What are exceptional circumstances?

The University considers an exceptional circumstance:
  • to be personal circumstances that are out of the control of the student; and
  • that the student could not reasonably have prevented or accommodated; and
  • they must have had a significant and demonstratively negative effect on the student’s ability to study or undertake an assessment.

Additionally, the timing of the circumstances must be relevant to the affected assessments and/or period of study. All elements must be met in order to substantiate a claim for exceptional circumstances.

What you need to do

To make a successful claim, you'll need to:

Step 1: Describe your exceptional circumstances and tell us why the situation was out of your control, explaining how you could not have reasonably prevented or accommodated the situation.

Step 2: Explain how the circumstances had a significant and demonstrable negative effect on your ability to study or take an assessment.

Step 3: Show how the timing of the difficulty is relevant to the assessment you’re claiming for.

Exceptional circumstances really must be... exceptional

It’s important to understand that exceptional circumstances really must be exceptional. As a student, you are expected to manage your health and minor illnesses or disruptions alongside your studies. The deadlines for submitting assessments are published when you start a module in order that you have plenty of time to plan, research and complete the work required. 

You are expected to work round short-term issues, such as a cold, in the same way that you would if you were employed. This is intended to help you develop your time management skills, which will be transferable skills you will need for whatever you go on to do after university.

Applications for exceptional circumstances longer than 3 days should only be made for genuinely serious situations such as:

  • experiencing a significant illness yourself
  • experiencing a bereavement
  • being a victim of a crime or
  • the sudden significant illness of a close family member

when these situations affect your ability to prepare for or take an assessment.

The University would only expect that a minority of students would need to make an exceptional circumstances application during the course of their studies. If you find yourself needing to make regular applications, it might be that there is more suitable support or other processes which may better suit your situation. Your Student Support Co-ordinator or your Academic Adviser can explore other options with you. 

Exceptional Circumstances and Cost of Living Crisis

We realise that the cost of living crisis will impact many students and for some this may mean having to spend more time in paid employment than they had previously planned, or having increased care responsibilities. There is a University financial support fund students can apply to. The careers service will help students look for employment opportunities. Additionally, we recognise that these kinds of unforeseen circumstances will impact on time you are able to dedicate to your study. If you need to make an exceptional circumstances application for this, please apply through Type C and supply evidence. Evidence could come from a variety of sources, examples include: pay slips, letters from employers, an employment contract, child care invoices, a letter from the care facility, e.g, nursery.

Example scenarios

Below are some examples of the kinds of situations which are likely to be considered exceptional and some examples of situations which are not. These are not all the possible situations that we might consider to be exceptional, there may be more.

Remember that if you are applying for Type C (an extension of more than three days, or an opportunity to postpone an assessment) you’ll need to provide evidence of your situation and how it is impacting on you.

Here are some scenarios to illustrate: