Student Services

What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances are situations or events that have happened in your life that make it difficult or impossible for you to undertake an assessment (such as submitting coursework, making a presentation or sitting an exam) or made you do less well than you could have done.

They would usually be something that happened at the same time as, or when you were preparing for, the assessment.

More information can be found in the drop down boxes below.

What does 'extenuating circumstances' actually mean?

Extenuating circumstances are situation or events that are:

  • Exceptional - different to what you have to deal with in your usual da-to-day life.
  • Unforeseen - you couldn't know that it was going to happen or to have planned for it.
  • Outside you control - there was nothing that you could do to stop it happening.
  • Short-term - you don't expect what is happening to last very long.

We also expect them to have a substantial impact on your ability to prepare for or take an assessment.  This means that the circumstances must have a bigger impact than everyday things like a poor night's sleep, a minor illness (such as a cough or cold), a minor injury or general anxiety about the assessment.

A certain amount of stress around assessments is normal and there is plenty of support available to help you prepare - have a look at our Academic Skills pages for more information.

What circumstances can I submit a claim for?

It is impossible to provide a complete list of all circumstances but those listed below – backed up by supporting evidence - are generally considered to be extenuating:

  • Acute Personal/Emotional Circumstances
  • Bereavement (death)
  • Childcare (for exams only)
  • Court attendance in UK
  • Crime - being the victim of crime or being investigated by the police
  • Deployment (military, reserves voluntary and emergency service workers)
  • Domestic disruption
  • Hospitalisation
  • Illness – either your own or when a family member is affected
  • Jury Service
  • Material irregularity (i.e., wrong info provided)
  • Paternity/parental leave
  • Pregnancy
  • Representing the university at a national event

You can make a claim for any other circumstances that you believe are extenuating, although not all circumstances are able to be accepted. Guidance on the types of evidence that you will need to support your claim can be found on the ‘Evidence’ page here.

What circumstances are not usually accepted?

These examples are circumstances which usually could have been avoided or where arrangements could have been made to address the problem:

  • Accommodation disturbances: It is your responsibility to make sure you have access to suitable accommodation during your academic year, exam and resit period. Disturbances caused by housemates would generally be considered normal and therefore not acceptable grounds.
  • Criminal conviction: If you are convicted of a criminal offence, any disruption caused by the investigation or sentence is not considered an acceptable extenuating circumstance.
  • Exam stress: Feeling stressed and anxious leading up to and during an exam is common. It is not considered to be an acceptable extenuating circumstance unless a medical diagnosis of illness has been made.
  • Holidays: It is your responsibility to ensure you are available for all potential assessments during term time, exam or resit periods.  All term dates can be found on the Academic Calendar.
  • IT and/or computer failure: If you lose your work or your files become corrupted, this isn't an acceptable extenuating circumstance. It's your responsibility to make sure all of your work is sufficiently backed up.
  • Misreading the exam timetable: It is your responsibility to make sure you know, and remember, the location, time and duration of all of your exams.
  • Moving home: Buying a property is not an unexpected or unforeseen event.  An eviction notice from a rented property is usually provided with a minimum notice period  of 3 months so isn't usually considered an acceptable extenuating circumstance - if you've been issued with a section 8 eviction notice of less than 3 moths, this may be accepted.
  • Paid employment or voluntary work: You are expected to make sure that any work you undertake does not interfere with your studies. If you are a part-time student and an unexpected or exceptional work commitment does arise, this may be considered an extenuating circumstance.
  • Scheduling of assessments: Deadlines, or exams being close together are unlikely to be considered an acceptable circumstance. You’re expected to plan your academic work so that you can meet assessment deadlines at the same time as your other obligations.  If you have an exam clash, speak with your Faculty.
  • Transport issues: You should arrive at your assessment or exam on time and always allow extra time in case of delays.  If you can't travel because of circumstances beyond your control, this be accepted.

What type of extenuating circumstances claim do I want to make?

EXTENSION: When you can’t submit your coursework by the original deadline - if you claim for an extension, you intend to submit the work and only require additional time.

An extension request gives you an extra 14 calendar days beyond the original deadline to submit your coursework with no penalty applied to the grade. Extensions can only be granted for coursework; they do not apply to examinations, time constrained assignments or practical assessments.

How can an extension help me?

Normally, if you don’t submit coursework by the submission deadline you can submit up to 14 calendar days late, but your work will be ‘capped’ at the basic pass mark (usually 40% for undergraduate modules and 50% for postgraduate modules).

With an accepted extension, your work will not be capped so long as it is submitted by the 14 calendar day extension deadline.  Coursework submitted beyond this deadline won’t be accepted and a ‘non-submission’ or 0 grade will be recorded against the item of coursework.

DEFERRAL:  When you can’t take an assessment - if you claim for a deferral, you won’t submit the work or sit the exam and are asking to submit/sit at the next opportunity.

A deferral lets you delay taking the assessment until the next available opportunity which will be considered a ‘first attempt’ with no penalty applied to the grade.

How can a deferral claim help me?

The Progression and Award Board (PAB) will normally offer you an opportunity to retake the missed item of assessment, which will either be during the summer resit period or in the next academic year.

IMPAIRED PERFORMANCE: When you haven’t been able to do your best work - if you claim for impaired performance, you have submitted your coursework by the original submission deadline or sat an exam but don’t feel the work reflects your real ability.

An impaired performance request allows the Progression and Award Board (PBA) to take your circumstances into account when considering your academic profile.

How can an impaired performance claim help me?

If you have achieved a pass grade, the PAB will decide whether to offer you another attempt at the assessment to improve the grade - if they feel that the grade is of a similar standard to your other grades, they may not feel this is necessary, it is their academic judgement. The higher of the two grades from both attempts will be recorded. If you don’t pass at the first attempt, you may be offered another opportunity and the grade will not be capped.

The PAB will decide the timing of any further attempts, which will either be during the summer resit period or in the next academic year.

Can I make another claim for the same item of assessment?

ACCEPTED EXTENSION CLAIMS - If you have been given an extension of up to 14 calendar days to submit an item of coursework but won’t make the extended deadline, you cannot submit another extension claim for the same piece of coursework. If you have valid reasons, you can submit a new properly evidenced extenuating circumstances claim for a deferral.

ACCEPTED IMPAIRED PERFORMANCE CLAIMS – If you have an accepted claim but did not submit your work by the original deadline or sit your exam, you do not need make another claim for the same item of assessment. When your academic profile is considered by the Progression and Award Board, they will be aware of your accepted claim and treat it like a deferral claim.

ACCEPTED DEFERRAL CLAIMS – If you have an accepted claim but subsequently felt able to submit your work by the original deadline or sit your exam, you do not need to make another claim for the same item of assessment. When your academic profile is considered by the Progression and Award Board, they will be aware of your accepted claim and treat it like an impaired performance claim.

If your claim was rejected as ‘Too Early’ we may accept a new claim nearer the date if you have appropriate evidence, but otherwise please don’t submit another claim for the same item of assessment. You can appeal the decision later in the academic year using the Academic Appeals Procedure.

What is the impact on my studies if I defer an assessment?

Making a deferral claim is an important decision as this could affect several areas of your student life:

Academic Progression

When the Progression and Award Board (PAB) meet at the end of the academic year, they will look at all your marks for the year before deciding when and if you can retake any assessments that you haven’t passed.

If your claim was accepted for term 1 or 2 assessments, you will normally be offered the opportunity to retake the assessment(s) during the summer resit period. If you’ve not passed many modules, the PAB may decide that you need to retake all your failed modules in the following academic year, which is known as ‘repeating’. If you ask to defer an assessment that you are due to take during the summer resit period, then again you may have to repeat your year of study to retrieve the failed assessment(s).

For further information on progression requirements, see section D9 of the Academic Regulations for Taught Awards

Medway School of Pharmacy students can find information on progression requirements in the following documents:

Section 3 of the Academic Regulations for the Master of Pharmacy (MPharm)

Section 3 of the Undergraduate Regulations (excluding MPharm)

Masters of Research (MRes) students can find information on progression requirements in section E4 of the Academic Regulations for the Masters by Research


If you’re a final year student and you defer your assessment, you may not be able to complete your degree award this academic year which means that you won’t be able to graduate until the following year.

Student Loans

Any deferral of assessment can also affect your eligibility for Student Loans Company funding. Further information and advice is available on the Student Finance web pages.


A deferral of assessment may also affect the conditions of your visa. Further information is available on the International Student Advice web pages.