How to Write Your Appeal

The Appeals Procedure is your opportunity to challenge the decision made by the Examining Board. It is essential that you clearly explain how you have an arguable case under one or more of the permitted grounds. If you do not show how your case fits under one of the three grounds above, your appeal will be rejected.

Arithmetical error or other error of fact

This ground is usually easy to explain, e.g. your assessment marks added up to a total of 55% but your module mark states 50%, or your feedback states that you did not include graphs when you did. You cannot ask for your paper to be re-marked but you can explain that you are concerned that the marks may not have been added up correctly. Be careful not to sound like you are challenging academic judgment or your appeal may be rejected.

Irregularity in the conduct of the assessment

You must explain:

  • what the irregularity was in the conduct of the assessment and/or in the written instructions or advice relating to the assessment you are appealing; and
  • how it had an adverse effect on the outcome of the assessment; and
  • if known to the Examining Board, why their decision was unreasonable. If you do not know whether the Examining Board was aware of the irregularity or not, you can say this in your appeal and still explain why their decision would have been unreasonable if they did.

Extenuating Circumstances

For appeals on this ground you will need to address two points:

1. The first section asks you to outline your extenuating circumstances and how they have impacted you in the assessments you are appealing. This means you need to

  • Explain your circumstances and explain how they meet the University’s definition of being severe and exceptional and unavoidable or unforeseen; and
  • Explain the chronology of your circumstances and include any key dates. If the circumstances were not close in time to the assessments you are appealing, you must explain how the circumstances continued to have an impact on your academic performance; and
  • Spell out exactly how the circumstances affected your ability to study and perform at your usual level. Did you lose time? Were you unable to concentrate or retain information? It is risky to leave it to the reader of your appeal to infer the impact of your circumstances when they have no previous knowledge of you or your case.

2. The next section asks if you reported your circumstances on an Extenuating Circumstances Form to the Examining Board by the School deadline.

  • If yes, you must then explain whether the circumstances were accepted or rejected. If accepted, you must explain why the subsequent action taken by the Examining Board was unreasonable. If rejected, you must explain why the decision to reject was unreasonable.
  • If no, you must provide good reason why you could not have reported your circumstances on time. From our experience, this is where most appeals fail: If the reason you give is not deemed good enough, your appeal will be rejected and your circumstances will not be considered. It is really important to think about what you write here and how you explain your reason. The University is not asking why you ‘did not’ report but why you ‘could not’.

Make sure when you are writing your appeal that it is clear and easy to read and that you stick to the relevant points. Structure it so that each point is in a separate paragraph and link to the relevant evidence. It is up to you to explain how you have an arguable case under one or more of the permitted grounds. Don’t risk your points being lost in emotion or amongst too much irrelevant detail.

Tips for Writing Your Appeal

The majority of academic appeals are unfortunately not successful. Common mistakes include:

•    Failure to address key points;
•    Failure to identify sound arguments;
•    Insufficient evidence;
•    Irrelevant evidence;
•    Proliferation of weak arguments;
•    Poor writing skills;
•    Wrong tone (e.g. aggressive or accusatory);
•    Appeal statement is too short;
•    Appeal statement is too long, and;
•    Appeal statement lacks structure.

We would encourage you to read the attached ‘Writing a Winning Student Appeal’ handout written by experts in academic appeals.

Other External Guidance

The OIA has a range of case studies available if you would like to look for similar cases to yours and cite them as precedent in your argument (you do not have to do this): 

https://www.oiahe.org.uk/resources-and-publications/case-summaries/

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jan/08/advice-for-students-students

https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/academic/appeals/tips-for-writing-an-appeal-letter/

https://www.inscriptic.com/resources/documents/1-how-to-write-a-successful-academic-appeal-letter

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter/letter-appealing-a-degree-or-module-result

Contact Student Advice

Advice@cardiff.ac.uk
+44 (0)2920 781410

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