Extenuating Circumstances

The University’s message at the moment is that Examining Boards will be made aware of the changes made to your Programme because of the pandemic and the impact it may have in general. This means they will not accept the changes made to your course, such as resources and teaching moving online, as Extenuating Circumstances.

The University are now very clear that, if you choose to sit/submit an assessment, you are declaring yourself as fit to do so. The only exception to this is where you attempt an assessment and are subsequently impacted by circumstances that relate to caring responsibilities or a protected characteristic. The University has advised that the caring responsibilities they will consider extends to caring for children.

If you choose to sit/submit an assessment and circumstances subsequently arise that relate to a protected characteristic or caring responsibilities, you can report Extenuating Circumstances, even though you have attempted the assessment.

If your circumstances do not relate to a protected characteristic or caring responsibilities, the University are giving you two options:

  1. To continue submitting/sitting assessments. The University’s policy states that choosing this option means you are declaring yourself fit to sit and you will not have any Extenuating Circumstances accepted. This means that Extenuating Circumstances will not be accepted (unless they relate to a protected characteristic or caring responsibilities). 

    If you do submit/sit assessments and these are impacted by Extenuating Circumstances, we strongly advise you to report using the process below, regardless of University guidance. The Examining Board may not be able to offer any remedy if you pass the assessment but your report may be helpful if you need to appeal later. 

    If you fail the assessment, the University’s Safety Net Policy means that the Examining Board can disregard this attempt and offer you another 1st attempt (or 2nd/3rd depending on what attempt you were on). If you pass, you will not be allowed to re-sit, even if you did not do as well as you were hoping to.

  2. Not to submit/sit and to report Extenuating Circumstances before the deadline. If you choose this option and your Extenuating Circumstances are accepted, the University are now saying they will offer you:

  • An extension - For coursework, you will initially be offered a two week extension to your submission deadline wherever possible. If you are given an extension, that will be deemed as the remedy. If your circumstances continue or worsen so that you are unable to submit by the extended deadline, you should be offered another remedy as below. If you choose to submit at the extended deadline, you will be seen by the University as declaring yourself well enough to do so as above.
  • Other Remedies - For non-attendance at exams, where an extension is not possible, and/or where you are unable to submit by the extended deadline, you will receive a zero mark. The Examining Board can disregard the assessment(s) you have failed and allow you another 1st, 2nd or 3rd attempt (depending on what attempt you were on).

Although these are the only options currently offered by the University, we still strongly advise you to report Extenuating Circumstances for assessments you do submit if you feel that they were impacted. The University are very clear at the moment that they will not accept Extenuating Circumstances for assessments you do sit/submit, unless they relate to a protected characteristic or caring responsibilities, but that decision may be open to challenge in certain circumstances.

How to Report Extenuating Circumstances

The University’s rules state that you must use the Extenuating Circumstances reporting form through your SIMS online account. You must submit a new Extenuating Circumstances form for each assessment period.

It is essential that you explain how your circumstances meet the University’s definition of being

  • severe and exceptional; and
  • unforeseen or unavoidable; and
  • close in time to the Assessment, or demonstrate that the circumstances continued to have an impact on your academic performance in the assessment.

If the University decide that your circumstances do not meet this criteria, they will be rejected.

When writing your form, it is important to explain how your particular circumstances meet the definition above and how they have prevented you from engaging in your course. You will need to explain not only what has happened but also when it happened, when your assessments took place and spell out the effect it had on you and your ability to study as normal, e.g. lost study time, difficulty concentrating and/or retaining information.

When explaining your circumstances, Student Advice recommend the following structure:

  • Explain what the issues are, when they started and if they are ongoing;
  • Explain how the circumstances have affected you (emotionally, physically and otherwise);
  • Explain exactly how this has affected your academic performance.


The University is currently permitting you to self-certify for non-submission of coursework or non-attendance at exams. This means that you are not required to provide evidence but, if you do have evidence, we strongly advise you to keep it safe just in case you are asked to submit it later. You should also explain in your application what evidence you have.

Ongoing Circumstances

If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies over a long period of time, we recommend that you seek advice from The Disability and Dyslexia Service, who may be able to put adjustments in place to help you study. For ongoing mental health issues, you can speak to the University’s Mental Health Advisers. Disability and Mental Health Advisers can support you and liaise with your academic school to ensure you receive any special provision that might help you. You could also get special provision in exams, such as breaks or extra time.

You might feel that you would benefit from contacting the Counselling and Wellbeing service. They offer of a range of ways to support you during your studies: one-to-one counselling and wellbeing appointments, a drop-in service, interactive workshops, groups and self-help resources. We are awaiting clarification from them as to how their service will operate going forward.

You may also wish to take an Interruption of Study. If you would like more information on how to do so, please contact Student Advice.

Contact Student Advice

+44 (0)2920 781410