This is a guide for Queen Mary students on undergraduate or postgraduate taught programmes on how to apply for what are known as ‘Extenuating Circumstances’.
Postgraduate research students who are interested in applying for more time to complete elements of their studies are advised to contact the Research Degrees Office.
There are times in everyone’s life when things happen unexpectedly. Sometimes these unexpected events mean that our daily routines or plans are thrown off course, which may mean that we cannot do the things we intended to do.
As students, we might have a coursework or assessment deadline that we have every intention of meeting, but something beyond our control may mean that we can no longer meet that deadline. For example, we might break an arm playing football a few days before an important exam or coursework deadline. This is where the University’s ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ process can help.
The word “extenuate” has its origins in a latin word that means ‘to make thin’ and has come into the English language as a word that infers someone’s individual circumstances are taken into account when assessing their situation.
Queen Mary defines Extenuating Circumstances as follows:
"Extenuating circumstances are circumstances that are outside a student’s control and which may have a negative impact on a student’s ability to undertake or complete any assessment so as to cast doubt the likely validity of the assessment as a measure of the student’s achievement."
** Other universities use terms like mitigating circumstances to describe situations like this, but essentially ‘extenuating circumstances’ are those that are unforeseen and beyond your control.
When you start your Extenuating Circumstances claim on MySIS, the second drop-down box allows you to select the claim type as either ‘Standard Claim’ or ‘Self-Certification’.
(The claim type cannot later be changed - if you selected the incorrect type you will need to delete your claim and start a new one)
The Extenuating Circumstances policy states that as an alternative to providing evidence relating to a claim, each student is entitled to submit up to three self-certified claims per academic year (NB: each individual claim can relate to multiple assessments/modules), which involves providing details of the extenuating circumstances without the provision of documentary evidence.
Each self-certification can cover a period of up to seven calendar days - this is the maximum amount of time that each instance of self-certification can cover.
From the 2022-23 academic year it is not permitted to use consecutive self-certification applications, that is, you cannot claim for two back-to-back seven-day periods using self-certification. Also, you cannot normally use a self-certified application more than once for the same assessment.
Some Schools / Institutes may allow assessment submission extensions as an outcome of approved Extenuating Circumstances. Where a School / Institute does allow extensions and agrees to grant one, the extension cannot be for more than seven days when it is granted on the basis of a self-certified application.
Consideration and potential acceptance of such claims will still fall to the academic department (i.e. the School or Institute) in which you are taking your modules.
If you have exhausted your allocation of three self-certificated claims per year, or if you have evidence or documentation that supports your application, you can upload evidence to support your application onto MySIS.
The following summary provides some examples of appropriate evidence that students can use to support their Extenuating Circumstances application:
Serious illness or injury - Medical certificate (e.g. a ‘fit note’), hospital admission certificate, report from a qualified medical professional.
Unforeseen personal difficulties - A written statement from an external professional, e.g. a psychiatrist, or someone appropriate from within university wellbeing services.
Disability / long-term condition - Some students will have a long-term condition or disability that results in periodic flare-ups, or episodes, that are part of the condition but unpredictable in nature. While students with such conditions will need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances to request extensions, etc. they may be able to ask their Disability Adviser (based in the Disability and Dyslexia Service) to add something to their Student Support Summary which means they do not have to produce fresh medical evidence with each application.
Some disabled students may wish to discuss the possibility of requesting an alternative assessment should they find themselves in a situation where a particular form of assessment is proving problematic.
Serious illness or death of an immediate family member or close friend - Appropriate medical evidence, copy of a death certificate.
Victim of crime - Police report, crime reference number.
Legal proceedings requiring attendance at court - Supporting evidence from a court or solicitor.
Jury service - Anyone who is normally resident in the UK can be asked to perform this public service. In some circumstances it may be possible to delay your jury service. If you receive a letter asking you to do jury service, please discuss this with your Student Support Officer or Academic Advisor immediately to help you decide if you should apply to delay it.
PLEASE NOTE - all evidence submitted in support of your Extenuating Circumstances application MUST be in English. If your evidence is not in English, it is your responsibility to obtain a certified translation.
Broadly, something is not extenuating if it can be predicted, or expected. Coursework deadlines are set in advance, students are advised to look at the information on their QMplus module pages / course handbooks regarding assessment deadlines and plan accordingly.
The following list is not exhaustive, but gives some examples of common queries from students that would not be considered as appropriate claims for Extenuating Circumstances:
If you feel that your ongoing health or personal circumstances are making it difficult for you to manage your studies, you may need to consider taking a break from your programme. This is called an ‘Interruption of Study’ and basically means that you ask the University for permission to take a break from your studies and return in the future when your health or your personal situation is more manageable.
Refer to the Advice and Counselling Service how to request an interruption of study guides covering the practical and financial implications of doing so, including guides for undergraduate home and EU students, for postgraduate home and EU students, and for international students.
The Extenuating Circumstances task on MySIS allows you to register extenuating circumstance claims against assessment elements/modules where it is felt that illness or other circumstances led to non-attendance or non-submission. The task can be found on MySIS under its own section entitled ‘Extenuating Circumstances’. Any student registered for assessments will automatically have access.
To help you navigate the claim process there is PDF 'Extenuating Circumstances Student Guide' which can be found on the MySIS Extenuating Circumstances home page.
In most cases Extenuating Circumstances claims should be made by students themselves, but it is possible for your home department to create a claim on your behalf if necessary. This should only ever be done on your request and based on evidence/self-certification details that you have provided.
While some students are based solely in one School, many students at Queen Mary are following a joint honours programme or are taking different modules in different Schools. For example, Associate students typically pick a suite of modules from three or more Schools. When submitting an application for Extenuating Circumstances you need to follow the process for the School that the module belongs to.
As such, it is advisable to consult with the guide produced by the School or Institute who deliver the relevant module before submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances, as there are some differences between the Schools in how the claims are organised. Links to the guides for each School can be found below:
Students in the School of Business Management can find details of how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances on the School’s QMplus page.
The Extenuating Circumstances guide for post graduate students studying in the School of Economics and Finance can be found on the undergraduate 'Info Zone'.
The School of English and Drama (SED) Extenuating Circumstances policy and EC claim guidance can be found in the relevant (UG or PGT) Student Handbook via QMplus. If you are a student taking a SED module and have an EC claim query please refer to the SED Student Handbook on QMplus in the first instance.
Students in the School of History can find details of how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances on the School’s QMplus page.
Post graduate (taught) students studying in the School of Geography can find guidance on applying for Extenuating Circumstances on the Masters Information Zone on QMplus under the Teaching and Learning tab.
Students studying in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film (SLLF) can find guidance on applying for Extenuating Circumstances in the relevant chapter in the SLLF Student Handbook and on QMplus. Student can also ask their Advisor, Module Organiser, the Student Support team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Senior Tutor (email@example.com)
Students based in the School of Law can apply for Extenuating Circumstances by following the instructions in the School of Law handbook.
Students in the School of Politics and International Relations can find details of how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances on the School of Politics and International Relations QMplus page.
While some students are based solely in one Institute, many students at Queen Mary are following a joint honours programme or are taking different modules in different Institute. For example, Associate students typically pick a suite of modules from three or more Institutes. When submitting an application for Extenuating Circumstances you need to follow the process for the Institutes that the module belongs to.
As such, it is advisable to consult with the guide produced by the School or Institute who deliver the relevant module before submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances, as there are some differences between the Institutes in how the claims are organised. Links to the guides for each Institute can be found below:
Barts Cancer Institute students are advised to consult the Student Handbook on the Barts Cancer Institute QMplus Home Page.
Students in the Blizard Institute are advised to consult their home QMplus for any specific guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.
Students based in the Institute of Dentistry can find information on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances on the Institute of Dentistry QMplus page.
Students based in the Institute of Health Sciences Education should refer to chapter 9 in the MBBS handbook for specific information in relations to applying for Extenuating Circumstances.
Students based in the William Harvey Research Institute are advised to consult their home QMplus for any specific guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.
Students based in the Wolfson Institute of Population Health are advised to consult their home QMplus for any specific guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.
Students based in the Centre of the Cell are advised to consult their home QMplus for any specific guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.
Undergraduate students based in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences can find advice about their School’s Extenuating Circumstances processes on this QMplus page. Or refer to the SBBS Postgraduate information page.
Students based in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science should apply for extenuating circumstances (EC) claims on MySIS. For more information please contact the Student Support Officer.
Students based in the School of Engineering and Materials Science should apply for extenuating circumstances (EC) claims on MySIS. You need to submit a claim within 3 days of your coursework deadline or missed lab session for this to be considered.
Please see the SEMS Student Handbook and the SEMS QMplus Landing Page for further details including:
· How to apply for authorised absence from a lab
· Likely adjustments to be made for coursework
· Deadlines for application for examinations
In the School of Mathematical Sciences UG Student Handbook, on the right-hand side of the page you’ll find a ‘Table of Contents’ with all items included in the handbook, the EC section is under ‘Absences and Extenuating Circumstances’. Throughout the academic year we send students reminders about the EC process and dates particularly in the lead up to the deadlines for ECs. I’ve attached the information we send to students in case you find it useful.
Students studying in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences can find guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances on the ‘Info Zone’ on their QMplus pages.
The School also sends this information as an email to all students in weeks A1 (Intro to Extenuating Circumstances), A11 (a reminder for the Semester A deadline), January examinations, week B1 (with deadlines), B11 (reminder), as well as the May examinations.
Students based in the Materials Research Institute are advised to consult their home QMplus for any specific guidance on how to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.
Students on a Science and Engineering Foundation Programme should claim for Extenuating Circumstances, (ECs) via MySIS. ECs should be submitted within 2 days of the assessment deadline.
The maximum extension for a self-certify claim is 7 days from the assessment deadline, therefore an EC should be submitted as close to the assessment deadline as possible to maximise the extension.
For more information, please refer to the Science and Engineering Foundation Year Handbook, visit the Foundation QMplus page, or contact the Foundation team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The best people to support you in applying for Extenuating Circumstances will be the supporting staff in your School or Institute; these are usually known as Student Support Officers.
If you are taking modules outside of your home school you need to be aware this advice may be different and therefore you should get in contact with the SSO from that school or refer to that School’s information zone and EC policy. You can find a list of the student support contacts and may also wish to discuss your situation with your Academic Advisor.
Queen Mary University of London has a ‘fit to sit’ policy, which applies to all assessments. This means that if you sit an exam or submit an assignment, you are declaring yourself fit to do so. Being ‘fit’ generally means that you are feeling well and functioning effectively. Therefore, if you are feeling unwell because of medical or personal difficulties, you should not sit an exam or submit an assignment. If you take an exam or submit an assignment knowing that you are unwell, you will not normally be able to successfully claim Extenuating Circumstances. There are very limited circumstances in which a student can make a successful extenuating circumstances claim after having gone ahead and sat an exam or submitted an assignment knowing they were unwell. This would normally be limited to situations where a student was so unwell that they were unable to recognise or determine their own ill health, and medical documentation would need to be provided to confirm this.
If you decide not to sit an exam or submit an assignment because of Extenuating Circumstances, you must submit a claim in the usual way.If you attend an exam and fall ill during it and do not feel able to continue, the invigilators will make a record of the incident. You may submit a claim for Extenuating Circumstances, but this will only be accepted if you were ‘fit to sit’ on entering the venue but – for unforeseen reasons – became ill during the examination.
In these circumstances, any work completed up to the point at which you left the venue will become null and void, irrespective of whether the Extenuating Circumstances claim is subsequently upheld; you will be treated as if you had never attended the examination and offered the chance to take the examination again as a ‘first sit’. This could be in the Late Summer Resit period – this is usually in August – or possibly the following academic year if this happens during a resit exam.
Students can submit an application for Extenuating Circumstances for any form of assessment, including examinations (both in-person and online).
The role of making a final decision on whether a claim is accepted or not falls to your home school when the Subject Exam Board meets - this happens after the exam period. If you are studying a single honours subject ‘home school’ just means the School you are based in, e.g. Law or Mathematics.
Your home school is the school responsible for the programme you are enrolled on. In the majority of instances, the school responsible for the module being claimed against and your home school will be the same. There will, however, be instances where the two are separate schools, in which case the module owning school will assess the claim first and pass their comments on to your home school who will then confirm the claim for EC sub-board consideration. (The exception to this is if you are an Associate student, in which case the claim is dealt with exclusively by the module owning school.)
Students will be informed of the decision of the Subject Exam Board by email after the board has met.
Should your Extenuating Circumstances claim not be accepted the module owning School or Institute will provide more information about next steps.
If your claim for Extenuating Circumstances is rejected then you will receive a zero mark as if you had not submitted any of the work – this will then count as one of your attempts.
If you are absent from your assessment, or if you take the assessment and fail, you will be given a mark of ‘zero fail’ for the exam. You will have the opportunity to re-sit the exam (as long as you have not exhausted all of your attempts), but the maximum mark you could get for the module will be ‘capped’ at the pass mark (40.0 for most undergraduate students and 50.0 for taught postgraduates).
Students can appeal against a decision not to accept their Extenuating Circumstances application.
Please note – an Extenuating Circumstances decision is not official until your marks have been confirmed by the relevant examination boards. If you wish to appeal an Extenuating Circumstances decision, you can only do so AFTER your official results have been confirmed and released to you. You will have 14 calendar days from the date your results are released to you to submit an appeal.
If you feel that there has been a procedural error in the consideration of your claim, or if you believe that there are exceptional circumstances which meant that you were either incapable of making a claim, or that there were relevant details to the claim that you could not have known at the time, you can submit an appeal.
Students may also benefit from accessing the Academic Advice Service in Queen Mary Students' Union, who offer a independent, free and confidential service to all Queen Mary students.
In addition the support staff within the School or Institute that you are based in, e.g. the Student Support Officer(s), the university has lots of departments and services that offer students support.
Student Wellbeing services such as the Advice and Counselling Service and the Disability and Dyslexia Service, support thousands of Queen Mary students.
This service can give you independent advice about your extenuating circumstances claim. You can also get independent advice about your rights and entitlements under the university’s regulations and procedures. To get advice, you need to go to the Academic Advice Services web page and fill out the Academic Representation Form from that page, and then email it to the address on that page.
QMSU Academic Advice ServiceStudents’ Union HubMile End CampusTel: 020 7882 8042
Students sharing living space with others can sometimes experience conflict or disputes which can have a significant impact on their emotional wellbeing. Queen Mary provides a support service for students living in university residences, to help mediate in these circumstances so that any negative impact on academic work and personal wellbeing can be avoided or reduced. If you are experiencing problems in university residences, contact the Residential Support service as soon as possible so that a remedy can be found.
Residential SupportResidences ReceptionFrance HouseStudent VillageMile End CampusEmail: email@example.com