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Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating Circumstances

Extenuating or mitigating circumstances are those events which have had a detrimental effect on your study. It is in your interest to draw the department’s attention to them and ask for them to be considered in mitigation of underperformance. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) illness, both bodily and emotional; the severe illness or death of a close family member; a shocking or traumatic personal experience. In addition, sudden, unexpected changes in family circumstances might affect your ability to make academic progress as a consequence of their demonstrable emotional impact upon you, and may also be considered as mitigation.

The Department understands that for many students it may be difficult to disclose the details of these kinds of circumstances to those outside their family. However, the department and the University are fully supportive of students in difficult circumstances and want to assist if at all possible. All information received is treated confidentially. If you feel inhibited from talking to a personal tutor or other member of staff in the first instance, you may also consider talking to a member of the SSLC, the Students’ Union, or a counsellor for initial, informal advice.

Clearly, though, in order for your circumstances to be considered, they must be conveyed formally. The University expects that you will discuss your circumstances before Exam Boards meet, so that they may be taken into account in good time. You should be aware that, in the event you feel you need to appeal the outcome of an Exam Board, offering extenuating or mitigating circumstances at that point will need to be accompanied by a good reason why you withheld the information earlier. Without wanting to invade your privacy, the University does expect that you bring such circumstances to your department’s attention in a timely manner, despite the discomfort you might feel in so doing. Failure to disclose such circumstances at a time when you could have done so may subsequently be problematic. Your department will do all it can to support you in difficult situations.

If you believe that your academic performance may be affected by medical or other difficult personal circumstances you have experienced, this may be taken into consideration at the Taught MA External Exam Board, which meets in November. Your degree classification and/or a decision to waive penalties if assessed work is submitted late without prior consent for an extension may be affected by such information. Such information is, however, subject to the Data Protection Act and we may therefore only take it into consideration at examination boards if you have explicitly authorised us to do so. In order to give us the required permission, you MUST complete the Mitigating Circumstances Form. If you submit the Mitigating Circumstances Form, please make sure that the MA Director is informed of your reasons for doing so in case s/he is needed to represent your interests. Members of staff may also put forward evidence to the Special Considerations Panel, but they will need your consent to do so. The form should be filled in and given to the Postgraduate Coordinator (Room H332). Students must present the form, along with any relevant evidence, within a timely period following medical diagnosis, medical treatment or other incident for which the student is seeking special consideration. There is no formal deadline for submitting this form, but students who fail to do so in time for the mid-November Taught MA Exam Board may not have their cases considered. Please note also that we may only consider such circumstances if you provide such evidence as may reasonably be expected for the difficulties you have experienced. Evidence previously submitted in support of an extension request which was granted will only be reconsidered if you can demonstrate that the additional time allowed did not sufficiently accommodate your difficulty.

If you have any questions, please contact the MA Director, Dr Claudia Stein.