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If you have emailed for support, we strongly recommend you read over the information on this page, and adhere to any deadlines you've been given by the University. However, if you urgently require support, you can request more time from the University in order to seek support before continuing with the process you're undergoing. We will respond as soon as we can upon re-opening, thank you for your patience. 

What are self-certified Extenuating Circumstances (ECs)?

An application for self-certified ECs does not require you to provide evidence to support your application for your ECs to be accepted. Similar to reporting in sick to work, the University allows you to self-certify that you require extenuating circumstances for up to seven calendar days without evidence. If you require more than seven days, you will need to provide evidence for your ECs. 

Following a proposal from the Students' Union and a pilot in semester 2 2019-20, the University has agreed to extend self-certification to all students starting from semester 1 of the 2020-21 academic year.

Now, all students can self-certify up to 3 times in an academic year in advance of any assessment if they are affected by ECs they cannot evidence, covering a period of a maximum of 5 working days. Working days do not include weekends, bank holidays or University closure dates. 

Why change the policy?

We've campaigned for this policy change because we know that some situations will affect whether students are able to get evidence for their circumstances. In the Support Zone, we've seen issues such as students with limited access to timely support, situations where obtaining "proof" is highly sensitive, or serious financial hardship creating barriers to obtaining evidence. If you have any questions about the self-certification, please get in touch with the Students' Union Advice Team at

Who's eligible?   

Students that are eligible to self-certify their ECs will need to meet these criteria:  

  • Experiencing valid Extenuating Circumstances impacting your academic ability (see below) 
  • Unable to obtain evidence for those valid ECs to support a standard EC application
  • For coursework: requiring ECs for a maximum 5 working* day extension or, exceptionally, a deferral
  • For exams: requiring a deferral of selected exams within a 5 working* day period
  • Unable to obtain evidence to support an application for ECs 
  • Hasn't already reached the maximum of 3 self-certified EC applications
  • Applying for ECs before a deadline or the start of an assessment. (Any coursework submitted before the coursework deadline will be voided if subsequent EC request is accepted)

The University reserves the right to reject an application for ECs that is self-certified if you do not meet the criteria above, or if you do not have valid grounds to request ECs.  It is a serious disciplinary offence to misuse this process and mislead the University and could result in major disciplinary penalties.   

*working days do not include: weekends, bank holidays or University closure dates.

Need more information?  

Read over our guidelines below, and it you're still unsure about any of the following, please email as soon as possible to get further advice.

  • If you meet the eligibility criteria 
  • If you can get evidence for your EC 
  • If you have valid grounds for an EC 
  • What outcome to ask for 
  • If you should apply for an evidenced or self-certified EC 
  • If ECs are right for you 

When should self-certification be used?  

Self-certified ECs should only be used for short-term circumstances affecting your academic performance when you're unable to provide evidence for a standard Extenuating Circumstances application. If you can provide evidence, then standard ECs would be best for you to apply for. Self-certifying should ideally be a last resort – only to be used if you have valid ECs that you cannot evidence.

Please note that once your ECs has been accepted by the University, you cannot subsequently withdraw the request.  

To outline the two types of ECs, read below:

Evidenced Extenuating Circumstances Self-Certified Extenuating Circumstances 
1 application can be used to cover any/all chosen assessment(s) within evidenced time period 1 application can be used to cover any/all chosen assessment(s) within a 5 working day period
For all types of coursework: outcomes include up to a three week extension or deferral of selected coursework to be taken at the next suitable assessment period For all types of coursework: a 5 working day maximum extension. Exceptionally, a deferral of selected courseworks within a 5 working day period to be taken at the next suitable assessment period 
For exams: deferral of exam to next suitable assessment period For exams: deferral of selected exams within a 5 working day period to be taken at the next suitable assessment period  
Applicable for any unit of assessment e.g. exam, coursework, class-test, group project, presentation, performance Applicable for any unit of assessment e.g. exam, coursework, class-test, group project, presentation, performance 
Requires valid evidence Doesn't require evidence 
Requires a supporting statement outlining valid grounds for ECs and desired outcome Requires a supporting statement outlining valid grounds for ECs and desired outcome 
Expected to submit before exam/deadline where possible, but may be submitted up to 5 working days after exam/deadline Only valid when completed before a deadline or before the start of an exam (therefore an application made at 10.01am for a 10am exam will not be accepted and will require evidence) 
Unlimited evidenced applications (though continued applications which demonstrate a need for additional support may be referred to Support to Study)Limited to three self-certified applications in an academic year 
Apply online through Surrey Self-Serve Apply online through Surrey Self-Serve 
Can be used in the August Late Summer Assessment Period (though deferring in August will interrupt your course flow, so it is strongly advised that you seek advice before applying for ECs in August)  Can be used in the August Late Summer Assessment Period (though deferring in August will interrupt your course flow, so it is strongly advised that you seek advice before applying for ECs in August)  


Extenuating Circumstances are not a replacement for getting the support you need to study at University. If you think you are experiencing recurring circumstances that are impacting your study, please speak to your Personal Tutor as soon as possible, or visit your Faculty Hive.  

What are valid grounds for ECs? 

There are several valid "grounds" for applying for extenuating circumstances. When self-certifying, you must still explain how the circumstances have affected you and your ability to do your work to the best of your ability. The grounds considered by the University include: 

  • Bereavement through the death of a close relative or significant other 
  • For yourself, or someone within your care (child, parent, partner etc.), who experiences: 
    • Short term illness 
    • Long-term chronic health problem suddenly worsening 
    • Flare-up of a chronic health problem 
  • Late diagnosis of additional learning requirements  
  • For part time and distance learning students, an increase in workload beyond your control 
  • Other exceptional circumstances which affect your academic ability

For a full, comprehensive list of valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances, please refer to the regulations

Waiting for an outcome? 

In some cases you might not hear about your EC application before your deadline. If this is the case with you then please try not to worry, we would advise you to do the following:

For coursework: We would advise that you submit what you have already by your current deadline. If your EC is later accepted, then your submission attempt will be voided and you will be given a new deadline (so we would suggest you continue to work on your coursework) or your assessment will move to August. 

For exams: We would suggest that you email your lecturer/module lead and assessment team ( / / and let them know that you do not plan on sitting the exam. This essentially tells the University that you are "not fit to sit" the exam and this will support your EC. If you are worried you don't have valid grounds for an EC, then you can attempt your exam. If your EC is later accepted then your attempt will be voided and your exam will be deferred. 

If your EC application is rejected following the event or deadline then please contact us and we can discuss your case in more detail. You can always apply for another EC - up until the board of examiners meet. Additionally, the appeals process is there to support you later down the line.

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I need further advice:​

You can make an appointment with one of our Academic Advice team. Appointments are for a maximum of 30 minutes, Monday - Friday 10-4pm.

Please email with the following information:

Name​, Course, Year of study, Details of your case, including what your circumstances are, What you need advice on, Submission deadline or date of exam

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