Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating Circumstances

The University defines mitigating circumstances as circumstances which: 

a) Are beyond the control of the student 

b) Could not be reasonably accommodated by the student 

c) Had a significant impact on their performance immediately before or during an assessment


Deadline for Claims 

Claims must be submitted via student's SOLE page within seven days of the assessment's submission deadline or date of your exam, but submission of a claim should not be delayed due to evidence not yet being available.  The route on SOLE is: [Assessments-> Submit and view claims for mitigating circumstances].  Claims not submitted by 12:00 midnight on the seventh day will be considered 'late claims' which will only be considered if there is a compelling reason for the claim being submitted late e.g. hospitalisation, bereavement of a close relative, severe mental health difficulties.


Grounds for Claims

Many mild illnesses and routinely difficult or upsetting events do occur in life. It is a normal part of life to have to manage these and continue with work or study.  Therefore many such difficulties are not normally approved as representing grounds for the submission for claims of mitigating circumstances.

The following represent potential grounds for the submission of claims:
  • Significant illness during an assessment such as an exam or presentation
  • Significant illness lasting for several days and which is serious enough to prevent a student from making progress with or submitting an assessment
  • Serious illness of a close family member which means a student needs to provide significant caring support and which has not been planned for
  • A very close family member or friend dies
  • The student is a victim of a serious crime
  • Being called for jury service which cannot be deferred
  • Participation in sport at an elite level by either representing his/her country at a major international competition, preparation immediately preceding an international competition or participating in a major national championship
  • Excessive employment demands which were substantial and temporary [it is not expected that full time students will claim on this basis]
  • Serious family difficulties
  • Any other factor having a substantial effect on performance

The following represent grounds which will not normally be approved:

  • Illnesses of a mild or short-term nature such as colds, headaches, stomach upsets
  • A disability or chronic illness does not constitute exceptional mitigating circumstances unless there is medical evidence of a sudden and unforeseen deterioration or a particularly severe episode
  • The usual financial difficulties experienced by most students do not constitute mitigating circumstances, unless there has been a significant, sudden and unexpected change in financial circumstances, such as redundancy, bankruptcy
  • The usual professional commitments or employment demands do not constitute mitigating circumstances, unless there is evidence from an employer that commitments and demands have been exceptionally substantial and temporary
  • The loss of material due to failure or theft of a computer or associated device (e.g. USB memory pen or printer) does not constitute mitigating circumstances as students are required to ensure that their work is adequately backed up
  • Lack of access to University facilities as a result of an unpaid debt to the University
  • Claims arising from poor time management or personal organisation (e.g. failure to plan for foreseeable events such as travel problems resulting in late submission of coursework; misreading the examination timetable; failure to follow the instructions regarding the submission of assessment items)
  • Claims relating to pregnancy do not constitute mitigating circumstances, unless there is evidence that there have been complications
  • Claims relating to circumstances within a student’s control (e.g. family wedding or holiday; paid employment; booking an alternative flight; choosing to miss an assessment or coursework due date for something considered more important)
  • Claims relating to ‘assessment stress’. Experiencing an increase in anxiety leading up to and during an assessment(s) is a common experience for many students
  • Claims where the problem is caused by English being an additional language
  • Being subject to Procedures such as Academic Misconduct, Disciplinary or Fitness to Practise.

Evidence for Claims

All claims must be supported by independent supporting evidence. Claims with no evidence are not considered.

Evidence must be:

  • Genuine – the claim will be rejected if it is found that any of the evidence submitted is false, forged or has been tampered with in any way 
  • Independent – letters from relatives or friends are not accepted
  • Written in English – if the evidence was written in a language other than English an official translated copy must be supplied
  • Dated; and on official, headed paper or have an official stamp or seal of the issuing authority

Types of suitable evidence include:

  • Medical Certificate [obtained at the time of illness] 
  • Letter from medical practitioner confirming the illness of the student or person which they have a caring responsibility for
  • Letter from a counsellor
  • Death certificate or order of service 
  • Birth certificate [in special cases]
  • A signed and dated letter from a coroner, legal practitioner, police officer, court official, or other professional 
  • Hospital discharge summary [must detail the nature of the illness]
  • Statements from University staff if they have witnessed the illness/incident

Receiving the Outcome of a Claim

While claims are processed as soon as possible, there are several peak periods throughout the academic year (particularly the end of semester) when the higher volume of claims means students may not hear a response as quickly.

The Committee can make a decision by Chair’s Action if the claim is straightforward, and in these cases you will be informed via SOLE as soon as this decision is made. All students can expect to be advised of the outcome of their claim within seven working days of the relevant Mitigating Circumstances Committee.  Where a claim is not accepted, a student may submit further evidence to support their claim within seven days of the outcome being published on SOLE.  

If a decision has been made on a claim, or if we require further information, the status of the claim will be updated on the student's SOLE page (Assessments-> Submit and view claims for mitigating circumstances) and students need log onto SOLE to review the update. Students receive an automated email if there is any change to the status of a claim.

Mitigating Circumstances Committees 2019-20

Semester 1 – Friday 7 February 2020

Semester 2 – Friday 29 May 2020

Reassessment– Friday 17 July 2020


Claim Outcomes 

Where a student’s claim for mitigating circumstances is approved the following outcomes are available to students:  
  • Late Submission: Allows the student to submit their work up to seven days late without the grade being capped at the minimum pass grade of D- [8].  
  • Non Submission: Allows the student to not submit their work or attend the exam without penalty.  The Exam Board will set a a new submission/exam date which will normally be during the summer reassessment week.  
  • Performance Affected: Allows the student to have a further reassessment attempt if they have not passed or have under performed on an assessment/exam due to their circumstances.  

Or alternatively, contact the Student Records Office on 01905 855333


This advice page has been created using extracts fromProcedures for Dealing with Claims of Mitigating Circumstances v3.0.