Illness and other Mitigating Circumstances
The University recognises that students may suffer from a sudden illness or other serious and unforeseen event or set of circumstances which adversely affects their ability to complete an assessment or the results they obtain for an assessment. In such 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 Senate Regulation 7: Regulations governing the Assessment of Students on Taught Programmes (PDF).
Guide to mitigating circumstances procedures:
|If your ability to take an assessment or the results you obtain for an assessment have been adversely affected by a mitigating circumstance, you must:
Deadline: consult your student handbook to find out the deadline that applies for the examination(s) and/or coursework assignment(s) involved in your claim. Contact your personal tutor or department/school office if you are still unsure. If you are unable to submit your evidence at the same
- See below for detailed information about:
What is a mitigating circumstance? | Evidence of mitigating circumstances | What happens after submission of a mitigating circumstances claim | The policy not to allow extensions to coursework deadlines | Help with mitigating circumstances
What is a mitigating circumstance?
|The University defines a mitigating circumstance as:||
A serious or significant event which is unforeseen and/or unpreventable and could have significantly impaired the academic performance of a student in one or more assessed activities, possibly over a period of time. Mitigating circumstances may include medical matters or events directly affecting someone other than the student. [Senate Regulation 7.98]
Examples of mitigating circumstances may include:
- significant physical or psychological illness
- severe personal difficulties
- serious illness or death of a member of your immediate family (e.g. mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter)
- sudden deterioration in a long standing medical condition or disability
- being the victim of a serious crime
- legal proceedings requiring attendance at court.
The following would not normally be accepted as mitigating circumstances:
- failure to read the examination timetable or coursework deadline properly
- pressure of work
- failure to save work properly
- minor illnesses or self-induced conditions (colds, hangovers etc.)
- religious festivals
- domestic or personal disruptions which may have been anticipated (e.g. moving house, holidays etc.)
- sporting fixtures.
It is not enough to just tell your department that you believe your assessment performance has been affected by a mitigating circumstance. You must also submit the appropriate mitigating circumstances form and supply your department with supporting documentation from an appropriate third-party as evidence of the mitigating circumstance.
The evidence must explain: (1) what the circumstance is; (2) exactly how it affected you in relation to your studies/assessment; (3) precisely when (i.e. identifying which assessments were affected).
You are responsible for obtaining all appropriate documentary evidence and ensuring that it is submitted on time. The University will not seek documentary evidence on your behalf. Only evidence written in English can be considered. It is your responsibility to obtain and submit a verified translation if the original evidence is in another language.
|Examples of evidence of mitigating circumstances|
|Serious physical illness||Medical certificate/hospital report/report from qualified medical practitioner|
|Psychological illness||Report from a psychiatrist, psychologist or Student Counselling Service|
|Severe personal difficulties||Report from Student Counselling Service, Student Welfare Service or another qualified professional|
|Serious illness or death of an immediate family member or close friend||A medical report from a qualified medical practitioner or a copy of a death certificate accompanied if necessary by formal documentation confirming relationship with deceased|
|Sudden deterioration in a long standing medical condition or disability||A medical report from an appropriate qualified medical practitioner|
|Being the victim of a serious crime||Crime report and number|
|Legal proceedings requiring attendance at court||Documentary evidence from the court or a solicitor|
The above examples are indicative. Ask your personal tutor what kind of evidence is required from you for your particular mitigating circumstances if you are in any doubt about what is needed. Consult your student handbook or contact the administrator for your course to find out to whom you should submit your documentary evidence.
Deadlines for submission of evidence
You must submit the documentary evidence to your department before the expiry of the relevant deadline for the submission of evidence in relation to mitigating circumstances claims. In most circumstances, the deadline will be not later than five working days after the relevant coursework submission date or the date of the examination but you should check the specific date with your department.
Failure to divulge information and provide evidence at the appropriate time may mean that the department has insufficient information to accept mitigating circumstances or to judge their severity. Appeals against academic decisions may be disallowed if the appeal is based on evidence of mitigating circumstances that the University judges could have reasonably been supplied to the department/school earlier.
Consult your student handbook to find out the deadline that applies. Contact your personal tutor or department/school office without delay if you are still unsure.
The information and evidence you have provided will be considered by a Mitigating Circumstances Panel. Mitigating Circumstances Panels operate under the authority of Boards of Examiners. The Panel will decide whether or not you have established sufficient grounds of mitigating circumstances relevant to your assessment(s). You should normally receive a response from the Mitigating Circumstances Panel within two weeks of submitting your mitigating circumstances form and evidence.
If the Mitigating Circumstances Panel accepts your mitigating circumstance it will make a corresponding recommendation about the affected assessment(s) to Board of Examiners for your course. The recommendations that Mitigating Circumstances Panels are allowed to make are defined in Senate Regulation 7: Regulations governing the Assessment of Students on Taught Programmes (PDF). These include, for example, the opportunity to take the affected assessment again as if for the first time (i.e. a ‘sit’ or ‘submit’), or the waiving of a late submission penalty incurred for the affected assessment.
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.
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 is likely to be applied.
Mitigating Circumstances Panels are allowed to 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).
Don't forget you must notify your department at your earliest possible opportunity if you experience a sudden illness or other serious and unforeseen event or set of circumstances that mean you will not be able to meet a coursework deadline. You must also supply appropriate documentary evidence so that the Mitigating Circumstances Panel can consider your case and determine if and how it is appropriate to account for your circumstances.
As well as ensuring that the Mitigating Circumstances Panel is aware of your circumstances, your department/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) 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.