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Extenuating circumstances

The following guidelines and form are for extenuating circumstances requests for the attention of a Board of Examiners. For extenuating circumstances relating to inability to submit coursework by the deadline and to request for your marks to be instated, please read the guidelines on late submission of coursework and complete the late submission of coursework form.

About extenuating circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which cause you to perform less well in your coursework or examinations than you might have expected. In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature that affect you for any significant period of time and/or during the examination period.

It is important to realise that only the most serious extenuating circumstances will have any significant impact on your overall performance, particularly when degree classifications are being considered as these are based on at least two years’ work. Therefore, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action unless it believes that the extenuating circumstances have had a material effect.

A Board of Examiners can only make judgements about the impact of extenuating circumstances in light of evidence of your academic ability demonstrated in non-affected work. Boards cannot make judgements about your potential to have gained a higher mark if there is no evidence in the rest of your performance to support this. Furthermore, unless it appears that the extenuating circumstances have had a material affect on your results, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action. You should therefore consider this carefully before submitting a form (see also how the Board assesses extenuating circumstances claims).

Forms

Remember, you must submit two copies of your form and your documentation. Don't leave it until the day of the deadline to get your form copied, or you might encounter delays or other difficulties.

Deadlines and where to submit your form

  • Undergraduate Students (Colchester)

    Main summer exam period

    • Location: Registry (6.116)
    • Deadline: Monday 8 June 2015, 4pm

    September reassessment period

    • Location: The Student Centre
    • Deadline: TBC

  • Undergraduate students (Southend)


    • Location: Your academic department
    • Deadline: You must confirm the deadline with your department in advance

  • International Academy students

    Main summer exam period

    • Location: International Academy (4.117)
    • Deadline:
      • Cert HE/Internat Dip/Internat Foundation Prog/Year 0/January starters: Tuesday 14 July 2015, 4pm
      • Pre-sessional: Thursday 17 September 2015, 4pm

    September reassessment period

    • Deadline:
      • Cert HE/Internat Dip/Internat Foundation Prog/Year 0/January starters: Tuesday 8 September 2015, 4pm
      • Pre-sessional: Wednesday 23 September 2015, 4pm

  • East 15 Loughton students

    Summer period

    • Location: Academic Administrator at Loughton
    • Deadline:
      • Final year undergraduates: Friday 5 June 2015
      • Year One and Year Two undergraduates, and Cert HE students: Monday 6 July 2015
      • MFA Acting Year Two: Friday 5 June 2015
      • Postgraduate students: Monday 6 July 2015

  • Health and Human Sciences students

    Undergraduate and postgraduate taught who are on courses leading to health professions qualifications or post-registration programmes of study.

    • Location: reception in the School of Health and Human Sciences
    • Deadline: within seven days of the published assignment deadline

  • Postgraduate taught and research students

    Postgraduate taught

    Main summer assessment period (for Interim Exam Board) and dissertation submissions and September reassessment period (for Final Exam Board):

    • Location: Your academic department
    • Deadline: Check with your department

    Please print, complete and hand to the Graduate Administrator in your department. Remember, you must submit two copies of your form and your documentation. Don't leave it until the day of the deadline to get your form copied, or you might encounter delays or other difficulties.

    Postgraduate research

    Please print, complete and hand to the Graduate Administrator in your department.

Guidelines

  • Informing the Board of Examiners

    It is your responsibility to inform the Board of Examiners about extenuating circumstances. You can do this by completing an extenuating circumstances form which will be considered by an Extenuating Circumstances Committee who will then make recommendations to the Board of Examiners regarding the effect your circumstances have had on your performance (including non-submission of work or absence from an exam).

    Although you may have previously discussed your difficulties with staff in your department, this does not in itself constitute the submission of extenuating circumstances. You must formally submit an extenuating circumstances form for the Board of Examiners to consider; informal notification will not be considered by the Board. You need to complete an extenuating circumstances form which must be returned to the location stated above by the published deadline. We cannot guarantee that forms submitted after this date will be referred to the Extenuating Circumstances Committee or sent directly to a Board of Examiners.

    It is essential to inform the Board of any extenuating circumstances before it meets because you cannot subsequently appeal against any decision of the Board of Examiners on the grounds of extenuating circumstances if you could reasonably have been expected to inform the Board in advance. It is also your responsibility to explain fully the impact of extenuating circumstances on your work. If you do not sufficiently explain their impact then you cannot subsequently appeal and ask the Board to consider additional information.

  • About the Extenuating Circumstances Committee

    Extenuating circumstances will normally be considered by a pre-board or small designated group within each department; the Extenuating Circumstances Committee. The Extenuating Circumstances Committee will consider extenuating circumstances relating to examination performance, examination absence, coursework performance, late submission of work which constitutes 100% of the assessment for the module and has the status of an examination such as a project or dissertation, (if the departmental Late Submissions Committee was unable to consider the claim), the non-submission of coursework, and other extenuating circumstances affecting the academic year.

    These Committees meet shortly before the Board of Examiners meets, and recommend whether any action should be taken by the Board of Examiners in light of students’ extenuating circumstances.

    If you have any queries regarding the practice in your department, you can confirm this with your department.

  • Information you need to include

    You should include on the form details of specific coursework or exams affected by your extenuating circumstances. Make sure you explain the impact these circumstances had on your performance. It is not the role of the Board of Examiners to try to work this out or to seek further information on your behalf. Make your submission clear and concise.

    Remember that Extenuating Circumstances Committees and Boards of Examiners are trying to determine whether the circumstances are likely to have significantly affected your academic performance.

  • Documentary evidence you need to provide

    Extenuating circumstances of a non-medical nature

    You should if possible submit appropriate third party evidence to support your claim. We realise that it in some cases it may be difficult to do this, and then Boards may accept claims which are not accompanied by documentary evidence. However, lack of third party evidence may weaken your claim. It is your responsibility to get this evidence as the University will not seek it on your behalf. In some cases, Boards of Examiners may request third party evidence in order to qualify a decision they have made based on your extenuating circumstances.

    Extenuating circumstances of a medical nature

    You should supply evidence from your doctor (GP) or hospital. The evidence must cover the period which you are claiming was affected by your medical condition. You should take the medical evidence proforma, which is attached to the back of the extenuating circumstances form, to your GP. If evidence from a GP or hospital is not available, the Board of Examiners may consider evidence from other practitioners who have treated you. The University has an agreement with the Health Centre on the Colchester Campus that their staff will use the medical evidence proforma. However, please note that other health centres and GPs may operate differently and may charge for supplying evidence.

    In some cases the Board of Examiners may request that you supply further information.

    Examinations and invigilated tests

    If you miss an examination or an invigilated test due to illness, or you are claiming to have been affected by medical problems during your examination or test, you must seek medical attention on the day, and you must submit documentary evidence. The evidence must relate specifically to the time of the illness and must make it clear that you were medically unfit to take the exam/test. Evidence stating that you retrospectively reported your illness will not be regarded by the Board of Examiners as satisfactory.

    Coursework

    Minor illnesses affecting coursework

    If you are claiming a minor illness has affected your coursework work (including non-submission) then please note that the Health Centre on the Colchester Campus, and indeed most doctors, will not issue medical certificates either for short-term or minor illnesses. Neither will they issue medical certificates when you were not treated at the time and you report your illness to a doctor retrospectively. Boards of Examiners may accept other evidence submitted by you to self-certify your illness (such as a duplicate copy of the notification of absence form which you should have submitted at the time of your absence). Please note that accepting a claim without third party evidence does not mean that the Board of Examiners will take any action. In many cases Boards of Examiners may judge that a short-term or minor illness has not had a significant effect on your overall performance.

    Serious or long-term illnesses affecting coursework

    If you have been receiving treatment for a serious or long-term medical condition which you believe has seriously affected your work over a prolonged period, you must submit appropriate evidence. You should be able to obtain evidence from your health centre, or you could resubmit a copy of any documentary evidence which you have already submitted.

    Remember, you will need to provide two copies of any documentation you submit and the University reserves the right to check on the validy of the document(s) you submit by contacting the third party directly.

  • Circumstances not taken into account

    It is not possible to list every circumstance that the Board of Examiners would not accept or take into account. However some of the more obvious examples are listed below:

    • general pressure of work is not taken to be circumstances beyond your control, as you are expected to plan your work schedule
    • a short-term problem or illness which has occurred during the year and which is not deemed to have had an overall effect on your performance
    • personal disruptions or events which could have been anticipated; such as holidays, weddings, changing address or employment, religious holidays or festivals which are usually known in advance
    • excessive demands on time or pressure of one’s employment, which could have been anticipated
    • financial constraints commonly experienced by students
    • missing an examination because you misread the timetable or overslept
    • having more than one examination on the same day or on consecutive days (unless you were already suffering from illness or injury)
    • where extenuating circumstances have affected you throughout your time at University, it is difficult to determine what your marks might have been like otherwise. In such cases, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action

  • About the Board of Examiners

    A Board of Examiners is the formal body which considers the marks for each student. It approves the marks, decides whether students can proceed to the next year, and decides on the degree classifications for final year students. It comprises a small number of academic staff from the relevant department(s) for the courses under consideration and is normally chaired by a Dean. In the second and subsequent years, and for masters courses, external Examiners would normally also attend. Not all members of academic staff are members of the Board of Examiners.

    The Board of Examiners consider all candidates anonymously, by examination candidate number and great care is taken over the confidentiality of information supplied by students.

  • How the Board of Examiners assesses your extenuating circumstances

    Boards of Examiners try to determine whether, and to what extent, extenuating circumstances have affected your academic performance, and determine what action, if any, can be taken. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances, Boards will normally take into account:

    • the severity of the problem and the length of time involved
    • any supporting documentary evidence
    • whether all work in the same period appears to have been equally affected
    • whether it is possible to gauge the effect of the extenuating circumstances upon academic performance
    • whether your achievement is consistent with past performance
    • the type of assessment affected, and how long you had to complete the work (ie date when work set and deadline for submission)

    Boards cannot estimate potential. For example, if you have performed at 2.2 level in your other exams, and then miss an exam in which you believe that you could have got a 2.1 because you had prepared well, you cannot expect a Board of Examiners to share your view. Boards cannot impute marks, that is, add marks or estimate what your mark might have been.

  • Possible action taken by Board of Examiners

    The Board of Examiners will try to ensure a fair result based on your overall performance. It could take a number of actions including:

    • amending the assessment of a module by changing the weighting of particular units that contribute to the overall course assessment
    • discounting particular modules, or pieces of work from the assessment of the year or the programme of study
    • allowing a reassessment attempt to be treated as a first sit, often for uncapped marks where capping applies
    • instating a formative mark for a late piece of work

    Wherever possible a Board will try to make a decision about what, if any, action can be taken in the second year in the case of problems affecting second year undergraduate students. However sometimes it may not be possible for the Board to determine what action would be reasonable, and it may therefore carry forward the extenuating circumstances for consideration by the final year Board when the Examiners will have at least two years’ worth of marks to review.

    In the case of severe extenuating circumstances affecting the final months of a final year undergraduate student’s studies there is provision for a Board to consider the award of an aegrotat degree (under the terms of regulation 6.25).

  • Action not be taken by Board of Examiners

    Boards of Examiners will not:

    • permit a student who presents extenuating circumstances to proceed to the next year of study if he or she has not met the necessary requirements, unless the examiners are satisfied that it is appropriate to do so on academic grounds
    • permit students to fail a core module or fail any published variations to the rules of assessment.
    • add extra marks because a student’s work has been affected by extenuating circumstances
    • amend marks from previous years of study
    • award a higher class of degree if the examiners are not satisfied that this is a fair result based on the student’s demonstrated academic performance
    • annotate statement of results/transcripts with comments about the existence of extenuating circumstances

  • Postgraduate research students

    These guidelines relate to the formal submission of an extenuating circumstances claim to your Supervisory Board and Research Student Progress Committee. This does not preclude you from informing your supervisor about any extenuating circumstances you experience during the course of your studies. In these cases you may wish to discuss with your supervisor whether a period of intermission (.doc) would be appropriate.

    Informing the Supervisory Board and Research Student Progress Committee

    It is your responsibility to inform the Supervisory Board and Research Student Progress Committee (RSPC) about any extenuating circumstances you experience. Although you may have previously discussed your difficulties with your supervisor or another member of staff in your department, this does not in itself constitute the formal submission of an extenuating circumstances claim.

    You need to complete an extenuating circumstances form which must be returned to the Graduate Administrator in your Department/Centre/School by no later than two weeks before the meeting of the Supervisory Board, or by the deadline published by the department/centre if different. It cannot be guaranteed that forms submitted after this date will be referred to the Board.

    You should note that it is essential to inform the Supervisory Board and RSPC of any extenuating circumstances before they meet. You cannot subsequently appeal against a progress decision on the grounds of extenuating circumstances if you could reasonably have been expected to inform the Board and RSPC in advance.

    It is also your responsibility to explain fully the impact of extenuating circumstances on your work. If you do not sufficiently explain their impact then you cannot subsequently appeal and ask the Supervisory Board and RSPC to consider additional information.

    Information to include

    You should include on the form details of how your progress has been affected by illness, personal difficulties etc. Make sure you explain the impact these circumstances had on your performance. It is not the role of the Supervisory Board and RSPC to try to work this out or to seek further information on your behalf. Try to make your submission clear and concise. Remember that the Supervisory Board and RSPC are trying to determine whether the circumstances are likely to have significantly affected your academic performance and progress.

    Documentary evidence you need to provide

    Extenuating circumstances of a non-medical nature

    You should if possible submit appropriate third party evidence to support your claim. We realise that it in some cases it may be difficult to do this, and then Boards may accept claims which are not accompanied by documentary evidence. However, lack of third party evidence may weaken your claim.

    Extenuating circumstances of a medical nature

    In consultation with the local Health Centre the University has developed a medical evidence pro-forma for you to use if, having read the following guidelines, you see that you need to supply medical evidence to support your claim. The pro-forma is attached to the end of the extenuating circumstances form.

    Circumstances not taken into account

    It is not possible to list every circumstance that the Supervisory Board and/or RSPC would not accept or take into account. However some of the more obvious examples are listed below:

    • general pressure of work is not taken to be circumstances beyond your control, as you are expected to plan your work schedule
    • a short-term problem or illness which has occurred during the year and which is not be deemed to have had an overall effect on your progress

    How the Supervisory Board and RSPC assess your extenuating circumstances

    Your Supervisory Board and RSPC will try to determine whether, and to what extent, your reported extenuating circumstances have affected your academic performance and progress, and determine what action, if any, can be taken. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances RSPCs will normally take into account:

    • the severity of the problem and the length of time involved
    • any supporting documentary evidence
    • whether it is possible to gauge the effect of the extenuating circumstances upon academic performance
    • whether your achievement is consistent with past performance
    • whether it is possible to adjust the deadline for you to reach expected milestones

    Possible action taken by the RSPC

    he RSPC can assess whether your extenuating circumstances have affected your ability to submit work to the Supervisory Board and/or RSPC by the required deadline and/or whether your extenuating circumstances have affected your progress in a way that means it is not reasonable to have expected you to reach the required milestone (including the criteria for Confirmation of PhD Status). In such cases, the RSPC may be able to extend the deadline for work to be submitted and/or extend the deadline by which you must have reached the relevant milestones in your study.

    If appropriate, the RSPC may recommend that you take a period of intermission (leave of absence). The Supervisory Board and RSPC cannot allow, or recommend to the Dean, an indefinite extension to your deadline.

Further information for all students

  • False claims

    You should note that submitting a false claim or false documentation is a serious matter and would be regarded as an attempt to gain unfair advantage. This would be an academic offence and would be dealt with under the Academic Offences Procedures. The University reserves the right to check on the validity of the document (s) you submit by contacting the third party directly.

  • Data Protection Act 1998

    By submitting an extenuating circumstances form you are agreeing to the University holding this personal data for the purposes of processing your claim. The University will hold this data in accordance with its notification under the 1998 Data Protection Act.

  • Equality Act 2010

    If you are providing information about your disability on your extenuating circumstances form, please note that this does not count as disclosure to the University as these forms are intended for use only by the Board of Examiners. We strongly urge you to disclose any persistent medical condition, specific learning difficulty or disability to Student Support.

  • Professional suitability and fitness to practise

    Important - information about you that may affect professional suitability:

    The University is committed to a fair and confidential process for handling extenuating circumstances and recognises that this process may involve the disclosure and handling of sensitive personal information.

    The University is committed to full compliance with its obligations related to professional suitability in order to uphold the highest standards of conduct among its students both during and beyond their period as a student at the University.

    All University students are required to comply with the University’s Disciplinary Regulations and other regulations of the University regarding conduct. Students enrolled on courses where a practical professional placement is required have additional responsibilities placed upon them regarding their professional suitability. Failure to meet these responsibilities can lead to the Breach of Professional Conduct, Fitness to Practise and Termination of Training Procedure being invoked. You will have been informed when you registered as a student if your degree scheme is subject to this Procedure

    Breaches of professional standards by students may involve a range of actions or omissions but may include:

    • actions that are harmful to service users, other members of the public or service provides
    • actions that are likely to constitute an unacceptable risk to students or others
    • failure to disclose information about previous matters relating to professional suitability prior to enrolment on the course
    • contravention of the relevant professional code of conduct
    • actions that are prejudicial to the development or standing of professional practice

    In addition, for students studying law, the University has an obligation to report relevant information related to professional suitability to the Law Society.

    Any information that is provided on any extenuating circumstances form that raises issues of professional suitability, whether it has been disclosed by you and about you or by another student on another form but relates to you will be disclosed as necessary to the relevant internal or external authorities. Information will only ever be disclosed on a need to know basis to ensure the University is able to comply with its obligations related to professional suitability. These authorities may include the Professional Practice and Conduct Committee, your employer if your registration as a student relates to Continuing Professional Development or any relevant Professional or Regulatory Body.

  • Getting more guidance or feedback

    If after having read these notes you feel you need more help in putting forward your extenuating circumstances, you should contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre or the Registry.

    If you require feedback on the way in which the Board of Examiners has handled your extenuating circumstances claim, you can ask for feedback after the results have been released. However, please be aware that the exam board period is a particular busy time of year so there may be a delay in your receiving feedback. Undergraduates should contact Registry and postgraduates should contact their department.