Mitigating circumstances are defined as unexpected events outside your control which are likely to have a negative impact on your ability to successfully complete an assessment. This policy applies to all students registered on taught programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
It is your responsibility to submit a mitigating circumstances claim and to inform the University of any circumstances that may affect your academic performance. It is the University’s responsibility to ensure that you are not unfairly disadvantaged by such circumstances and to treat all claims fairly and equitably.
An approved mitigating circumstances claim will not excuse you from completing your assessment. You'll still be required to demonstrate that you can achieve the required learning outcomes to pass each of your modules and to meet the programme requirements for progression or award.
The University offers a range of student support services and opportunities to enable you to manage the challenges and demands of academic study. Students are encouraged to seek support from personal tutors, module and course leaders, the Writing and Learning Centre, Student Support, Students' Union Advice Centre or use other mechanisms, such as a period of intercalation, as appropriate.
Fit to sit/submit principle
The University Mitigating Circumstances Policy is based on the Fit to Sit/Submit principle. When you submit an assessment or sit an examination, you are declaring that you are fit to do so. You should not then claim at a later date that your performance in an assessment or examination was affected by mitigating circumstances.
If you're not fit to sit/submit, a short extension (usually one week, but this can be extended by agreement) can be requested from the module leader, or a mitigating circumstances claim can be submitted to request that the assessment is deferred. Deferred assessment will usually take place at the next assessment point in the academic year. Deferred assessment is treated as a first attempt, so the full range of marks is available.
Mitigating circumstances claims should be submitted as close as possible to the date of the affected assessment. Claims should not be submitted so far in advance that the impact of the mitigating circumstances cannot be assessed.
Retrospective or late claims for mitigating circumstances will only be considered in exceptional circumstances and you'll need to fully explain why you were unable to submit a claim before the date of assessment.
You may apply for mitigating circumstances for more than one module if the same circumstances have affected more than one assessment. The claim form must clearly explain the details of the circumstances, which assessments or modules have been affected, and how these circumstances have affected your performance.
Mitigating circumstances cannot be used to waive a late penalty when coursework is submitted after the hand-in date.
Requesting an extension to a deadline
The University expects students to cope with normal/minor life events without requiring adjustments to assessment deadlines. Some examples of these events are colds and minor illness, dental treatment, ‘bunching’ of assessment deadlines or normal examination stresses. You're expected to plan your work schedules sufficiently well so that minor illnesses or problems do not affect your ability to meet an assessment deadline.
If you do experience a short-term problem, your module leader can approve a short extension to a deadline, usually for one week (which can be extended by agreement from the module leader). Extensions may not be appropriate for certain types of assessment (e.g. group performances, exhibitions). Extensions will be agreed at the module leader’s discretion and further evidence may be requested.
The following examples are likely to be considered acceptable grounds for an extension:
- Short-term illness / hospitalisation
- Court attendance
- Illness of close family member, dependent or friend.
The following examples are not considered acceptable grounds for an extension:
- Misreading assessment deadline
- Poor time-management
- Submitting the wrong piece of work for assessment, or draft version
- Books not available in Library
- Travel difficulties that cannot be verified (traffic delays)
- IT / printing problems (lack of printing credit, queue for printing, data loss)
- An existing long-term condition where support is already in place.
Examples of eligible mitigating circumstances
The following examples are likely to be considered valid mitigating circumstances:
- Serious personal accident or injury
- Hospitalisation (including operations)
- Serious illness or death of close family member, dependent or friend
- Sudden deterioration of long-term condition
- Serious personal disruption (e.g. relationship breakdown, separation or divorce, victim of crime)
- Major household problem (break-in, fire)
- Absence for public service (e.g. jury service, service with reserved forces)
- Participation in national / international sports or cultural events
- Recent diagnosis of disability/long-term condition (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome) so that reasonable adjustments have not yet been put in place.
The following are not normally considered valid mitigating circumstances:
- Computer / IT failure of your own equipment
- Short-term / minor illness (e.g. cough, cold, sore throat)
- Unspecified anxiety or mild depression
- Transport issues
- Misreading of assessment dates and times
- Personal events that could have been anticipated (e.g. holiday, sports event, field trip)
- Inadequate planning, organisation or time-management
- Pressure of academic workload, including multiple examinations in a short period of time
- Demands of paid employment
- Language of assessment not being your main language
- Claims submitted without supporting evidence.
Ongoing conditions are not normally considered as a basis for claiming mitigating circumstances. Students with a long-term illness or disability are encouraged to access the support services available, which can put in place reasonable adjustments for specific learning requirements (for example, extra time for examinations).
Evidence to support mitigating circumstances claims
All claims for mitigating circumstances must be supported by independent documentary evidence. Examples of evidence include:
- Medical certification (doctor’s note, hospital appointment, hospital or counsellor’s letter)
- Death certificate or order of service
- Letter from solicitor or court
- Written evidence from police (including crime reference number).
Consideration of mitigating circumstances claims
All claims for mitigating circumstances are treated as confidential.
Claims for mitigating circumstances will initially be considered by Student Services. Incomplete claims (e.g., those without a completed claim form or appropriate supporting evidence) will not be considered.
Claims for mitigating circumstances will be considered on the following criteria:
- Severity of the problem
- Duration of the problem, which should be supported by the evidence
- Relevance (how close the affected period is to the point of assessment).
Where the claim is clearly supported with appropriate evidence, a provisional decision will be made to approve the claim. You'll be notified of the outcome of this initial consideration by email to your University email address.
The Mitigating Circumstances Sub-committee will meet regularly during the academic year to ratify provisional decisions and discuss more complex claims. Membership of the Mitigating Circumstances Sub-committee will be appropriately representative, qualified and experienced, and gender balanced as far as possible.
The Sub-committee may recommend that you are referred to Student Support services. You may also be advised to consider a period of intercalation if a substantial amount of teaching and assessment has been or is likely to be missed.
Decisions of the Mitigating Circumstances Sub-committee will be notified to you by email to your University email address.
Once your circumstances have been considered by the Sub-committee, the Assessment Board should not apply any further mitigation (for example, if the overall degree result is near the borderline between classifications, or to change reassessment from referred to deferred).
Duration of approved claims
Mitigating Circumstances claims are not approved indefinitely. If you continue to be affected by mitigating circumstances at the point of completing a deferred assessment, you are advised to submit another claim to request further deferral, usually to the next assessment point in the academic year.
Final year students should note that they will not be eligible to attend Graduation until all assessments have been successfully completed.
If you wish to appeal a decision made on the basis of this policy, you should follow the University Appeals procedure.
You have the right to appeal decisions on the following basis only:
- Procedural error
- Evidence of bias or prejudice
- Evidence of material circumstances which was not available at the time of the original consideration, but ONLY where it was not possible for the student to submit the evidence at the time of the original consideration.
Students who have not submitted a claim for mitigating circumstances will not normally be able to use mitigating circumstances as the basis for a later appeal against the decision of an Assessment Board.
Approved by: Academic Quality and Standards Committee
Date of approval: August 2016