During your time at University you might experience personal circumstances such as illness or bereavement, which may disrupt your ability to study or affect your performance in an assessment or an examination. These are referred to as 'extenuating circumstances' and should be reported to your Academic School as soon as they arise and before the School deadline.
This guidance is for Undergraduate and Post graduate taught programmes. If you are a Post Graduate research student and have circumstances that are effecting your study then the Adjustment of Study procedure is there to help you.
Where extenuating circumstances are accepted there are a range of remedies that can be offered, such as an extension for submission of coursework, a deferred or additional attempt at an examination or assessment which may not be capped at the pass mark depending on whether this is a 1st ,2nd ,or 3rd attempt. Modules effected may also be discounted from your overall degree classification within specified limits.
What are extenuating circumstances?
The University defines extenuating circumstances as those that are:
- severe and exceptional; and
- unforeseen or unavoidable; and
- close in time to the Assessment, or where the student can demonstrate that the circumstances continued to have an impact on their academic performance in the Assessment.
Such circumstances may be considered to have had an adverse impact on the student's academic performance in assessment and/or have prevented a student from submitting a Coursework assessment and/or attending a scheduled exam or class test.
The rules that govern the operation of extenuating circumstances can be found in the Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Procedure
What circumstances are likely to be accepted?
Student Advice would encourage you to report any circumstances that you believe have impacted negatively on your performance in an Assessment or Examination. Any information submitted will remain confidential, where possible, and will be considered with due sensitivity.
The list below illustrates the kind of circumstances that may affect your performance. The list is not exhaustive and other circumstances may arise that will have a significant impact on a student's performance.
- Serious short-term illness or accident
- Bereavement - for example the death of a close relative or friend, partner or significant other;
- Evidence of a long-term health condition or disability that has worsened or changed, and which is not covered by existing reasonable adjustments;
- Significant adverse personal/family circumstances;
- Being a victim of a serious crime such as sexual assault, discrimination, assault, burglary etc.;
- Severe financial or exceptional technical issues;
- Disability which has only just been identified, and where it has not been possible to put reasonable adjustments in place in time for the assessment;
- You are a carer for a person who experiences a change in their condition and subsequently their requirements and your responsibilities as a carer change;
- Students who are studying part-time and working may request extension of a deadline on the grounds of exceptional professional commitments.
Please note: The University will always consider other extenuating circumstances where you can show significant impact on your performance in assessments.
What circumstances are unlikely to be accepted?
These are examples of circumstances which the University say are less likely to be accepted in isolation. This list is not exhaustive:
- A statement of a medical condition (exceeding 7 days) without medical supporting evidence;
- Medical circumstances outside of the relevant assessment period;
- Where reasonable adjustments have already been put in place for you;
- Minor illnesses (that would not cause you to take time away from study);
- IT, printing, or computer problems;
- Holidays, weddings or other family-related events;
- Paid employment or other financial issues;
- Attendance at sporting or other extra-curricular events;
- Where the event/circumstances reported were foreseeable or able to be anticipated;
- Assessment-related stress which is not diagnosed as an illness or documented in your Individual Support Adjustment Notification (ISAN).
Will my circumstances be treated as confidential?
The Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Procedure very clear that completed Extenuating Circumstances Forms and evidence will be kept confidential and will be treated as sensitive personal data. The form and supporting information will be shared only with appropriate University staff. This may include your personal tutor and authorised members of the Extenuating Circumstances Group, to allow formal consideration of the impact of the circumstances on your academic performance.
If you disclose a disability or long-term health condition your details may be passed to onto the Student Support and Wellbeing team so they can offer you ongoing support
Will extenuating circumstances affect Fitness to Practise?
If you are studying a programme leading to a 'professional accreditation', such as Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine, Social Work (etc.) and you are subject to Fitness to Practise rules, submitting extenuating circumstances may give your academic school cause to consider your Fitness to Practise and/or refer you to Occupational Health for assessment. Talk to Student Advice in confidence if you are concerned.
How to report extentuating circumstances
The remedies and the process depend on when you apply for Extenuating Circumstances and your specific circumstances.
Applying before an assessment or examination
The University permits you to self-certify non-submission of coursework, or absence from practical assessments or formal examinations.
You must apply before the assessment deadline or examination. You will not need to provide evidence to support the application.
If you are not able to attend an examination or submit an assessment by the deadline you must telephone your School Office in advance to notify them of your circumstances
You may Self-Certificate if:
- the circumstances have had an effect for a period not in excess of 7 days; and
- you have not self-certified circumstances previously this academic year on more than one occasion;
Self-certification may be used for a period of up 7 days. Self-certification is available for only two periods in an academic year. There must be at least 14 days between periods of self-certification.
If you attend an examination and become ill during the course of the examination, you cannot self-certify and you will must provide medical or independent evidence of the illness. This could include a medical certificate or other appropriate independent evidence.
If your Extenuating Circumstances are accepted you will be offered either;
- Take the assessment at the next opportunity as a 1st attempt which will be uncapped or a 2nd or 3rd attempt.
- Be granted an extension on a coursework submission deadline.
Applying after the assessment deadline or examination and other circumstances
You must provide evidence to support your application if:
- You are applying after the submission of an assessment/exam date or if you have attended an examination or other assessment; or
- you have self-certified previously for two periods this academic year; or
- the circumstances have had an impact for a period more than 7 days in duration.
You must provide independent evidence of your circumstances. If evidence is not immediately available you should submit the form by the deadline, specify the type of evidence (e.g. GP report) and state when you will be providing it.
You must submit Extenuating Circumstances for each assessment period. If your circumstances change or worsen, you will need to complete another form with evidence for each assessment period affected including the re-sit period or if an extension request is not sufficient.
You need to submit the form at no later than the Extenuating Circumstances deadline for your School. The deadlines vary from School to School and should be detailed in your Student Handbook but if you cannot find the information there you can speak to your School office and ask them.
If you have just missed the deadline, we would advise you to submit the extenuating circumstances form anyway, but if the academic schools reject them you will have to wait for your formal results and submit an academic appeal, which means that you would also have to provide a very good reason why you did not report the circumstances on time.
If your Extenuating Circumstances are accepted you will be offered a range of remedies which include:
- Repeating a failed examination or assessment as an uncapped 1st attempt (or 2nd or 3rd attempt depending on your level of study and programme requirements) at the next opportunity.
- If you pass the assessment then the module may be eligible for discounting from your degree classification.
- Students with a Protected Characteristic may be offered to opportunity to repeat a passed assessment with a view to improving their mark.
How to fill in your application
To apply you’ll need to submit the Extenuating Circumstances form, with appropriate evidence.
When writing your form, we would encourage you to understand the definition of extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances are defined as:
- Severe and exceptional; and
- Unforeseen or unavoidable; and
- Close in time to the assessment.
It is important to demonstrate, within your submission, how your particular circumstances 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, it may be useful to follow the structure:
- Outline what the issues are and when they started;
- Outline how the circumstances have affected you (emotionally, physically and otherwise);
- Outline how this has affected your academic performance, and;
- State if you want an assessment remedy or extension request.
In terms of evidence (when not self-certifying) the University gives the following guidance;
The evidence should be on headed paper, signed and dated and be from a recognised authority. It must be in English or Welsh or translated and authenticated by an official translator.
Examples of evidence that is likely to be accepted include;
- GP/medical letter, if circumstances exceed a 7-day period or are for more than two 7-day periods annually;
- A death certificate, order of service, or obituary;
- A statement from a support service if you are known to them and have engaged with support services before the event. Staff will not be able to provide evidence for you if they do not have any prior knowledge of your general situation;
- A letter from a relevant third party, e.g. a police report, solicitor, social worker etc.
If you do not have the type of evidence listed then please contact Student Advice.
What happens after you have submitted the Extenuating Circumstances form
If you are applying before the deadline or examination the Chair of the Extenuating Circumstances group or nominated School Professional Services Officer will decide;
- Reject any requests that are submitted without evidence, except self-certification requests which are submitted in advance of assessments/examinations;
- If extenuating circumstances are accepted, allow an extension to a submission of coursework deadline, in sufficient time for the work to be marked prior to the meeting of the relevant Examining Board;
- If extenuating circumstances are accepted, recommend to the Chair of the Examining Board that a supplementary/new assessment is set and completed before the date of the relevant Examining Board;
- Refer requests that require further consideration to the Extenuating Circumstances Group.
The Chair will inform you of the decision to allow an extension or undertake a supplementary assessment within 7 days of the request being received.
All other applications will be considered by the Extenuating Circumstances group. The group will meet throughout the year. You should be notified of the decision of the group within 14 days. This is likely to be that your circumstances have been either accepted or rejected. The exam board will decide on the remedy when it meets which in most cases is at the end of the academic year.
A table that outlines the type of remedy that might be applied and when can be found on page 12 and 13 of the Extenuating Circumstance Policy and Procedure.
In addition, A maximum of 1/6th of the total taught credits, year of Experiential/Professional Learning, or a year of study abroad, which contribute to the final award can be discounted.
Some extenuating circumstances relate to Protected Characteristic listed in the Equality Act 2010; in these cases other remedies may be available.
If your school rejects your extenuating circumstances submission, your only option will be to refer to the Academic Appeal Procedure, within 28 days of receiving your results transcript. If appealing with extenuating circumstances, the Appeal Procedure will require you to explain why you think the decision of the School was unreasonable.
If you have personal circumstances that are affecting your studies over a long period of time then you should seek advice from Student Support about putting adjustments in place to help you study. You may also wish to take an interruption of study. The University expects students to manage their health and wellbeing and access support.
Where should I submit the extenuating circumstances form?
The above information was last updated on 24th October 2019