How easy is it to go part time from full time?


Hi there,

Really struggling with the PhD at the moment and I am suffering from depression. I am finding the work load too much along with the depressive thoughts and am starting to feel I can't cope any more.
I am aware that my state of mind is affecting things heavily, and from past experience know that if I don't take a step back I am in danger of jacking everything in.

Does anyone know how easy it would be to go part time? The GP solution is to have medication but that affects my ability to think and while would help me feel less suicidal will hinder my ability to work.

Has anybody changed from full time to part time? I am funded but I think my funding is allowed for part-time. Is it easy to go back to full time again once I get through this patch? I am only 6 months in so don't want to add years to complete my PhD if possible.

I am aware if I get a sick note for time off I am likely to not go back, so really would like to slow down the pace while I get my head back in gear. I am also not sure how beneficial taking myself away completely from the study would be as I would feel further behind than I do already.
My local GPs haven't been very supportive in the past so I am not sure what written evidence they would give other than the usual 'here is a prescription'.

I am grateful for any advice and tips. Thanks in advance.


First of all Waddett, please get help to get you through this very, very difficult period. That must be your priority. Please see your GP ASAP and make an appointment with the counselling service at your university first thing tomorrow morning. It will do you no harm but could do you a lot of good...

Find out for sure the situation as regards funding (phone the funders or ask those who awarded the funding) and talk things through with your supervisors. It is possible, that I can tell you.

Take good care of yourself and please do get some help to get you through this time.


I hope you're feeling a bit better today but please make an urgent appointment with the counselling service at your university, find out about the consequences for funding (to put you mind at rest). I honestly feel going from full-time to part-time is just some admin (but I'm not sure about the funding side of things).

Please let us know how you get on.


Thanks Delta. Have emailed the uni mental health department. So now waiting to hear from them.

Fortunately (if it can be considered fortunate) I have suffered from depression for many years and know the symptoms.
Also have been hospitalised in the past which is why I am trying to get things sorted before I get that bad.
I know cognitive behavioural therapy works with me - which is why I am looking at trying to find the time to incorporate activities which help me control my thoughts without getting further behind on the PhD.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

Delta has spoken some good sense and contacting the Uni. mental health department / counselling is the way to go.

Most Universities have the option to go from full time to part time, so this should not be a problem. There's be some admin, but from the above that is clearly the best option for you. I understand your remark that you feel if you stop, you'll never get going again.

As regards the admin, you need to ask for something called a 'Change of Mode' / 'Change of Study Mode' form to be filled in, which depending upon your University has to be filled in by both you and your primary supervisor, to be later approved by the head of the research committee. At my former Uni. this was a two page form that with other relevant documentation was downloadable from the Uni. website.

Fingers crossed you get through this difficult period and in just a few years time you post on here to say you've passed viva and got your PhD.

All the best,

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


I'm glad to hear you contacted them Waddett. Have you tried Mood Gym? I've heard great things about it. It's free and online, I think, but people do talk about it postively. Google it and try it.

Please let us know how you get on.


Hi Just wanted to offer some support, I went from full to part time half way through my second year because of poor health. Although the financial side of things were hard it really was the best thing to do and your health really it the most important thing. Also I found once the pressure was eased a little I felt more able to commit to the PhD. Get all the support you can , maybe disability unit can help as sounds if this is something which has happened before. All good wishes Redriding hood


I also went from full-time to part-time due to various life situations. I was funded and the funding just changed to pro-rata. It did mean that I had to get a part-time job as well to make up the money, but there was no limit on this unlike when you are full-time.
I'm hoping to submit in July this year and it has been a real struggle trying to balance everything. In some ways I wish I had stayed full-time and just got it done, but because of all the stuff that was going on I probably would not have found the time to work on it.
One thing that was made clear to me was that once you have changed from full to part-time you cannot then go back. This was with the AHRC so it's important to check what your funders say on this one. If you were hoping to go back full-time, maybe taking time out would be the best option. You don't have to actually stop working and could so things at your own pace until you started back again. However, this would mean that the money would stop.

I agree with the others though that your physical and mental health is the priority. I have had university counselling and it helped me work through things and then decide what was the best way forward.
Good luck.


Hi Waddett,
I am in the same position as you and am taking a few months out. The university has so far been supportive, I don't think it's unusual for students to take time out/move to part-time. I've not been asked to produce a GPs note but the university mental health advisor has been able to help. Hope you get it all sorted.


Hi Waddett,

Was wondering how you were?

Hope you're going well.