Evaluating your extenuating circumstances

About the Extenuating Circumstances Committee

Extenuating circumstances will normally be considered by a pre-board or small designated group within each department; known as the Extenuating Circumstances Committee. The Extenuating Circumstances Committee will consider extenuating circumstances relating to online examination performance, online examination absence, coursework performance, late submission of work, the non-submission of coursework, and other extenuating circumstances affecting the academic year.

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

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

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.

How your extenuating circumstances are assessed

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

  • the severity of the problem and the length of time involved
  • any supporting documentary evidence that you have been able to provide. Please note, our Extenuating Circumstances Committees will apply additional leniency where you have been unable to source 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 was set and the deadline for submission)

An estimation of potential cannot be made. For example, if you have performed at 2.2 level in your other assessments, and then miss an assessment in which you believe that you could have got a 2.1 because you had prepared well, you cannot expect a similar view to be upheld. Marks cannot be imputed, that is, added or an estimate made of what your mark might have been.

Possible action taken

A number of actions could be taken to try to ensure a fair result based on your overall performance. The following actions can be considered:

  • offering further reassessment in a module
  • allowing a reassessment attempt to be treated as a first sit, for uncapped marks where capping applies
  • offering voluntary reassessment where the module has been passed but there is evidence that performance may have been affected
  • amending the assessment of a module by changing the weighting of particular units of coursework assessment that contribute to the overall course assessment. Please note this can only be actioned where the learning outcomes have been met and, normally, where the affected components constitute less than 30% of the module
  • discounting particular modules, or pieces of work from the assessment of the year or the programme of study
  • instating a formative mark for a late piece of work

There may be limited action that can be taken where there are external professional or regulatory requirements. Contact your department if you are unsure whether your course has such requirements.

Wherever possible a decision about what, if any, action can be taken in the case of problems affecting second year undergraduate students will be made at the Board of Examiners considering that students’ second year marks. However, sometimes it may not be possible to determine what action would be reasonable, and therefore the extenuating circumstances may be carried forward for consideration as part of the final year Board when there will be 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 that cannot be taken

The following actions will not be taken in response to extenuating circumstances:

  • permitting a student who presents extenuating circumstances to proceed to the next year of study if they have not met the necessary requirements
  • permitting students to fail a core module or fail any published variations to the rules of assessment
  • adding extra marks because a student’s work has been affected by extenuating circumstances
  • amending marks from previous years of study
  • awarding 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
  • annotating statements of results/transcripts with comments about the existence of extenuating circumstances
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