This Guide will tell you how to prepare your Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) request in the best way.
This Guide will not focus on following procedures but on ensuring that you put forward the best case possible. Therefore it is essential that you familiarise yourself first with the steps of the process as described on the University pages and then use the tips contained in our guide to make sure your appeal is of best quality.
What are EXTENUating Circumstances?
Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) are significant unforeseen events, outside your control, which have negatively affected your ability to study and your performance in an assessment.
It is not always clear when a student has Extenuating Circumstances. You may have ECs if your circumstances:
- Have caused you to miss a lot of lectures/seminars or labs;
- Have prevented you from spending the same amount of time as you would normally do on coursework, preparing for seminars/labs or revising for exams;
- Prevent you from demonstrating everything you have learnt on the course and meeting the required learning outcomes as specified in the module outline.
Please Note: If you have had difficulties that have impacted on your performance e.g. delay in receiving course materials, problems on a work placement, delay in receiving adjustments as recommended by the Disability and Dyslexia Service, then it is still a good idea to submit ECs. This is however not a replacement for trying to resolve the problem at the time it occurs and/or pursuing the complaints procedure if relevant.
If you experience medical, personal or course difficulties that you believe will and have affected your performance in assessments, it is very important to let your College know as soon as possible.
It is vital that your College is continually aware of any ongoing problems or issues that have occurred. The information you provide will be used in relation to your assessment for the affected modules and will be retained confidentially as part of your student record.
Before you start
Before you start completing your Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) Form you must first consider whether ECs are the most appropriate avenue for addressing the concerns or issues you may have.
Other possibilities to consider could be:
- If the circumstances are ongoing and likely to continue you may want to consider taking some time out (known as Abeyance – please see ARC “Change of Plan” Guide for more information)
- If you did not do so well in an assessment but do not have serious or significant circumstances then you should seek feedback on the assessment in question to better understand where you went wrong.
Who do I tell and how?
You are responsible for informing your College of any ECs that you want to be taken into account. It is a good idea to notify your personal tutor about your ECs. If you have a meeting or conversation with your tutor or another person in your College, it is advisable to follow this up with an email to confirm that you did inform them about your circumstances. This may later form a part of your evidence.
Extenuating Circumstances Form is available for you to complete electronically within E-vision. The claim form and accompanying evidence must be uploaded onto E-vision.
You should submit your ECs Form together with appropriate supporting evidence. Without supporting evidence, your claim of ECs will normally be rejected. All information provided by you will be regarded as confidential (i.e. restricted to those who need to know in order to reach a decision).
If you are experiencing particular difficulties with disclosing your circumstances, please speak to an ARC Adviser; we are a non-judgmental, confidential service and we will guide through the process in a sensitive manner.
When should I tell my College about my situation?
It is very important to submit your Extenuating Circumstances Form before you sit the exam or submit the assessment that you think might be affected. You should never wait until results have been published to inform your College.
If you can’t submit the Extenuating Circumstances Form in advance, then it must be submitted not later than 5 working days after the assessment deadline or exam date. If you submit your ECs claim late (more than 5 working days after the assessment deadline or exam date), you must have a good reason and you must explain the reason for lateness, otherwise your claim will be rejected.
In addition to the ECs form, you must tell your College or the Invigilator if you are experiencing anything that may affect your assessment on the day. If you cannot come in- email your TPO, if possible. If you did come in, but are still affected by something serious, report this to the Invigilator.
What supporting evidence do I need to submit?
All claims must be substantiated by original documentary evidence which should confirm the following:
- The nature of the circumstances
- When and for how long you were affected
- How the circumstances were likely to affect/have affected your ability to study or perform in assessments
You should also enclose your statement explaining what impact your difficulties are having/have had on your ability to study. The personal statement should be as detailed as possible; you are the only person after all who can explain your difficulties and impact on your studies in the best way.
It is unlikely staff in your College will be able to contact external parties, for example, your doctor (if registered externally, i.e. not with the University’s Medical Centre) on your behalf for any information supporting your ECs. It is your responsibility to ensure you provide adequate evidence including dates you were affected by your EC's. Under NO circumstances can you expect the Panel to do this for you.
If you are unable to submit evidence at the same time as your ECs form, you should explain this and say when are you expecting to be able to forward additional evidence.
Your College may wish to verify your extenuating circumstances with an objective third party such as a doctor or counsellor. The University may also wish to verify the authenticity of the evidence. All students suspected of submitting falsified documents are subject to disciplinary action.
If you are registered with the University’s Medical Centre, you should complete a Medical Consent Form which will give permission for the University Medical Centre to share information with the Extenuating Circumstances Panel. The Medical Centre will not issue a letter or a certificate directly to you. Medical Consent Form should be completed by you and submitted together with your ECs Form; do not take it to the Medical Centre.
Please note, University Medical Centre will issue supporting evidence in the following circumstances:
Would evidence be given by the Medical Centre’s doctor
Ongoing or life-long condition, like depression, diabetes, asthma, MS etc
The evidence will include potential impact of the condition on the student
One off but long term condition or health problem, for example broken leg, recovery from serious accident
The evidence will include potential impact of the condition on the student
“I have been ill last week and couldn’t attend my exam”
One-off short term illness, for example tummy bug, cold etc
Students are expected to self-certify
The Medical Centre will issue a “sick note” if, in the opinion of the doctor, the medical condition would impact student for more than 7 days. This note cannot be backdated if the student did not see a doctor at the time of the illness.
You are allowed to self-certify that you are unwell; this means confirming yourself that you were affected by poor health, without having to supply a note from a doctor. This illness must be severe enough to impact your performance and not lasting more than 5 working days. However, if you self-certify more than once within an academic year, you will be asked to discuss this with your personal tutor.
What should I put in my EXTENUating Circumstances personal statement?
There are 4 crucial points you have to explain:
a) Whether the circumstance could reasonably have been foreseen. This means whether it could have been expected or predicted using common sense.
b) The duration and timing of the circumstance- especially whether the timeframe could have affected the assessment or revision period.
c) The impact of the circumstance on your ability to undertake the assessment. In cases of medical circumstances, you will be expected to provide evidence from health professional, explaining not just the diagnosis but the potential effect of this diagnosis on your ability to study, revise, focus and perform well in assessment.
d) Description of the evidence provided.
- It has to be clear, concise and in chronological order
- That dates are vital, if you are not clear about when things happened, it is unlikely your ECs will be accepted.
- It is also important that you are clear on what assessments have been affected,
- Is there someone who can support your statement? Think about whether you spoke to anyone in your department or college about the circumstances you mention and what advice you were provided with.
- Don’t just explain what happened to you, but try to show the impact on your academic progress. We are all affected differently by certain situations, so be clear about your personal experience.
- Do not assume that the person looking at your case knows anything about you (even if you have previously submitted ECs for the same circumstances); you should ensure you provide all of the detail necessary regardless of who will be making a decision on it.
- When drafting your statement ensure that all of the information is there, your department will not read between the lines or make their own conclusions - if the information and evidence is not there then it will not be considered.
- Going over distressing, personal events can be difficult and upsetting so you may need to revisit your draft more than once, and perhaps talk it over with a fried or adviser.
- It is better that you provide too much information as opposed to not enough but make sure it is relevant (talking about your hamster dying 3 years ago is not going to hold much weight).
- If the circumstances are still ongoing and are likely to be for some time, you need to explain how things will be different and how you plan to cope with the situation (for example you are now receiving therapy etc).
- You should refer to supporting evidence and explain its relevance to your case.
- If you are submitting your ECs after the assessment, you must explain why you have not notified your College about your difficulties sooner. The University regulations state that you must inform someone when there are circumstances which impact on your studies as soon as possible; if you have not, you must give a good reason.
What outcome can I expect?
Your College’s Extenuating Circumstances Panel determines whether your claim for ECs should be accepted and it will make recommendations to the relevant Board(s) of Examiners. The Board of Examiners will then determine any action in respect of accepted ECs. The outcomes will vary depending on each student’s specific personal circumstances. For example, you may be allowed a new attempt in the relevant assessment(s) for an uncapped grade/mark if the assessment affected was a first attempt.
It is important to remember that you will still need to be assessed and ECs are not a replacement for a grade or a mark. Your progression to the next Level will still depend on you fully satisfying progression criteria. ECs are only there to help to overcome any disadvantages you might have had during that progression.
There is no guarantee your marks will change. The Exam Board may fully consider your personal or medical situation, but come to the conclusion that your difficulties did not significantly affect your academic performance.
We recommend that you discuss your circumstances with your personal tutor and whether the outcome you are hoping for is realistic.
If your ECs are not accepted by your College’s Extenuating Circumstances Panel or the Exam Board, you may be able to submit an appeal (please see our Academic Appeals section of the website). You cannot appeal the outcome of an EC Panel; you have to wait until your results are published and then appeal on the grounds of having had Extenuating Circumstances.
Please note: Normally you will only get an opportunity to resit the exam or resubmit work if you have Failed your first attempt and your ECs were accepted. However, in exceptional circumstances you may get this opportunity if approved by the Chair of the Exam Board in your College. For example: your grade profile is quite high but on the day of a particular exam you are unwell and you get a D. Your profile would be badly affected in such scenario but you have passed and as a result you cannot get another chance to take this exam. However, you have been accepted for an employment opportunity or a placement or a postgraduate course and you are required to achieve B in this particular module. In such circumstances it would be appropriate for you to arrange a meeting, through your TPO, with your Exam Board’s Chair to explain your request.
You should always speak to an ARC Adviser if you find yourself in a situation where you have passed your assessment but your result is much lower that your usual grade profile.
What advice and help can I expect from the Advice & Representation Centre?
We can help you by assisting with the following:
- Explain the ECs procedure and answer any questions you may have
- Consider your options so that you can work out the best course of action
- Check your completed ECs Form and advise on your statement
- Identify what evidence you may need to support your claim for ECs