Mitigating Circumstances

This page gives guidance on the University's mitigating circumstances procedures from the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year onwards. It does not apply to the September 2017 resit period as these assessments will be assessed under the previous procedures. Consult this page for information about what to do if you believe your ability to attend or submit an assessment on time is impaired by illness or other serious circumstance.

If you're a distance learning student, please visit your Blackboard site for information about mitigating circumstances.

Mitigating Circumstances Pilot

From 8 February 2016, campus-based students in Engineering, Maths, English, Modern Languages and History of Art and Film have used a mitigating circumstances pilot process.

From 7 March 2016, all distance learning students (with the exception of Management) have also used this pilot.

Please refer to the communication about the pilot process sent from your department or speak to your department if you need more details.

We understand that sometimes things can get in the way of your studies. If you’re unwell or you’ve experienced a difficult family situation or other circumstance, it’s important that you let us know quickly so we can support you to continue to make progress with your studies.

In these cases the mitigating circumstances regulations and procedures may be applied. These regulations are designed to ensure the fair and consistent treatment of all students.

The regulations on mitigating circumstances procedures are part of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Senate Regulation 7: Regulations governing the Assessment of Students on Taught Programmes (PDF) and the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Mitigating Circumstances Policy (PDF) gives further detail on how these can be applied.

If your ability to take undertake or submit an assessment have been adversely affected by a mitigating circumstance, you must:
  1. notify your department straight away (e.g. your personal tutor, your department/school office), using either a departmental mitigating circumstances form as notified by your department or the
    Word University's mitigating circumstances form
    Adobe Acrobat (PDF) University's mitigating circumstances form - suitable for hardcopy completion
  2. submit appropriate documentary evidence to substantiate the request for mitigating circumstances that you make on your form
  3. ensure your form and evidence have been submitted by the deadline below

Deadline: you must submit your request within seven days of the assessment deadline
Evidence: this must be in English, produced by an appropriate third party, and give precise details about how your ability to undertake or submit your assessment was affected by your circumstances.

Detailed information:

What is a mitigating circumstance?

The University defines a mitigating circumstance as:

[from the Mitigating Circumstances Policy]

     A serious or significant event affecting a student's health or personal life which is beyond the student's control. These events are sufficiently serious enough in nature to result in the student being unable to attend, complete, or submit an assessment on time. A student who submitted or attended an assessment on time cannot claim mitigating circumstances on the basis that their standard of performance in the assessment may have been affected unless they submit evidence that their judgement was affected in reaching the decision on whether to attend or submit.

Important information

Only assessments affected in one of the following ways will be considered.

When you submit your request you'll need to tell us which of these apply.

a. Assessment will be submitted late, but falls within the late submission of coursework penalty scheme (8 working days after published submission deadline for postgraduate modules and 10 working days for undergraduate modules), anything submitted after these dates is assumed to be a non-submission and will be considered under criterion d below
b. Absence from a scheduled assessment such as an examination, class test, lab work or presentation
c. Disruption of a scheduled assessment, such as being taken ill during an examination or presentation, or something else out of your control
d. Non-submission of an assessment
e. Assessment attended or submitted on time but you can provide medical evidence to support that you were incapable of determining whether or not you were able to undertake the assessment at the time of doing so

Your request should also demonstrate how your circumstances meet this additional criteria:

  • Beyond your control: you must demonstrate that you could not have done anything to prevent the circumstances arising, that they were unforeseen and unpreventable.
  • Impact on assessment: your request must demonstrate a significant negative impact on your ability to submit/attend or complete an assessment by the deadline. It must make clear the duration of the circumstances and have the appropriate documentary evidence to support this request.
  • Have timely relevance: typically the circumstance must have occurred on the day the assessment was due to be submitted or attended or the week leading up to it. Where the serious or significant event falls before this time you should be able to demonstrate that the impact it had (as above) can be linked to the assessment being requested against (e.g. event significantly impacted revision/preparation for assessment that could not be recovered at another time and therefore the assessment could not be attempted or submitted on time).

What does this mean?

If something has happened in your life that you did not expect to happen, and that you could not prevent from happening, and this has impacted on your ability to complete an assessment on time you can request that the University takes this into consideration.

Here are some examples...

Likely to be accepted as a mitigating circumstancesNot normally accepted as a mitigating circumstance
  • Serious illness or accident resulting in hospitalisation or medical emergency relating to yourself
  • Serious illness (as described above) or death of a member of your immediate family e.g. mother, father, spouse, sister, brother, son, daughter, grandparent, guardian
  • Serious infectious disease that could put others at risk
  • Sudden deterioration in, or flare up of ,a chronic medical condition or disability
  • Childbirth or pregnancy complications resulting in hospitalisation
  • Diagnosed psychological illness
  • Legal proceedings requiring attendance at court as a witness or jury service
  • Severe adverse personal/family difficulties
  • Being the victim of a serious crime
  • Significant and immediate change in working conditions (distance learning and part-time students only)

You should be aware that submitting a mitigating circumstances request in itself does not guarantee that any concession will be applied.

Listed below are events that would not be considered as acceptable reasons because they are foreseen and preventable:

  • Medical circumstances that:
    • do not relate directly to the assessment period in question and/or cannot be attributed as having an impact on the assessment
    • relate to minor illnesses that would not lead to equivalent absence from a work environment and can normally be treated with over the counter remedies (e.g. colds, sore throat, day to day ailments)
    • are unsubstantiated or include retrospective evidence (e.g. doctors note after the illness has disappeared)
  • Holidays/family events
  • Religious festivals and regular observance
  • Sporting fixtures
  • Financial issues
  • Foreseeable and/or preventable circumstances
  • A long-term condition where treatment or additional support/arrangements are in place to mitigate
  • Transport difficulties that could have been anticipated or lack of contingency planning into travel time
  • Being reluctant to disclose circumstances at the time
  • Poor time management or personal organisation
  • Criminal conviction
  • Missing exams or assessment deadlines due to misreading of timetables or oversleeping
  • Loss of computer data/printer problems
  • Submitting the wrong work for assessment or draft version of the work 

If you decide to make a mitigating circumstance request, you must be able to support your request with evidence. Make sure you read and understand the information provided on our evidence page before making a request.

What happens after submission of a mitigating circumstances claim?

Your department(s) will consider your request and give you an outcome, usually within seven working days. If your request is complex it may go to a mitigating circumstances panel, if this happens you will be notified and given a new date to expect an outcome. Your situation will be assessed along with the evidence you have provided. You will be notified as soon as an outcome is available.

If your mitigating circumstance are accepted there will be a corresponding recommendation about the affected assessment(s) made to the panel of examiners for your course. The recommendations allowed are defined in
Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Senate Regulation 7: Regulations governing the Assessment of Students on Taught Programmes (PDF).

The possible options that could be applied to your affected assessment include:

  • waive late submission penalties;
  • provide a student with the opportunity to take the affected assessment(s) as if for the first time i.e. a ‘sit’ or ‘submit’, allowing them to be given the full marks achieved for the examination or assessment, rather than imposing a cap. Where it is not possible to replicate the original assessment, exercise discretion and flexibility to make the reassessment different from the original assessment type whilst ensuring that all intended learning outcomes of the module are still achieved;
  • determine that there is sufficient evidence of the achievement of the intended learning outcomes from other pieces of assessment in the module(s) for an overall module mark to be derived;
  • note the accepted mitigation for the affected assessment(s) and recommend that the Board of Examiners takes this into account when considering borderline cases at the point of award and classification.  

It is important to note that presentation of mitigating circumstances evidence does not guarantee that a concession will be applied and accepted mitigating circumstances do not lead to marks being changed.

Are extensions to coursework deadlines allowed because of mitigating circumstances?

Depending on the circumstance, your department will normally tell you to hand in the coursework at the earliest possible opportunity that your circumstances allow. If your mitigation is accepted for the affected assessment no penalty will be applied for its late/non submission. If your mitigation is accepted but your department agrees you could have submitted your work earlier a partial penalty may be applied.

Department may set a revised submission date in cases where it is possible and appropriate to do so in order to account for accepted mitigating circumstances (see Senate Regulation 7.93).

Help with mitigating circumstances

As well as ensuring that your department is aware of your circumstances, your personal tutor may be able help you in dealing with your mitigating circumstances.

For instance:

  • if your circumstances mean you might need time away from study your personal tutor/department will be able to advise you whether a formal suspension of studies is a possibility and discuss arrangements for returning to your course; 
  • if you have or suspect you have a learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia) or other long term condition your personal tutor/department can refer you to the AccessAbility Centre;
  • if you are experiencing financial difficulties your personal tutor/department can direct you to Student Welfare Services.

Your primary contact for support in your department is your personal tutor. If for some reason you don't feel comfortable discussing your particular mitigating circumstance with your personal tutor don't worry; approach another member of staff in your department instead.

  • It is your responsibility to inform your department of any matters (mitigating circumstances) of significance to your academic performance and to supply substantiating evidence by the relevant deadline
  • Presentation of medical or other special circumstances evidence does not guarantee that academic concessions will be granted
  • Mitigating circumstances do not lead to marks being changed.

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