The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Changing Course or Suspending Your Studies

Changing Course

If you are unhappy with your course, it's worth talking with your tutor or another member of staff. They might be able to suggest ways to improve any issues. You could also talk things through with your course rep.  

If your wellbeing is being affected by your course, you can access support via the Student Wellbeing Service.  

If you think that changing course would be the best option, talk to your personal tutor. If you haven't decided what course you might want to change to, talk to the Careers Service.  

It is usually only possible to change course before the start of the academic year, up to the end of the second week of Teaching Block 1, or at the end of the academic year. Requests for transfers outside of those times are usually refused unless there are exceptional circumstances. Here are the University’s rules about switching between undergraduate courses. There is no automatic right to transfer between programmes.  

Once you are sure that you want to transfer, you will need to speak to the admissions tutor for the course you wish to transfer to. The faculty office will be able to tell you who this is. You will need to check:  

  • Whether there’s any space on the course you want to move to.
  • Whether you meet the entrance requirements.  
  • Whether you’re required to finish your current year of study before transferring. Sometimes an offer of a place is dependent on getting above a certain average for your current year’s study.  

You are likely to have to start your new course at the beginning of the first year as most courses have mandatory first year units. However, for some very similar courses it is sometimes possible to transfer directly into subsequent years.  

If you get agreement from both the course you are leaving and the course you wish to join, it is then just a matter of filling in a transfer form. The academic staff will either be able to provide you with the correct form directly, or they'll refer you to the school office for the form.  

There are also a few other things to consider:  

Finance: Changing course might affect your funding so please speak to the Student Funding Office before you transfer. Assuming you're covering your fees through Student Finance England, you should still have 3 years' funding to cover the new course but the  Student Funding team can give more detailed advice on this.  

International students: You should speak to Student Visa Services before requesting a transfer as you may be required to apply for a new visa. 

Accommodation: If you want information about getting out of your tenancy early, or other accommodation queries, contact the Accommodation Office.

Suspending Your Studies

If you need to take a break from your studies due to health or personal reasons, this is called suspending studies. This could be a good option if you need some time to recover from a health issue, for example. This page explains how the suspending studies works. If there is anything that you would like to discuss further, please get in touch with a Just Ask adviser.

What is suspending your studies?

A suspension of studies is defined in the regulations as ‘a formal introduction of a pause in a student’s studies during which they are not required to engage with their studies’. You can only suspend studies for up to 12 months during your course. However, it is possible to extend this in exceptional circumstances.  

You don’t have the automatic right to suspend studies. A suspension will only be agreed where there are good grounds and supporting evidence such as a doctor’s report.  

What is the process for suspending studies?

Firstly, you should discuss things with your personal or senior tutor. You will be able to explore all the options which might be available to you. Suspending studies might be the right option for you, or there might be another way forward that would suit you better.  

The next step would be to fill in a Request for Suspension of Studies form which you can ask for at your school office. Your tutor/senior tutor will need to sign it too. You may also need to provide medical evidence to show the reason why you wish to suspend.  

Once your request to suspend studies is processed, you should receive confirmation of this from your school office. If you do not receive this confirmation within a couple of weeks, it is a good idea to chase it up.

Returning to study

When you suspend, you will be told what criteria you’ll need to meet to be able to return to study. It’s likely that you will need to provide proof that you're ready to return. This could be a letter from your doctor or counsellor.  

The timing of your return may also depend on factors such as when particular units are running. You should think about your return carefully and discuss it with academic staff. You will still need to pass all your assessments before you can progress on your course.  

If you have a disability, it's good to stay in touch with Disability Services so that any disability adjustments you need are in place ready for your return to study. 

Money matters

Suspending your studies is likely to have an impact on your finances. If you suspend part way through a term you may need to repay some of your student funding for that term. The Student Funding Office can provide detailed advice on this.  

If you are exempt from Council Tax you should retain your exemption as you will remain registered as a student. It's worth double checking this with the Student Funding Office.  

If you are no longer studying full time, you are likely to be entitled to welfare benefits. What you may be entitled to depends on your situation. Detailed benefits advice is available from Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau.

It is possible to access the Careers Service while you are suspended from study, and for up to 3 years after leaving the University of Bristol. They can give advice about finding work during your period of suspension.


If you are living in University managed accommodation and you leave University for health reasons, you can be released early from your rental contract. You will need to complete an Intention to Leave form which is available from the Accommodation Office. You will still be liable for rent up to the date that you complete the form or the date that you physically leave your accommodation, whichever is later. If you leave University for reasons other than health, you will remain liable for rent for two weeks from the date you submit your Intention to Leave form.  

If you are living in private rented accommodation, you are likely to have signed a tenancy agreement taking you up to the end of the academic year. If you want to leave this accommodation before the end of the contract, you should seek specialist advice from the private sector adviser at the Accommodation Office.  

If you've already signed a housing contract for the next academic year and you decide that you don’t want to be in Bristol, you may be able to get the contract amended before it starts if you can find someone to take your place in the house. Again, the Accommodation Office can advise further on this. 

Access to University services

While you are on suspension you are not expected to engage in your studies at all. After your suspension is processed (usually 2-3 weeks after submitting the form), you will lose access to Blackboard, the library, etc. as you will lose your student status.  

If you suspend studies, you will not be entitled to one-to-one counselling sessions or closed groups at the Student Counselling Service but you will still be able to access supported self-help sessions and open groups.  

As long as you remain living in the catchment area, you will be able to remain registered with the Student Health Service.