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Extenuating Circumstances

If circumstances outside your control are impacting on your ability to study or complete assessments to your usual ability, you can let the University know by reporting Extenuating Circumstances. Very importantly, if you have extenuating circumstances, the University expects you to report them straight away, unless you have good reason for not doing so.

What are Extenuating Circumstances?

An extenuating circumstance is something that either adversely affects, or prevents you from attending or completing your assessment(s), is usually outside of your control, and happens close in time to your assessment(s) (or where you can show has had a continued detrimental impact).

The University define Extenuating Circumstances as:

  • severe and exceptional, and
  • unforeseen or unavoidable, and
  • close in time to the assessment, or where you can demonstrate that the circumstances would continue to have an impact on your academic performance in the assessment.

Examples of circumstances that are likely to be considered extenuating by the University include, though are not limited to:

  • Serious short-term illness or an accident;
  • Bereavement, i.e. the death of a close relative or friend, partner, or significant other person;
  • Significant adverse personal or family circumstances;
  • Being a victim of a serious crime such as sexual assault, discrimination, assault, burglary etc.;
  • Severe financial or exceptional technical issues;
  • Evidence of a long-term health condition or disability that has worsened or changed, and which is not covered by existing reasonable adjustments;
  • 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.

Additionally, students who are studying part-time and working may request extension of a deadline on the grounds of exceptional professional commitments.

When to report

  • Coursework For coursework you are unable to submit due to extenuating circumstances, you must submit your extenuating circumstances declaration before your coursework submission deadline.
  • Postgraduate taught Master's dissertation If you are unable to submit your dissertation due to extenuating circumstances, you must submit your extenuating circumstances declaration before the submission deadline.
  • Exams or time-limited assessments For exams you are unable to attend because of extenuating circumstances, you must submit your extenuating circumstances declaration no later than 24 hours from the start of the exam.
  • Exams started but not completed due to becoming unwell If you become ill or experience technical difficulties during an exam, or equivalent time-limited assessment, you must contact your School immediately to inform them of the circumstances. You must submit a declaration of extenuating circumstances by the deadline published by your School.
  • Exams affected by technical difficulties that meet the University's criteria of being extenuating If you start and are unable to complete an exam because of technical difficulties that are severe and exceptional and unforeseen or unavoidable, you should contact your School immediately to inform them of the circumstances. You must then submit a declaration of extenuating circumstances, with evidence, by the deadline published by your School.
  • Completed assessments affected by a protected characteristic, long term health condition, or caring responsibility If you have completed an assessment but it was impacted by circumstances that relate to a protected characteristic, long term health condition or caring responsibility you must submit a declaration of extenuating circumstances, with evidence, by the deadline published by your School.

What if my circumstances do not relate to a protected characteristic, caring responsibility or getting ill during an assessment?

If your circumstances do not relate to

  • a protected characteristic or caring responsibility; or
  • becoming ill or suffering technical difficulties that meant you could not complete an assessment;

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.

  2. To report Extenuating Circumstances before the deadline and defer your assessment. If you choose this option and your Extenuating Circumstances are accepted, the University 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) at the next available opportunity.

There are some very important points you may need to consider if deciding to defer an assessment to the next available opportunity. Further information is available on our Deferring Asssessments page.

 

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.

Evidence

The University is 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.

If you sit or start to sit an assessment and you report circumstances that relate to 

  • a protected characteristic; or
  • becoming ill or suffering technical difficulties that meant you could not complete an assessment;

you must submit evidence to support your declaration, which should be on headed paper, signed and dated, from a recognised authority e.g. a letter from doctor. If you are unable to submit the evidence via the form in SIMS, send it to your School via email. Your School Office should be able to confirm the relevant email address.

Remedies

If your extenuating circumstances submission is accepted, the following remedies are available through the Extenuating Circumstances procedure and may be applied by your School:

For all coursework (except a PG Masters dissertation) that you are unable to sit/submit - 2 week extension to submission deadline.

If you are unable to submit the coursework by the 2 week extended deadline, you will be permitted a 1st attempt (or 2nd / 3rd attempt if you have previously failed) when the assessment, or equivalent assessment, is next scheduled to be submitted. For most assessments, this is usually the August resit period.

For an examination or equivalent assessment that you are unable to sit/submit - you will be permitted a 1st attempt (or 2nd / 3rd attempt if you have previously failed) when the assessment, or equivalent assessment, is next scheduled to be submitted. For most assessments, this is usually the August resit period.

For a Postgraduate Taught Masters Dissertation that you are unable to sit/submit – permit a 4 week extension to submission deadline.

If you are unable to submit the dissertation by the 4 week extended deadline, you will be permitted a 1st attempt (or 2nd attempt if you have previously failed) to be submitted as stipulated by the Examining Board.

For circumstances not relating to a protected characteristic that has prevented you from completing an assessment - refer your submission to an Extenuating Circumstances Group who can:

  • Reject any requests that are submitted without sufficient evidence
  • Permit a 1st attempt (or 2nd / 3rd attempt if you have previously failed) when the assessment, or equivalent assessment, is next scheduled to be submitted. For most assessments, this is usually the August resit period.

For circumstances relating to a protected characteristic - refer your submission to an Extenuating Circumstances Group who can:

  • Reject any requests that are submitted without sufficient evidence
  • Take no further action
  • Report to the Examining Board for an Examining Board Remedy

Examining Board Remedies

If you are managing a protected characteristic, or long term mental health condition, your extenuating circumstances submission may be referred to the Examining Board for an Examining Board Remedy. The remedies that are available to be applied in these circumstances are limited to:

  • Where the pass mark was not achieved for the assessment or the module, allow a retake of the assessment element as a 1st attempt (or 2nd/3rd if the student has failed previously) at the next available opportunity. This is usually the August resit period.
  • Where the pass mark for the module has been achieved, but the pass mark for the assessment element has not, offer the student the opportunity to retake the assessment element as a further 1st attempt (or 2nd/3rd if the student has failed previously), or award the student credit for the module without further assessment.
  • Where the module and assessment elements have been passed, offer the student the chance to retake the assessment element as a  further1st attempt (or 2nd/3rd if the student has failed previously) with a view to improving their mark, or award the student credit for the module without further assessment.

If you are awarded the credit for the module(s) in question without further assessment, the Examining Board may discount the module marks that have been affected by extenuating circumstances if this remedy is available through the discounting regulations.

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

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