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We know that exams and assessments can be a stressful time of year for students. So, if you think you need Extenuating Circumstances over your exams or deadlines, please get in touch with us.

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What are Extenuating Circumstances?

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) are, according to the University regulations, circumstances that make it 'temporarily impossible' for a student to meet a deadline, revise for or attend an exam or assessment, or participate in their programme as might be reasonably expected.

For a full, comprehensive list of accepted extenuating cirucmstances, refer to the regulations

It is important to remember that applying for Extenuating circumstances doesnt give you more marks. Instead, it is likely that you will either be given up to a three week extension or your assessment is moved to the next exam period - usually in late August. This may have implications on your graduation so check before you apply.

We recommend that you read the FAQs at the bottom of this page, as it may help answer your questions.

What can the Students' Union do?

Although we are confident that all ECs that need to be approved by the University do get approved, we understand that sometimes it can be difficult to know how to submit your ECs, and what evidence you might need, what implications this has on your studies, and when you should be applying. 

So, either come along to one of our drop-ins or email and one of our advisors will be able to help you navigate the process. 

If you have applied but not recieved a response within 5 days, or dont know why your EC has been rejected, let us know and we can help you out.

Grounds for applying for Extenuating Circumstances

There are several valid "grounds" for applying for extenuating circumstances but, you must demonstrate, with evidence, how the grounds have affected you and your ability to do your work to the best of your ability. The grounds considered by the University include:

  • Bereavement through the death of a close relative or significant other
  • For yourself, or someone within your care (child, parent, partner etc), who experiences:
    • Short term illness
    • Long-term chronic health problem suddenly worsening
    • Flare-up oif a chronic health problem
  • Late diagnosis of additional learning requirements 
  • For part time and distance learning students, an increase in workload beyond your control
  • Other exceptional circumstances
In the above cases, you will need evidence to prove the nature of your ECs and, where applicable, the nature of the relationship between you and the dependent/bereved. The exception to this is a flare-up of a chronic health problem where you only need to provide evidence once explaining the nature of your flare-ups.

Important: ECs should be applied for BEFORE the deadline. If you have missed a deadline or exam, you can still apply but it may be harder to get this approved. 

If you have to leave an exam due to extenuating circumstances, you need to complete the 'unfit to continue' form in the exam and then have 5 working days to apply for extenuating circumstances.​

Applications submitted after the deadline or event

Applications made AFTER the deadline or event must also explain (and provide evidence to support) why you were not able to apply before, or at the time of, the event.

These are:

  • that you were awaiting a diagnosis of their illness or its confirmation and you submitted a request at the appropriate time whilst awaiting receipt of the evidence 
  • that the nature of your illness affected the your capacity to report it 
  • that you did not have access at the time to their medical practitioner (including GP or clinical specialist) or registered counsellor, their minister of religion, or solicitor, to provide support and the required independent evidence 

What do I need to do first?

Read the University's regulations for Extenuating Circumstances. In here you will find a list of what is considered to be extenuating circumstances and what evidence the University will accept.

These can be found on the web-site of the Office of Student Complaints, Appeals and Regulations (OSCAR) -

What Next?

Write your statement – make sure you clearly explain what your circumstances are, how they are impacting your ability to study and the outcome you are seeking.

If your application is AFTER the deadline or event, you will need to explain why you were not able to apply beforehand or at the time.

Gather your evidence. The burden of proof is on you as the student applying so it is vital that you have evidence to support your case. e.g. doctor's letter, death certificate, counsellor's letter, police report. You will need this in electronic format e.g. a photo or a scanned copy as you will need to upload this with your EC application

Submit the online form. This can be accessed via student self-service. A video explaining the form can be found on the OSCAR website.​


How do I submit an application?

Online, via your Surrey Self-Service account. Under the 'Modules' tab along the top of the welcome page, click on Extenuating Circumstances and this will take you to the application form.

What do I need to include in my application? 

You will need to include a statement, explaining your situation and how it is/has been affecting your academic ability, as well as relevant evidence to support your statement. Please see page 4 of the university's regulations for extenuating circumstances for more details on evidence needed. You do not need evidence if you are applying under the grounds of a "flare-up of a chronic health condition" and you have already provided evidence of the nature of your illness and how it can flare up. Please make sure you are also very clear on the outcome you are hoping for.

How long will it take to get a response?

After submission you should receive an immediate confirmation of receipt via email to your Surrey account. Applications usually take around 5 working days to receive an outcome.

What happens if I fall unwell the night before or the day of an exam and can't attend? 

You should ideally submit extenuating circumstances as soon as you know you won't be able to attend an exam. If you can make it to your exam, you can complete the "unfit to sit" form, and then leave the exam. If you are physically unable to attend the exam then we would recomend you email your relevant Faculty Assessments team (,, and your Module Leader to let them know that you cannot attend. Seek medical support as soon as possible as you will need evidence to add to your EC application. Please be aware that if your ECs arent valid, and you dont attend the exam you run the risk of your exam being awarded zero, which you can appeal if needed. 

Click here to find out more about appeals.

What do I do if I have not had an outcome before my exam or coursework deadline?

In this instance, we would advise that you attempt the assessment if you can, as there is no guarantee that your application will be successful. Make sure the invigilator records that you have submitted an ECs application. If you need to, you can fill in an 'unfit to sit' form during the exam. If your EC is accepted after the deadline or exam date, then your attempt will be void and you will be able to retake the assesssment or you will be given a new submission deadline  

What do I do if I cannot get my evidence before the deadline? 

In this instance, we would advise that you submit your application before the deadline anyway, and indicate in your application that you are still waiting to obtain the evidence. As soon as you receive it, you can log back in to your application and add it. At least this way you have ensured that you have reported the matter ahead of the assessment. It is important to note, however, that your application won't be looked at until your evidence is uploaded. If your application closes before you have time to submit your evidence, that is ok, you can just submit another EC application. If your application is rejected becasuse the board of examiners have met, you will need to make an academic appeal. If you are not able to source evidence for your situation, you might be eligible to self-certify your ECs.

What do I do if I am unwell in an exam?

You can ask an invigilator for an 'unfit to continue' form, and then you can leave if needed. This ensures your exam will NOT be marked as a non‑attempt and will serve as part of your evidence in your extenuating circumstances application. You must follow this up with a full ECs application as soon as possible. You should book an appointment with a medical professional as evidence for your ECs. 

What will happen to the exam paper or coursework if I submit but then my EC is upheld? 

Any attempts you have made will be void if your EC application is upheld. If this is an exam, your assessment will move, usually to the August exam period (24th August - 4th September 2020)

What will happen to the exam paper or coursework if I submit but then my EC is NOT upheld? 

Your work will be marked as normal. If you failed to sit the exam or failed to submit an assessment then you may be awared zero. You can appeal this descision.

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I need further advice:​

You can make an appointment with one of our Academic Advice team. Appointments are for a maximum of 30 minutes, Monday - Friday 10-4pm.

Please email with the following information:

Name​, Course, Year of study, Details of your case, including what your circumstances are, What you need advice on, Submission deadline or date of exam

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