School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Working away

About Fieldwork, Long Term Attachments (LTA) and Placements.

Doing research for your thesis while you are away from the Sussex campus is known as "Fieldwork" in general terms, or "Long Term Attachment" (LTA) for STFC-funded students including DISCnets, or a "Placement" for DISCnet students (and a limited number of other STFC students).

IF you will NOT be doing any research for your thesis while away, then you are not on Fieldwork.  You must Intermit ("temporary withdrawal") from your studies and any studentship from Sussex will not be paid.  To apply, use the "Intermission Request Form" on this page.

IF you are taking a short trip abroad for training, a conference, a seminar, a laboratory visit or similar event, you don't need Fieldwork and are on the wrong page.  Go to the Essential Insurance for Overseas Travel page

Rules about Fieldwork.
  • The University will not normally agree to you working off campus on Fieldwork until you have completed your first year Progression Review.
  • In total, you must spend at least half your minimum period of registration studying on campus.  For a full time PhD student, the minimum period of registration is two years, so you must be studying on campus for at least one year, although this need not be any specified year of study.
  • There is no minimum period of absence for Fieldwork.  It is any period of time away from campus when you will be undertaking research towards your PhD thesis.
BREXIT info for EEA & Swiss students taking Fieldwork/LTA/Placements outside the UK.

If you are an EU national, you should be aware that your eligibility for the EU settlement scheme may be affected if you are absent from the UK on Fieldwork, LTA or Placement.

There is additional information available here, from the MPS Director for Postgraduate Researchers.

The latest updated information will always be available on the Brexit Hub webpages.

ALL PhD STUDENTS.  What to do next.

There are three forms to complete.  You must obtain the required signatures.

It is IMPORTANT to allow time.  You should apply for Fieldwork status as soon as your dates are finalised with your host.  

You should also allow 2 weeks for Insurance to be set up, if needed (see the next section below).

  1. The “Fieldwork Application form".   Get this signed by your Supervisor and the Director for Postgraduate Researchers (Prof Sebastian Jaeger (P&A) or Dr Omar Lakkis (Maths)).  Be accurate about your departure and return dates.  This will ensure you're paid any supplement to your studentship (if due) on time, and any insurance set up for you will cover you for the right period.  Be aware that the MPS School office may need to re-allocate your desk/study space to another student while you're away.
  2. The “Fieldwork Risk Assessment Form”.  This is an ‘all purpose’ form for the whole university, so certain sections might not apply to you.  You should involve your supervisor in assessing the risk.  Even if you will not be engaged in risky activities while away, the university still needs to know that the risk has been evaluated.  There are two reference booklets at the bottom of this page if you need help.  The form must be signed by the Health & Safety Coordinator (currently Dr Cassandra Churchwell) - please obtain Cassandra's signature.  If you & your supervisor have assessed the risk as “High”, you must also get the form signed by the Head of School (Prof Peter Thomas).
  3. The "Pre-Departure Declaration Form" [ .pdf ] [ Word ].  Please read and sign this form.  This is for STFC/DISCnet students only who will be on Fieldwork/LTA outside the UK.  STFC require you carry out these checks before you leave.

Email all three forms to

It is important you check if you are insured for your Fieldwork/LTA.  See the section below.

If you are going to CERN . . . 

CERN provides accommodation for students.  Visits must start at dates they specify, and they operate on a three-month intake cycle.  Normally you must contact their Liaison Office at least 4 months in advance.  See the list of dates here

You will not be charged for accommodation at CERN.  CERN recovers the cost directly from your sponsor, whether STFC or Sussex.

You MUST apply for Sussex university insurance if you will be spending time at CERN.  See the Insurance section below.

Your Health while you are away.

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gets you state healthcare in the EU at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

You can get a GHIC/EHIC card if you normally live in the UK or if you normally live in the EU and have been issued with a UK S1 or A1 document.

The GHIC/EHIC gives you health cover while in an EU country, but you still need travel insurance and may need additional insurance if you are going to CERN (see below).

Note that GHIC/EHIC cards do not work in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

Read about GHIC and how to apply.  If you require a supporting letter for your GHIC application, contact the Research Support Team on sending us (1) the name and address of the institution where you will be working, (2) the start and end dates of your Fieldwork.

There are official NHS page on health insurance abroad and GHIC/EHIC eligibility  here:

and more specifically at:

Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing condition that requires regular medication you should contact your local GP surgery prior to departure and ensure you have a supply of essential medication for the duration of their stay. 

Likewise you may wish to arrange a check-up dentist appointments prior to departure.

If you are overseas, you may not be able to use the NHS or receive repeat prescriptions if you do not have a permanent UK address.  

Insurance for your Fieldwork/LTA.

Insurance for STFC-funded students on Long Term Attachment

STFC-Funded students are automatically insured by a policy held by STFC.  This is Health insurance cover while on LTA. The cover is provided by UnitedHealthcare Global (UHU). You will be automatically registered for the policy by STFC once you are registered for your LTA. Within 24hrs of registration you will be contacted directly by UHU with a virtual card and log in information for your policy. 

The Research Support Team in the School office will inform STFC of your departure and return dates, using the Fieldwork form (above) you have sent us.  If your dates change you must inform us or your insurance with STFC may be invalidated.

Insurance for students on LTA at CERN, however funded

You MUST apply for Sussex university insurance if you will be spending time at CERN.  Complete the University's Travel Insurance Application Form 

Insurance for STFC students taking a DISCnet Placement (not LTA) in the UK, and

Insurance for Students Not funded by STFC

Complete the University's Travel Insurance Application Form issued by the Sussex Insurance office. 

For medical/accident insurance while working at your host institution you must check with them.  All institutions should have insurance in place to cover their legal liability while you are under their local supervision.  Any agreement you sign with them should offer you adequate cover.  If you have concerns, you may send a copy of their agreement to Mrs Jo Rogers ( or in the Sussex University Insurance office who can offer advice.

Insurance for short-term travel

If you plan additional short trips outside the context of your LTA, e.g. for conferences, you must take out Sussex university insurance. See the Essential Insurance for Overseas Travel page. You will also be required to complete a risk assessment form and return it to the School office. This form can be found on the Travel Insurance page.

Returning / Returning early / Extending your stay.

When you Return

Inform the RSA Office ( and Research Support Team ( that you have returned to campus, and tell them if your address and contact details have changed.

If you want to extend your stay

Use the “Fieldwork Extension form” here.  Email it to

If you decide to return early

Inform the Research Support Team ( in good time.  We will try to accommodate you, but your desk/study space may have been allocated to another student.

Claiming your Expenses.

If you can, check that you are not claiming beyond the budget allocated to you. If you are on an STFC-funded LTA, the amounts you can claim in each category are specified by STFC but vary with the destination.  The Research Support Team will have informed you of your budget; contact them if you are unsure, on

You need not wait until you return to Sussex to claim your expenses.  Use the "Visitor and Student Expenses Claim Form" on this page

Send the completed form, with all supporting receipts, to the Research Support team (  Your costs will be refunded to your bank account.

Reference booklets.

University of Sussex Fieldwork policy  Guidance on Health & Safety in Fieldwork

 Updated: 16/01/2024