Extenuating circumstances

During the course of your study, you may encounter personal difficulties that are outwith your control and which impact on your ability to study and/or complete assessments. We offer various flexible approaches to help you:

Frequently asked questions

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What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances have a single, short period of impact; are out of the student’s control; have a negative impact on the student’s ability to study or undertake an assessment during the relevant period. For example:

  • A serious or significant medical condition or illness
  • The serious illness or death of a close person
  • Serious, unexpected disruption of personal life such as family break-up; domestic abuse; unexpected childcare problems or being a victim of a significant incident/crime

This list is not exhaustive.

What are not extenuating circumstances?

The following will not normally be considered as extenuating circumstances:

  • Circumstances that have affected the majority of the semester, in which circumstance the student should consider requesting a leave of absence before the end of teaching
  • Multiple requests in the same semester for the same circumstance, in which circumstance the student should consider a leave of absence
  • Minor ailments such as sore throats, minor colds, headaches, hangovers
  • Long term illness or disability where special arrangements have already been made for assessments (an ARUAA) or where such arrangements could have been made if the University had been made aware at the appropriate time
  • Circumstances catered for by the standard coursework extension process
  • Examinations on the same or consecutive days
  • Poor time management or misunderstanding of deadlines and dates
  • Lack of understanding and/or use of language
  • Personal or domestic events which could have been anticipated and planned otherwise such as moving house, routine childcare, holidays, paid employment
  • Death or illness of pets
  • Transport difficulties
  • Claims made after the published deadline date for receipt of extenuating circumstances except for reasons that can be validated such as hospitalisation (see When should an application be submitted below, for deadline)
  • Claims without satisfactory supporting evidence
  • Claims which do not state how the student’s performance in assessments has been affected

How can an Extenuating Circumstances application help?

Extenuating circumstances is a last resort and these other options need to be considered first:

However, if you have exhausted these options, or they are not appropriate then Extenuating Circumstances Sub-boards can offer a limited range of outcomes to help you.

What outcomes can Extenuating Circumstances Sub-boards provide?

Extenuating Circumstances Sub-boards can offer the following outcomes:

  • Provide an extension longer than the standard extension, or as provided under an ARUAA.
  • Remove or reduce late penalties incurred as a result of an extenuating circumstance where there was good reason that appropriate extension requests were not made.
  • Where a student has not yet met all the learning outcomes nor completed all the assessment elements the sub-board may recommend an alternative assessment, to enable the student to do so, in agreement with the module-coordinator.
  • Allow the student to take a resit, with an uncapped grade, where the original assessment was impacted by an extenuating circumstance.
  • Remove a grade cap incurred as a result of an extenuating circumstance.
  • In exceptional circumstances, allow the student to have a further assessment opportunity, where the current assessment opportunity was impacted by an extenuating circumstance and they have exhausted their assessment opportunities under the assessment policy. The additional assessment must be taken and grade uploaded before the upload deadline immediately prior to the next progression date. For example, for a spring resit, the additional assessment must be taken and grade uploaded before the July upload deadline.
  • Reduce the relative weighting of an assessment that was impacted by an extenuating circumstance, taking into account the need for the student to assure that they have met the learning outcomes of the module.
  • In exceptional circumstances which affect a cohort of students, but which are outwith their control, other outcomes as are reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.
  • If a number of assessments are affected by the extenuating circumstances then different outcomes may be appropriate for each, depending on the nature of the assessment.

What else can an Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board do?

They can refer you directly to relevant support services if they feel that you need additional support or the help you need is out with their remit.

Will my request be dealt with on a confidential basis?

We understand that you may share with us some very personal details in support of your application and we will always hold that information securely and only use it to consider and respond to your request.

The Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board who will consider your request will be given the details you submit and your identity. The Sub-board will not share specific details with the Module or Award Board at which your grades are decided, but will give a brief general summary to support the recommended outcome and you will only be identified by your student number. Your details may be shared with other relevant members of University staff on a need-to-know basis, where we feel you may require additional support or your request is out with the remit of the Sub-board but could be dealt with elsewhere.

We may notify your personal tutor of your requests and give a general summary of the circumstances of your application to allow them to contact you and offer further support.

How do I apply for extenuating circumstances?

If you meet the criteria and want to apply you should complete and submit the Extenuating Circumstances Request Form with any evidence you can provide.

If you need help to know which route is appropriate for you, or you just need to talk to someone, you can contact your personal tutor, the Student Services Hub; Student Learning Services or the Students’ Union. Staff are happy to help and support you through this process during normal office hours but expect to be treated with respect. The University does not tolerate the use of abusive language, bullying or harassment. Extenuating circumstances requests will not be considered in these circumstances and further action may be taken under the Code of Student Discipline.

Complete one online form listing all your modules and assessments affected. If the modules and assessments affected are in different faculties, you must complete an online form per faculty. The online form gives you the option to do this.

What evidence do you need to provide with your application?

Documentary evidence in support of an Extenuating Circumstances Request should include all medical, non-medical and compassionate evidence that may be relevant. Evidence may include:

  • Confirmation of illness from an appropriately registered medical practitioner, including a doctor’s note/letter; record of hospital admission; letter from a consultant or other specialist; letter from a counsellor;
  • A police incident number notification
  • A letter of confirmation from a member of Student Support Services staff or other independent third party
  • Copy of a court citation
  • Confirmation of circumstances from an employer, provided on the employer’s headed notepaper

Documents not in English should be submitted with a certified translation. You can upload your supporting evidence as part of the online form.

Note: documentary evidence of the death or illness of a close relative will not be required to support an application.


When should an application be submitted?

Extenuating Circumstances Request (and accompanying evidence) should be submitted as soon as it becomes apparent that you need an additional extension/your performance in an assessment or examination has been affected by an extenuating circumstance and, in any event, no later than two working days following the end of the relevant exam diet.

It is your responsibility to submit the application and evidence on time.

Who is the Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board?

They are a panel in each faculty including the Faculty Chief Examiner, at least two other subject chief examiners, a secretary appointed by the Dean of the Faculty. Other academic or professional services staff may be invited to the Sub-board. This group are experienced in handling such cases and offer a consistent, objective approach to support students in a fair and consistent way.

When will I receive a decision?

For applications made during semester, which can be decided without reference to final grades, the Sub-board will deal with the application as quickly as possible and advise you of the outcome.

For applications regarding final module grades, the Sub-board will meet once grade information is available and their decision will be considered and taken into account by the module/award board who decide your final grade. Your grade will be released as normal and the decision of the Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board will be notified to you thereafter. Usually within 7 days of you receiving your grade. 

Decisions from the Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board are anonymised and passed to the Module/Award Board.

Students have a right of appeal against the decision of the Extenuating Circumstances Sub-board and details will be given when the decision is notified.