Assessment support and extenuating circumstances

We want all our students to be able to succeed and want to support you if circumstances affect your studies.

What we have done for 2020/21

We understand that the impact on individual students' ability to study as a result of the pandemic will vary significantly. So we have introduced some measures to help those who have been particularly affected to get appropriate support and mitigation.

What we have done

  1. Put in place and use measures to take account of the general disruption. These include:
    • provision of on-campus study spaces
    • moved exams and assessments online for the assessment period
    • offered you the choice between taking exams in Bristol or somewhere else. This is not available if you are on a course that requires and in-person exam.
    • given longer time spans for completing exams/assessment
    • enabled you to catch up or replay missed teaching sessions
  2. Widened the definition of an extenuating circumstance or a reason to permit an extension to a coursework deadline to include Covid-related circumstances.
  3. Relaxed the requirements for evidence in some circumstances. See the section on supporting evidence required.

If you feel the measures we have introduced are not enough because a circumstance has significantly impacted:

  • your studies or
  • your ability to complete an assessment

tell us by submitting the relevant form. We will consider your request.

Support available

If you are having difficulties accessing or engaging with learning or assessment contact your school so they can work with you to address them.

If you are self-isolating look at our teaching and learning in self isolation guidance.

Support and reasonable adjustments for students with long-term health conditions is available from Disability Services.

The term disability includes any condition that might have a substantial, long-term impact on your studies. This includes learning difficulties and both physical and mental health conditions. Find out more about the support available from Disability Services.

We can make changes to the way you are taught and assessed so that you are not disadvantaged because of a disability. Contact Disability Services about possible reasonable adjustments to your taught sessions or assessments.

Request a coursework deadline extension

  1. Complete the Coursework extension request form (Office document, 61kB).
  2. Check which school runs the unit that you would like an extension for.
  3. Submit your request form to the school before the coursework submission deadline set by the school. 

Usually you will need to provide evidence why you need an extension. We do recognise that there are some circumstances that are difficult to evidence particularly this year. Find out more about the supporting evidence.

The school will review your form and tell you the outcome of your request before the original deadline has passed. This will give you time to meet the original deadline if you are not granted an extension.

Absence from exams or timed assessments


Exams are assessments which you have to complete and submit in a set time. We allow one hour as standard at the end of each online exam to upload your work and manage any technical issues. This does not apply to a small number of practical exams or those which are run within a bespoke programme.  If you have alternative arrangements agreed in advance, you may be entitled to extra time in line with your Disability Support Statement.

This applies to both online or in-person exams.

If you miss an exam due to a short-term illness

  • Tell the school which runs the unit you are being examined on before the exam starts. Check which school runs the unit.
  • Complete the self-certification form. This is available from your home school.
  • No supporting evidence is required.

You will need to take the exam again at the next opportunity. This is most likely to be August 2021. If you missed an exam that would have been your first attempt, you will be able to take it on that basis for the full range of marks.

If you miss an exam for another reason

If you start but are unable to complete an exam

Timed assessments

Timed assessments need to be completed and submitted in a fixed period of time which is normally seven days.

Self-certification is not applicable for timed assessments. This is because the time frame allocated allows for short-term illness or disruption.

Deadline extensions are not allowed. However, your school may change the deadline if you have several overlapping deadlines for timed assessments which may include exams. This is usually if you have more than three.

If you are unable to start due to illness or other cause

Tell the school before the assessment is released.

If you have started but are unable to complete and submit by the deadline

Tell the school before the assessment ends.

Absence from teaching

If you miss an in-person or synchronous teaching session, tell your home school as soon as possible and then either:

Absences between 1 and 7 consecutive days in the teaching period

Complete the self-certification for absence form. This is available from your school.

Absences more than 7 consecutive days in the teaching period

Request extenuating circumstances

If personal circumstances have affected your performance in assessment, you can ask the exam board to take these into account.

We will only consider your request if your circumstances:

  • are personal to you
  • are in addition to any special arrangements that were put in place for your assessments

How to make a request

  • Complete an extenuating circumstances form. This is available from your school. 
  • If you can't provide evidence, it is important you explain clearly on the form why you think your circumstances should be taken into account. 

More information about how to complete the form is available in the supporting evidence section.

What happens when you submit extenuating circumstances

If the school accepts your extenuating circumstances it will be considered by the Exam Board.

The Board will decide what to do in each individual case of extenuating circumstances when it meets. This is usually at the end of the academic year in June.

Exam boards consider:

  • if your performance has been affected substantially and
  • how to take this into account and mitigate the impact for you.

Consideration of extenuating circumstances does not change any individual mark you receive for assessment. However, it may influence the overall decision taken by the Board of Examiners when it considers your academic progression or awards your qualification.

If your extenuating circumstances are accepted

The possible actions a school can take are in the Extenuating Circumstances Policy (from section 19.25).

You may be required to take the assessment again at the next opportunity. This is usually the following August; where the assessment is an exam. You must be available during this period. If you did not successfully complete an assessment that would have been your first attempt, you will be able to take it on that basis for the full range of marks.

If you are unable to complete and pass assessments in August for any reason 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.

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

Supporting evidence required

You are normally required to submit supporting evidence where it is available. This could be a medical note where you have received medical care or a police incident report form. We expect you to submit this evidence. You can also self-certifcate absence from an exam due to an acute short-term illness.

When you don't need to provide evidence

There are circumstances that are difficult to provide evidence for such as:

  • an unexpected change in caring responsibilities
  • acute illnesses where you do not need help or medical attention such as a migraine or gastroenteritis
  • coronavirus-related disruptions such as having to self-isolate.

In these and similar situations, you can submit your request without evidence.

Provide a clear explanation of the impact

Schools may accept extenuating circumstances or grant extension requests where evidence is not provided. However, you must explain the impact of the circumstance on your studies and or/assessment. This will help us understand how you have been affected, and decide if mitigation is appropriate or if we can provide other support. We may check the information you provide in the form. 

If you do not provide enough explanation of the circumstance or why mitigation is needed, your request may be rejected.

Contact Just Ask the Students' Union Advice and Support service if you need help completing a form.

Study Abroad or Erasmus students

Our process for dealing with missed exams or assessments does not apply to visiting students. You are not able to resit any exams or defer any work. This applies to units across all schools and faculties.
If you have missed an exam or assessment email:

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