Extenuating circumstances

What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances which:

  • have a significant impact on your ability to attend or complete assessment(s), and
  • are exceptional, and
  • are outside your control, and
  • occurred during or shortly before the assessment in question.

If you wish to claim extenuating circumstances, please download a form from the link below and submit it via email to your faculty office or partner institution.

Please note that there is currently no requirement for you to submit corroborating evidence with your claim form during the 2020–21 academic year.
If you are claiming extenuating circumstances due to either a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you must do two things:

1. Tell us about the suspected or confirmed case, either by reporting it to covidreporting@plymouth.ac.uk or by completing the reporting form which can be accessed at C19 Reports.

2. Submit an extenuating circumstances claim form to your Faculty.

If you are studying at a partner institution, please follow their reporting procedure.


Submission of information on extenuating circumstances

Your extenuating circumstances claim should be submitted as soon as feasible.

In the case of assessed coursework/major project/dissertation or equivalent, your extenuating circumstances claim should be submitted as soon as possible, and normally no later than ten working days after the deadline for the submission of your work.

If you have extenuating circumstances claims with respect to any of your formal examinations then you need to submit them no later than the Monday after the end of the formal examination week in the appropriate semester.

Fit-to-sit policy

The University operates a ‘fit-to-sit’ policy for time-specific assessments, such as examinations, tests, presentations or performances. If you think that your ability to attend or complete a time-specific assessment is being affected by extenuating circumstances, you must not sit or complete the time-specific assessment and must submit an Extenuating Circumstances form.

If you attempt a time-specific assessment, this is normally taken as your declaration that you consider yourself fit to do so.


Examples of circumstances which would not normally be considered valid:

  • You slept in or your alarm clock did not go off.
  • Your car broke down, or your train or bus (or equivalent) was delayed or cancelled, unless you can show that you’d made reasonable allowance for such disruption.
  • Child care problems, or problems with similar caring responsibilities which could have been anticipated.
  • Unspecified short-term anxiety from all sources, mild depression or examination stress.
  • Minor illness, such as a cough/cold/sore throat or minor viral infection, unless the illness is incapacitating and at its peak at the time of a time-specific assessment such as an exam or test.
  • Accidents or illness affecting relatives or friends, unless serious, or you are a sole carer.
  • Financial problems, including debt sanctions imposed by the University, but excluding cases of exceptional hardship or significant changes in financial circumstances since enrolment.
  • Family celebrations, holidays, house moves, or similar events, in which you have input to, or control over, the date or may choose not to participate.
  • Computing problems, such as corrupt data or media, poor internet connectivity, printer failure, or e-submission of an assessment file in an incorrect format, or lack of access to IT facilities because of debt sanctions imposed by the University.
  • Problems with postal or other third party delivery of work.
  • Misreading timetables of any kind, or time management problems, such as assessment deadlines close to each other.
  • Appointments of any kind, including legal or medical appointments, which could be rearranged.
  • Sporting, recreational or voluntary commitments, unless you are representing the University at national level or your country at international level, or participating in an event that is of benefit to the University’s national or international reputation.
  • For full-time students, normal pressures of employment, because, by enrolling as a student, you have made a commitment to make time available to study.

Examples of circumstances which might be considered valid:

  • Issues relating to COVID-19.
  • Your own health problems, including major accident or injury, acute ailments, hospitalisation (including for operations), or those affecting a significant period of study.
  • Personal or psychological problems for which you are receiving counselling, or have been referred to a counsellor or similarly qualified practitioner.
  • Clinical depression or other significant mental health issue.
  • Pregnancy-related conditions and childbirth (including a partner in labour).
  • Bereavement causing significant impact.
  • Separation or divorce of yourself or your parents.
  • Recent burglary, theft or serious car accident.
  • Jury service which cannot be deferred.
  • Representing the University at national level, or your country at international level, or participation in an event that is of benefit to the University’s national or international reputation.
  • For part-time students in full-time employment, exceptional pressure of work or permanent change of employment circumstances.
  • Late diagnosis of, for example, dyslexia, meaning you have not had the appropriate support for assessment, including provision in exams.
  • Unavailability of the DLE where the module lead confirms that this would have a significant impact on your preparation for an assessment or exam.
  • Disruption in an exam or assessment, such as a fire alarm going off, or excessive noise from building works.
  • A significant change to your financial circumstances after enrolment, such as withdrawal of Student Finance England (SFE) funding or its equivalent mid-year.
  • Interviews for placements, but only in cases where you have asked the employer or provider to reschedule, but this has not been possible.
  • Significant positive life events, such as weddings of close family members, where you can show that no alternative arrangement, such as the date or your attendance, is possible.
  • For research degree programme milestones (Project Approval and Confirmation of Route), methodological reasons why your research has not progressed at these stages as expected. Students must note that their Director of Studies can apply on their behalf for instances where there are methodological reasons.

Further information including a copy of the extenuating circumstances can be found by downloading the document below.