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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. 

The University previously did not allow students to self-certify, however following a proposal from the Students' Union, the University has agreed to introduce self-certification under restricted conditions, starting with a pilot for Semester two 2019-20.  

Now, students studying at level 4 can self-certify up to 2 times for written coursework if they are affected by ECs they cannot evidence, with a maximum extension of 7 calendar days. 


Why change the policy, and why start with a pilot? 

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.

As this is a significant change to the current process, with many implications if the process goes wrong, it is really important to us and to the University that it's done right. We've agreed on this pilot with the University, with the hope that it will be successful and opened to all students for Semester 1 2020-21.

If you have any questions about the pilot, please get in touch with your VP Support or Union President, at and  


Who's eligible?   

For this pilot, students that are eligible will need to meet these criteria:  

  • Studying at Level 4 
  • Experiencing valid Extenuating Circumstances impacting your academic ability (see below) 
  • Requiring ECs for written coursework only 
  • Requiring ECs for a maximum 7 calendar day extension 
  • Unable to obtain evidence to support an application for ECs 
  • Hasn't self-certified 2 times before 
  • Applying for ECs before a written coursework deadline. 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.   


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 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 is like a safety net – 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 

For all types of coursework: outcomes include up to a three week extension or deferral of coursework to next suitable assessment period 

For written coursework only: limited to 7 calendar day extension 

For exams: deferral of exam to next suitable assessment period 

Not applicable to exams or any non-written coursework assessment e.g. presentation or performance 

Applicable for any unit of assessment e.g. exam, coursework, class-test, group project, presentation, performance 

Applicable for written coursework only  

Applicable for group written coursework (however the likely outcome for group coursework is an alternative assessment) 

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 written coursework deadline 

Unlimited evidenced applications (though continued applications which demonstrate a need for additional support may be referred to Support to Study)

Limited to two self-certified applications (over the Semester 2 2019-20 pilot period) 

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 7 calendar day period (written coursework only) 

Apply online through Surrey Self-Serve 

Apply online through Surrey Self-Serve 

Can be used in the August Late Summer Resit Period (though deferring in August will interrupt your course flow)  

Cannot currently be used in the August Late Summer Resit Period 


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

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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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