction on the amount of hours you can work outside term-time. The summer is not a vacation period for Masters students as during this time you are enrolled on your dissertation and you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week until the official end date of your programme listed on your CAS.

Postgraduate research students

SOAS research degrees are continuous programmes with enrolment running from the first day of the academic session until the day preceding the first day of the next academic session, so September to September each year.

As term dates do not apply, you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week during your programme apart from the exceptions below. You cannot take up a permanent position.

There's no restriction on the amount of hours you can work during the following periods:

  • Prior to the course start date on your CAS.

  • During approved annual leave or SOAS official closure days. Annual leave must be approved by your academic department and the Doctoral School before any work for more than 20 hours commences. You must return to working only 20 hours per week once your approved annual leave or SOAS official closure days have ended.

  • Once you have reached the official end of your course and completed all requirements to be awarded your degree until the expiry date of your Student or Tier 4 visa. 


If the vignette in your passport contains the following wording then you have a prohibition on working in the UK:

  • 'No work or recourse to public funds'
  • 'No recourse to public funds. No work or engaging in business'
  • The equivalent prohibition on a BRP simply says 'NO WORK'.

If you entered the UK using the Standard visitor visa you are prohibited from working. Find out more.

If you have Student visa but have a prohibition endorsed on your BRP, this is likely to be an error that should be an error that should be reported to UK Visas and Immigration for correction. If you have a digital visa contact the SOAS Student Advice Service for assistance.

National Insurance Number (NIN)

International Students wishing to work must apply for a National Insurance number, which will enter you into the UK tax system. You can apply when you are looking for work or have found a job.

Income tax

If you work in the UK, you may need to pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions depending on how much you earn. For more information on income tax, visit GOV.UK.