A Guide to University Holidays

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University holidays are probably every university student’s favourite time of the year. Even with work, holidays are a great opportunity to relax and take a break from the stresses of university life. However, since university is such a big change from primary and secondary school, how are their holidays different?

In this article, I’ll be taking you through the different types of university holiday, how long university students get holiday for, and the differences between primary and secondary school and university holidays.

Are university holidays different to primary and secondary school holidays?

A big difference between university holidays and primary and secondary school holidays is how long they are. Primary and secondary school holidays are a lot shorter than university holidays.

Instead of 12 weeks, university students have approximately 20 weeks of holiday across the year. During university terms, the work is a lot more compacted, so students can have a longer holiday.

Another difference is that university students don’t have half term. Unlike in primary and secondary school where there breaks in between terms, at university, students are expected to complete full terms.

You can read more about all this in a Think Student article linked here.

There are two different types of holiday at university: undergraduate and postgraduate. Below, I’ll go into more detail about what each of these mean.

Undergraduate holidays

Undergraduate holidays are the holiday terms for any students on an undergraduate course (usually 1st to 4th years). Undergraduates can’t take holidays during term, other than choosing to study abroad for a year (which is only an option for certain degrees). However, undergraduate holidays are pretty long.

The usual periods of holiday are mid-December to mid-January, late March to late April, and mid-June to late September. The exact dates differ from university to university. Unlike in secondary and primary school, university students have holidays for months at a time.

For more information about this, check out this Think Student article and look at the sections below.

Postgraduate holidays

Postgraduate holidays are relatively similar to undergraduate holidays in terms of approximate length. There are two key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate holidays – the length of the summer term, and the option of “planned vacation”.

Firstly, the summer term is slightly longer for postgraduates. Instead of working until mid-June, students instead work until mid- to late August.

Secondly, postgraduates are allowed to take “planned vacation”. This is a vacation at any point within the academic year. It can be related to your studies, or it can be purely to give yourself a break.

For more information about postgraduate holidays, check out this page from postgrad.com.

University holiday list 2022/2023

Below, you can find a table with the dates for university holidays, for the academic year 2022-2023.

Preceding term Holiday start Holiday end
Winter term Late December 2022 Early January 2023
Spring term Mid-Late March 2023 Late April 2023
Summer term Mid-June 2023 Late September 2024

As you can see in the table, there are no exact dates as it will vary for each university. However, you can still use this table as a rough guide to see when universities will have holidays. Also, to find out more specific dates, please refer to your university’s website.

If you want more information about the length of university terms, you’ll find this Think Student article useful.

Oxford and Cambridge University holiday list 2022/2023

Oxford and Cambridge, known together as ‘Oxbridge’, have different holidays to other universities. Their terms are usually a lot shorter, since a lot more work is packed into a short space of time. Although students do get more holiday than at other universities, they have a more intense workload, so it balances out!

Below, you can find a table of holidays for students at the University of Oxford:

Preceding term Holiday start Holiday end
Michaelmas (Winter) 3rd December 2022 15th January 2023
Hilary (Spring) 11th March 2023 23rd April 2023
Trinity (Summer) 17th June 2023 8th October 2023

While Oxford students don’t get specific Christmas and Easter breaks, student holidays always cover these periods. The university will often still celebrate these holidays during term time. For example, Oxford students celebrate “Oxmas” in late November, as the university’s version of Christmas celebrations.

For more about the University of Oxford’s holidays, check out this guide on their website.

Similarly, you can find a table of holidays for students at the University of Cambridge:

Preceding term Holiday start Holiday end
Michaelmas (Winter) 2nd December 2022 17th January 2023
Lent (Spring) 17th March 2023 25th April 2023
Easter (Summer) 16th June 2023 3rd October 2023

Cambridge students also get “Easter Day’, which for the 2022-2023 academic year falls on 9th April 2023. Like Oxford University, Cambridge does not celebrate Christmas holidays because this is included in winter term holidays. For more information about holidays at the University of Cambridge, check out this guide on their website.

Do universities have summer holidays?

As mentioned above, like primary and secondary schools, universities also get summer holidays. The summer holiday is the longest holiday of all university holidays and begins in mid-June. The summer holiday lasts until late September or even early October for some universities.

Summer holidays are a great opportunity to have fun after a year of hard work! For ideas on how to spend your summer, check out this Think Student article.

How long are university summer holidays in the UK?

As mentioned above, university summer holidays are from mid-June to late September. This means that they last approximately 2 to 3 months depending on which university you attend.

Universities tend to begin their summer holidays approximately a month before primary and secondary schools. They also tend to end their summer holidays approximately a month after primary and secondary schools.

Do universities get Christmas holidays?

Universities do not have a specific holiday designated to Christmas. The reason for this is that the winter term holiday covers Christmas day.

However, your university will most likely hold some festive celebrations during term. Meaning that you’ll still have opportunities to celebrate with your friends as well as your family!

Do universities have Easter holidays?

The short answer is, some universities have a specific day/week to celebrate Easter, and others don’t. The majority of UK universities will not celebrate Easter, because the spring term holiday encompasses Easter Sunday. For more on this, check out the above sections.

University campus sites may be closed on Easter Sunday. However, local churches and other places of celebration will generally hold events to celebrate!

Do universities have bank holidays?

Unlike primary and secondary schools, universities do not particularly close for bank holidays. You won’t be allowed an official day off on a bank holiday purely because it’s a bank holiday.

However, there may be some services unavailable on bank holidays. For example, some universities might suspend lectures for the day, but if you have a seminar, you may still be expected to attend it.

Also, some universities, such as the University of Southampton or the University of Nottingham, have closure days, which may coincide with bank holidays. You can find more about this on their respective websites here and here.

If you’re unsure of the difference between lectures, seminars and tutorials, I’d recommend checking out a Think Student article with more information here.

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