Make an academic appeal

The University Examination Regulations (PDF, 229kB) allow you to appeal against your exam board outcome in certain circumstances as outlined below.

Research students

This page describes the appeals process for undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes only. There is separate appeals guidance for postgraduate research students.

When you can appeal

You can only appeal on the following grounds:

  • that there has been a material irregularity in the decision-making process. Examples of this are if the University has not applied its regulations correctly or if the Board of Examiners failed to consider extenuating circumstances that you had submitted before the board meeting;
  • that you had extenuating circumstances which you were unable to disclose before the meeting of the Board of Examiners. Your appeal will need to explain clearly why you could not submit these beforehand. It is likely to be declined if you cannot give a reason;
  • that you believe that a penalty you have received for plagiarism was too harsh.

After the meeting of the Board of Examiners, your faculty will publish your programme outcome online and notify you by email. The programme outcome comment states whether the decision is appealable. Read more about each programme outcome.

When you can't appeal

You can't challenge matters of academic judgement. These are decisions that can only be made with the opinion of an academic expert, including decisions about what mark you have been given for a piece of academic work. Even if you have submitted extenuating circumstances, you should not expect your marks to change as a result (except where a late submission penalty or word count penalty has been lifted).

You can only appeal against an official decision of the Board of Examiners. Decisions about progression or awards are usually made official at the end of the academic year in June or July (or in September where you have completed work during the reassessment period). In most cases, this means that appeals are not permitted following mid-year exam boards, which take place in February or March.

Potential appeal outcomes

When making an appeal, you should ensure you are clear on which outcome you are seeking. Possible outcomes include:

  • permission to progress to next year of study;
  • permission to undertake supplementary year to complete failed units to satisfactory standard;
  • permission to repeat year in entirety;
  • permission to re-register for programme of study following a required to withdraw decision;
  • permission to remain on programme of study and not be required to transfer to alternative programme of study;
  • uplift of degree classification;
  • removal of penalties or caps to unit/assessment level outcomes.

You cannot use the appeals process to ask for your work to be re-marked.

What to do if you're thinking about making an appeal

Start preparing as soon as possible. Submitting your appeal promptly gives you the best chance of receiving an appeal outcome in good time to prepare for your next academic year.

  1. Read the University Examination Regulations, Section 11, to find out which grounds of appeal are permissible.
  2. Talk to your unit directors, personal tutor, programme director or senior tutor if there is anything you do not understand in your marks.
  3. Contact JustAsk, the free and confidential Bristol SU advice service, for:
    • independent advice;
    • help understanding whether you can appeal;
    • help preparing an appeal.
  4. If you are on a Student visa, speak to one of our advisers about how your programme outcome, appeal process and appeal outcome might affect your visa status.

How to make an appeal

You have 15 working days from when you receive a programme outcome notification to submit an appeal.

  1. Download an Student appeal form (Office document, 81kB)
  2. Organise any evidence you believe supports the reason for your appeal.
  3. Email the completed form and evidence to student-appeals@bristol.ac.uk.

What happens after you submit an appeal

We will:

  • send you an email to confirm your appeal has been received. This is normally within two working days
  • contact you if we need additional information
  • review your form and submitted documents
  • notify you when your form and documents are sent to your faculty for the local stage review if you have grounds for appeal

How we will contact you

Emails will be sent to the addresses you provide on your appeal form.

If your studies are due to end

Your university email account will close soon after your studies end. Make sure you provide an alternative email to your university address so we can contact you to tell you the outcome of your appeal.

Appeals against exam board recommendations to submit work or sit exams in reassessment period

  • We will tell your faculty if you are appealing against a recommendation to submit work or sit exams in the reassessment period.
  • They will confirm the outcome of the local stage of your appeal before the beginning of the reassessment period wherever possible. This will not always be possible due to the short time between assessment periods in June and September.
  • It will be particularly difficult for your faculty to provide a response in time if you submit on, or close to, your appeal submission deadline.

If you haven't received an official appeal outcome by the reassessment period

If you haven't received an official outcome to your appeal confirming you are no longer required to do so, you must:

  • follow the exam board outcome you have been issued
  • complete any additional work required

Do not assume that your appeal will be successful, as this could affect your progression/award. 

Follow the exam board outcome that you have been issued, unless you have received a formal letter from your faculty confirming that your outcome has changed as a result of your appeal.

When you will know the outcome of your appeal

You will receive the appeal outcome by email as soon as possible, normally within 25 working days. If the outcome is not confirmed within 25 days, you will receive an email explaining the status of your appeal and a timeline for it to be concluded.

The time it takes to review an appeal will vary from faculty to faculty. 

It is not possible to finalise all appeal outcomes before the start of the next academic year due to:

  1. the timing of examination boards, and
  2. the results of re-assessments being released.

In some cases this may mean you are not able to continue studying immediately even if your appeal is successful. We will work with you to manage the outcome in this case.

Until you are told the outcome of an appeal, the original programme outcome from the exam board still applies. 

The appeal outcome letter from the local stage will include information on next steps, including how to progress your appeal if you are not satisfied with the outcome, as detailed in the University Examination Regulations, Section 11. You will receive this letter by email directly from your faculty.

If you are concerned or worried

If you'd like to talk to someone about how you're feeling or how you might discuss your exam board outcome with your family, contact the Student Wellbeing Service.
Phone +44 (0)117 456 9860 or find out what other support is available.

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