Research Buyouts and Sabbatical Accrual

In certain circumstances, the department will offer relief from teaching, examining and departmental administration duties to faculty whose time is paid for by research and fellowship grants.

As well as affecting their duties, there is also an impact on sabbatical accrual. The policy of the MPLS Division is that the purpose of sabbatical leave is to alleviate the burden of teaching, examining and administrative duties, in order that academic staff can focus on research. Sabbatical entitlement is accrued as a result of academic staff carrying out the normal teaching, examination and administrative duties of their role. Drawing on the entitlement accrued will then free the individual from those duties for the period of the sabbatical.

In normal circumstances, where academic staff are carrying out all of the normal duties of their role, they will accrue one terms sabbatical leave for every six terms of qualifying service. However, where an individual has been given relief from duties in order to pursue a research project(s) as outlined above, they will not accrue sabbatical credit at the same rate.

This document lays out the general policy, although in exceptional circumstances variations may be agreed with the Head of Department. The agreed accrual rate will be captured in the formal communication to the individual about relief of duties, issued once the research award has been made.

For clarity, nothing in this document applies to buyouts which arise from another source, for example due to undertaking some onerous university task.


There are three levels of relief of duties:

  • 25% - A member of staff can be offered relief from 8 hours of lectures in respect of an academic year in which 25% of their time is bought out by a grant, or grants. However, as lecture courses are usually delivered in sets of 16 hours, it is expected that such relief will normally be carried over to the second year, to give remission from one 16-hour lecture course in that year.

    Under this category there is no relief of duties connected with inter-collegiate classes, examining, administrative duties or college teaching.

    There will be full sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.
  • 50%- This covers 50% relief from all teaching (both lectures and classes), examining and administrative duties in the department.

    It is very difficult to quantify with any precision the amount of examining and administration work which each individual carries out. In practice, a key part of the 50% relief is that the individual will not be asked to take on any particularly onerous tasks such as being a Prelims or Part A examiner, or Chair of Examiners for Part B, Part C or OMMS.

    It will be required that they set and mark exams associated with any course they are lecturing, and continue to do other things such as being an assessor for Transfer of Status and Confirmation of Status, being an internal DPhil examiner, marking student projects, etc, but at a 50% level.

    There will be only 50% university sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.

    With some funders such as ERC, there is a possibility for APTFs to also obtain relief from 50% of the college teaching if allowed by the college, and subject to a suitable agreement with the college. In this case, since research project costings are based on the university salary and not on the combined university/college salary, the total buyout will typically be for 70% of university salary to cover the department’s cost in providing a postdoc or Hooke/Titchmarsh Fellow to carry out the teaching.

    Under this arrangement, there will still be only 50% university sabbatical accrual, and it will be up to the college to decide on the level of college sabbatical accrual.
  • 100% - This covers full relief from all teaching, examining and administrative duties in the department, as well as relief from college duties for APTFs, to the extent allowed by the college, and subject to a suitable agreement with the college.

    There will be no university sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.

If someone has multiple smaller research buyouts, then these can be combined, so that, for example, a combined 30% buyout would be treated like a single 25% buyout. At a higher level, if someone has 2 research grants each with 25% buyout, the default position would be entitlement to twice the level of 25% buyout, i.e. relief from 1 course per year but no relief from examining and administration, and therefore full sabbatical accrual. Properly costed variations to this could be proposed to the Head of Department, but they must be consistent with the principle that relief from examination and administration implies reduced sabbatical accrual.