4. Extenuating Circumstances

Article

4.1 Acceptable and Unacceptable Extenuating Circumstances and Evidence

Table of categories of acceptable and unacceptable extenuating circumstances and evidence (pdf):

4.2 Student Application Process for Consideration of Extenuating Circumstances (see section 4.4 Extenuating Circumstances Process Flow Chart)

  1. Students who are absent from examinations, or do not submit coursework or submit work after the deadline, may apply for extenuating circumstances to be considered.
  2. The Board of Examiners can only consider extenuating circumstances that have brought into question the validity of a particular assessment as a measure of a student’s achievement, and are outside the student’s control.
  3. A list of acceptable and unacceptable extenuating circumstances and supporting evidence is detailed in the ‘4.1 Categories of Acceptable and Unacceptable Extenuating Circumstances and Evidence’ spreadsheet.
  4. Students must normally submit mitigating evidence no later than seven days after the deadline for submission of coursework or the date of the examination.  Submissions by staff or by other students on behalf of a student who has not presented a written case him/herself cannot be accepted.  Retrospective medical certificates and notes submitted seven days after the deadline will not normally be considered.
  5. Students should submit evidence of extenuating circumstances to the Chair of the relevant Board of Examiners.  That is to the department that teaches the module/s affected by the extenuating circumstances and as directed by the academic department
  6. Students on joint degrees, interdisciplinary and/or intercollegiate modules must ensure that the department/s assessing the work are aware of their extenuating circumstances by submitting evidence to all departments concerned.  Where photocopies are submitted, departments may request to see the originals submitted to the other department.   
  7. The application and evidence will be reviewed by each department in relation to the module it teaches and the department will write to the student to request further information or other documentary evidence if required.
  8. Students are required to respond to requests for further information or documentary evidence within seven days. If a response is not received the application for extenuating circumstances to be considered will be rejected.
  9. The Chair will consider the statement of the student and the evidence submitted to determine if the circumstances and evidence are acceptable and what effect, if any, these circumstances have had on the validity of a particular assessment as a measure of a candidate’s achievement.
  10. The application must be supported by documentary evidence; medical certificates/notes to support extenuating circumstances must:
    • relate specifically to the dates and duration of the illness;
    • contain a clear medical diagnosis or opinion and not merely report a student’s claim to feel unwell.  It may therefore be difficult for students to obtain a medical certificate where one is requested from a doctor after the illness is over.

    Students should be aware that:

    • doctors are entitled to charge for any medical certificates or notes they provide;
    • doctors do not always provide certificates for short periods of illness;
    • doctors might not provide certificates after illness has ended, because after the student has recovered it might be impossible to know that he/she had been ill.

Documentary evidence used to support extenuating circumstances is College’s property to archive and must be stored on file by the Secretary of the Board of Examiners.

  1. If extenuating circumstances are presented to support:
    • a late submission after the deadline, the Chair of the Board of Examiners may make a decision on the Board of Examiners’ behalf, taking advice from other members as he/she considers necessary. Students will be notified of the decision as soon as possible; 
    • poor performance in an assessment or an absence from assessment, (coursework or written examination), the Chair will make a recommendation to the Board of Examiners and student will be informed of the outcome, after the meeting of the Board concerned.
  2. Where mitigating evidence is accepted and applied to coursework submitted within 5-10 working days after the set deadline, the assessed work will be considered to have been submitted on time and in effect the student has retrospectively been granted a short term deferral.
  3. Where mitigating evidence is not accepted or is not submitted the result will be absent.
  4. Where extenuating circumstances submitted are accepted they may be used in consideration of the module/s concerned to allow a late submission, or in marking the work or in relation to a borderline classification, extenuation may not be applied more than once.

4.3 Consideration of Student Applications for Extenuating Circumstances in Assessment

  1. Students may apply for extenuating circumstances to be applied to:
    • an absence from a written examination;
    • non-submission of coursework;
    • a late submission of coursework;
    • written examination sat with extenuating circumstances (students with severe illness are advised not to sit and to submit evidence for a deferred assessment);
    • work submitted on time with extenuating circumstances.
  2. Submissions should be marked without allowance being made for extenuating circumstances by the examiners and the mark (moderated by the External Examiner) reported to the Chair of the Board of Examiners.
  3. Students must normally submit an application form and mitigating evidence no later than seven days after the deadline for submission of coursework or the date of the examination as instructed by the academic department.  Applications and evidence submitted after seven days of the deadline date will not normally be accepted
  4. The application and evidence will be reviewed. 
    • If the form and evidence are sufficient they will be referred to the Chair of the Board of Examiners for consideration.
    • If further information or evidence is required it will be requested from the student.  If a response is not received with five days the application will refused and the student will be informed as soon as possible.
  5. Extenuating circumstances cannot be considered if they are notified by staff or by other students on behalf of a student who has not presented a written case him/herself.

Late Submission of Coursework

  1. Coursework submitted with extenuating circumstances after the set deadline should be considered by the Chair of the Board of Examiners, who may make a decision on the Board of Examiners’ behalf, taking advice from other members as necessary.  The Chair will assess the evidence and application as set out below and decide to either:
    • accept the work and record the mark awarded without further concessions. The assessed work will be considered to have been submitted on time and in effect the student has retrospectively been granted a short term deferral;
    • reject the application and record the student as absent from that element.

The student will be informed of the outcome and justification for the decision made by the Department as soon as possible.

  1. Students may have a more serious unexpected illness or problems which disrupt their ability to study and which may have caused an absence from assessment or affected their performance.
  2. The Chair and/or Pre-Meet of the Board (see ‘4.1 Acceptable and Unacceptable Extenuating Circumstances and Evidence’ spreadsheet)  will decide if the extenuating circumstances have or have not:
    • justified an absence or non-submission of work or;
    • brought in to question the validity of a particular assessment as a measure of a student’s achievement and;
    • whether those circumstances were outside the student’s control.

The Chair should rule out of order any special circumstances raised by members of the Pre-meet of the Board of Examiners which have not been properly documented.

  1. In reaching this decision, the Chair/Pre-meet will need to consider:
    • the application from the student;
    • the supporting evidence, Chairs of Board of Examiners should ask to see originals of medical certificates, etc. and should feel able to seek further confirmation of the circumstances claimed by the student where there is reason for doubt.  Falsification of evidence submitted in support of extenuating circumstances will render a student liable to disciplinary action;
    • the provisional mark for the module concerned;
    • the performance of the student in other elements of assessment;
    • the comments of the student’s personal tutor(s) and other relevant academic staff. 
  2. The Chair and/or Pre-Meet of the Board of Examiners should consider the extenuating circumstances, and make one of the following recommendations to the Board of Examiners in each case:
    1. the circumstances appear to have had little or no effect upon the student’s performance, and the mark for the element of assessment can therefore be confirmed;
    2. the circumstances appear to have affected the student’s performance (as evidenced by his/her performance in the particular elements of assessment when compared to his/her performance in other equivalent elements of assessment);
    3. the circumstances appear to have been so significant as to bring into question the validity of the assessment as a measure of the student’s achievement in the particular element of assessment.

Appropriate concession for extenuating circumstances considered;

  1. None – where circumstances are not acceptable or not considered to have affected the performance of the student to any extent, appropriate to recommendation (1).
  2. Confirm failed mark but allow retake without penalty (unless module failed at an earlier attempt and therefore already penalised).  Appropriate to recommendation (2)
  3. Award additional marks, with the agreement of the External Examiner, appropriate to recommendation (2)
  4. Discount mark achieved and allow deferred assessment to late summer or following year, depending on individual extenuating circumstances. Not considered to be one of the student’s permitted attempts, therefore no retake penalty is applied (providing the module was not failed at an earlier attempt) Appropriate to recommendation (3).
  5. Deferral for an absence, not considered to be one of the student’s permitted attempts, therefore no retake penalty is applied (providing the module was not failed at an earlier attempt). Appropriate to recommendation (3).
  6. In the case of long term continued illness, recommend that the Senior Tutor discuss continued study and/or a possible interruption of study with the student, appropriate to recommendation (3).
  7. A record should be kept of all such submissions, and the decision recommended in each case.
  8. Recommendations will be brought to the Board of Examiners, who should consider the extenuating circumstances referred to it by the Chair, the Chair may request comments from individual Examiners.

The Chair should rule out of order any special circumstances raised by members of the Board which have not been properly documented.

Deferred Assessment

  1. The deferred module should be assessed in the same format as the original assessment and should normally be sat or submitted in late late summer.
  2. Students whose modules are deferred are required to sit or submit as directed by the Examiners.  If continuing or new extenuating circumstances arise, further mitigating evidence to cover the later assessment period must be submitted, no later than seven days after the submission date or the examination and considered as above.
  3. Chairs of Boards of Examiners should take care not to ‘double count’ extenuating circumstances, i.e. by accepting work late and then compensating the student a second time by raising the mark for an individual element of assessment.  Or raising the mark for an individual element of assessment and then by compensating the student a second time when determining which degree classification to award. (see section 2.6 ‘Assessment of Honours for Credit Framework Degrees’).

4.4 Extenuating Circumstances Process Flow Chart

Flow chart of the extenuating circumstances process (pdf):

4.5 Example of an Application Form for Consideration of Extenuating Circumstances in Relation to Assessment of Modules

Example of an application form for consideration of extenuating circumstances in relation to assessment of modules (pdf):