Exceptional Circumstances (Regulation B3)
What are exceptional circumstances?
As a student, you will need to adhere to your assessment deadlines. Sometimes however, circumstances beyond your control can affect your ability to submit work or attend an exam and the University has a policy of taking into account some circumstances which have affected your academic study. These “exceptional circumstances”, shortened to 'ECs' below, are defined as:
‘A circumstance that is beyond your control and could not have reasonably been foreseen and acted upon that will prevent you from completing an assessment at or by the specified time or will have a significant negative effect on your performance in that assessment.’
EC claims should be submitted online via e-Vision - you can access the online form via 'The Office' tab in the KLE. Watch the step-by-step video below for a walk-through. There is also guidance in e-Vision on how to complete the online form.
Please note that paper forms will not be accepted by your Schools.
What is considered to be an exceptional circumstance?
The following are generally considered to be acceptable ECs, providing that they are supported by appropriate evidence:
- Acute illness or injury
- Extended illness or injury
- Acute illness of another person
- Significant domestic and/or personal problems
- Court attendance
- Unforeseen work commitment (Part-Time/Distance Learning/PG students only)
- Unforeseen representation of county or country at sport
- Active exercise of citizenship
- Unforeseen major transport difficulties
- Victim of criminal activity
An ECs claim is accepted at the discretion of your School Exceptional Circumstances Panel.
What is not considered to be an exceptional circumstance?
There are a number of areas that are not considered as valid ECs. These include general pressure of academic work as you are expected to have planned your work schedule, and personal computer/IT device problems, as you are expected to have taken adequate precautionary measures e.g backups and checking compatibility with University systems.
Religious observance is not viewed as a valid EC as such issues are not unforeseen; you should instead discuss with your School whether personalised exam arrangements can be made for an assessment. The deadlines to make these personalised arrangements are usually over two months before the relevant exam period; if this deadline has already passed, please speak to your School or Student Services for advice.
Long standing or on-going personal or health issues and recognised disabilities are not usually considered as ECs unless there has been a sudden change in the condition that could not reasonably have been foreseen.
How do I report an exceptional circumstance claim?
If exceptional circumstances occur and you anticipate that these will cause a delay in submitting your work or prevent you attending an exam, you will need to submit an EC claim and appropriate evidence to your School(s). Please watch the video above for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.
You should submit your claim as soon as you become aware of the problem and prior to the exam and/or coursework deadline. It is your responsibility to report ECs through the formal process at the earliest possible opportunity, and to adhere to the ECs submission deadline for your assessments.
We encourage you to discuss your circumstances with a member of staff e.g. your Personal Tutor, but please note that you still need to submit your own ECs via e-Vision for them to be considered by the University. Please also note that you must complete this form as soon as you have either missed an assessment, or when you become aware that circumstances are affecting you.
Once submitted, ECs are considered by School Exceptional Circumstances Panels, and so your form must be submitted to the University before these meetings. Your School(s) will provide you with its deadlines for ECs submission either by email, on notice boards, or via the KLE.
Claims may also be accepted after the coursework deadline or exam, providing that they are submitted before the meeting of the relevant Discipline Exceptional Circumstances Panel (where marks are confirmed). See more info below in the 'what options are available...' dropdown.
If you are waiting for a piece of evidence to support your claim, do not delay the submission of your form if this means that you will miss the School’s submission deadline (though you will need to tell the School when you will be able to hand the evidence in).
Claims submitted by the deadline will be considered by the School Exceptional Circumstances Panel. You will be informed of the decision at the earliest opportunity once the Panel has met.
What options are available if I submit an exceptional circumstance?
- If you missed an exam/placement, you can request permission to take it at a later date. If you miss the first attempt of an assessment and your ECs are accepted, then you will sit the assessment as if it’s your first attempt, and so your mark will not be capped. Alternatively, if you miss your first re-sit attempt and your ECs are accepted, then you can sit the assessment as if it’s your first re-sit, and your maximum mark will be capped (as is the case with re-sits). You would then take the assessment during the next whole University exam period.
- If you are struggling to complete your work by the deadline, you can ask for an extension. Your School will recommend a date by which your work should be completed.
- In some rare cases, you might have attended an exam and/or completed assessments, and you may think that your performance had been affected by the circumstances you have been experiencing. In these cases, the School Extenuating Circumstances Panel will consider the claim and make a decision in the normal way. However, please be aware that if you have passed the module the claim relates to, this is your final mark for this module and your ECs claim will not be considered by the Panel. Instead, your claim will be noted, and would be considered if you later fall within the University’s degree classification borderline criteria.
What if I’m in the School of Medicine?
Please note that the School of Medicine does not take ECs into account when awarding marks. However, for students failing re-sit exams, ECs, where present, and correctly documented, will be considered at the School of Medicine Progress Committee. The Progress Committee’s terms of reference state that students should raise exceptional circumstances in writing via e-Vision as soon as they are aware of them and no later than 5 working days following the relevant exam. Please note, ECs not documented within this time frame will not be considered by the Progress Committee.
Why is submitting an exceptional circumstance important?
The University expects that all students will engage appropriately with their programme of study and will also complete all forms of University assessment. If you do not attend compulsory learning and teaching events, fail to attend exams or hand in assessments, or achieve a mark of 10 or below in 50% (or more) of the modules that you have studied during a particular semester, then you may be affected by Regulation C3 Section 9: Appropriate Engagement with Studies and Assessments. This regulation states that if you do not engage with your studies without good cause, you may be withdrawn from your course. It is therefore extremely important that if you miss an exam, are unable to submit your coursework, or feel that your performance has been affected by any problems that you are experiencing, that you follow the ECs process outlined in this email.
You must not wait until you receive your end of year results and then decide to ask for ECs to be taken into account by submitting an academic appeal, as this will, in most cases, not be allowed. Please note that if your EC claim (relating to a particular assessment) has already been considered by an Exceptional Circumstances Panel, then it will not be considered again. However, if you have a valid reason why your EC claim was not submitted before the relevant assessment it relates to, there are some rare circumstances where this claim can go to the panel retrospectively. You can find out more information about academic appeals, and how these relate to exceptional circumstances, on the Regulation B6 web page.
Please note that the University Academic Appeals Committee will reject your claim, even if your ECs are valid, if there is not a genuine reason why the EC claim was not brought forward at the appropriate time. Reasons such as reluctance to reveal circumstances, wanting to find out the outcomes of assessment, shyness, or cultural issues are not normally accepted as valid reasons for not submitting ECs at the appropriate time.
Further information and support
Detailed information on ECs criteria, the claims process and evidence requirements are in the ‘Exceptional Circumstances Code of Practice’ - download it from the link below.
If you would like more information, or advice and support in making a claim, please speak to: your Personal Tutor, School Office, Student Services or ASK in KeeleSU.
Exceptional Circumstances Code of Practice
The above is a summary of ECs and how they affect you. Please read the ECs Code of Practice for more detailed information.