Student guide to mitigating and/or recurring circumstances

Updated on 18 March 2024

If you are a student and have encountered problems beyond your control which have negatively affected your studies, learn how to report these so that you can get the support you need and so that your exam board can be aware of your situation.

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Schools will normally consider making appropriate allowance for unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances which affect class attendance and performance when they are aware of them, for example, industrial action.

However, if you run into problems that you think have negatively affected you, always contact a member of staff within your School (for example your Adviser of Studies or Programme Director) as soon as you can by email. It is important that you let someone know so that we can provide you with support at the time when you need it.

Circumstances differ, some situations are temporary, whereas other circumstances are ongoing. If your circumstance is temporary or has affected you in the short term this may be dealt with by seeking mitigating circumstance.  However, some situations span a longer period and these would be considered to be recurring circumstance. 

Recurring circumstances

You should seek support and guidance for ongoing circumstances as soon as possible. These are called recurring circumstances. Examples include:

  • gender-based violence
  • being a carer (in this instance, this is not the same as looking after children)
  • being estranged from family/carers/support networks
  • continuing legal proceedings
  • terminal illness
  • long-term disabilities, physical illness, or mental health difficulties (where a medical diagnosis cannot be evidenced, this is based on the definition of disability under the Equality Act)

Please contact the University's Student Support Team and they will help. If it is a disability-related issue then you should contactor Disability Services. These teams can work with you and your School to create a support plan that will provide you with ongoing support throughout your studies.

Mitigating circumstances

Mitigating circumstances describe situations that temporarily prevent you taking an assessment or significantly impact your performance in an assessment or examination. These are usually circumstances beyond your control. Examples of mitigating circumstances:

  • serious or incapacitating injury, illness or medical condition, or emergency operation
  • significant family or personal crisis e.g. bereavement, or a serious illness affecting a close family member
  • jury duty where a request (supported by a letter from a member of staff from your School) for postponement or excusal was rejected by the Court Services
  • unforeseen, unpreventable events (e.g. being a victim of a criminal act, natural disaster, including severe weather affecting travel, employer demands, and military service).  

Mitigating circumstances are not:

  • minor illness or injury
  • personal/domestic events that could have been planned for
  • personal choices (e.g. attending weddings, holidays etc)
  • participation in a sporting event
  • exam nerves or self-diagnosed stress/anxiety
  • the language of assessment not being your main language
  • failure or theft of your computer or other equipment being used to produce the work to be assessed, including work not being backed-up
  • long term illness or disability where earlier disclosure would have allowed appropriate adjustments to be made. 

Normal life throws up difficulties, problems and minor illnesses that you have to cope with during study in the same way as everyone does at home or at work. As a student you are expected to take appropriate steps to minimise the impact of these since such events are unlikely to be accepted as mitigating circumstances. 

Reporting mitigating circumstances

You should report mitigating circumstances as soon as possible by submitting a mitigating circumstance application form, along with supporting documentation to verify the mitigating circumstances. 


Each School has a deadline for submission of mitigating circumstances – this will be before the Board of Examiners meet to consider the overall results for the year.  On the page with the mitigating circumstances form, you will see the appropriate deadline for your School and the email address where you need to send the completed form.

If you miss the deadline, contact your Adviser of Studies to let them know.  Submit your mitigating circumstances form and supporting evidence, as soon as possible. You should state in your application why you missed the deadline. 

If you submit your coursework after the deadline, and you think mitigating circumstances have impacted on your ability to get your work in on time, you should complete the mitigating circumstances application form and submit this with your coursework.  

If you miss an exam or perform badly in an exam because of mitigating circumstances (including sickness on the day), you should submit a mitigating circumstances application form as soon as possible. 

Evidence to submit

Evidence is needed to demonstrate or provide confirmation of the circumstances. This needs to be relevant and clarify the information you have written in the application form and should be originals.  Scanned copies will be accepted.  Examples of the types of evidence which you might use to support an application for mitigating circumstances: 

  • a doctor’s note or medical certificate for the period
  • a note from a counsellor, religious leader or other appropriate professional individual who is relevant to the circumstance
  • copy of a death certificate or order of service
  • in some instances, a self-certification form (can be used for illnesses for a period of up to 7 days).

Ensure that any evidence you submit in support of your submission does not include the name of anyone other than yourself without their consent. If you can't obtain this consent you can still submit it if you blank out the person's name and any other details that might identify them. 

On rare occasions the Mitigating Circumstances Committee will consider applications without evidence, but this is unusual. If you do not have evidence, you should speak to your Adviser of Studies to explain why and include an explanation in your mitigating circumstances application form. 

Mitigating and recurring circumstances process

  1. Submit your completed Mitigating Circumstances application form and related evidence to your School Office before the deadline date.
  2. Mitigating Circumstances form and evidence is reviewed by the School Mitigating Circumstances Committee. Students do not attend in person.
  3. School Mitigating Circumstances Committee reviews: your evidence, the effect of the event, the timing of the event, your performance in the assessment.
  4. Mitigating Circumstances are considered under 4 categories:

    • Severe
    • Significant
    • Mild
    • No Case

    Severe, Significant or Mild cases means action will be taken based on your overall academic performance and the severity of the case No Case means no further consideration and no action is taken.

  5. School Mitigating Circumstances Committee will make a recommendation. For example:
    no change, additional opportunity, first attempt, condonement or compensation, mark adjustment, credit awarded or to informs the Exam Board of its recommendation.
  6. Exam Board considers the recommendation and makes a decision based on your overall performance in your assessments.
  7. Students are informed by the School Office of Mitigating Circumstances outcome, action to be taken and support available.

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