Extenuating circumstances process

Guidance on what to do if your attendance or ability to complete an assessment has been affected.

If you are facing exceptional circumstances which are making it difficult to attend or complete your assessments, you can ask the exam board to consider them by submitting an extenuating circumstances form. Your circumstances may affect one assessment or continue throughout the year.

The exam board will consider the impact and decide an outcome.

Who can submit

  • Undergraduate students
  • Postgraduate taught students
  • Postgraduate research students taking taught units

Study Abroad students

Students on the Study Abroad programme can submit extenuating circumstances, but must follow the Study Abroad process.

Circumstances that may affect your assessments

You may find yourself experiencing exceptional circumstances beyond your control, that:

  • affect your ability to complete an assessment
  • affect your academic performance in an assessment
  • cause you to miss a coursework deadline and you did not have an extension

Circumstances include things like:

  • a sudden illness
  • a flare up or worsening of a chronic condition or disability where adjustments in your study support plan (SSP) are not enough or not yet in place
  • mental health difficulty that unexpectedly affects your studies
  • bereavement
  • unexpected changes in responsibilities such as caring for someone close to you or jury service
  • financial difficulties that significantly and unexpectedly affect your studies

You can tell the exam board if your circumstances have had a negative impact on your assessment by submitting an extenuating circumstances form by the deadline. They will decide what action (if any) should be taken to mitigate the impact on your academic performance.

The exam board will not know your identity when reviewing your marks or making progression or award decisions.

They will usually make their decision in June or July. If you complete your work in the August reassessment period, it will be early September.

Extenuating circumstances can also be considered at the end of your course when your degree classification is being determined.

Students with circumstances that are known and/or have a longer-term impact upon study, should seek help from the appropriate University services so that support can be put in place in advance of assessment.

If you miss an exam

If you miss an exam, you can self-certify your absence and take it again at the next opportunity. This is likely to be in the August reassessment period.


Assessment marks, unit marks, or your course marks cannot be changed as a result of extenuating circumstances.

The possible actions an exam board can take will depend on the level of study (UG/PG), year of study and type of programme. These include:

  • no action
  • allow you to repeat the assessment at the next opportunity (usually August) as if it was your first attempt or as part of a supplementary year if the assessment was in the reassessment period
  • allow you to repeat the entire year again
  • disregard the affected mark for the purposes of progression or calculating the final mark and degree classification
  • place the report on the extenuating circumstances on file for consideration by the board of examiners when the classification is determined
  • award credit for the affected unit(s), despite a fail mark, based on performance in other contexts within the unit(s).

Full details of potential outcomes are included in the regulations and code of practice for taught programmes.

If you want to discuss your options, talk to your personal tutor or the senior tutor in your school.

Finding out the outcome

To find out the outcome of your extenuating circumstances request, contact the school office who can provide the exam board minutes.

Aim to take your assessments at the scheduled time unless you are too unwell or have a compelling reason. If you do not complete and pass assessments during the reassessment period in August, you may not be able to:

  • complete your year of study in time to complete your degree
  • progress to the next year of study at the normal time.

Get advice

You can speak to your personal tutor or your senior tutor, or your school office. You can also get help from the Bristol SU's Academic Advice service.

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Wellbeing support

There is a range of support available to all students.

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