26th January 2020

Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances can be any circumstances outside your control that impact your performance in an assessment.

Some common examples of extenuating circumstances are:

Useful information

  • Where you cannot submit an assessment in time.
  • Need an extension for an assessment or can’t submit it at all.
  • Where you cannot sit an exam.
  • Where you have sat an exam / submitted coursework but due to extenuating circumstances your performance has been affected whether in the exam or in the preparation.
  • Where you have been absent from university for more than 7 days.
  • For a coursework extension you should aim to submit it as soon as possible and expect at least 5 working days for a response.
  • Where you experience difficulties completing assessments remotely because of lack of suitable study space where you are living or unforeseen lack of access to the necessary technology.

You need to submit a completed extenuating circumstances form to the admin staff in your department who will allocate it appropriately or your personal tutor.

You should submit the extenuating circumstances form before the exam date if you can’t sit it / before the coursework due date.

If you have sat the exam/ submitted the coursework you should aim to submit it as soon as possible and definitely by the end of the exam period.

In response to Covid-19 and the impact of this on the NHS, the University has updated the extenuating circumstances policy to allow students to self-certify and report medical extenuating circumstances without supporting medical evidence. However, although you do not currently need to get a letter from your doctor to apply for extenuating circumstances, it remains important to seek medical support if your health is affecting your studies.

You need to submit extenuating circumstances as a safety net if things have affected you outside your control even if you think you may pass the assessment.

It can protect you from receiving a fail mark on your record, being penalised for late submission or non-submission of work or non-attendance at exam and give you extra time.

It could also prevent you from getting automatically withdrawn from the university if the module result causes you to have reached your maximum number of resit attempts.

For assessments/ exams that are marked as ‘Not assessed’, it will also save you having to pay for a resit and getting a capped mark.

  1. NA= ‘Not assessed’- this would be in the case where you are unable to sit that exam or assessment at this particular time and would like to defer it to a later date without capping or fee.
  2. Not assessed would also be used in situations where you have sat the exam or submitted the assessment but believe you have not performed to your ability / standard due to your extenuating circumstances. It could also be where you were not able to finish an exam or assessment in time.
  3. NP - no penalty for late submission - this is to be used in coursework or assessments that you have submitted out of time by a few days but without an approved extension so that you don’t get marks deducted for submitting it late. You will need to explain why you couldn’t request an extension.
  4. DEX-deadline extension-this is to request an extension on your coursework/assignment/dissertation. You should submit it at least a week before the due date to give the department time to respond.
  5. AU-authorised absence - where you have been absent from the university for over 7 days, with the extenuating circumstances form it can go down as authorised absence instead of unauthorised which may negatively affect you.
  6. Although there is no corresponding option on the form, the form should be submitted if your academic performances due ot the extenuating circumstances has significantly affected your degree classification. You need to explain this in the description box and leave the outcome box blank. The exam board can look at raising your degree classification if you are borderline if they believe your extenuating circumstances warrant it.

It can also be used in cased on integrated masters course or year in industry courses where progression on the master’s year / industry depends on you achieving a certain average. If you were unable to achieve that average due to your extenuating circumstances but otherwise would have done so based on past performance, you can request the exam board to consider allowing you to progress despite not meeting the grade average.

If you have already submitted an extenuating circumstances form for a particular assessment but still have been unable to complete it due to your extenuating circumstances you need to submit another extenuating circumstances form and request for the work to be ‘Not Assessed’ so that it doesn’t go down as a fail mark or Not Completed, which also uses one of your sitting attempts.

There are no published deal dienes for extenuating circumstances form and each department will have their own so check with your department if you’re unsure. However, the general rule is that you aim to get the form into the department by the last day of the exam period or at least the first few days of the week after before the exam boards meet.

If you don’t submit extenuating circumstances, you could:

  • Fail the piece of work/ module.
  • If you don’t sit/ submit it will be a ‘Not Completed’ which is similar to a fail.
  • You will have used one of your sitting attempts and could find yourself automatically withdrawn from the university if you do not pass.
  • Resit could be capped.
  • You would have to pay for any further resit.
  • If you are in final year undergraduate it is very important to submit extenuating circumstances form as your whole degree classification will be affected by your grades. If you don’t pass a module and have to resit it, you would not be able to graduate with an honours degree.

You should always try to include evidence with your extenuating circumstances form as this will reduce the possibility of it getting refused.

Medical - If your GP is the university Health Service you will be using the online extenuating circumstances form, and the GP will complete the section required for them to give medical evidence. If you have a different GP or health professional, you can use the Section 5 of the paper extenuating circumstances form and get a health professional/ GP to complete that.

Alternatively, you can get a letter from your GP, SAMHS or other healthcare professional. They must explain what your health issue is, how its affected you and how it impacted your studies and ability to complete the exam / assessment / why you need an extension etc.

Personal circumstances vary and sometimes are not always easy to evidence, often a supporting letter from someone in authority can help or even from family or friends who are aware of the situation. If you are unsure what to provide, please make an appointment with an adviser at the Student Advice Centre who can advise on your individual situation.

There is a possible choice of two extenuating circumstances forms:

  1. If your extenuating circumstances are medical and your GP is with the University Health Service you need to complete an online extenuating circumstances form. You need submit the request online and then collect the form that will have been completed by the doctor, you need to collect the completed form from the University Health Reception 7 days after doing the online submission. If this may make your form late to submit you need to inform the department of your circumstances and explain you are waiting for your form from the doctors. Once you have collected the form, you then take it to your department / personal tutor and submit it.
  2. If your extenuating circumstances are not medical or they are medical but you are using a different health professional or GP to University Health Service, you need to complete a paper extenuating circumstances form. You should first complete the Microsoft Word version and then print it out. This will allow you to expand on the section where you explain your circumstances. You need to submit the form with any evidence to your department or personal tutor.

Tips on completing the form:

  • Ensure where you are asked for details of your extenuating circumstances, you explain fully what your circumstances are, how they have affected you, how they have affected your studies and in particular this piece of work/ assessment/ exam.
  • Module codes can be found on your MOLE.
  • Dates affected to / from; you should state when this particular circumstances started affecting you from and usually if it is still affecting you, you would write; to current’.
  • Explanations of outcomes that can be requested are given above.

If you have requested an extension you should expect a response in around a week and if you don’t you should chase it up with your debarment.

For the other options such as ‘Not Assessed’ and ‘No Penalty for Late Submission’, you will not find out whether the extenuating circumstances have been accepted until the exam / assessment results are released.

This can be very stressful especially in the case where you have requested to defer the exams, therefore it is important to include all appropriate evidence with the form. Sometimes your department may be able to tell you earlier if it has been accepted or not.

If the exam board has not accepted your extenuating circumstances, the only way this can be challenged is through Academic Appeal. However you will need to provide new evidence to support your circumstances, that you were not able to for a valid reason, submit at the time.

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