What are Mitigating Circumstances?
During the course of study, you may experience exceptional unforeseen short-term circumstances which are outside your control and might have a detrimental effect on your studies. Please find a definition of possible short-term circumstances classified as mitigating circumstances in these GUIDELINES. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. The purpose of mitigating circumstances is to inform exam boards about the circumstances in your life which may have affected your studies to allow them to take this into account when making decisions about your assessment, progression and degree classification. Mitigating circumstances cannot result in a change of marks for specific pieces of assessed coursework, exams, or modules. Equally, a successful mitigating circumstance case does not excuse you from assessment in any of your modules, and mitigating circumstances cannot be used to allow you resit assessment in order to improve your marks.
For further information, including the possible outcomes of a mitigating circumstances submission at an exam board, please see the guidance on mitigating circumstances for students.
If you have a long term chronic condition or disability and think you may need on-going support arrangements, please see the section on Reasonable Adjustments in the Undergraduate Handbook.
Applying for mitigating circumstances
If you would like to apply for mitigating circumstances you should, in the first instance, contact your personal tutor. They will be able to provide advice and support with your mitigating circumstances. It is important to contact your personal tutor as early as possible to ensure that appropriate support is put in place. You may also seek advice from the Senior Tutor. Additionally, you may wish to consult Wellbeing Services, Support Services, the Dean of Students Office, or one of the advisors at the Students’ Union Advice Centre. Even if your circumstance is not eligible for consideration under mitigating circumstances, you should consider seeking support from the central university support services.
Mitigating Circumstances applications are submitted through your personal Tabula profile page using the 'Personal Circumstances' option.
With your application you must submit at least one piece of relevant evidence. A list of relevant evidence relating to claim type is provided below. Joint Honours students MUST make their mitigating circumstances request to their home department, but please note that an extension request for an individual piece of work will have to be made to the department owning the module.
Pay close attention to the final deadline for the submission of the form for your cohort: First Year, Intermediate (Second Year/Third Year Intercalated) or Finalist, and make sure both form and evidence are submitted in advance of this deadline. Late forms and evidence cannot be considered. Please see below for deadlines.
Please note that submitting mitigating circumstances does not mean that you do not need to apply for extensions to individual assignment deadlines.
Information provided by you is sensitive and will be treated confidentially and in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Any student who believes that the mitigating circumstances submission contains sensitive personal information and/or highly confidential evidence, may submit their mitigating circumstances as ‘Sensitive’, to be viewed in person only. The information will be relayed to the department’s Mitigating Circumstances Panel (MCP) without divulging the details of the sensitive nature of the information. Subsequently, the MCP will decide on the recommendations to be made to the Board of Examiners. Any further communications to other bodies (such as to Board of Examiners boards and/or module leaders) is ONLY permitted to list the type of mitigation agreed and reporting the appropriate grading of the MC submission AND NOT the details of the circumstances or any evidence or how it was assessed.
While it is acknowledged that you may be reluctant or not comfortable disclosing relevant information pertaining to private or sensitive issues or mental or physical health difficulties which are impacting on your academic progression, this cannot be used as an excuse not to do so. We cannot take into account circumstances that we are not told about. To ensure fairness to all students, it is your responsibility to fully disclose all relevant mitigating circumstances within the time frames laid down. Once marks have been officially released to you, it is too late to submit mitigating circumstances and retrospective applications. Consequently, mitigation where a student did not wish to raise their issues until they received their results will not normally be considered or accepted. All applications for mitigating circumstances are treated confidentially, and only a small number of staff will sit on the panel which decides the outcome.
Mitigating Circumstance Panel
The Mitigating Circumstance Panel (MCP) meets in the summer term, before the meetings of the Boards of Examiners, to consider all applications made in the department. The Panel is made up of: the Head of Department or Deputy; the Examination Secretary; the Director of Undergraduate Studies; the Senior Tutor; the Mitigating Circumstances Officer, the Secretary to the MCP.
Deadlines - 2019/20 academic year
The deadlines for submitting mitigating circumstances are as follows:
First Year students: Monday 8 June 2020
Second and Third Year Intercalated students: Thursday 18 June 2020
Finalist students: Tuesday 2 June 2020
Definition of mitigating circumstances
Mitigating circumstances are defined as:
- Situations that you could not have predicted and had no control over (e.g. serious illness, death of someone close, being the victim of a crime, family difficulties and unforeseen financial hardship)
- Situations with significant impact on your ability to undertake assessments/examinations which are independently evidenced in a timely fashion; (e.g. doctor’s note during illness showing duration and level of negative impact)
- Situations that are acute or short term, the timing of which are relevant to the impact on your study (normally within three weeks of the relevant assessment event or deadline)
In general terms, mitigating circumstances must be
- (a) significant (they have more than a minor impact on you)
- (b) unexpected (you must have had no prior knowledge of the event)
- (c) unpreventable (there was no reasonable steps you could have taken to prevent the event)
- (d) relevant (you must be able to link the event, and its impact on the period for which your claim is being made)
- (e) corroborated (it must be independently verifiable and the evidence must meet the University requirements
NOTE: Long term chronic conditions (normally greater than a term in duration and that are likely to be ongoing) and disabilities are dealt with under the reasonable adjustments (RAs) policy which can be viewed HERE. Please see the section on Reasonable Adjustments below.
Claims based on the following fall normally within the definition of mitigation circumstances (the list is not exhaustive):
- A significant deterioration of a permanent or chronic condition close to assessment (normally within three weeks of the assessment due) which you have already reported and is already covered by reasonable adjustments OR/IF the reasonable adjustments do not fully address the impact of the condition and still leave you at a disadvantage over others.
Serious illness (physical or mental), accident or severe trauma at the time of the assessment or during the preparation for it.
- Death of someone close to you around the time of the assessment.
- Serious illness or accident (including significant caring responsibilities) of someone close to you at the time of the assessment.
- Significant change in employment circumstances beyond your control (part-time students only).
- Significant change in personal or unforeseen financial circumstances (e.g. divorce of student, fire, court appearance by student, acute accommodation crisis).
- Late diagnosis of a disability, including Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD).
- Bullying, harassment or threatening behaviour.
- Victim of a crime or involvement in a criminal case (e.g. as a witness).
NOTE: This list is not exhaustive and if you feel that you want to report a claim for mitigating circumstances which is not listed above, but does in in your opinion represent a mitigating circumstance, you should list the mitigating circumstances on your mitigating circumstances form and submit it for consideration. The department will seek advice from the Academic Director of Undergraduate Studies to ascertain if the mitigating circumstance falls within the definition of mitigating circumstances.
Claims based on the following would not normally be considered to fall within the definition of mitigating circumstances (the list is NOT exhaustive):
Minor illnesses of relatives (unless you have substantial care or support responsibilities for the person).
A permanent or chronic condition which you have already told us about and is covered by reasonable adjustments.
Circumstances that do not relate to the assessment period in question unless independent evidence is provided which demonstrates the ongoing detrimental impact of a personal situation/medical condition
- Minor illnesses, minor injuries (e.g. coughs, colds etc.) not requiring treatment from a qualified practitioner and that in a work situation would not normally lead to absence.
- Examination stress and anxiety, unless a flare-up of a pre-diagnosed illness/condition.
- Stress or symptoms of anxiety or low mood which do not meet the criteria or threshold for a diagnosis of an anxiety or mood disorder.
- Pressure of academic workload.
- Computer, printer or other IT failure.
- Temporary self-induced conditions, e.g. hangover.
- Travel disruption (e.g. traffic jams, delayed trains).
- Misreading or misinterpreting of an assessment title, assessment dates, time and deadlines.
- Claims submitted without independent supporting evidence.
- Assessment dates being clustered or close together unless there has been a specific recommendation for reasonable adjustments which includes spacing of assessment dates.
- Employment or other types of external work (unless due to hardship that could not be foreseen).
- Non-academic activities and events that can be planned (such as holiday, moving house, weddings, sporting events etc.) or that were foreseeable and preventable.
- Late disclosure of circumstances on the basis that the student did not feel comfortable submitting mitigating circumstances prior to the relevant Board of Examiners’ meeting where marks are confirmed (i.e. only submitting mitigation after they have failed an assessment.)
- Staff absence due to illness or other unforeseen circumstance.
- Ignorance of the regulations or examination or assessment arrangements.
For guidance on the types of evidence required to support a mitigating circumstances application, please see the Appendix A with the guidance notes.