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:

  • Exceptional medical circumstances eg hospitalisation or incapacitation through injury, illness, or mental health crisis.
  • Significant bereavement eg family member or close friend 
  • Victim of a serious crime.
  • Disabilities for which reasonable adjustments are not yet in place and where the delay is not due to the student
  • Legal proceedings requiring attendance.
  • Challenging domestic situation (e.g. divorce) 
  • the sudden significant illness of a close family member

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. 

Circumstances which are not generally considered to be exceptional include those events where you are aware of the date well in advance, and are therefore expected to make the necessary adjustments to meet your deadlines. 

These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Weddings and associated travel arrangements
  • Academic deadline pressures, e.g. multiple deadlines, time mismanagement, general exam stress 
  • Deleted work/ not-backed-up work or other computer failure
  • Uploading the incorrect assignment, mis-reading assignment deadlines or forgetting to submit an assignment on time
  • Domestic events such as home moves, family celebrations, holidays or other events where you are aware of the date well in advance and are therefore expected to make the necessary adjustments to meet your deadlines
  • Pregnancy and childbirth in and of themselves

A note on IT problems

Generally, IT-related problems are not considered valid grounds for exceptional circumstances. This is because students are expected to back up their work regularly via their Google Drive, so that they can continue accessing their files on other devices. If you experience IT issues, your are expected to take prompt action to remedy these, for example, by raising a ticket with the IT Service Desk; taking your technology for repair, or contacting your faculty if you need support with faculty-provided software.

If your own device is faulty, over 1,000 open access PCs are available for use on campus, or you may borrow a laptop for up to four hours from one of the self-service cabinets on campus. Please review our IT FAQs page for further information.

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. 

We will consider the overall impact the change in circumstances has had on your study time and we will try to compensate accordingly. 

Evidence could include:  

*Timesheets evidencing differences in working hours/shift patterns (before vs after)·   Supporting documentation from employer / care provider etc·        

*Contracts/other communications between student and place of employment or care provider.

You should provide a comprehensive explanation detailing the change in circumstances (i.e. what was your situation before and what is it now and it should include:

*The reasons why you are struggling due to increased workload / childcare (and the specific impacts this has had on their ability to complete their studies)

*The reasons why the change could not be accommodated by you

Bereavement or Traumatic Events

We understand that sometimes students experience bereavement or traumatic events which can impact their studies. If your Exceptional Circumstances application relates to one of these, the panel is likely to offer you an initial extension of 3 weeks as standard; this is to allow you some time to begin to process the events and in case you can submit your work in this period and do not want to delay your assignments significantly. 

However, the panel understands that this initial allowance may not be long enough and that you may need additional time or another opportunity to take the assessment at a later date. If you are given an initial 3-week extension in relation to a traumatic event and feel the initial allowance is not sufficient, please make another Type C application to say that you need an alternative / additional allowance and mention your previous application. 

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: