Help and Advice

Information, advice and representation on university procedures including appeals, cheating and resits.

How do I tell my school about my mitigating circumstances?

Mitigating Circumstances are any personal issues that you feel affect your academic work, such as illness or bereavement. It is important to tell your school about these, as then they can take action. Mitigating circumstances are significantly distruptive.

Usually there is a form to complete. The Student Support Office in your School should be able to provide you with a copy. 

Alternatively you might be able to send an email explaining your circumstances.

You should provide evidence of the illness or problems you have had, such as a doctor's or counselor's letter, or a supporting statement from a parent or friend confirming what is going on (for example in the case of a housing issue that is affecting your study).

If you write to your school, you must:

  • Explain that you would like your circumstances to be considered by the School and Faculty Special Cases Committees if necessary
  • Explain your situation
  • Explain in detail exactly how it affected or is affecting your work. For example, you may have spent time being unwell, been unable to sleep or concentrate on your work, or spent a lot of time caring for someone else, which restricted your study time or caused you to miss lectures.
  • Explain which assignments or modules were affected, and how.
  • Explain if you have already told anybody in your School. If the problems have been going on for a long time, explain why you did not mention them sooner.
  • Include any evidence to support your case

Keep a copy of anything you have written to your school.

When should I tell my School about my situation?

You should inform your school of any problems as soon as you can, ideally before you sit any exams or hand in any assignments; if you have missed any classes, or think you might miss any. If you have already sat exams or handed in work you think was affected, you should tell your school as soon after these as you can.

What happens when I tell my school about my mitigating circumstances?

If you have problems that might affect essays or assignments, telling your school in advance means that they might be able to arrange an extension.

Exam papers and assessed work are marked anonymously, and final marks are agreed by a Board of Examiners. A Special Cases Committee will consider any work which shows evidence of mitigating circumstances. If the Committee decides that your work was affected they may reconsider your degree classification.

If you have failed an exam or assignment, a Special Cases Committee may allow you an extra re-sit, or a first attempt re-sit. See LUU's guide to re-sits for further information.

If your circumstances are serious and likely to last a long time, you and your School may decide that you should take some time out of your course. The Taught Student Guide explains how to go about taking temporary leave. You should get advice from the Student Advice Centre about the financial implications of taking temporary leave, and from the International Student Office about visa implications if you are an international student.

What if I don't tell my school about my mitigating circumstances?

If you do not tell your School about any mitigating circumstances, then they cannot take into account how these might have affected your work. 

If you delay telling your school about any problems, it will be more difficult for them to take action to help you. It is worth noting that marks are never altered due to mitigating circumstances. See LUU's Guide to Appeals for more information about appeals.

If you miss several lectures, keep handing work in late, do not hand work in repeatedly or fail assessments very badly then your School may decide to  use the Referred Students or Unsatisfactory Student procedure. These are the procedures the University uses when it no longer wishes to be responsible for a student, and could result in you being excluded. If your School thinks that you are too unwell to continue with your studies, they can take steps to exclude you until you are certified medically fit to continue.

For more information on these, see the University's webpage on their Procedures, the Taught Student Guide or contact the Advice Centre.

Formal action can often be avoided if you inform your School about any problems as soon as they occur.

What if I don't want to discuss my problems with the school?

If you don't feel comfortable approaching your school, the Student Advice Centre can help. The Advice Centre is independent from the University, and we cannot tell anyone about your problems unless you give us your permission. We can help you decide what you want to do and help you contact your school if you need us to.

What if I have problems during an exam?

The Taught Student Guide explains what to do if you are late for an exam, if you miss an exam, or become ill during an exam.

If you are late or miss an exam, you must explain the reasons, in writing and with supporting evidence, as soon as possible to the Examinations Officer.

If you become ill during an exam you must tell the Invigilator. You may be able to sit the exam in a sick bay, or at another time.

If you think your performance in an exam was affected by mitigating circumstances, you must explain these, in writing and with supporting evidence, to the school's Exams Officer immediately after the exam. If you do not provide this before the Exam Board meets, it cannot be taken into account when finalising your marks.

We make every effort to ensure information on these pages is accurate and up to date, however policies, procedures and regulations are subject to change. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience suffered as a result of using our pages. Read the full disclaimer.

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