Page:Academic Appeals – Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught

Academic Appeals – Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught

If you are unhappy with your exam / assessment results you have the right to appeal against that decision if you meet a ground for appeal.

In the first instance, we would advise you to consult your personal tutor, course leader or Head of Department to see if your concerns can be resolved informally. If this does not work you have the option of formally appealing under the University's Academic Appeal Regulations.

The regulations apply to the following:

  • Exams
  • Assessed coursework
  • Final degree classification
  • Departmental action for academic misconduct

An appeal must be made within 15 working days of publication of results.

If for valid reason you require more time to submit your appeal, you should email the Student Engagement and Progress Team on sas.acadappeals.complaints@sheffield.ac.uk before the deadline to ask for more time. Include your department and registration number in the subject field and explain why you need more time. If more than 15 working days have passed since the publication of results, you will need to use the Late Submission Form to request permission to have your academic appeal considered late. You should explain the reasons for this and provide any evidence you are referring to.  This will be considered first. Only if the Faculty Officer finds you have valid reasons for lateness, they will then go on to consider your academic appeal.  

NB: For postgraduate research student academic appeals, please click here.

It is important to remember that you cannot appeal on the grounds of academic judgement, i.e. you think your work deserved a better result, for example if you disagree with the examiners opinions.

You have grounds for an appeal if:

  • You can show there has been a procedural error by the examiner, or an error in the recording, transcription or reporting of your results i.e. human error in giving the wrong result to the Examination Board;
  • You can show there have been extenuating circumstances which you could not, or felt unable to declare to the University earlier, for a valid reason;
  • You can show that supervision problems seriously affected your performance. In this case you also need to explain why you were unable to report or resolve the problems 
  • Where you have been found to have used unfair means in an assessment and disagree with the penalty imposed by the department.

Your appeal should be made in writing using the standard University Academic Appeals form.

The form should be submitted by email with the evidence to sas.acadappeals.complaints@sheffield.ac.uk within 15 working days of the formal publication of results. 

Sometimes departments give provisional results earlier than the official publication date. You cannot officially appeal your results until they are formally published; this is usually the date they are published on MOLE. If you receive provisional results and are unhappy, it is worth going to speak to your department at this stage as they may be able to assist you. If you are unsure about when the results were formally published you can contact SSID to clarify this.

It is advisable to use the Word version of the appeal form, and type your appeal, so that sections can be expanded and changes can be made easily.

Section A: Enter your Personal Details.

Section B: a) Tick the appeal ground you wish to appeal under.

b)   In the ‘My Case’ section you will need to explain what result(s) you are appealing, under what grounds, and explain how your situation meets the appeal ground(s). Further guidance on specific appeal grounds is given in the next section below. 

c)       You need to state what outcome you are seeking from the academic appeal. Normally in the case of a failure of an assessment, you would request another attempt at the assessment, by requesting the failed assessment to be classed as ‘Not Assessed’. This would mean that it would be as though you never took that attempt, so you would not have to pay for the resit, and if this was your first fail the resit would not be capped. Similarly, if this fail meant that you had reached your maximum resit attempts, therefore been withdrawn from the course, that withdrawal would be also be overturned and you would receive another attempt at the assessment.

If you are seeking a different outcome, it may be helpful to speak to an academic adviser at the Student Advice Centre to discuss this, including whether it is reasonable and realistic.

d)    You need to list the evidence you will be including with the appeal. You should include evidence to support your arguments wherever possible. This might include medical evidence, death certificates, evidence of financial difficulties, evidence of separation, letters, emails, records of supervision or annual progress reports, minutes of meetings, etc.

Where there is a lot of evidence such as emails, supervision notes, etc, it is advisable to group these into PDF documents and label them as appendices you can refer to in the ‘my case’ section’.

Section C: Here, you should give details of anyone you have spoken to about the issues to try and resolve it informally, eg your personal tutor, dissertation supervisor, course leader, head of department. You should have already made reference to this in the ‘My Case’ section above.

In the representative box, you write the details of any representative you are using or the Student Advice Centre staff member if we have helped you with your appeal. Once you have completed the appeal form as per these instructions the advice centre is able to offer feedback on one draft version before you submit it. Please note: you may only use the Student Advice Centre representatives name if we have seen and fed back on your appeal form before you submit it.

Section E: Declaration- You may use an electronic signature or just type your name and date it.

In addition to the above guidance we also have interactive Guidance Notes which you may find helpful. Please note: this requires Adobe PDF Reader and Firefox rather than Google Chrome.

Once completed, the appeal needs to be sent to Student Engagement and Progress Team on sas.acadappeals.complaints@sheffield.ac.uk within 15 working days of publication of the result. 

Please note: The Student Advice Centre is no longer able to provide feedback on academic appeals. If you have specific questions regarding your appeal and your circumstances, you may make an appointment to discuss it with an adviser.

 

1. Procedural error by the examiner or a mistake in the recording, transcription or reporting of your results. You need to explain what the procedural error was, and evidence of this; whether you discussed it with your department to try and resolve it, if not why not. Again you need to ensure that your basis for this ground is not questioning academic judgment; for example, if you disagree with the examiner / marker’s comments.

2.  Extenuating circumstances which you could not, or felt unable to declare to the University earlier, for a valid reason

  • You first need to clearly explain what the extenuating circumstances were and how they affected your performance.
  • If your extenuating circumstances were medical reasons, then you would need medical evidence confirming what the circumstances were and for the doctor to confirm that they would have impacted your performance in the assessment. If you are a patient of the University Health Service, the doctor would usually expect you to request this evidence on a medical extenuating circumstances form. Alternatively they may be willing to provide you with a letter. Please note; if you have been seeing another health professional such as a counsellor, specialist nurse, consultant, you should provide a letter from them.
  • Your circumstances may have been personal reasons, such as family breakdown, family illness or bereavement, etc. Please provide as much evidence as you can to support this, such as details of moving house if you have had to, statements from relatives or friends who can confirm the breakdown; medical evidence in relation to the family illness, or death certificate if it is bereavement.

If you are not sure what evidence to provide or whether your situation would count as extenuating circumstances, you can make an appointment to see an academic adviser at the Student Advice Centre to discuss it with them. It would be helpful if you can bring a draft copy of your appeal form and any evidence you have so far to the appointment.

  • The next point you need to address is why you were unable to present these circumstances to the department or examiner earlier, usually via an extenuating circumstances form.

3. Supervision problems that seriously affected your performance. This is usually in the case of dissertation supervision for taught programmes. 

  • You would need to explain the nature of the supervision problems and explain how you feel it directly contributed to your performance in the dissertation. If it has been an going issue, it is advisable to do a timeline or chronology of events detailing issues, and what you have been trying to do to resolve them along the way. It is recommended to include any email evidence, feedback sheets, minutes of meetings etc, to evidence your claims. 
  • You also need to address why you were unable to resolve this issue earlier eg through the course leader or head of department, or why you were unable to submit a complaint via the University Complaints Procedure prior to the assessment.

4. Disagreeing with the department action in where you have been found to have used unfair means in an assessment;

  • Here you would need to explain why you believe the penalty/ action was unfair / unreasonable in your situation. If you have any extenuating circumstances related to this, please ensure you state them and provide evidence.
  • Please note: the faculty officer has the power to; uphold your appeal; reject your appeal; or impose a different penalty/action.
  • The Student Administration Service will confirm in writing that your appeal has been received and is being dealt with, usually by email.
  • Your department will receive a copy of your appeal and be asked to comment on it. Your appeal and this response are then considered by a Faculty Officer (Pro-Vice Chancellor or his/her nominee).
  • The Faculty Officer can make a decision to uphold or reject your appeal. Usually you would receive a written response (which should include your departments comments) within about a month, but it can take longer in busy periods or more complicated cases.
  • If the Faculty Officer decides your appeal needs more in-depth consideration, he/she may refer it to Faculty Academic Appeals Committee (FAAC) for full investigation and decision.
  • If this happens you would be given the opportunity to submit further evidence.
  • If your appeal goes to FAAC you can choose to attend a hearing, or opt for it to be dealt with in writing. It is generally advisable to attend this hearing, so that you can take part in discussions about your appeal and answer questions that arise.
  • The Student Advice Centre can help you prepare for the FAAC and accompany you to the hearing to speak on your behalf.
  • You will be notified in writing of the outcome of your appeal with an explanation of the decision.
  • Your academic department will have responded and provided written comments in response to the appeal. Usually a copy of those comments is sent to the student at the time the decision is notified.

If you are not satisfied with the decision of your academic appeal, you have the right to request a Case Review (which comes under the University Complaints Procedure), if your case comes under at least one of the following grounds:

(i) There was a material procedural irregularity which rendered the process leading to the decision taken in respect of the academic appeal unfair;

(ii) Material which the student could not reasonably have been expected to produce at the time of the decision taken in respect of the academic appeal casts substantial doubt upon the appropriateness of that decision;

(iii) The decision taken in respect of the academic appeal was manifestly unreasonable.

The request for a Case Review must be made within 10 working days of the full written response provided in relation to the formal complaint. If you need longer than this you must contact the Student Contact and Appeals team (sca@sheffeld.ac.uk) and request an extension detailing the reasons. This will then be passed to a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, or their representative, who can decide to extend this time limit.  

Case Reviews requests should be submitted using the Case Review Request Form

The request will be considered by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, or their nominee, who can decide:

  1. To uphold the complaint;
  2. To establish a Case Review Panel, which would usually give you the opportunity to attend a meeting and present your case to the panel, with a representative, should you wish. The Student Advice Centre is usually able to represent students at these meetings).The case review panel would consist of; the chair (which would be a Pro-Vice-Chancellor or their representative), a Faculty Officer or representative (not from your Faculty), and another member which is usually a Sabbatical Officer from the Students' Union. Papers would be circulated prior to the meeting, which consist of your academic appeal, departmental response and you would usually be given the opportunity to submit a further statement or evidence should it be deemed necessary. 
  3. To refer the matter to be considered under another University procedure, such as back to the Academic Appeals procedure to have an academic appeals committee to be set up;
  4. That there are insufficient grounds to take further action, thereby concluding the matter at this stage.

Usually where a department has responded and provided written comments in response to the request for a case review, a copy of those comments would be sent to the student at the time the decision is notified.

It is advisable to use the Word version of the Case Review Request form, and type your appeal, so that sections can be expanded and changes can be made easily.

Section A: Personal Details

Section B: You need to tick the ground you believe your case comes into.

You need to give an explanation of why you disagree with the decision of the formal complaint based on the case review ground you are applying under, and reasoning in the decision letter:

Grounds for case review

(i) There was a material procedural irregularity which rendered the process leading to the decision taken in respect of the academic appeal unfair; For this ground you would have to demonstrate that there was something incorrect in the academic appeals procedure which would have made the decision unfair, for example if a person closely linked to the academic appeal or from the department considered the academic appeal, or if it was clear from the decision letter that a significant piece of evidence submitted had not be considered because it seems to have been overlooked. These are just examples and are not to base your request on. If you are unsure whether your situation meets this grounds you can speak to an academic adviser at the Student Advice Centre to seek clarification.

(ii) Material which the student could not reasonably have been expected to produce at the time of the decision taken in respect of the academic appeal casts substantial doubt upon the appropriateness of that decision; This would have to be significant evidence that would have likely led to a different decision being made in the academic appeal, and you need explain why you were unable to provide it with the formal complaint.

(iii) The decision taken in respect of the academic appeal was manifestly unreasonable.

You need to set out the reasons why you believe the decision given in the academic appeal was extremely unreasonable. You should refer to points in the decision letter when explaining this.

Section C: You need to enclose a copy of your academic appeal and the evidence submitted, including any additional new evidence you wish to submit for your case review.

If a solicitor or adviser from the Student Advice Centre has assisted you, you may put their details in the representative box. Please note: you may only use the Student Advice Centre representative’s name if we have seen and fed back on your form before you submit.

Section D: Please detail the outcome that you would like, taking into consideration anything that has already been resolved at earlier stages.

Section E: You may type your name or enter an electronic signature.

Once you have completed the form, if you would like feedback on it from an academic adviser at the Student Advice Centre please send your form to advice@sheffield.ac.uk with your evidence. It will then get allocated to an adviser to look at. Please allow reasonable time for adequate feedback, which would usually be within 5 working days. Please note: at certain times of the year this may not be possible, so you may be referred back to online guidance due to the tight deadline.

Once the form and evidence are ready you need to submit it to sca@sheffield.ac.uk within 10 working days of the date of the academic appeal decision letter. 

The Case Review stage is the last stage of the University’s internal appeals procedure.

The University’s Procedures for the Conduct of Academic Appeals stipulate that the University aims to deal with Academic Appeals including any subsequent Case Review Request within 90 days of receipt of the Academic Appeal. If this is not possible you should be kept informed on the progress of your case.

If you remain unsatisfied after completing the University’s internal appeals procedure, you may be able to make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA is an independent review scheme and forms no part of the University's review or appeal procedures. You have 12 months from the Case Review decision letter to make a complaint to the OIA.

Before you go to the OIA you must have concluded the university appeals/ complaints procedure. 

Further details on the OIA, their complaints process and how to apply can be found on their website at: http://www.oiahe.org.uk/ 

You may find the following direct links useful:

 

If you are appealing against your final degree classification, you will probably have to graduate with the original classification while the appeal is being considered. Don’t worry about this. If your appeal is upheld, a replacement degree certificate will then be issued.

Last Updated:30 July 2018