Extenuating circumstances

This section explains extenuating circumstances, guidance on how to report extenuating circumstances, how cases are considered, and what action might be taken should your circumstances be accepted.

We recognise that sometimes students can perform poorly in assessments and exams due to circumstances beyond their control. These circumstances are described as extenuating circumstances formerly known as mitigating circumstances.

Extenuating circumstances might include:

  • An illness affecting the student
  • Bereavement
  • A serious illness affecting a close family member
  • Unforeseeable or unpreventable events
  • IT difficulties. 

Students can self-certify their own illness by informing their School Office of the illness at the time of the illness in line with the sickness absence procedure. Independent documentary evidence must be provided in all other cases to verify extenuating circumstances. 

If the documentary evidence is provided by someone other than a medical practitioner (as recognised by the GMC) the documentation must include details of that person’s qualifications or standing; the evidence will still need to be accepted by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee and it will be for the Board of Examiners to make a judgement as to the value or weight they attached to the evidence in deciding a case of extenuating circumstances.

How to submit an extenuating circumstance claim

Before you submit a claim

Submitting a claim

You must submit your claim to your academic department within five working days of the event.

Your case must explain:

  • What the circumstances are
  • Which assessments have been affected
  • How it affected you in relation to your studies or an assessment
  • Precisely when the circumstances occurred.

After you have submitted your claim

Once you have submitted your extenuating circumstances claim form and supporting evidence, your case will be considered by the department or school’s Extenuating Circumstances committee before the main Board of Examiners’ meeting.

You will be informed of the outcome of your claim after the meeting of the Board of Examiners.


You have the right to appeal the Extenuating Circumstances Committee and/or a Board of Examiners decision but only on the following grounds:

Those extenuating circumstances were divulged but:

  • There was a procedural error in the decision taken by an Extenuating Circumstances Committee or Board of Examiners when considering the circumstances; or
  • You have new or additional material evidence, which, for a valid reason, you were unable to provide at the time of submitting the extenuating circumstances claim.

In addition, if you are at the end of your programme of studies and you consider that there are extenuating circumstances which for good reason you could not have submitted at the time, you may submit an appeal under Section two of the assessment appeals procedure, but this will normally be limited to extenuating circumstances affecting your final year of study only.

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