Students Staff

Extenuating circumstances

The following guidelines and form are for extenuating circumstances requests for all undergraduate and postgraduate taught (Masters) students.

Undergraduate Extenuating Circumstances Submission Deadline

Please ensure that you submit your claim before the relevant deadline shown below even in the event that you are still awaiting evidence so that your claim can be considered.
It is important that you press submit on your claim.
If you are still awaiting evidence please note this in your claim, the type of evidence expected, and when your evidence is likely to be ready for upload.

If you are submitting your claim after the deadline – Please contact your department to see whether it is too late to be considered.

About extenuating circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which have an impact on your assessed work. Extenuating circumstances can fall into the following categories:

  • Circumstances which cause you to perform less well in the assessment;
  • Circumstances which cause you to miss an assessment event or not to submit an assessment;

The University has a specific policy and guidance on Late Submission of coursework:

  • Circumstances where you are unable to submit coursework by the deadline or to attend a summative assessment event;
  • Circumstances which mean you need extra time to submit a dissertation (taught postgraduate students only);


In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for any significant period of time and/or on the day of the assessment event, or immediately preceding the time of the deadline.

It is important to realise that only the most serious extenuating circumstances will have any significant impact on your overall performance, particularly when degree classifications are being considered. Therefore, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action unless it believes that the extenuating circumstances have had a material effect.

A Board of Examiners can only make judgements about the impact of extenuating circumstances in light of evidence of your academic ability demonstrated in non-affected work. Boards cannot make judgements about your potential to have gained a higher mark if there is no evidence in the rest of your performance to support this. Furthermore, unless it appears that the extenuating circumstances have had a material affect on your results, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action. You should therefore consider carefully before submitting a form (see also how the Board assesses extenuating circumstances claims).



  • Undergraduate students

    Main summer exam period

    • Deadline: 4pm on Monday 8 June 2020

    January exams in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and the Department of Psychology

    This only applies to the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and the Department of Psychology, which run January examinations. Students taking examinations in other departments/schools can submit forms up to the date of the main summer exam period deadline.

    • Deadline: Friday 17 January 2020

    September reassessment period

    • Deadline: 4pm on Thursday 10 September 2020

  • Incoming Study Abroad students

    Autumn-only incoming students

    • Deadline: TBC

    All other study abroad students follow the main deadline in the ‘Undergraduate students’ tab above.

  • East 15 (Loughton and Southend) students

    Summer period

    • Deadline:
      • Final year undergraduates: TBC
      • Year One and Year Two undergraduates, and Cert HE students: TBC
      • MFA Acting Year Two: TBC
      • Postgraduate students: TBC

    September reassessment period

    • Deadline:
      • Undergraduate Students: TBC
      • Postgraduate students: TBC

  • Edge Hotel School

    • Deadlines:
      • September 2018 entry Level 5 students: Monday 6 January 2020, 9am
      • February 2018 entry Level 6 students: Friday 7 February 2020, midday
      • October 2019 entry, accelerated courses Level 4 students: Friday 8 May 2020, midday
      • September 2018 entry Level 6 students: Friday 28 August 2020, midday
      • October 2019 entry, 3 year courses Level 4 students: Friday 26 June 2020, midday
      • Reassessment: within seven days of the published assignment submission deadline.

  • Health and Social Care students

    Deadlines for the submission of extenuating circumstances forms have been set based on the date of the Board of Examiners meeting for each course/CPD module.

    Please check the ‘Board of Examiners Dates & EC Deadlines’ document on the Health and Social Care Information for Current Students Moodle page for your courses’ extenuating circumstances deadline.

  • Postgraduate taught and research students

    Postgraduate taught

    Main summer assessment period (for Interim Exam Board) and dissertation submissions and September reassessment period (for Final Exam Board):

    • Deadline: Check with your department

    Postgraduate research

    Postgraduate Research students should follow the extenuating circumstances procedures for postgraduate research students. If you are enrolled on the first year of an Integrated PhD course, you should follow the procedure for taught Masters. If you are registered on a Professional Doctorate course and your extenuating circumstances impacted a taught module, you should also follow the taught Masters procedure.


  • Informing the Board of Examiners

    It is your responsibility to inform the Board of Examiners about extenuating circumstances. You can do this by completing an extenuating circumstances form which will be considered by an Extenuating Circumstances Committee who will then make recommendations to the Board of Examiners regarding the effect your circumstances have had on your performance (including non-submission of work or absence from an exam).

    Although you may have previously discussed your difficulties with staff in your department, this does not in itself constitute the submission of extenuating circumstances. You must formally submit an extenuating circumstances form for the Board of Examiners to consider; informal notification will not be considered by the Board. You need to complete an extenuating circumstances form by the published deadline. We cannot guarantee that forms submitted after this date will be referred to the Extenuating Circumstances Committee or sent directly to a Board of Examiners.

    It is essential to inform the Board of any extenuating circumstances before it meets because you cannot subsequently appeal against any decision of the Board of Examiners on the grounds of extenuating circumstances if you could reasonably have been expected to inform the Board in advance. It is also your responsibility to explain fully the impact of extenuating circumstances on your work. If you do not sufficiently explain their impact then you cannot subsequently appeal and ask the Board to consider additional information.

  • About the Extenuating Circumstances Committee

    Extenuating circumstances will normally be considered by a pre-board or small designated group within each department; the Extenuating Circumstances Committee. The Extenuating Circumstances Committee will consider extenuating circumstances relating to examination performance, examination absence, coursework performance, late submission of work, the non-submission of coursework, and other extenuating circumstances affecting the academic year.

    These Committees meet during the year and shortly before the Board of Examiners meets, and recommend whether any action should be taken by the Board of Examiners in light of students’ extenuating circumstances.

    If you have any queries regarding the practice in your department, you can confirm this with your department.

  • Information you need to include

    You should include on the form details of specific coursework or exams affected by your extenuating circumstances. Make sure you explain the impact these circumstances had on your performance. It is not the role of the Board of Examiners to try to work this out or to seek further information on your behalf. Make your submission clear and concise.

    Remember that Extenuating Circumstances Committees and Boards of Examiners are trying to determine whether the circumstances are likely to have significantly affected your academic performance.

  • Documentary evidence you need to provide

    It is in your interest to submit independent and reliable supporting evidence as part of your Extenuating Circumstances application. Supporting evidence should be relevant to the circumstances described in both nature and time frame. Without supporting evidence, the Extenuating Circumstances Committee/Board of Examiners may feel obliged to reject your claim.

    1. It is your responsibility to obtain evidence to support your claim and to ensure that it is submitted within the deadlines set by the University. All evidence must be submitted along with the relevant Extenuating Circumstances form.
    2. All evidence provided must align with or support the dates that you have outlined as part of your claim.
    3. Evidence should be presented appropriately, where possible on headed paper (or with a company stamp) and signed and dated by the appropriate qualified professionals or the author who are independent of the student. This includes staff working at the University.
      Evidence presented by email may be acceptable if the email has been sent by the author.
    4. For cases of a medical nature, the University has an agreement with the Health Centre on the Colchester Campus that their staff will use the medical evidence proforma. However, please note that other health centres and GPs may operate differently and may charge for supplying evidence.
    5. The University reserves the right to ask to see original copies of supporting evidence and/or check on the validity of the document(s) you submit.
    6. All supporting evidence must be provided in English. It is your responsibility to arrange for documents to be translated and to incur any costs associated if they are not written in English. Translation should be undertaken by an accredited translator, e.g. by a member of the Association of Translation Companies.
    7. If it is found that supporting evidence has been fraudulently presented to the University, this could be regarded as an academic offence and would be dealt with under the Academic Offences Procedures and/or Student Conduct Procedure. Alternatively, if supporting evidence is found to have been amended for any reason, it is likely to be deemed inadmissible by the University.
    8. The University acknowledges that, in some situations, there may be legitimate reasons which make it impossible to provide documentary evidence. If this is the case, you must explain why in your application.

    Guidance on extenuating circumstances and evidence

    The following table provides examples of the types of acceptable circumstances that will be considered by the Board of Examiners and the associated evidence that is normally required. Examples are outlined to make clear the expectations and requirements; however this list is not exhaustive and does not guarantee that your request will be accepted.

    The University considers each claim of extenuating circumstances on its own merits, as an individual case and according to the relevant procedure.

    Circumstance Required Evidence Comments
    Long term condition/disability
    • Written independent evidence on headed paper from a medical professional or a medical proforma from the University Medical Centre or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service. The evidence is expected to provide an explanation of why and how your studies have been affected over and above any reasonable adjustments already made.
    Where the effects of a long-term health condition or disability may be expected to have a potential impact on your studies, the University expects that you will discuss this with the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service in good time before assessments to determine whether the University needs to make reasonable adjustments to your studies or assessments.

    The Board of Examiners will consider cases for this scenario where a new conditions or disability is diagnosed too late to allow reasonable adjustments to be considered or put in place, or if you have been affected by a sudden deterioration or change in your condition.
    Physical/mental illness or acute personal/emotional circumstances: including long term and short term
    • A medical letter/certificate from an appropriate medical professional. If you are a student with access to the University Health Centre on campus or have sought support from the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service, a medical proforma is required from the relevant professional.
    Please note that many medical professionals will not issue medical certificates either for short-term or minor illnesses, neither will they issue medical certificates when you were not treated at the time and you report your illness to a doctor retrospectively.

    Boards of Examiners may accept other evidence submitted by you (such as a duplicate copy of the notification of absence form, which you should have submitted at the time of your absence). In many cases Boards of Examiners may judge that a short-term or minor illness has not had a significant effect on your overall performance.
    Hospitalisation: including accident or emergency
    • A medical letter/certificate from the relevant hospital confirming the nature and severity of your circumstances and the likely period of impact on your ability to undertake formal assessment and/or study. Letter of appointment for a specialist consultation, investigation or outpatient treatment.
    Family illness
    • A medical letter/certificate from an independent medical professional.
    Confirmation of the nature and severity of the family circumstances and the likely impact it is having on your ability to undertake formal assessment and/or study will need to be outlined as part of the evidence.
    • A death certificate or a letter confirming the death from an independent person (usually not a family member).
    • Other evidence can include a funeral service booklet, newspaper obituary or letter from the minister.
    The claim should make clear the nature of the relationship between you and the deceased and how your ability to study has been affected. This is particularly necessary where the relationship is not within the immediate family (e.g. a step-grandparent, a cousin) or the relationship is not one of kinship (e.g. death of a friend, death of a friend’s parent).Successful claims relating to bereavement will normally be accepted for the term in which the bereavement occurred, however if you consider that you have been affected for longer, additional evidence of how you have been affected will be required (e.g. letter from GP or counsellor).
    Pregnancy, Maternity and Paternity: including a difficult or unplanned pregnancy
    • A medical letter/certificate from an appropriate medical professional. If you are a student with access to the University Health Centre on campus or have sought support from the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service, a medical proforma is required from the relevant professional.
    Please also refer to the University's Student Pregnancy and Maternity Policy for further guidance.
    Crime: including being the victim of violent crime, theft or being investigated by the police
    • A written statement of events which is supported by written evidence from the Police (including a crime reference number).
    • Solicitor letter
    • A medical letter/certificate from an appropriate medical professional (or medical proforma from University Health Centre or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service)
    Domestic disruption
    • A letter from an appropriate independent individual/authority detailing the relevant circumstances and an indication of the likely impact with their contact details provided relating to a significant and unforeseen domestic disruption.
    This applies only in relation to examinations unless the circumstances are exceptionally severe and extended. Disturbances caused by housemates would generally be considered to be normal and therefore not acceptable as an extenuating circumstance.
    Relationship problems/breakdown: including relationship with a partner or parental relationship
    • A change of address/bank account/tenancy agreement
    • Letter from a third party e.g. a family friend, relative, a counsellor or a solicitor
    The Board of Examiners will need to have sufficient evidence to take into consideration the timing of the break-up and the duration of the relationship and any associated circumstances (e.g. change of accommodation) which may also have impacted on your performance.

    Details of the nature of the relationship (i.e. whether it is the break-up of your own relationship or of a relationship which has a significant impact on them (e.g. parental separation/divorce), a statement of the extent to which you consider it has impacted on you and any evidence which can be provided, preferably by a third party.
    Exceptional financial difficulties
    • Letters (bank, Student Finance, Council, employer etc.)
    • Bank statements
    • A medical letter/certificate from an appropriate medical professional (or medical proforma from University Health Centre or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service
    The Board of Examiners will only consider cases where there is clear evidence that the situation is serious, unexpected and not of your own making as financial difficulties commonly experienced by students are not extenuating.
    Major and exceptional travel disruption
    • Weather, traffic or other incident report
    • Correspondence from the travel provider
    • Tickets
    You will need to include a clear statement of what has occurred and how you consider it has affected your performance. The Board of Examiners may consider whether you allowed enough time for travel.
    Serious or significant personal incidents: including house fire, homelessness, direct experience of natural disaster
    • Insurance documentation
    • Letter (Solicitor, Council, employer, etc.)
    • Documentation from the Citizen's Advice Bureau
    • A medical letter/certificate from an appropriate medical professional (or medical proforma from University Health Centre or Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service)
    Representing the University at a national event or attending another significant/prestigious event
    • A letter of confirmation from the relevant organising body and a supporting statement from you explaining why the event should be considered as significant/prestigious and the reason(s) why you are required to be absent from University
    Please note that this does not include holidays, weddings, changing address or employment, religious holidays or festivals which are usually all known in advance.
    Jury Service (UK)
    • A letter from the Court together, where appropriate, with proof that a deferral has been requested and rejected or proof that a previous request for deferral has been accepted.
    If you are asked to undertake jury service that would affect your ability to meet any of the requirements of your programme, you should normally make a request to the Court for the Jury Service to be deferred. You should discuss the impact of jury service with your department and whether you should make a deferral request.
    Unusual extreme pressures of work/incident in placement (placements only)
    • A letter from your line manager or placement supervisor detailing the relevant circumstances and their impact
    The Board of Examiners will have to be satisfied that the pressures referred to were substantially greater than the normal pressures associated with such activities.

    Self certification

    The Policy on Self Certification for Extenuating Circumstances recognises that in the case of medical extenuating circumstances for minor illnesses, you may not need, or be able to seek, medical attention and therefore will be unable to provide supporting evidence. In such cases, you may Self Certify on the following basis:

    • You are only able to self-certify on two separate occasions each year (the dates for the two separate occasions should not be sequential)
    • You are only able to self-certify for up to five days per claim
    • You may self-certify for any form of assessment (coursework or exam)
    • Self-certification should only cover illness for which medical help would not normally be sought
  • Circumstances not taken into account

    It is not possible to list every circumstance that the Board of Examiners would not accept or take into account. However some of the more obvious examples are listed below:

    • general pressure of work is not taken to be circumstances beyond your control, as you are expected to plan your work schedule
    • a short-term problem or illness which has occurred during the year and which is not deemed to have had an overall effect on your performance
    • personal disruptions or events which could have been anticipated; such as holidays, weddings, changing address or employment, religious holidays or festivals which are usually known in advance
    • excessive demands on time or pressure of one’s employment, which could have been anticipated
    • financial constraints commonly experienced by students
    • missing an examination because you misread the timetable or overslept
    • having more than one examination on the same day or on consecutive days (unless you were already suffering from illness or injury)
    • problems with the teaching timetable where you have not taken the necessary action to ensure that appropriate module choices are made
    • where extenuating circumstances have affected you throughout your time at University, it is difficult to determine what your marks might have been like otherwise. In such cases, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action

  • About the Board of Examiners

    A Board of Examiners is the formal body which considers the marks for each student. It approves the marks, decides whether students can proceed to the next year, and decides on the degree classifications for final year students. It comprises a small number of academic staff from the relevant department(s) for the courses under consideration and is normally chaired by a Dean. In the second and subsequent years, and for masters courses, External Examiners would normally also attend. Not all members of academic staff are members of the Board of Examiners.

    The Board of Examiners consider all candidates anonymously, by examination candidate number and great care is taken over the confidentiality of information supplied by students.

  • How the Board of Examiners assesses your extenuating circumstances

    Boards of Examiners try to determine whether, and to what extent, extenuating circumstances have affected your academic performance, and determine what action, if any, can be taken. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances, Boards will normally take into account:

    • the severity of the problem and the length of time involved
    • any supporting documentary evidence
    • whether all work in the same period appears to have been equally affected
    • whether it is possible to gauge the effect of the extenuating circumstances upon academic performance
    • whether your achievement is consistent with past performance
    • the type of assessment affected, and how long you had to complete the work (ie date when work set and deadline for submission)

    Boards cannot estimate potential. For example, if you have performed at 2.2 level in your other exams, and then miss an exam in which you believe that you could have got a 2.1 because you had prepared well, you cannot expect a Board of Examiners to share your view. Boards cannot impute marks, that is, add marks or estimate what your mark might have been.

  • Possible action taken by Board of Examiners

    The Board of Examiners will try to ensure a fair result based on your overall performance. It could take a number of actions including:

    • amending the assessment of a module by changing the weighting of particular units that contribute to the overall course assessment
    • discounting particular modules, or pieces of work from the assessment of the year or the programme of study
    • allowing a reassessment attempt to be treated as a first sit, often for uncapped marks where capping applies
    • instating a formative mark for a late piece of work

    Wherever possible a Board will try to make a decision about what, if any, action can be taken in the second year in the case of problems affecting second year undergraduate students. However sometimes it may not be possible for the Board to determine what action would be reasonable, and it may therefore carry forward the extenuating circumstances for consideration by the final year Board when the Examiners will have at least two years’ worth of marks to review.

    In the case of severe extenuating circumstances affecting the final months of a final year undergraduate student’s studies there is provision for a Board to consider the award of an aegrotat degree (under the terms of regulation 6.25).

  • Action not taken by Board of Examiners

    Boards of Examiners will not:

    • permit a student who presents extenuating circumstances to proceed to the next year of study if he or she has not met the necessary requirements, unless the examiners are satisfied that it is appropriate to do so on academic grounds
    • permit students to fail a core module or fail any published variations to the rules of assessment.
    • add extra marks because a student’s work has been affected by extenuating circumstances
    • amend marks from previous years of study
    • award a higher class of degree if the examiners are not satisfied that this is a fair result based on the student’s demonstrated academic performance
    • annotate statement of results/transcripts with comments about the existence of extenuating circumstances

  • Further information for all students

    • False claims

      You should note that submitting a false claim or false documentation is a serious matter and would be regarded as an attempt to gain unfair advantage. This would be a breach of student conduct and would be dealt with under the Code of Student Conduct. The University reserves the right to check on the validity of the document(s) you submit by contacting the third party directly.

    • Data Protection Act 2018

      By submitting an extenuating circumstances form you are agreeing to the University holding this personal data for the purposes of processing your claim. The University will hold this data in accordance with its notification under the 2018 Data Protection Act.

    • The Equality Act 2010 and Information for Disabled Students

      If you find that you are unable to submit an electronic copy of the Extenuating Circumstances Form, you can request a hard copy of the form from your department or Student Wellbeing. The form should be submitted to your department and please note that you should still submit any relevant evidence with the form.

      If you have any queries about a claim which has been rejected, please email the Assessment Team at or your department to request further information. You can also discuss this feedback with staff in the Student Services Hub if you believe that your individual needs have not been understood or adequately taken into account.

      If you are providing information about your disability on your extenuating circumstances form, please note that this does not count as disclosure to the University as these forms are intended for use only by the Board of Examiners. We strongly urge you to disclose any persistent medical condition, specific learning difficulty or disability to the Student Services Hub.

    • Professional suitability and fitness to practise

      Important - information about you that may affect professional suitability:

      The University is committed to a fair and confidential process for handling extenuating circumstances and recognises that this process may involve the disclosure and handling of sensitive personal information.

      The University is committed to full compliance with its obligations related to professional suitability in order to uphold the highest standards of conduct among its students both during and beyond their period as a student at the University.

      All University students are required to comply with the University’s Code of Student Conduct Regulations and other regulations of the University regarding conduct. Students enrolled on courses where a practical professional placement is required have additional responsibilities placed upon them regarding their professional suitability. Failure to meet these responsibilities can lead to the Breach of Professional Conduct, Fitness to Practise and Termination of Training Procedure being invoked. You will have been informed when you registered as a student if your degree scheme is subject to this Procedure

      Breaches of professional standards by students may involve a range of actions or omissions but may include:

      • actions that are harmful to service users, other members of the public or service provides
      • actions that are likely to constitute an unacceptable risk to students or others
      • failure to disclose information about previous matters relating to professional suitability prior to enrolment on the course
      • contravention of the relevant professional code of conduct
      • actions that are prejudicial to the development or standing of professional practice

      In addition, for students studying law, the University has an obligation to report relevant information related to professional suitability to the Law Society.

      Any information that is provided on any extenuating circumstances form that raises issues of professional suitability, whether it has been disclosed by you and about you or by another student on another form but relates to you will be disclosed as necessary to the relevant internal or external authorities. Information will only ever be disclosed on a need to know basis to ensure the University is able to comply with its obligations related to professional suitability. These authorities may include the Professional Practice and Conduct Committee, your employer if your registration as a student relates to Continuing Professional Development or any relevant Professional or Regulatory Body.

    • Getting more guidance or feedback

      If after having read these notes you feel you need more help in putting forward your extenuating circumstances, you should contact SU Advice or your Student Services Hub.

      If you require feedback on the way in which the Board of Examiners has handled your extenuating circumstances claim, you can ask for feedback after the results have been released. However, please be aware that the exam board period is a particular busy time of year so there may be a delay in your receiving feedback. If you are an undergraduate student, contact your Student Services Hub. If you are a postgraduate student, contact your department.