Other subjects would be taught online at the start of term, with students back between January 25 and February 7, according to the Department for Education (DfE) guidance.
Coronavirus tests should be offered to all students when they return to campus in the new year to help isolate those who are asymptomatic.
The guidance has been published hours before the start of the "travel window" in England - where students can return to their families for Christmas.
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Many universities are rolling out mass asymptomatic coronavirus testing this week in a bid to get students home safely ahead of the festive break.
The DfE has now said all students should be offered Covid-19 asymptomatic tests when they return to university in the new year.
All universities will be offered testing facilities to give students two rapid lateral flow tests, three days apart, to control the spread of the virus.
Students should restrict contact in the period between their tests - and if they receive a positive test they will have to self-isolate in their accommodation, the DfE said.
Those who have spent the winter break in Tier 3 areas where mass community testing is on offer should take a test before travelling back to university if possible, the guidance states.
The Government has also announced a one-off fund of up to Â£20 million to help students most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances.
The guidance says: "While we are confident that the face-to-face teaching element of blended learning can be done in Covid-secure environments, the mass movement of students across the country poses a greater risk for the transmission of infection between area
Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work