Accessibility statement

Exceptional circumstances affecting assessment

Sometimes things happen that can seriously impair your performance in an assessment or prevent you undertaking the assessment at the scheduled time. If these events are unforeseeable and exceptional (ie serious and unusual) you may be able to defer an assessment or take it again. 

Students studying on 100% online part-time Masters programmes have a different policy to support disruptions that impact assessments. See the York Online Programmes tab below or your Orientation module to learn more about the York Online Fit to Sit / Submit policy.

Student Support Plans (for students with a disability) sometimes have the option to request an extension on a piece of work as part of their Plan's adjustments or to defer an examination attempt. The way to request such an extension or exam deferral is to use the exceptional circumstances claim form (at the end of this page) but to indicate that you are requesting an adjustment via your SSP when the form asks for this. Your request will then be forward to your departmental Disability Officer directly. Do not use self-certification for conditions which are addressed in your SSP.

If your performance in or completion of a summative assessment has been seriously impaired by medical or other unforeseen circumstances, then you may be able to claim exceptional circumstances through this policy using:

  1. Self-certification for short-term, acute illnesses or short-term unforeseen circumstances prior to submission of an open assessment or commencement of an examination - no evidence needed. Students may use self-certification for a maximum of 3 assessments per academic year. Self certification is not available for use on PGR programmes or York Online programmes.
  2. Exceptional Circumstances Committee application for assessments where the start time (exams) or deadline (open assessments) has past or where the self-certification may not be possible due to the severity of the circumstances/impact on assessment.

A summary of these processes and other FAQs are included in the tabs below (the full details are in the EC policy link further down the page).

1. Self-certification

1. Self-certification 

This information does not apply to York Online students, please see the York Online Programmes tab or your Orientation module for guidance about the York Online Fit to Sit / Submit policy.

For most departments, this can be done via the Self-certification Task in e:Vision. Some departments may use a different process and will notify you accordingly. Please follow the guidance from your department on which process to use.

This process means a student may either defer or have a short extension to an assessment without the need for evidence - this is suitable for short-term, acute illnesses or short-term unforeseen circumstances prior to submission of an open assessment or commencement of an examination. Students may use self-certification for a maximum of 3 assessments per academic year -

Assessment types permitted for Self-Certification (see EC3 for details).

 This may apply to the following assessment types -

Deferral - only before the start of the exam window

  1. Closed Examinations
  2. Aural Examinations (Listening tests)
  3. Online Examinations
  4. Open examinations up to two weeks of various durations

4 calendar day extension - only up until the submission deadline.

  1. Coursework/Essay
  2. PGT Dissertations
  3. UG Projects

Grounds for Self-certification (See EC2 for details of circumstances)

When a student asks for self-certification, approval will be automatic, as long as the criteria are met and the request is made on time. Students will be required to state the reason for the claim - ie one of the following:

  • Exceptional Medical Circumstances (Physical Health)
  • Exceptional Medical Circumstances (Mental Health)
  • Exceptional Medical Circumstances (Physical and Mental Health)
  • Exceptional Personal Circumstances
  • Inadequate IT resources

Knock-on impact of extensions and deferrals: Students must be aware of the impact of using self-certification on a number of assessments. If you use self-certification, this may have a knock-on effect on assessment and progression.

For example,

  • If you defer an examination and then fail the SAIFFT in the summer, then you may have to take a Leave of Absence before the next assessment opportunity.
  • A four day extension on an assessment may mean you are working on an assessment when other assessments, classes or other responsibilities must be met.

Monitoring: Departments will track usage of this system for signs of abuse or students who may need further support to manage their studies. Fabrication of exceptional circumstances using self-certification will be treated as academic misconduct.

So please, only use Self-certification where you have exceptional circumstances and it is absolutely necessary and appropriate to do so.

Self-certification is not available for usage on PGR programmes or York Online Programmes.

2. Evidenced claims

2. Evidenced claims 

This information does not apply to York Online students, please see the York Online Programmes tab or your Orientation module for guidance about the York Online Fit to Sit / Submit policy.

Evidenced claims are made using the link to the Exceptional Circumstances Application Form at the bottom of this page.

In certain cases, self-certification may not be possible due to the severity of the circumstances/impact on assessment or the deadline/exam has passed or due to the assessment type (see EC3.6). Students may then submit an exceptional circumstances claim to a departmental Exceptional Circumstances Committee. These claims must be evidenced (see EC4.1 for details). Evidence is preferably submitted with the claim and no later than three weeks after the assessment deadline or after the date of the Board of Examiners. 

Claims must not be received more than one week after the assessment deadline or date of the examination. An application for an extension should be received at least two days prior to the assessment deadline to allow time for consideration.

Outcomes of ECA claim via committee:

  • SAIFFT - Sit “as if for the first time” (EC5.2)
  • Extension
  • Alternative assessment
  • Additional work to reach learning outcomes
  • Aegrotat degree
  • Waiving on up to 20% of module assessment
  • Up to 40 credits of SAIFFT at end of stage

Long-term conditions or circumstances

For more long-standing conditions and circumstances you will be expected to use the appropriate support services provided by the University (eg Disability Services) in order to have relevant adjustments made, and/or to develop coping strategies which will see you through your study.

Step by step guide to requesting individual arrangements

3. Online examinations

3. Online examinations

This information does not apply to York Online students, please see the York Online Programmes tab or your Orientation module for guidance about the York Online Fit to Sit / Submit policy.

Can I submit an Exceptional Circumstances claim if I am unable to submit my online exam?

Students are allowed to submit an ECA claim citing any of the circumstances or any circumstances normally covered by the Exceptional Circumstances Policy

Before the start of the examination: Use self-certification

After the start of the examination: Apply via Exceptional Circumstances Committee

  • a student who does not submit the online exam can submit an ECA claim if the non-submission is as a result of exceptional circumstances
  • a student who submits the online exam can also submit an ECA claim if they believe that exceptional circumstances have affected their performance in the exam
  • the ECA claim must be received within 7 days of the end of the submission window
  • the outcome of successful claim would be the opportunity to sit the affected assessments(s) 'as if for the first time' (sometimes referred to as SAIFFT) at the next opportunity. You will not be granted an extension to complete the work.

Although we will allow extensions, and assessments to be taken 'as if for the first time', if those assessments are similarly affected, or students fail to meet the progression criteria at the delayed attempt at the assessment, it is unlikely that they will be able to recoup the assessment in time for progression or graduation.  For Undergraduate students is very likely that you will need to take a Leave of Absence for the following academic year.

4. York Online Programmes

4. York Online Programmes

York Online programmes operate a “Fit to Sit / Submit” policy to support students to manage any disruptions that could impact their ability to complete a summative assessment on time. This means that if a student sits an exam or submits an assignment, they are declaring themselves fit to do so and the mark achieved should stand. “Fit” means that the student is well and unaware of any circumstances that would prevent them from undertaking or being able to prepare for an assessment. Students who are not capable of taking the assessment should not attempt to do so and should declare to the University that they are not fit to sit the assessment. Students are only considered unfit to take an assessment when they inform the University in the timescales and manner set out in the policy. 

Key facts about the Fit to Sit policy:

  • Students can defer an assessment before an exam has started or a summative deadline has passed for any reason and without requiring evidence.
  • Claims submitted after an exam has started or a summative deadline has passed will require evidence and not all circumstances are accepted. 
  • All declarations of being unfit to submit an assessment or sit an exam either before or after the deadline should be made using the Exceptional Circumstances application form linked at the bottom of this page.
  • Common outcomes for students who use this policy will be an extension, an opportunity to sit the assessment ‘as if for the first time’, or a late penalty waiver.
  • Extensions granted will always be two weeks. Students may only receive one extension per assessment.
  • Students will be required to submit claims within 7 days of the assessment deadline, or evidence a good reason for submitting the claim late.

Further information is available in your Orientation module and within theYork Online Fit to Sit - Submit policy 2022-23 (PDF , 188kb)

Long-term conditions or circumstances

The Fit to Sit / Submit policy is designed as a short-term support for students whose ability to prepare for or attempt a summative assessment (including reassessments) has been negatively affected by circumstances outside of their studies.

This policy is not designed to support students in the case of long-term health conditions or changes of circumstances. In these cases, students are expected to use the appropriate support services provided by the University (eg Disability Services or taking a Leave of Absence). Students whose studies have been disrupted for more than two weeks should contact their Student Success Coordinator to discuss alternative methods of supporting their studies.

5. Exceptional Circumstances

5. Exceptional circumstances

Circumstances that may fall into this category are:

  • Exceptional medical circumstances eg hospitalisation or incapacitation through injury, illness, or mental health crisis.
  • Close bereavement eg partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, and grandchild. Housemates or very close friends may also be considered as ‘close’, though evidence of the relationship may be required.
  • Victim of a serious crime.
  • Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments are not yet in place and where the delay is not due to the student
  • Exceptional and unforeseeable transport difficulties eg major transport incidents, cancelled flights. This does not include every-day issues eg traffic congestion, missed buses or trains.
  • Interviews for work-placements or for employment which cannot be changed.
  • Legal proceedings requiring attendance.
  • Exceptional personal circumstances eg events that result in a serious impact on a student’s ability to engage with academic work during the assessment period in question.
  • Challenging domestic situation (pandemic related) 
  • Access to reliable internet or required technology Circumstances are such that access to reliable internet and/or required technology is unexpectedly unavailable during the course of the assessment. 
  • Other severe impacts of COVID-19 pandemic (for example mental health, interaction with existing disability).

6. 'Normal'' difficulties

6. 'Normal'' difficulties

Circumstances not (usually) considered exceptional

Academic studies are challenging and everyday life is full of ups and downs. We expect you to use the appropriate support services to help you develop strategies for managing normal difficulties. Your supervisor, college staff or other members of the academic community can help you access these.

The following never qualify as exceptional circumstances:

  • Loss of work not backed up or printing problems
  • Accidental submission of an incorrect document (eg an assignment from another module or an incomplete earlier draft of the assignment)
  • In the event of electronic submission, the following will not be accepted as exceptional circumstances:

a. submitting the wrong file type or a corrupted file
b. starting the upload after the deadline has passed
c. a claim of technical issues on behalf of the University with no proof of an error message/ system failure on either the VLE or the University network.

  • Misreading of the examination timetable
  • English not being a first language
  • Deadlines for work or exams being set close together

The following may only be regarded as exceptional if there is evidence that they are unforeseeable, unavoidable and had an impact on the assessment:

  • Weddings
  • Constraints arising from paid employment (full-time students)
  • Holidays
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Moving house
  • Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments have been made
  • Financial difficulties
  • Planned health appointments
  • For an electronic submission of an assessment, a delay of up to 30 minutes between starting and completing the file upload process

Submitting a claim 

You must submit a claim before the deadline for the assessment (or date of the exam) if possible, or in any event no later than 7 days after the date of the assessment.

You must also check your departmental guidance on deadlines for submission of a claim.

 

Exceptional circumstances affecting assessment policy

Use support available

The University offers a range of services to help you develop skills to cope and manage challenges:

To submit an evidenced exceptional circumstances claim, you should complete and submit the online form. 

Self-certification: This form may be used by some departments for self-certification - so please check first with your department as they may have a different form for self-certification.

Exceptional Circumstances Application Form