This procedure is part of the University’s extenuating circumstances regulation, which should be read in coinjunction with this document

Decisions regarding extenuating circumstances are made by Schools/Departments on behalf of the Quality and Standards Committee through School Examination Boards.




What you need to know

1. Purpose

1.1. In general terms, this procedure is intended to support students with exceptional, uncontrollable,  short-term circumstances significantly negatively affecting their ability to study or take assessments. This includes students who have had a late diagnosis of a disability or long-term medical condition.

1.2. This procedure should be used to address:

  • absence from an examination/assessment or non-submission of coursework
  • late submission of e-exam
  • claims for extensions to deadlines for submission of written assignments
  • claims for extensions to deadlines for submission of a written assignment for which the student has already used the procedure for an extension on the basis of a Support Plan
  • claims of adversely impacted performance during an assessment
  • claims for an extension to the date set for a further assessment of progress by Progression Review (PGR students only)
  • cases where a student has not had appropriate adjustment in the current academic session due to a late diagnosis of a disability or long-term medical condition

1.3. This procedure should not be used for absence from compulsory teaching or laboratory sessions that are not part of a formal assessment.  Schools/Departments should publicise local procedures for students to follow in respect of absence from compulsory teaching or laboratory sessions.

1.4. See the extenuating circumstances regulation for more information about what are and are not acceptable circumstances.

1.5. The procedure should be used sparingly by students to address circumstances for which there is clear evidence of impact.

1.6. Where a student has had extenuating circumstances accepted for one period but continues to be affected by or has a recurrence of the same circumstances, they should seek medical/other advice.  If necessary, they should either refer to the Policy on Long Term Conditions or Disabilities affecting the Ability to Study and/or Comply with Assessment Requirements so that appropriate support for study or individual arrangements for examinations can be put in place or discuss with their School the possibility of voluntarily interrupting their studies until the circumstances have been resolved. 

This does not preclude the possibility of accepting a claim for a specific event such as an operation as well as a claim for prior symptoms or after effects.  Accommodations identified by Disability Support Services for disabilities or long-term medical conditions are intended to make full adjustment for the condition/disability so no further adjustment or consideration would be appropriate. 


2. Scope

This procedure applies to students at UK and UNM (Malaysia) campuses. Students at UNNC (Ningbo) should refer to the UNNC Extenuating Circumstances procedure.


3. Roles and responsibilities

Advice and support are available from a number of sources and students are encouraged to engage with support services for advice:

If a student believes that what is happening to them is affecting their ability to study, prepare or participate, then it is the student’s responsibility to let University staff know what is happening to them in a timely manner.

The University is committed to supporting its students and will seek to take account of extenuating circumstances where it is possible and appropriate to do so and when they are informed in a timely manner.

Students are responsible for ensuring that they inform the University of any circumstances that they consider are affecting their ability to study and/or undertake assessments as early as possible. With early warning of a problem, the University can provide appropriate support. 

Students should be aware that the University cannot respond to a student's circumstances if they remain unaware of relevant information.

3.1 Extenuating circumstances panels

The extenuating circumstances panel will initially consider the documentation provided and determine whether it provides sufficient evidence of impact on the ability to study and take assessments and they will decide whether to approve or decline the claim.

The extenuating circumstances panel then makes specific recommendations to the relevant Board of Examiners based on the evidence before them.  The recommendations available are listed below.

Claims should be considered in the first instance by the student’s home School/Department. The home School/Department has responsibility for determining if the claim is approved.  If the claim is approved and relates to an assignment/examination owned by another School/Department, the appropriate recommendation should be reached in conjunction with the other School/Department.

3.1.1. Terms of reference of extenuating circumstances panels

An extenuating circumstances panel acts as a sub-Committee of relevant Board(s) of Examiners.

Each School/Department will appoint an extenuating circumstances panel for the consideration of claims. The Panel should assess the validity of claims and recommend appropriate outcomes.

In addition to the terms of reference outlined here, extenuating circumstances panels will take due account of any requirements from relevant professional or regulatory bodies which govern the registration of students entering a relevant profession.

Each extenuating circumstances panel for undergraduate and taught postgraduate claims shall comprise a minimum of 3 members of School/Departmental staff and shall be constituted as follows:

  • A Chair: usually an Examinations Officer
  • Senior Tutor(s), or nominee
  • Other members may include:
    • Directors of Programmes or nominees
    • Module Conveners
    • Co-opted members as deemed necessary by the Chair


Each extenuating circumstances panel for consideration of PGR claims shall comprise a minimum of 3 members of School/Research Group staff with appropriate PGR knowledge and experience, and shall be constituted as follows:

  • A Chair with experience of PGR supervision and examination
  • Either or both of the PGR Director/School postgraduate student advisor (SPSA)/Senior Tutor (when the Senior Tutor has PGR responsibilities)
  • Other Co-opted members as deemed necessary by the Chair


All extenuating circumstances panels will be deemed to be quorate provided the Chair and at least 2 other members are present.

The panel may be supported by a note-taker who is not part of the panel.

Support and Wellbeing Officers should be in attendance to provide advice on student cases, where necessary, but are not part of the Panel. The Panel may also consult and/or take advice from other professional services.

The role of the Chair is to ensure that the Board carries out its responsibilities in a fair, transparent and impartial manner and in accordance with relevant University and programme regulations and procedures. The Chair ensures that members have the opportunity to contribute to discussions and that business is conducted collegially.

For the consideration of claims for an extension to a submission deadline(s), the case should be reviewed by a single Panel member in order that the decision is made promptly.  The decision should be made in conjunction with the relevant module convener (whether in the same School/Department or not).  The recommendations made by Panel member should be reported at the next meeting of the full Panel. 

Other time-critical decisions may be made by Chair’s action and reported to the next meeting of the full Panel.

Extenuating Circumstances Panels shall be responsible for scheduling their own regular meetings to be held at least once prior to each meeting of the relevant Boards of Examiners. Each extenuating circumstances panel may decide to schedule more regular meetings or arrange extraordinary meetings when necessary.

It is not necessary for extenuating circumstances panels to meet during exam periods – students need to decide whether or not they are fit to attend the exam.  Extenuating circumstance claims relating to exams will be considered prior to the Exam Board.  If an extenuating circumstances claim is upheld for an exam and the student is granted an additional equivalent sit attempt, the previous attempt will not be marked.  The additional sit will not be optional.

Members of extenuating circumstances panels who are also the Personal Tutor or supervisor of a student making a claim should recuse themselves from making a decision in connection with that claim. They may, however, provide the student with a supporting statement to be included as evidence, if appropriate.

All extenuating circumstances panels are required to keep formal records of their proceedings. The purpose of the records is to document decisions, to summarise any discussion relevant to those decisions (where this is required to give a context or rationale for the decision, or to establish precedents), and to capture for further consideration any areas of discussion or requirements for future action. It is also necessary to record the circumstance for the decision in order that extenuating circumstances panels can determine if the student has used that circumstance previously.

3.1.2. The Board of Examiners for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students

Boards of Examiners shall consider recommendations from extenuating circumstances panels before making a final determination of the student's classification or progression decision arising from the result, subject to the provisions of the Regulations for Undergraduate, Taught Masters, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate certificate courses.

When a student has experienced circumstances affecting their ability to study/take assessments in their final year of study, a Board of Examiners may accept a recommendation from an extenuating circumstances panel and make a case to QSC to revisit performance in earlier years for the purposes of recommending a degree classification outside regulations. This recommendation should only be used in exceptional circumstances for cases where there is no prospect of the student undertaking first attempts within a reasonable period of time, for example, in the case of chronic or terminal illness of the student or the dependent of a student. 

In all cases the Board of Examiners must be assured that overall programme learning outcomes have been met before implementing a recommendation by the extenuating circumstances panel.


4. Procedural steps

4.1 Any student wishing their circumstances to be considered under this procedure should submit an extenuating circumstances form, accompanied by appropriate evidence of impact if available, by the timescales given below.  Only in exceptional circumstances may a form be submitted by another party.

4.2 This flow chart may help to determine what steps to take [Extenuating circumstances policy flowchart]

4.3 Claims, including any evidence, should be submitted online.  Information regarding how to submit a claim form can be found on the Services for Students web pages.(UK) and Student Registry web pages (UNM) 

4.4  As far as is practicably possible, students are encouraged to discuss their claim with their supervisors (for PGRs), Personal Tutor, Support and Wellbeing  Officer or other appropriate staff member, prior to submission.

4.5 If you are making an acute claim for short-term exam adjustments (e.g. scribe for an exam due to broken hand) it is strongly recommended that you discuss this with your School (e.g. personal tutor or module convenor) at the same time as submitting the extenuating circumstances form. If there is not sufficient time to make adjustments for the exam, it may be that you have to sit the exam as an equivalent sit on the next available date.

4.6 Claims will be administered by Registry and Academic Affairs (UK) / Faculty Administration office (UNM) and considered by Schools/Departments, except for claims for an Examination Self-Certification which will be considered in the first instance by Registry and Academic Affairs (UK only). Registry and Academic Affairs (UK) / Faculty Adsministration Office (UNM) have the authority to reject claims which are ineligible for self-certification and will ensure the relevant School/Department is notified of the outcome of the claim. Input from the relevant extenuating circumstances panel will be sought on the reassessment opportunity or if the eligibility of the claim is unclear, as required.

4.7 Claims submitted without evidence and without notification of intention to submit evidence at a later date will be considered under the ‘without evidence’ route.

4.8 template is provided for staff wishing to provide a supporting statement. This statement serves as evidence in support of an extenuating circumstances claim, it is not confirmation that the claim has been approved.  An extenuating circumstances panel has the final decision regarding the claim.

Schools/Departments should also consider evidence available in Invigilator reports and, if the report indicates significant negative impact during the assessment, should suspend the need for medical evidence if the student would not normally require medical treatment for the circumstances e.g. sickness and diarrhoea or migraine.


4.1. Meeting coursework deadlines

4.1.1  A student who through short-term extenuating circumstances is unable to meet a coursework deadline should submit an extenuating circumstances form with appropriate evidence, if available, by the deadlines outlined below.

4.1.2  Students who have a Support Plan and wish to make an extension claim on the basis of the disability/long-term condition covered by the Support Plan should follow the extension claim procedure set out on the Services for Students webpages. (Extenuating circumstances policy flowchart).

4.1.3 Where a student, including PGRs claiming extenuating circumstances for Progression Review, has submitted an extenuating circumstance claim but has not had a response to indicate whether an extension is being granted, the student should submit whatever work they have completed at the time of the deadline such that, if necessary, it can form the assessment. Having submitted the work done to date, students should continue working in order that, should an extension be granted (which would be from the original submission date), they are able to take full advantage of any extra time allowed.

4.1.4  A student who has not submitted an acceptable claim for extenuating circumstances prior to a coursework deadline and misses that deadline will be managed according to the policy governing late submission of coursework.

4.1.5 Where a student receives an extension to a deadline as a result of a claim, they should be informed of any change to the timescale for the return of coursework and associated feedback in accordance with the Policy on Feedback to Students.


4.2 Attending examinations and assessments

4.2.1  A student who considers that they are not fit enough to attend a timetabled examination/assessment should submit an extenuating circumstance claim in accordance with the time limits defined below.  If this claim is without evidence, the student should tick the ‘self-certification’ box and note the limits to the number of exams that can be missed in this way (UK only).

4.2.2  A student who is unwell during a scheduled examination/assessment such that they believe that their performance has been affected should submit an extenuating circumstance claim in accordance with the time limits defined in section 4.4. They should ask the invigilator for a report for evidence of their illness.

4.2.3  A student who has not submitted an acceptable extenuating circumstance claim for a scheduled examination that they do not attend will receive a mark of zero.


4.3 Disruption to assessments

4.3.1  In cases where the assessment process has in some way been disrupted for all students (e.g. a problem with an examination paper) appropriate adjustments may be made to the outcomes for the affected cohort, including potentially to marks, by following the University’s normal moderation and marks adjustment processes.  In such circumstances the student should not be required to submit a claim for extenuating circumstances.

4.3.2  Please also refer to Penalties for the Late Submission of Assessed Coursework for guidance as to appropriate consideration of claims in the event of failure of an online submission mechanism.

4.3.3  Please also refer to Assessment Regulations: e-exams for guidance as to appropriate consideration of claims in the event of late submission of or technical difficulties with e-exams.

4.3.4  In extreme cases, Schools/Departments may seek to offer a blanket extenuating circumstances outcome to an entire cohort, offering a reassessment at the first opportunity. Such claims should be treated, via Registry and Academic Affairs, under the QSC procedure for cases outside of regulations.

4.4 Timescales

4.4.1 The completed extenuating circumstances form should be returned, as soon as possible and in accordance with the following time limits:

Coursework:  Claims must be submitted before the coursework deadline.

Timetabled examinations/assessments:  Claims must be submitted prior to, or within five working days of, the examination/assessment, including PGR Progression Review.

Evidence should usually be provided at the time of making the extenuating circumstances claim, but may be submitted up to 10 working days from the deadline/examination.  It can exceptionally be provided later than this, but any extension to the evidence deadline must be approved in advance by the extenuating circumstances panel and cannot in any case be more than 10 working days after the extenuating circumstances deadline. Any extension of the deadline will be confirmed to the student in writing.

4.4.2  Where the circumstances arise extremely close to the deadline/examination (e.g. on the same or previous day), it may not be possible for the School/Department to consider the claim and for the outcome letter to be sent before the relevant deadline or examination or for the student to acquire the necessary evidence.  In the case of an examination the student must make their own decision as to whether to miss the examination.

In the case of a coursework deadline the student should submit any work that they have done by the time of the deadline, ensuring the filename includes the term ‘ECPending’.  If the claim is not subsequently approved, they will receive a mark of zero for the relevant examination (if they have not attended) or the submitted pending coursework will be marked.

4.4.3  Schools/Departments/Registry and Academic Affairs are entitled to reject automatically and without consideration all extenuating circumstances claims that are submitted after the deadlines set out above or claims requiring evidence for which evidence is not supplied in accordance with the deadlines set out above.

4.4.4  Submitting an extenuating circumstance claim after the above deadlines will not normally be permitted.  In serious circumstances, students may still submit a claim for support under the extenuating circumstances policy after the deadlines, however any evidence must not only satisfy the standard conditions, but also explain very clearly why it was not possible for the student to submit the claim within the required timeframes. Not being aware of the need to submit a claim is not sufficient cause. 

It would be highly unusual for a late extenuating circumstances claim to be granted and the reason must be severe and the student provides compelling evidence that circumstances or illness prevented them from submitting the form on time, for example, being hospitalised and severely unwell at the time. If a student cites poor mental health as a reason for late submission, normally for this to be approved they would need to demonstrate that they had sought professional advice and support prior to the above deadlines. Where such an exception is made, the student's claim will be considered under this policy without prejudice.

4.4.5  Claims may only be submitted in line with the timelines above and also this must be before a progression or classification Board of Examiners has reached a decision on a student’s results.  After a Board of Examiners has confirmed its decision in relation to a student’s results, the Academic Appeal procedure should be followed. The Academic Appeal submitted by the student will need to demonstrate that new evidence was not, and could not have been, made available to the Board of Examiners at the time of its original decision.  Any matters which could have been raised before the meeting of the Board, but, without good reason, were not raised, will not be considered in the event of an Appeal.

4.4.6  Where a student has not had appropriate adjustment in the current session for a late diagnosis they should submit a claim under the extenuating circumstances procedure as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed (within 10 working days). Where the condition is not covered by the Equality Act 2010, extenuating circumstances claims will be subject to the timescales provided for above. 

If the student’s condition is covered by the Equality Act 2010, a School must consider claims submitted before a Board of Examiners or Progression Review has reached a decision on the student’s results.  The University will also consider the circumstances if an Academic Appeal is submitted within one month of the notification of a progression or award decision.  Please refer to the Policy on Long-term Conditions or Disabilities to Study and/or Comply with Assessment Requirements.

4.4.7 It is not possible to submit extenuating circumstances claims or evidence by post. 


4.5 Notification of outcomes

4.5.1 Schools/Departments should arrange for Registry and Academic Affairs (UK) / Faculty Administration Officer (UNM) to inform the student of the outcome of claims in writing including the information in the appropriate template letter normally within 3 working days of the decision of the Panel.

4.5.2  Extenuating Circumstances Panel decisions on PGR claims relating to Progression Reviews can be communicated to the PGR by the School PGR Director or SPSA (School Postgraduate Student Advisor) within 3 working days of the decision of the Panel.

4.5.3 Notwithstanding the School/Department’s authority to apply one of the outcomes listed in the extenuating circumstances regulations, where a claim has been accepted as being with good cause and where the affected assessment forms more than the equivalent of 5 credits of assessment, the student may request to take the assessment again in order to gain a fully representative mark. 

Such claims should be made within one month of the outcome of the assessment being made known to the student and Schools should not unreasonably refuse such claims. Any mark gained as a result of such an assessment would be treated as a replacement for the affected assessment and be full mitigation of the circumstances, such that no further consideration of the circumstances should be necessary at an Examination Board.


4.6 Dissatisfied following extenuating circumstances outcome

4.6.1  A student who is dissatisfied with the outcome of an extenuating circumstances claim should first discuss the matter with the Registry and Academic Affairs colleagues responsible for issuing the outcome.

A PGR who is dissatisfied with the outcome of an extenuating circumstances claim for an extension or further opportunity for Progression Review should first discuss this with the School/Research Group PGR director.   

4.6.2  New evidence

i. If new evidence is available before the relevant progression or classification Examination Board has met, or the Progression Review for PGRs, it should first be submitted for consideration by the School with an explanation as to why the student could not submit it at the time of making the original claim.  It will be considered by the School in line with the time limits on submission of claims set out in this policy. If an Academic Appeal against the outcome of a claim contains new evidence not previously considered by the School and is made before an Examination Board has met, the Academic Appeal will be closed and the student advised accordingly. 

ii. If new evidence becomes available after the relevant Examination Board has met, a student will need to submit an Academic Appeal against the progression or classification decision as outlined in section 4.6.3 of this procedure.

4.6.3  A student may appeal against the outcome of an extenuating circumstances claim using the Academic Appeals procedure (UK) / Academic Appeals procedure (UNM). Appeals will only be accepted if submitted within one calendar month of the student receiving notification of the decision against which they wish to appeal.

4.6.4  If an appeal is made on the basis that there were extenuating circumstances which could not be disclosed prior to the Exam Board, the appeals team will refer the case back to the relevant extenuating circumstances panel for consideration.