Mitigating circumstances

If a recognisably serious or significant event beyond your control has affected your health or personal life and as a result you are, or have been, unable to submit or attend an assessment on time - you need to let us know. This process is known across all our academic programmes as requesting 'mitigating circumstances'.

Before submitting a claim, please read the information on these pages carefully. The information on this site doesn’t supersede the Mitigating Circumstances Policy which we advise you read as well.

Please note, if you have not yet completed your assessment, a mitigating circumstances request will not excuse you from completing the assessment at some point in the future. If your request is successful, your School will likely ask that you attend/submit the same or alternative assessment at a later date. More information about potential outcomes can be found at the bottom of this page.

Download and read the Mitigating Circumstances policy (PDF, 310b)

For further guidance and essential information about mitigating circumstances please read the Students’ Union’s Quick Guide to Mitigating Circumstances.

Read the Students' Union guide

In addition, as something serious or significant has affected your health or personal life, we would advise that you consider the help and support available from the University Student Support Services and the Students’ Union.

You should make a mitigating circumstances request no later than 7 calendar days after the assessment deadline or the date of a time-bound assessment or exam. If there are exceptional circumstances that stop you from making the request during this time frame, contact your school to let them know the circumstances.

What are mitigating circumstances?

Mitigating circumstances are recognisably serious or significant event(s), affecting a student’s health or personal life which are unforeseen and beyond the student’s control. 

They are sufficiently serious enough in nature to result in the student being unable to attend (in person or virtually), complete, or submit an assessment on time.

For your claim to be accepted, your request should also demonstrate how your circumstances meet these additional criteria:

  • beyond your control
    • You must demonstrate that you could not have done anything to prevent the circumstances arising. They were unforeseen and unpreventable.
  • significantly impacting on your assessment
    • Your request must demonstrate a significant negative impact on your ability to submit/attend or complete an assessment by the deadline. It must make clear the duration of the circumstances and have the appropriate documentary evidence to support this claim.
  • Have timely relevance
    • Typically the circumstance must have occurred on the day the assessment was due to be submitted or attended or the week leading up to it.
    • Where the event falls before this time you need to demonstrate that the impact it had can be linked to the assessment being claimed for. (e.g. event significantly impacted revision/preparation for assessment that could not be recovered at another time and therefore the assessment could not be attempted or submitted on time).

What are mitigating circumstances?

The following are examples of mitigating circumstances for which a claim might be accepted. The list is not exhaustive and other examples may be considered on a case by case basis.

  • a) Serious illness or accident resulting in hospitalisation or urgent medical attention/treatment relating to a student
  • b) Significant bereavement, for example a death of a close family member or significant person
  • c) Serious illness (as described above) of a member of the student’s immediate family (e.g. parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses and children, including step- relations and guardians)
  • d) Unforeseen caring responsibilities for immediate family (beyond serious illness, above)
  • e) Serious infectious disease that could put others at risk
  • f) Sudden deterioration or flare up in a long-term health condition or disability
  • g) Complications relating to childbirth or pregnancy
  • h) Miscarriage or termination of a pregnancy
  • i) New presentation or disclosure of a mental health issue or condition
  • j) Legal proceedings requiring attendance at court as a witness or jury service
  • k) Severe adverse personal / family difficulties
  • l) Being the victim of a crime
  • m) Significant and immediate change in working conditions (distance learning and part- time students only)
  • n) Harassment based on a student’s disability, faith, gender identity, race, and/ or sexual orientation
  • o) Unexpected disruption of access to technology required to complete/submit a time-bound assessment

What are not mitigating circumstances?

Examples of mitigating circumstances that will not normally be accepted (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Medical circumstances that:
    • do not relate directly to the assessment period in question and/or cannot be attributed as having an impact on the assessment
    • ii) relate to minor illnesses that would not lead to equivalent absence from a work environment and can normally be treated with over the counter remedies (e.g. colds, sore throat, headaches, day to day ailments)
    • iii) are unsubstantiated or include retrospective evidence (e.g. doctors note after the illness has disappeared)
  • Holidays/family events,
  • Religious festivals and regular observance (these should be flagged to Schools in advance),
  • Sporting fixtures (including those for University teams),
  • Financial issues,
  • Foreseeable and/or preventable circumstances,
  • A long-term condition where treatment or additional support/arrangements are already in place to mitigate the impact and there has been no additional unforeseen flare-up,
  • Transport difficulties that could have been anticipated or lack of contingency planning into travel time,
  • Being reluctant to disclose circumstances (even brief, non-detailed accounts) at the time,
  • Poor time management or personal organisation,
  • Criminal conviction,
  • Missing exams or assessment deadlines due to misreading of timetables or oversleeping,
  • Loss of computer data/printer problems,
  • Submitting the wrong work for assessment or draft version of the work.

What are the potential outcomes of a mitigating circumstances submission?

If your mitigating circumstances submission is accepted your School will consider your circumstances, and any programme specific requirements, to apply one of these seven outcomes:

Assessment will be submitted late

  • Removal of lateness penalties.

Assessment will not be submitted

  • Provide a new date to attend/submit the assessment, or
  • Provide a new date to attend/submit an alternative assessment, or
  • In exceptional circumstances it may sometimes be appropriate to void assessment and rescale module mark across other assessment elements

Absence from a scheduled assessment (such as an examinations, class test, lab work or presentation)

  • Provide a new date to attend/submit the assessment, or
  • Provide a new date to attend/submit an alternative assessment, or
  • In exceptional circumstances it may sometimes be appropriate to void assessment and rescale module mark across other assessment elements

Taken ill during a scheduled assessment

  • Provide a new date to attend/submit the assessment, or
  • Provide a new date to attend/submit an alternative assessment, or
  • Void assessment and rescale module mark across other assessment elements

Assessment attended or submitted but you can provide supporting evidence that you were incapable of determining whether or not you were able to undertake an assessment at the time of doing so

  • Disregard attempt and provide a new date to submit the assessment, or
  • Disregard attempt and provide a new date to submit an alternative assessment, or
  • In exceptional circumstances it may sometimes be appropriate to void assessment and rescale module mark across other assessment elements, or
  • Note that the assessment was affected and carry the mitigation claim forward to the point of award, for the purpose of any borderline considerations

When not to use mitigating circumstances

If you have new or ongoing circumstances affecting your studies, we advise you contact Student Support Services as soon as possible to discuss any support or possible adjustments for your studies. This might then mean that a mitigating circumstances claim is not needed later down the line.

Your assessments will have been planned and scheduled to optimise student performance. You need to be aware that using mitigating circumstances as a means of managing normal assessment stress may cause additional pressure later in the year, especially during the summer vacation period. Some exam/assessment stress may be a normal part of University study and there is support available to help with this from Student Support Services, the Students’ Union and Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity.

Of course, if your circumstances are beyond your control and significantly impacting on your assessments then a mitigating circumstances request may help.

What evidence do I need to submit with a mitigating circumstances claim?

For the majority of cases you will need to submit evidence with a mitigating circumstances claim. The evidence you submit needs to:

  • Explain what the circumstance is
  • Provide the timeframe for the circumstances (including any relevant dates)
  • Any additional information relevant to supporting your claim and the impact on your assessments/performance.

Find out what evidence is needed to support your claim. Requests without evidence or without an explanation for why it is missing will not be considered and the request will be rejected.

Making a mitigating circumstances request

You can make a mitigating circumstances request on MyStudentRecord. Once you have logged in, click on the 'My Requests' tab.

Visit MyStudentRecord

If you cannot see the 'My Requests' tab (this may be because you are a Study Abroad, Erasmus or ELTU student; or a staff member on the PG Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice) you can make your mitigating circumstances request by completing the form (Word, 52KB) and submitting, along with your evidence, to the school where the module is taught.

Contact details for Schools/Departments can be found online.

Outcome notification

You should receive notification of an outcome in seven calendar days, and will be advised to access your student record for details. This will include guidance on what you need to do next, based on the recommendation

Academic appeal

There is no specific right of appeal against the outcome of a mitigating circumstances claim. However, you can appeal after receiving the decision from the Board of Examiners, if:

  • Your claim affects your progression or award decision.
  • You wish to raise new evidence of mitigating circumstances. (Important note: you will be expected through the appeal process to demonstrate why it was not possible to bring these circumstances to the attention of your school at the appropriate time in line with the requirements of Senate Regulations, and the Mitigating Circumstances Policy.

Please do ensure that you have read and understand the criteria on this page for submitting a mitigating circumstances claim, before submitting an appeal. You can see a list of the mitigating circumstances that are typically accepted, along with a list of those that are not typically accepted.

Changes to coursework deadlines because of mitigating circumstances

Depending on the circumstance, your school will normally tell you to hand in the coursework at the earliest possible opportunity that your circumstances allow. If your mitigation is accepted for the affected assessment, no penalty will be applied for its late/non submission. If your mitigation is accepted but your school agrees you could have submitted your work earlier, a partial penalty may be applied.

Schools may set a revised submission date in cases where it is possible and appropriate to do so in order to account for accepted mitigating circumstances (see Senate Regulation 7.93).

Further guidance

Evidence to support your claim
Support services available at the University

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