Thinking through an Extenuating Circumstances application

This page will not tell you all the technical details you need to know in order to make a successful application – see the University's Extenuating Circumstances Procedure itself for that sort of information. What we set out to do here is to introduce you to the ideas behind the system and help you think of a good case to put forward.

We suggest thinking about:

1. Could you have seen the problem coming?

If it couldn’t be foreseen or prevented, that helps your case. So, a good case could be things like spending a month in hospital after a car accident or a relative suddenly passing away. However, it doesn’t “poison” an application if you could see a problem coming: for example, it’s still worth applying if you knew a relative was terminally ill for some time. The point is that you could not avoid your course being affected.

Not sure how best to present things to best help your case? Ask our advice.

2. Whose fault (if anyone’s) was the problem?

If a problem’s your own fault (like enrolling on a course knowing you don’t have the money to pay for it, or your ten year old PC crashing with your entire un-backed-up dissertation on it, or getting imprisoned for fraud, or oversleeping) then it’s not likely to be a good Extenuating Circumstance. Things that are someone else’s fault (like being mugged) or are nobody’s fault (like widespread flooding) are much better cases. Many problems are a mix of “my fault” and “someone else’s/nobody’s fault”. Emphasise how the elements that were not your fault affected things along with what you did to try and correct your own mistakes.

Not sure how to present things to best help your case? Ask our advice.

3. Do the dates match up?

If a problem crops up in July and is resolved in August, this won’t extenuate for a June submission (June was the month before the problem arose) and usually wouldn’t extenuate for work you submit in December (a long time after the problem) unless you can justify a link (like “I am still traumatised”).

Can't work out how to relate what happened to your assessments? Ask our advice.

4. Does the scale of problem match the scale of your claim?

A problem that lasted a day wouldn’t usually extenuate for work being a week late. A single missed lecture in early October wouldn’t usually extenuate for performance being affected on a January assessment (see point 3 about timings). Have a sense of proportion when making an application – even if you have difficult circumstances, you are still expected to do whatever work you can manage as well and as promptly as you can.

5. Can you evidence the problem?

Your application will need evidence. Evidence from an official agency that has helped you with the situation would be best. This means things like: GP/counsellor for health; police for assaults; fire brigade for fires; death certificate or funeral notice or order of service for bereavements; and so on. Try to evidence both the event and its effect on you (e.g. for a bereavement, both a funeral order of service and a supporting letter from a counsellor would be ideal).

Short of evidence? Speak with us - we might be able to think of more people or agencies that could support your application.

That’s the theory. For more information on technicalities and deadlines see the University's full Extenuating Circumstances Procedure.

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