Extenuating (or mitigating) circumstances are those events which have had a detrimental effect on your study, to the point that it is in your interest to draw WMG's attention to them and ask for them to be considered in mitigation of poor performance.
University guidance on Extenuating (or Mitigating) circumstances can be found here and WMG follows the University procedures outlined there. The University advice provides detail on the type of evidence that would be expected and where you may go to seek the necessary advice/support.
Such circumstances include (but are not limited to):
- Illness (both bodily and emotional)
- Severe financial difficulties
- Death or illness of a close friend or relative
- 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 University is aware that in some cultures it is considered shameful or embarrassing to disclose the details of these kinds of circumstances to those outside one’s family. This is not the case in the prevailing UK culture and you should be aware that WMG and the University are fully supportive of students in difficult circumstances and want to assist if at all possible. If you feel inhibited from talking to a tutor or other member of staff in the first instance, you may also consider talking to a member of your SSLC, the Students’ Union, the University Senior Tutor or a member of staff in Student Support for initial, informal advice.
Clearly, though, in order for your circumstances to be considered as mitigating by WMG, they must be conveyed formally and in writing to either your Programme Manager or WMG's Academic Director of Graduate Studies, who will ensure that the information is brought to the attention of the relevant Board of Examiners - see link on RHS of this page. The University expects that you will present 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 WMG'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. Naturally WMG will do all it can to support you in difficult situations.
If the matters concerned are of a highly personal or sensitive nature, these do not have to be disclosed in detail to the full Board of Examiners. The Programme Manager, Director of Graduate Studies, Exam Board Secretary or your Personal Tutor can discuss the circumstances with you, in confidence initially if you prefer, and then assist you in representing your situation as above.
When requesting medical evidence to support your application for mitigation you are advised to make clear to your doctor that the information will be shared with a number of people, and to discuss with your doctor the most appropriate wording of the medical evidence (which should be in English or accompanied by a translation of the original documentation). The Exam Board would need to understand the impact any medical condition might have had on your studies and the period over which this impact will have occurred, thus copies of laboratory reports or prescriptions would not be helpful unless put into context by your doctor. You might find it helpful to share this advice with your doctor and - if requested - a letter outlining the requirements which you can give to your doctor can be provided by WMG.
It should be noted that mitigating circumstances would not normally overturn an adverse academic performance; what the Board might allow, if the circumstances are determined to have sufficient impact, is one or more of the following:
- additional time to complete a course,
- waiving of late (or other) penalties
- resubmission(s), possibly allowed as a first attempt (and hence not capped as is the normal convention)