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Exceptional Circumstances affecting Assessment (ECA) Policy Guidance for Students

Please note the following information is for Health Sciences' students only.

What counts as an exceptional circumstance?

The University defines an exceptional circumstance as a problem that you have encountered which goes beyond the normal difficulties experienced in life and that has affected your academic performance adversely during the assessment period for which you are claiming.

The following guidance outlines the policy, the procedure you need to follow and the evidence you need to submit if you want to make a claim for exceptional circumstances.

Is the process the same for claiming for an extension as it is for claiming exceptional circumstances in relation to performance?

All claims are made on the same form, and follow the same procedure below, regardless of whether they are claims for extensions, mitigation in relation to performance, or mitigation in relation to late submission. 

The only exception to this is if an assessment extension request would take you two weeks beyond the end of your registration period (ie beyond your official expected end date). In such circumstances this cannot be dealt with through the Department’s Exceptional Circumstances Committee. Students need to apply for a ‘programme extension’ via their supervisor and Board of Studies to the University's Special Cases Committee. 

If you think you will need a programme extension to complete, for example, your dissertation you should contact your personal supervisor as soon as possible to discuss if you have grounds for a request. Your personal supervisor will assist you with the process.

If you are applying for an extension please note that the duration you request should normally be supported by the evidence provided. For example, if you are applying for a two week extension then the committee would expect to receive evidence from your GP or another third party professional confirming that a two week period was affected by your circumstances.

Please also note that the evidence provided must relate to the assessment period claimed for. The assessment period is normally considered as the six weeks leading up to an assessment.

How and when do I make a claim?

You must notify your department of exceptional circumstances by completing the electronic form using this link. The form must be completed by the Department’s deadline. 

It is essential that an accurate and comprehensively completed claim form is submitted together with supporting evidence that demonstrates how the problematic events have impacted on your ability to study. Your claim may be rejected without further consideration if the claim form is inaccurately or only partially completed.

After making a claim, students should continue working to the best of their ability towards completion of the assessment according to the original schedule as there is no guarantee that their claim will be supported and approved.

If you are unable to access the link please email Please note: Email correspondence must be sent from your University email account, they will not be accepted from personal non-University or work-related non-University email addresses. This departmental email address is confidential and is only accessible to staff within the Department’s Student Assessment Office that are responsible for processing your claim.

Or you can submit evidence to the departmental Student Information Service office in an envelope clearly marked ‘Exceptional Circumstances’.

Or you can post evidence directly to: Student Assessment Office, Area 2 Seebohm Rowntree Building, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, YO10 5DD.

  • The deadline for submitting your exceptional circumstances claim in relation to an assessment is one week from the submission or examination date
  • If you are requesting an extension you must submit your claim no later than the submission deadline.

In the unlikely event that your exceptional circumstances prevent you from submitting your claim at the appropriate time you should submit your claim as soon as you are able to do so.  If submitting a late claim you must clearly state (and evidence) what prevented you from submitting the claim before the deadline.  The Committee will first consider whether you have established valid grounds for submitting a claim after the deadline.  The Committee will only consider your claim’s grounds for mitigation if it is agreed that you have demonstrated valid reasons that prevented you making a claim at the appropriate time.  If you cannot establish satisfactory grounds for submitting a late claim, your claim will be rejected.

If you require advice regarding exceptional circumstances please email the Student Assessment Office on

Completing the claim form

You should use the University Exceptional Circumstances Form to inform the Department about circumstances that have arisen and/or problems you have encountered that you believe may or have affected your academic performance in assessments, or to request an extension to an assessment date.  The form is available on this webpage (top right of page).

Information to assist you to complete the Exceptional Circumstances Form:

Name, Student Number (not your Student Exam Number), Programme Title and Department - You must complete all these sections.

Brief details of your exceptional circumstances
You must describe briefly and clearly the relevant circumstances involved, and how you feel that these affected you in relation to any assessment, for example having taken an exam whilst ill or completed coursework whilst experiencing exceptional personal difficulties (see below for more details).

If you are submitting a claim after the deadline you must also state the circumstances that prevented you from submitting your claim on time.
List supporting evidence submitted
Enter details here of the documentary evidence you are submitting.  These details should show the exceptional circumstances involved, relevant dates and evidence source, for example your doctor. 

Securely attach your evidence to the form if you submit a hard copy.  If submitting electronically you can scan your evidence and submit it by attaching this to your email with your form. Note you may also be requested to submit the original copy so please store this securely until your claim is resolved. Without relevant supporting evidence it is likely that your claim will be rejected (see below for details).
Details of assessments affected
You must list each assessment that you believe will be or has been affected by the exceptional circumstances you are claiming, and complete all sections of the table.

Student Declaration:
You must read and sign the declaration and insert the date you signed the declaration.  Follow the instructions on the form if you are submitting electronically.

 PART B: This is for official use and must NOT be completed by you. 

How is my claim considered?

Your circumstances will be considered by a Exceptional Circumstances affecting Assessment (ECA) Committee.  As a guide extension requests are usually considered within 3-4 working days.  Claims are usually considered within 7 working days from the date of submission of the claim and evidence. Students cannot attend these meetings.

The ECA committee can consider your claim only if you have both completed the Exceptional Circumstances Claim form and submitted relevant evidence supporting your claim. Your claim will remain confidential and will be disclosed only to the ECA Committee and those administering the Committee. For this reason your claim cannot be anonymous. If, however, you appeal against the decision of the Committee, members of the University’s Special Cases Committee and its administrator will see your claim and the associated evidence.

The outcome of the claim (ie approved or rejected) will be disclosed to your personal supervisor, but the grounds for the claim will not be disclosed.  If an extension is granted or a decision to take the assessment 'as if for the first time' is made, the module leader will be notified that ‘a student’ will be assessed at a later date, but your name would not be disclosed.  This is to ensure the markers are available to mark your script in a timely manner.

However in exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to consult your personal supervisor with the details of your claim if a fitness to practise issue is disclosed.  Where there are concerns about fitness to practice you may be referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee.  Please be reassured that this would only apply in very exceptional circumstances.

The Committee may also consult your personal supervisor if it feels that there is an issue surrounding your fitness to study. More information and the Fitness to Study policy can be found at the following link:

What are the possible outcomes of my claim?

If your claim is ACCEPTED, it is usual that either you will be permitted to attempt the assessment again, or you will be granted an extension to the submission deadline. 

If you are permitted a new attempt and you accept this option, and you received a mark for your original attempt, the original mark becomes void and is replaced with the mark for the new attempt.

If your claim is NOT ACCEPTED, the original mark for the assessment will stand.  This mark could be a mark of zero if you have not taken the original assessment.

If your claim for an extension is NOT ACCEPTED this may result in a late penalty being applied to your submission, which may result in failure.

How will I be notified of the Committee’s decision?

You will receive notification of the Committee's decision to your University email account.  You will NOT receive a hard copy letter confirming the decision.

If your claim is rejected you will be informed of the reason for this decision.

Remember as a student of the University you are responsible for checking your University email account on a regular basis.  As such failure to check your University email account for the decision is not grounds for further mitigation.

What evidence do I need to provide if I am ill?

If you fall ill and can go to the University’s Health Centre, you can be seen by a Medical Advisor there. They will complete the ‘Confirmation of Illness Affecting Assessment’ form (available top right of this web page) which you can use as evidence for your mitigating circumstances claim. This service is available for all students even if they are registered with another doctor.

If you cannot go to the University’s Health Centre you can obtain evidence from another doctor.  Please take a copy of the 'Confirmation of Illness Affecting Assessment' form with you.

Other third party medical evidence can also be considered, such as evidence of emergency treatment (eg from a dentist, Accident and Emergency doctor).  This evidence should state the nature of your illness/injury and the length of time you will not be able to engage with academic work effectively.

If you have suffered from long-term illness you should provide a medical certificate or letter from your usual doctor or hospital consultant. Letters from the Open Door Team regarding medical conditions should specifically state that “the Open Door team is in possession of documentary medical evidence to support this request” and state who has provided the evidence.  (Letters from the Open Door Team regarding non-medical conditions are discussed below.)

What other circumstances are normally accepted and what evidence do I need to provide?

For all students:

Circumstances normally acceptedExamples of evidence that would support a claim based on this circumstance
Compassionate grounds A letter from the Open Door Team, a counsellor  or a relevant independent third-party explaining that, in their professional opinion, the circumstances have had a serious impact on your ability to engage with academic work effectively during the assessment period in question
Exceptional personal circumstances1 A letter from the Open Door Team, a counsellor or a relevant independent third-party explaining that, in their professional opinion, the circumstances have had a serious impact on your ability to engage with academic work effectively during the assessment period in question
A close bereavement2  A death certificate 
Victim of a serious crime A crime report and number
Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments are not yet in place and where the delay is not due to the student  A letter from the University's Disability Services.
If you have a student support plan in place for a disability which recommends occasional extensions to written assessments, please use the Disability extension request form (MS Word , 23kb).
Serious and unforeseeable transport difficulties A letter from the relevant transport company or evidence of a major road incident
Interviews for placements or for employment  Evidence showing that the interview date cannot be rearranged 
Legal proceedings requiring attendance   A letter from a solicitor or a court

1 For example, the illness of a dependent or the repossession of your accommodation.

2 The following relatives are accepted as ‘close’ without further evidence: spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, and grandchild. For other bereavements, evidence of closeness in the form of a statement from a third party should also be provided. Additional evidence (eg statement from a counsellor regarding grief counselling in progress) should be provided where mitigation is claimed for an extended period, for example, for more than one term (ie three months) following the death of the relevant person.

Note: If your circumstances relate to the impact the circumstances of a third party have had upon you (eg caring for a sick relative) you will need to evidence the impact these circumstances have had upon you, not simply evidence the third party's circumstances.

For part-time students and research students in their writing-up period:

Paid work commitments or constraints arising from paid employment  

Evidence of employment explaining that the circumstances have had a serious impact on your ability to engage with academic work effectively during the assessment period in question.

Note for taught undergraduate/graduate part-time modules in the Department of Health Sciences the assessment/submission date has been set to take account of normal work/family commitments of part-time students.  Students are ordinarily expected to plan their studies and workloads in order to submit on time. Therefore, in the context of work/family commitments, only exceptional changes to these commitments may be considered by the Committee as grounds for extension requests.

Note: The timing and nature of the above circumstances should have adversely affected your performance on the assessment(s) for which you are claiming mitigating circumstances. 

What does not count as an exceptional circumstance?

  1. Paid work commitments or constraints arising from paid employment for full-time students
  2. Minor illnesses, for example, those for which only self-certification under the University scheme is available
  3. Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments have been made or where you have experience or time to manage the situation
  4. Long-standing minor medical conditions such as hay fever
  5. Over-sleeping
  6. Holidays
  7. Minor everyday surmountable obstacles, for example, disruption to normal domestic routine
  8. English being a second language
  9. Moving house
  10. Deadlines for work being set close together
  11. Planned health appointments
  12. Financial difficulties
  13. Breakdown of personal relationships unless leading to compassionate circumstances as described above
  14. Weddings
  15. Unavailability of course books/resources
  16. Attending or taking part in sporting or social events
  17. Voluntary work
  18. Unreasonable refusal to return to York for assessments scheduled in the vacation ‘re-assessment’ period
  19. Mitigating circumstances that affect an individual in relation to group assessed work cannot be claimed by other members of the group

What circumstances are never accepted?

  1. Loss of work not backed-up on disk or printing problems
  2. Misreading of the examination timetable

Why might my claim be rejected?

  1. The form is incomplete or incorrectly submitted (ie submitted from a non-University email account)
  2. No independent documentary evidence has been supplied to support the request (letters from family, fellow students, managers or personal supervisors are not normally sufficient on their own)
  3. The timing of the circumstances cited would not have adversely affected the assessment(s)
  4. The evidence submitted does not support the claim that the nature of the circumstances was over and above the normal difficulties 
  5. The form was not submitted by the department deadline and the mitigating circumstances would not have prevented you making a claim by the deadline  
  6. Sufficient mitigation has already been made for the same circumstances
  7. The mitigation is a disability for which reasonable adjustments have been made
  8. The circumstances are not, or not normally, accepted under Exceptional Circumstances affecting Assessment Policy

How do you appeal against the decision of the Committee?

Further information on how to appeal to the Special Cases Committee is found on the following Registry Services webpage

You should complete the appeal application form on this page stating why you think the Commitee has reached the wrong decision in your case.  You should do this within four weeks of receiving notice of the Committee's decision.

Information and advice on appeals is available from:

The University’s Academic Appeals Regulations can be found at: