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 (i.e. serious and unusual) you may be able to defer an assessment or take it again. 

What are exceptional circumstances?

Circumstances that may fall into this category are:

  • Exceptional medical circumstances e.g. hospitalisation or incapacitation through injury, illness, or mental health crisis.
  • Close bereavement e.g. 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 e.g. major transport incidents, cancelled flights. This does not include every-day issues e.g. traffic congestion, missed buses or trains.
  • Interviews for work-placements or for employment which cannot be changed
  • Legal proceedings requiring attendance
  • Exceptional personal circumstances e.g. events that result in a serious impact on a student’s ability to engage with academic work during the assessment period in question.

What are ‘normal difficulties’ and not grounds for a claim?

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 (e.g. 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 and evidencing a claim 

If unforeseeable and exceptional circumstances do occur, you must seek support and provide evidence as soon as possible at the time of the occurrence.

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.

Supporting evidence must:

  • reflect an independent professional opinion of the impact of the circumstances on your ability to perform in assessments
  • be based on the appropriate professional having met with you at the time you were affected

To acquire evidence from a professional source, such as a doctor, psychiatrist, Open Door counsellor or other relevant professional, you may find if helpful to provide them with this form to complete:

Confirmation of Exceptional Circumstances - Guidance for Professionals (PDF , 123kb)

I‌f you provider does not wish to complete this form, they can use it as a prompt for their own letter - the form indicates what sort of information is useful to an Exceptional Circumstances Committee when considering your 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 exceptional circumstances claim, you should complete and submit the online Exceptional Circumstances Application Form