About extenuating circumstances

Changes due to Covid-19

Important information: As part of our No Detriment Policy we’ve streamlined our extenuating circumstances processes to support you during the pandemic.

Our Exam Boards will be taking a holistic approach when making outcome decisions this year. We therefore ask that you do not submit extenuating circumstances for the general disruption caused by Coronavirus. However, if your circumstances present individual difficulties which have a negative impact upon your ability to perform, you should submit an extenuating circumstances claim to bring the circumstances to the attention of the Board of Examiners.


The following guidelines are for extenuating circumstances requests for all undergraduate and postgraduate taught (Masters) students. There is separate information for postgraduate research students.

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which have an impact on your assessed work. In light of the COVID pandemic, we have streamlined the extenuating circumstances and exam absence notification processes to ensure that we are able to identify and support all students who experience or have experienced difficulties this year that have had an impact on their performance. Extenuating circumstances can fall into the following categories:

  • circumstances which cause you to perform less well in the assessment
  • circumstances which cause you to miss an assessment event (eg. an exam) or not to submit an assessment

Late submission of coursework or online examinations

The University has a specific policy and guidance on late submission of coursework for:

  • circumstances where you are unable to submit coursework by the deadline or to attend a summative assessment event
  • circumstances which mean you need extra time to submit a dissertation (taught postgraduate students only)

Circumstances where you are unable to submit your online examination by the deadline.

Undergraduate claim submission deadline

Please ensure that you submit your claim before the relevant deadline so that your claim can be considered. It is important that you press submit on your claim.

If you are submitting your claim after the deadline – please contact your department to see whether it is too late to be considered.


In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for any significant period of time and/or on the day of the assessment event, or immediately preceding the time of the deadline.

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. Therefore, the Board of Examiners is unlikely to take any action unless it is believed that the extenuating circumstances have had a material effect.

Judgements can only be made about the impact of extenuating circumstances in light of the evidence of your academic ability demonstrated in non-affected work. Judgement cannot be made 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 effect on your results, it is unlikely any action will be taken. You should therefore consider carefully before submitting a form (see also how extenuating circumstances claims are assessed).

We expect you to undertake your assessment, however, we understand that these are difficult times and the University is committed to ensuring that the COVID pandemic does not affect your academic performance unfairly.

Missed assessments

We recognise that you may experience difficulties that mean you are unable to take one or more of your assessments. If you are not able to undertake the required assessment we will apply our extenuating circumstances policy to support you.

There may be a number of reasons why you are unable to attempt assessment including ill health, caring responsibilities, lack of suitable quiet space to revise or sit exams, or technical barriers. Whatever the reason, if you are unable to complete the online examination all you need to do is complete a Notified Absence from Exams form on MyEssex. You do not need to submit an extenuating circumstance claim or provide any evidence. We will use the information you provide to inform our planning to support students and to help us to identify any immediate support that we should be offering to you and your peers. Your reason for not completing the assessment will have no impact on the action taken – all reasons are valid reasons.

Please check our guidance for more information on the late submission and extenuating circumstances process under our No Detriment Policy.

Performance in assessments negatively affected

We recognise that many things may be uncertain and you might not be at your best. If you believe that your performance in your assessment(s) has been impacted by circumstances outside of your control, you should submit an extenuating circumstance claim using the online form on MyEssex. We understand that you may not be able to obtain evidence to support your claim, and so we will not require it. You can self-certify.

What's not a claim

Under our No Detriment Policy in all cases, where a module has not been passed the Board of Examiners will offer reassessment. Where an extenuating circumstances claim has been submitted and the module has been passed, the Board of Examiners will offer voluntary reassessment.

It is not possible to list every circumstance that would not be accepted or taken 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 online examination because you misread the timetable or overslept
  • having more than one deadline on the same day or on consecutive days (unless you were already suffering from illness or injury)
  • problems with the teaching timetable where you have not taken the necessary action to ensure that appropriate module choices are made
  • 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, it is unlikely that any action will be taken
  •  where you have chosen to undertake reassessment without attendance or to trail failed modules (without attendance) from 2019-20, extenuating circumstances claims regarding prior disruption to your learning caused by the pandemic will not be considered.  This is because you had the opportunity to repeat your failed modules with attendance but have chosen not to

Next steps

Find out what you need to do to make a claim and when the deadlines are:

Making a claim  Deadlines and forms
Student Services Hub
Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub or SU Advice who will be happy to assist you.