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.
Where extenuating circumstances are accepted there are a range of remedies that can be offered, such as an extention for submission of coursework, an additional attempt at an examination without being capped at the pass mark, or the discounting of affected marks from your overall degree classification.
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 Assessment.
The rules that govern the operation of extenuating circumstances start on page 128 of the Academic Regulations 2017/18.
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 worsening or a change in symptoms;
- Significant adverse personal/family circumstances;
- Being a victim of a serious crime;
- Disability or impairment where it has not been possible to put required adjustments in place.
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:
- Statement of a medical condition without reasonable evidence (medical or otherwise) to support it;
- Medical circumstances that occur outside the relevant assessment or learning period for which appropriate adjustments have already been made (e.g. extensions, specific provision);
- Minor illnesses or ailments which should not reasonably disrupt your ability to work;
- Long-term health conditions for which the student is already receiving reasonable and appropriate adjustments to assessments;
- Some computer, printing or other IT-related problems;
- Poor time management;
- Holidays, weddings or other family-related events;
- Paid employment;
- Attendance at, or participation in, sporting, musical or other events;
Please note: if your circumstances appear in this list but you feel they have seriously affected your academic performance then you should still report them to your School.
Will my circumstances be treated as confidential?
The academic regulations are very clear that completed Extenuating Circumstances Forms and evidence will be kept confidential and will be treated as sensitive personal data in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. The form and supporting information will be shared only with appropriate University staff. This will include your personal tutor and authorised members of the Examing Board / Extenuating Circumstances Group, to allow formal consideration of the impact of the circumstances on the student's academic performance.
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. Talk to Student Advice in confidence if you are concerned.
How to report extentuating circumstances
You must report any extenuating circumstances at the earliest opportunity, preferably this would be before your asessment or examination and before the individual school deadline. If the remedy you are requesting is an extension ensure you continue to work to the original assessment deadline until you have been granted an extension. Each Academic School sets deadlines for reporting extenuating circumstances, please contact your school office for information about their deadlines.
1. Download and complete the extenuating circumstances form.
You must fully complete the extenuating circumstances form including:
- details and dates of the extenuating circumstances
- how the circumstances have affected your performance
- the assessments and/or examinations which have been affected (including module codes)
- evidence which supports your circumstances
All extenuating circumstances information will be dealt with confidentially, ensuring that only staff directly involved in the process have access to the information.
Chemistry students please note that the School of Chemistry uses an online system, linked at the bottom of this page.
2. Provide written evidence which supports your circumstances.
Examples of commonly accepted forms of evidence:
- Medical/health certificate which confirms illness for a defined period;
- Photocopy of a death certificate;
- Letter of support/explanation from a support service at the University, for example, the Disability and Dyslexia Service or Counselling and Wellbeing Service of Student Support.
- Letter of support/explanation from a third party (such as a police report, local authority report or counsellor's letter, etc);
Such supporting evidence must be submitted on documentation that is recognisably authentic (e.g. on headed paper) and be signed and dated by the relevant authority. It must be unaltered and not annotated by you. Translated evidence should similarly be authentic amd can normally be obtained from the facility issuing the certificate (e.g. hospital, offical body). The University usually only accepts official translations.
Examples of evidence which are unlikely to be accepted in isolation:
- Evidence of a medical condition which a doctor did not see/diagnose;
- A letter from a parent, partner or family member verifying circumstances where there is no other independent supporting evidence.
Your School may ask for more evidence to support or clarify your case. If you do not have the evidence, you must report your circumstances and include on the form when you will be able to provide the evidence.
3. Send the documents to your School Office before any set deadlines.
You must report your extenuating circumstances to your School Office as soon as they arise and before the School deadline. You should create a copy of the form and evidence for your personal record.  and Student Advice would advise you to obtain proof that your forms have been received by the School, when you submit them.
You can submit your forms and supporting evidence in the following ways:
- In person - by handing the documents to your School Office, requesting a stamp to confirm delivery.
- By post - send the documents via recorded post, keeping a receipt of postage for your records.
- By email - attaching the form and supporting evidence to an email and sending to School Office email address (at the bottom of this page) from your University (@cardiff) email address, or the personal email address you have registered with SIMS.
After you have completed the relevant procedure and if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision on your appeal then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
Circumstances related to a Disability, Mental Health Problem or 'Protected Characteristic'?
Students who have extenuating circumstances related to a protected characteristic, for example, a disability, should be aware that the University will treat their extenuating cirucmstances differently. There is for example, a greater range of remedies available to students who have been negatively impacted by virtue of their protected characteristic.
Protected Characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, are characteristics related to:
- Long Term Mental Health Problems
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sex (gender)
- Sexual orientation
Students who have a disability may be eligible for a whole draft of different support options, including the possibility of having Specific Provision and 'reasonable adjustments' for assessments, such as extra time in examinations. Where students have received this support from the University, they cannot typically then use the Extenuating Circumstances Procedure. They can however still use the Extentuating Circumstances Procedure where:
- It has not been possible to put reasonable adjustments in place in time for the assessment, or where the adjustments have not been effective;
- A student has a fluctuating condition which suddenly worsens, such as depression or arthritis
- A student's condition involves suddent episodes of symptoms, such as seizures or migraines
Where a student submits a successful extenuating circumstances claim on the basis of Protected Characteristics, a range of additional remedies are available to the Extenuating Circumstances Group or Exam Board. Students can, for example, resit examinations as a first attempt (without a cap) even if they have passed.
If you believe you have extenuating circumstances that can be linked to a protected characteristic then you need to include this information when you report your extenuating circumstances by completing section 4b of the form. Where available you should provide evidence to demonstrate the link.
The Extenuating Circumstances Group will not take this information into account if you do not complete this section of the form as they will not assume you fall within a protected characteristic.
If you are unsure whether your circumstances would link to a protected characteristic, please seek advice from Student Advice.
What if I submit extenuating circumstances late?
Student Advice would always encourage you to try and submit extenuating circumstances, even if this is just on or just after your school deadline. The longer you wait, the more it will look like you're being opportunistic. If you wait until you get your results before reporting extenuating circumstances it will very likely be too late.
If your school rejects your extenuating circumstances submission for being too late, 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 good reason as to why you did not submit the extenuating circumstances by the Academic School Deadline.
What if I can't get the evidence quickly enough?
Student Advice would encourage you to submit your completed extenuating circumstances form and all associated evidence as soon as possible. If the submission of your form is likely to be delayed by the sourcing of evidence - especially if you may miss the Academic School deadline - we would encourage you to submit the form and explain that the evidence will follow shortly. Sometimes it can take a little while to get a doctors appointment and where this is the case, for example, have a conversation with your Academic School Office, submit the main form on time and follow up as quickly as possible with any outstanding evidence.
Is evidence in a foreign language okay?
Completed forms, together with supporting evidence, must be in either English or Welsh. Where necessary, students should arrange for information in other languages to be translated. The University requires an 'offical translation' service to be used and will usually require the translation company to use a stamp as a mark of accreditation/quality.
What happens after you submit your form?
Your Academic School will consider your form and evidence at an Extenuating Circumstances Group. The group is made up of a small number of staff and all personal information is handled sensitively and in confidence.
Each application will be considered on an individual basis against the extenuating circumstances criteria, taking into account:
- the circumstances you have outlined
- the supporting evidence you have provided
- any specific programme or professional body requirements.
The group will make a decision to accept or reject your extenuating circumstances application and inform the Examining Board, who will then apply an appropriate remedy.
What remedies are available?
If your extenuating circumstances are accepted, the usual remedy is either:
- A deadline extension;
- a further attempt at your assessment if you failed
- your module is eligible for discounting at the final classification stage if you pass your module
In exceptional circumstances where the Head of School believes that discounting affected modules (within the permitted limits) is an insufficient remedy, other remedies may also be available for final year students.
Some extenuating circumstances relate to Protected Characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010; in these cases other remedies may be available.
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.
What if I am unhappy with the decision?
After you have completed the relevant procedure and if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision on your appeal then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. We should suggest speaking to an adviser in the Student Advice department before pursuing this option.
Where should I submit the extenuating circumstances form?
The below information was last updated on 25th January 2018.