Mitigating circumstances criteria

This section explains the definitions and important key criteria set out in our Senate Regulation (7.97) and Mitigating Circumstances Policy. It also provides examples of what is acceptable and what isn't.

The University defines a mitigating circumstance as:

A serious or significant event affecting a student’s health or personal life which is beyond the student’s control. The 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.

[Mitigating Circumstances Policy]

Important information

When you submit your request you'll need to tell us which of these criteria apply. Please check what types of assessments each criteria relates to. (Please note: these assessment types are for guidance only, departments may use other terms).

Criteria Assessment type
a. Assessment will be submitted late, but falls within the late submission of coursework penalty scheme (normally 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.

Exam, class test, lab session, presentation, field work

c. Disruption of a scheduled assessment, such as being taken ill during an examination or presentation, or something else out of your control.

Exam, class test, lab session, presentation, field work

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.

This relates to all types of assessment

Your request should also demonstrate how your circumstances meet these 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 is a mitigating circumstance (and what isn't)

Mitigating circumstances might be:

  • 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 (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)

Mitigating circumstances aren't (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • 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