Extenuating Circumstances

Please note that the Union advice service will be closed between 24th December – 4th January. During the January exam period, the Union’s academic advice team will be running extenuating circumstances bookable 15 minute appointments and running Drop-Ins in the Hive.

Advice drop ins: Tuesday’s and Thursday’s throughout January, 1pm – 3pm in the Hive

Bookable “Quick Query” for ECs: Book here for a quick, 10 minute appointment on team

Find out about what else we are doing for January exams on our #SurreyLove page here

What are Extenuating Circumstances?

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) are, according to the University regulations, circumstances that make it ‘temporarily impossible’ for a student to meet a deadline, revise for or attend an exam or assessment, or participate in their programme as might be reasonably expected.

For a full, comprehensive list of accepted cirucmstances, refer to the regulations

It is important to remember that applying for Extenuating Circumstances will never just give you more marks. Outcomes from applications may have implications on your progression or graduation, so check carefully before you apply, especially if you are self-certifying your application.

We recommend that you read the FAQs at the bottom of this page, as it may help answer your questions.

What can the Students’ Union do?

We understand that sometimes it can be difficult to know how to submit your ECs, and what evidence you might need, what implications this has on your studies, and when you should be applying. 

So, either come along to one of our drop-ins or email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk and one of our advisors will be able to help you navigate the process. 

If you have applied for ECs but not recieved a response within 5 days, or dont know why your EC has been rejected, let us know and we can help you out.

Grounds for applying for Extenuating Circumstances

There are several valid “grounds” for applying for extenuating circumstances, and unless you are self-certifying your application, you must demonstrate, with evidence, how the grounds 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 oif 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, including the impact of Covid

Unless you are applying for self-certified Extenuating Circumstances, you will need evidence to prove the nature of your ECs. The exception to this is a flare-up of a chronic health problem where you only need to provide evidence once explaining the nature of your flare-ups.

Outcomes of an Extenuating Circumstance

There are several different outcomes when applying for an EC, depending on the type of EC you are applying under, and what the assessment is.

For exams: The exam will automatically defer to the next assessment period, which is normally the late summer assessment period in August. If you are unsure when your next assessment period is, then we would suggest talking to your module leader/personal tutor.

For coursework: If you are self-certifying then you will be given a 5 working day extension (which doesn’t include weekends, bank holidays or University closure days). If you are submitting a normal EC with evidence, then you will be given a maximum extension of 3 weeks. Anything over 3 weeks will be deferred to the next assessment period, which is normally the late summer assessment period in August.

For group work: If you need to EC group work then you will be removed from the group project and you are likely to be given an individual assessment or coursework to submit at a later date. Sometimes this may mean completing the group work project on your own, or submitting a different assessment. You should check with your module leader what the alternative assessment may be and when it will be submitted – some might be deferred to the next available assessment period (usually August)

For dissertations/final projects: As these are individual projects, ECs are likely to extend the deadline. With the right evidence, you can have more than a 3 week extension on dissertations and final projects if you need it – up to a year or more in some cases.

For other assessments: We would suggest talking to your module leader if you are unsure on the outcome.

ECs should be applied for BEFORE the deadline. If you have missed a deadline or exam, you can still apply but it may be harder to get this approved. Applications cannot be self-certified after a deadline or the start of an examination event.

If you have to leave an exam due to extenuating circumstances, you need to complete the ‘unfit to continue’ form in the exam and then have 5 working days to apply for extenuating circumstances.​ If this is an online exam, then you should email your faculty assessments team, and your module leader to let them know.

Technical Difficulties

Normally, technical difficulties are not considered as a valiad ground to have ECs unless it is a University error or error on a University system or computer. 

  • First thing to remember is not to panic! The University know and anticipate these things might happen so it is important that you follow these steps if it does:
  • Take a note of the time that the issue happened. If you can, take a photo on your phone or screenshot of the issue as evidence
  • Email your faculty hive when the issue happens. Let them know what happened and how it impacted you. fasshelp@surrey.ac.uk / fhmshelp@surrey.ac.uk / feps@surrey.ac.uk
  • Wait until the end of the exam to EC – you might find that you only lost 10 minutes which you can make up. Putting in an EC too early might void your attempt, so make sure you know you need to EC before submitting
  • If you believe that the technical difficulty impacted your exam, you can then submit an EC. You won’t be able to self-certify, so you will need evidence. Your evidence should be the email you sent to your faculty hive at the time, along with any other screenshots or photos you took at the time.

Remember ECing an exam will defer the exam to the next assessment period, which may mean taking the exam again in August. So make sure you need ECs first – you cannot take an EC away once it has been approved.

If you have applied under ECs and you are unsure if they are valid, please get in touch and we may be able to advise. 

Applications submitted after the deadline or event

Applications made after the deadline or event must also explain (and provide evidence to support) why you were not able to apply before, or at the time of, the event. 

These are:

  • that you were awaiting a diagnosis of their illness or its confirmation and you submitted a request at the appropriate time whilst awaiting receipt of the evidence 
  • that the nature of your illness affected the your capacity to report it 
  • that you did not have access at the time to their medical practitioner (including GP or clinical specialist) or registered counsellor, their minister of religion, or solicitor, to provide support and the required independent evidence 
  • that a significant traumatic event has impaired the student’s capacity to report it

What do I need to do first?

Read the University’s regulations for Extenuating Circumstances. In here you will find a list of what is considered to be extenuating circumstances and what evidence the University will accept. 

These can be found on the web-site of the Office of Student Complaints, Appeals and Regulations (OSCAR) – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/office-student-complaints-appeals-and-regulation

What Next?

Write your statement – make sure you clearly explain what your circumstances are, how they are impacting your ability to study and the outcome you are seeking.

If your application is AFTER the deadline or event, you will need to explain why you were not able to apply beforehand or at the time.

If possible, gather your evidence. The burden of proof is on you as the student applying so it is vital that you have evidence to support your case. e.g. doctor’s letter, death certificate, counsellor’s letter, police report. You will need this in electronic format e.g. a photo or a scanned copy as you will need to upload this with your EC application

Submit the online form. This can be accessed via student self-service. A video explaining the form can be found on the OSCAR website.​

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 (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) 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.

Frequently asked Questions

How do I submit an Application?

Online, via your Surrey Self-Service account. Under the ‘Modules’ tab along the top of the welcome page, click on Extenuating Circumstances and this will take you to the application form.

How do I submit a self-certified EC?

You should use the same application as a normal EC: online, via your Surrey Self-Service account. Under the ‘Modules’ tab along the top of the welcome page, click on Extenuating Circumstances and this will take you to the application form.

When you get to the evidence section of the application, you should select “I am eligible to self-certify”.

If you are not providing evidence as you are covered by the ground of “long term health condition” then you should select evidence, and mention in the statement which previous evidence you have submitted that supports your EC.

What should my application include?

You will need to include a statement, explaining:

  • what grounds you are applying under
  • your situation and how it is/has been affecting your academic ability
  • how long you have been/will be impacted for
  • what outcome you are seeking
  • as well as relevant evidence to support your statement unless you are self-certifying your application.

Please see page 4 of the University’s regulations for extenuating circumstances for more details on evidence needed. You do not need evidence if you are applying under the grounds of a “flare-up of a chronic health condition” and you have already provided evidence of the nature of your illness and how it can flare up.

How long will it take to get a response?

After submission you should receive an immediate confirmation of receipt via email to your Surrey account. Applications usually take around 5 working days to receive an outcome. However, during exam periods and busy times, ECs can take around 5 – 10 working days to get an outcome.

What happens if I fall unwell the night before, or the day of, an exam and can’t attend?

You should ideally submit extenuating circumstances as soon as you know you won’t be able to attend an exam. If you are physically unable to attend the exam then we would recomend you email your relevant Faculty Assessments team (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk, feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk, fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) and your Module Leader to let them know that you cannot do the exam. 

You may wish to consider if you want to apply for self-certified ECs, and you can do so in order to defer your exam to the next suitable examination period (usually the August examination period) provided you apply before the start of the exam, and provided you have not already used up your 3 maximum self-certified applications in a year.

If you have already used your maximum self-certified applications, seek medical support as soon as possible as you will need evidence to add to your EC application. Please be aware that if your ECs aren’t valid, and you don’t attend the exam you run the risk of your exam being awarded zero, which you can appeal if needed. Click here to find out more about appeals.

What to I do if i have not had an outcome before my exam or coursework deadline?

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 (fass-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / feps-assessments@surrey.ac.uk / fhms-assessments@surrey.ac.uk) 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.

What Do I Do if I cannot get my evidence before the deadline?

You may wish to consider whether you can apply for self-certified ECs. You can read more about that process here. To apply without evidence, you must be applying for ECs before your deadline. 

If you have already used up your maximum number of self-certified applications for the year, or if you require longer than a 5 working day extension, we would advise that you submit your application before the deadline anyway, and indicate in your application that you are still waiting to obtain the evidence. As soon as you receive it, you can log back in to your application and add it. At least this way you have ensured that you have reported the matter ahead of the assessment. It is important to note, however, that your application won’t be looked at until your evidence is uploaded. If your application closes before you have time to submit your evidence, that is ok, you can just submit another EC application. If your application is rejected because the board of examiners have met, you will need to make an academic appeal. If you are not able to source evidence for your situation, you might be eligible to self-certify your ECs.

What do i do if i am unwell in an exam?

For an in-person examination: You can ask an invigilator for an ‘unfit to continue’ form, and then you can leave if needed. This ensures your exam will NOT be marked as a non‑attempt and will serve as part of your evidence in your extenuating circumstances application. You must follow this up with a full ECs application as soon as possible. You should book an appointment with a medical professional as evidence for your ECs. 

For an online examination: Email your faculty assessments team and your module leader and let them know you are unwell and are unable to continue the exam. This email will help when you apply for your EC. You will not be able to self-certify if the exam has already started, so you should seek to obtain medical evidence as soon as possible – from a GP/counsellor etc. Put in your EC application as soon as you can – you can add your evidence later on.

What will happen to the exam paper or Coursework if I submit but my EC is upheld?

Any attempts you have made will be void if your EC application is upheld. If this is an exam, your assessment will move, usually to the August exam period.

You should be aware that if you are happy with your submission and your EC is approved, it will be voided regardless as, once an EC has been accepted, you cannot revoke the EC.

What Will Happen To The Exam Paper Or Coursework If I Submit But My EC Is Not Upheld?

Your work will be marked as normal. If you failed to sit the exam or failed to submit an assessment then you may be awarded zero. You can appeal this decisions but will need valid grounds to do so.

the module i need to EC isn’t on SurreyLearn

Sometimes this happens and when it does, it is usually a technical error. Dont panic. We would suggest you submit your EC and choose a different module and assessment so that you can submit the form. When you come to write your statement make it very clear that the module you have selected is NOT the one you want to EC, and instead you want to EC XX00234 module assessment instead. The assessments team who look at your EC will be able to change it the other side for you. Make it REALLY CLEAR what you are doing in your statement.

We would also suggest you send a follow up email to your faculty team as well, to let them know what you have done and what outcome you are seeking. You can email: fass-ec@surrey.ac.uk / feps-ec@surrey.ac.uk / fhms-ec@surrey.ac.uk