Academic appeals for postgraduate research

You can make an Academic Appeal at various times during your Postgraduate Research studies.

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The information on this page applies to Postgraduate Research students (eg PhD, MPhil).

Students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses (eg BA, MA, PGCE, Foundation) have different guidance.

When you can appeal

You must have received a formal decision letter before you can appeal. The time limit for making an appeal will be set out in that letter.

Appeals received outside of the time limit will not normally be considered unless there are clear reasons for the delay and evidence to support this. We exercise our discretion but always seek to be fair and reasonable, taking account of the circumstances. Remember that you need to be able to provide evidence to explain why the appeal could not be submitted in time.

Grounds of appeal

There are only three grounds under which a student may appeal their results:

The following only applies for the 2020-21 academic year.

Extenuating circumstances (EC) are normally short-term, unforeseen, and unpreventable events that significantly impact your ability to study or complete an assessment or examination. See ECs currently considered by Goldsmiths.

You can apply for ECs before an assessment to request a deadline extension or deferral. Or you can report ECs to your department within 7 days of the assessment deadline or examination.

If you did not submit an EC request

If you did not submit an EC request, you can submit an appeal. You will need to clearly explain why you missed the 7-day deadline on your appeal form.

If this was due to an ongoing medical condition, an appeal would be considered if there was an acute ‘flare-up’, which had drastically affected the candidates’ ability to engage with the normal EC procedure.

If you did submit an EC request

ECs that your department has already considered will not be reconsidered as part of an appeal.

If your EC request was not accepted, you cannot use the same self-certification to support an appeal. You would need to gather additional reasons to support your appeal.

If your EC request was accepted and adjustments were made (for example a deadline extension) you cannot appeal using the same EC reasons. You would need to be able to show that circumstances continued to affect you covering the new deadline or any later retake attempt.

Errors can occur. Sometimes an error is self-evident – and can often be resolved without the need for a formal appeal. Contacting your department may be the best first step in many cases, as these queries can often be resolved directly.

If you believe that there was an administrative error in the way an examination or assessment was conducted, or if there has been a procedural irregularity, you can explain this in an appeal form and provide evidence to support what you are saying.

This ground of appeal addresses cases where there is demonstrable evidence that an examiner’s judgement may have been affected by inappropriate considerations, such as personal animosity.

You would need to have adequate evidence that an examiner could identify you and that the marking may have been affected by prejudice or bias. This generally goes beyond an issue of harsh feedback or comments made during supervision.

You may be disappointed with a mark – but unless you have further supporting evidence of bias or prejudice – you may not have valid grounds for appeal.

This is because a student cannot challenge academic judgement. An examiner may disagree with your viewpoint, argument or interpretation of evidence – affecting the mark awarded - but this is a matter of academic judgement. The design, structure and wording of exam questions are also matters of academic judgement.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) provides a useful explanation of how academic judgement is defined under the Higher Education Act (2004):

Academic judgment is a judgment that is made about a matter where only the opinion of an academic expert is sufficient.

A decision about assessment, a degree classification, fitness to practise, research methodology, or course content or outcomes will normally involve academic judgment.

The following areas do not involve academic judgment: decisions about the fairness of procedures, whether they have been correctly interpreted, what the facts are, how a provider has communicated with the student, whether an opinion has been expressed outside the area of an academic’s competence, the way the evidence has been considered, whether there is evidence of bias or maladministration.

Making a complaint as part of an appeal

You may feel that a number of issues have affected your academic performance and want to make a complaint as well as an appeal.

While complaints are normally addressed through the student complaints process, if you believe your complaint issues have directly affected your result, then you can set this out on the Stage Two Appeal form. Where possible, we will investigate your complaint issues at the same time as dealing with your appeal.

However, if your complaint has not affected your result, you must use the student complaints process.

Appeal process

Stage One: Informal resolution

You should first seek clarification of a decision.

Discuss your concerns with your supervisor or Departmental Senior Tutor. They can explain how the decision was reached and what may be achievable if you decide to submit a formal appeal.

Stage Two: Formal appeal

If you decide to formally appeal you must do this within the time limit stated in your formal decision letter.

Submit a Stage Two appeal

You are strongly encouraged to seek advice from the Goldsmiths’ Students Union advice service before submitting an appeal.

Stage Three: Request a review

If you are unhappy with the Stage Two outcome you may be able to request a final internal review of your appeal if you have grounds for review.

You must do this within one month of receiving your Stage Two decision.

How to request a review