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Understanding mitigating circumstances

Mitigating circumstances is a formal procedure that students can follow in order to inform the University of any circumstances that you think have had a significant impact on your academic performance.

The University defines mitigating circumstances as ‘unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances that could have, or did have, a significant adverse effect on the academic performance of a student’.

Mitigating Circumstances is intended as a supportive process, and to ensure that if there are events that are negatively impacting your studies that are out of your control, you will not be affected academically.

Examples of these circumstances could be significant illness or injury, the death of a family member or close friend, or major household problems (e.g. a fire). This wouldn’t usually include events that could have been planned for and expected, such as a holiday or moving house.

What to do

If you’ve got an issue that’s affecting your exams or coursework and you would like to request mitigation, you’ll need to submit a request for mitigation, which is available from your School or Department.

You need to submit your request before your exam or coursework hand in, or immediately after – otherwise your School/ Department may be unable to process your request. It’s recommended that you raise mitigating circumstances at the earliest opportunity.

When requesting a mitigation from your School or Department it’s also important to support the request with evidence, ideally showing that the circumstances occurred and how they affected you. This is to help the University confirm the circumstances that you’re referring to and to consider your request appropriately.  If you have difficulties in obtaining evidence, let your School or Department know as they may be able to offer advice on how to address this. 

Schools may have slight variations in their mitigating circumstances processes, for example local forms, or deadlines for requesting mitigation. If you want to find out about how you can submit a request for mitigation in your School, talk to your academic advisor, or contact a student support officer. You can also take a look in your Programme Handbook or local website, which will outline how this process works in your School. Please ensure you ask or reach out for support if you are unsure.

The general step-by-step process for considering mitigating circumstances is:

  1. You complete and submit a Request for Mitigation Form, following any advice given to you by your school. You will need to provide appropriate third-party supporting or collaborative documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note or a police report).
  2. When the request is submitted, it is passed to a Mitigating Circumstances Panel (or sub-panel) for consideration. If it hasn’t been submitted in time, the request will be rejected.
  3. Your request will then either be accepted, or rejected with reasons given.
  4. If it’s accepted, the Mitigating Circumstances Panel will make a recommendation to the Exam Board on how to apply mitigation, and the board will have the final say. Please note that mitigation will not result in the changing of marks, instead it may, for example, offer a re-assessment opportunity, or discount affected marks.
  5. Following the Exam Board decision you will be contacted with the outcome.

Each case for mitigating circumstances is considered carefully and the evidence you provide will be reviewed to ensure that outcomes are appropriate. If the evidence submitted doesn’t seem authentic, it may need to be checked – for example, asking a medical practice if they’ve issued a doctor’s note. If it is found that the evidence has been fabricated, the request will be rejected and the University may look to pursue disciplinary action. In some cases, students have been expelled from the University for making false claims. However, such instances are rare, and the University will support you with any valid requests.

Find out more

There are people and places across the University that are here to support you if you need it. Your School, academic advisor, and the Student Support office will be available for support, and if you need some impartial advice, the Student’s Union Advice Service is also available to answer any questions you might have.

If you need any support for mitigating circumstances, you can find out more information here.

You can find a brief guide on mitigating circumstances here

You can also view the full policy and procedure for mitigating circumstances at the University

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