Accessibility statement

Exceptional circumstances affecting assessment (ECA)

If circumstances in your life significantly affect your performance in assessed work (including examinations) or lead to you needing a deadline extension for such work, then you can submit an 'exceptional circumstances' request.  Please speak to your supervisor if you experience this kind of difficulty.

The University defines an exceptional circumstance as a problem which goes beyond the normal difficulties experienced in life.  They are often one-off, life-affecting events, whereby the circumstances must be exceptional (i.e. serious and unusual) relative to the normal daily challenges that academic study presents, and unpredictable in that the student could not reasonably have been expected either to avoid them, or to allow for them in planning or preparing the assessment work during the assessment period for which you are claiming.

If your difficulties affect your studies beyond one assessment period, do please discuss with your supervisor the other options open to you.  

What are Exceptional Circumstances?

What can I apply for?

  • prior to an essay* (*or equivalent) submission you may request a short extension to a submission deadline or;
  • if you believe the assessment (online or closed exam, or essay) has been affected/damaged by exceptional circumstances you may submit a claim to request the opportunity to sit the assessment again as-if-for-the-first-time (SAIFT) in the August re-assessment period.

ECA application deadlines

  • The deadline to request a short essay* extension (*or equivalent assessment) is normally 2-working days before the submission deadline date.   Exension requests are not permitted for online or closed exams. Retrospective ECA essay extension requests will not be considered by the Philosophy Department.  Note that we will publish the ECA application deadline date and time prior to each assessment submission to students via email;
  • The deadline to apply for a sit-as-if-for-first-time (SAIFT) due to a damaged essay* or exam is not later than one week after the last affected assessment.  Note that we will publish the ECA application deadline date and time prior to each assessment to students via email.

How do I apply?

  1. Go to the University's Exceptional Circumstances affecting Assessment web pages;
  2. On these pages complete and submit the on-line application and your supporting evidence via the Exceptional Circumstances application portal (or alternatively you may submit a hard copy ECA application form and evidence to the relevant Departmental Office).

ECA queries and contact

If you are a Philosophy student and have questions about the ECA process which cannot be answered by these web pages then please do email Karen Norris (for Undergraduate students) or Carol Dixon (for MA and Graduate Diploma students) at

Student Support Plans (SSPs)

Students who require teaching support and assessment adjustments for a disability or long-standing condition

Disability Services are available to advise any student with substantial and long-standing professionally diagnosed health difficulties - either physical or mental health - which have a negative impact on their ability to study.  They can arrange academic support and adjustments if you have disability or long-term health condition, and students should contact them in the first instance for advice.

The definition of Disability is that of the Equality Act - any long-term condition that has a significant impact on day-to-day life. 'Long-term' means has lasted or is likely to last 12 months or more, whilst 'day-to-day life' in this case means study related activities, and this includes mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.  

All students with long-term conditions can be offered practical help with their studies, exams and written assessments, via a Student Support Plan.  Any support arrangements that you may have had at school or college are not carried over once you are at University, so if you are aware of having long-term issues as described above then we would urge you to get in touch with Disability Services as quickly as possible for advice and support.  The sooner you do this, the better, in terms of seeking the support and practical help you may need thoughout your degree course.  There are step-by-step instructions showing how to request support via the Disability Services web pages.

Your SSP

Once you have an SSP in place then this will provide you, your Department(s) and Disability Services with information as to what teaching support and assessment adjustments you have in place.  It is your plan, so you must be clear on what support is available and how you ask for certain adjustments.

If your SSP permits you to request occasional summative essay extensions for disability-related reasons.  Extensions are not permitted for online or closed exams.  If you wish to apply for an essay extensions please follow the procedure below:

  1. You will need to submit a formal essay extension request in advance of the essay submission deadline;
  2. Complete the SSP application form via the University's web-based SSP application portal, stating the reason for your request;
  3. You do not need to submit additional medical evidence with your request;
  4. Your request will be considered by the relevant Department's Disability Officer/Chair of Exams, and you will be informed of the outcome by email by the Department;
  5. All essay extension requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and do not guarantee the successful outcome of a claim, nor do they permit automatic extensions for all essays.  Essay extensions should be requested occasionally, and should we become concerned about the use or frequency of these requests you will be asked to review your SSP adjustments with Disability Services and the Department.