Academic Rights: Extenuating Circumstances

What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) count as instances or issues which are outside of your control, and which may temporarily prevent you from undertaking an assessment, or have a significant detrimental impact on your ability to undertake an assessment to the standard normally expected. ECs are events that are outside of your control as they are unforeseeable and unpreventable.

The University has the ability to make allowances for when such circumstances arise through the extenuating circumstances process. First and foremost, it’s really important that you inform your personal tutor, staff from your department, or our Advice Centre at the earliest opportunity so that we can let you know what steps you need to take next.

There is guidance available on the Student Intranet to help you decide whether or not to apply for Extenuating Circumstances, and what they can do for you.

Some examples of  extenuating circumstances are:

  • Illness (excluding minor illnesses)
  • Hospitalisation
  • Bereavement
  • Worsening of a long-term condition
  • Major adverse family circumstances
  • Acute personal circumstances

Some issues that will not be considered as extenuating circumstances include:

  • Short-term illness (coughs, colds, sore throats, etc.)
  • Computer/tech failure
  • Transport issues
  • The workload/ number of submissions for your course

It’s important to bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive and you can find more information about what circumstances do and do not count as ECs on the Student Intranet. If you're unsure of whether you should apply for ECs, you can speak to an advisor to discuss this further.

How do I apply for extenuating circumstances?

EC forms and relevant guidance can be accessed on the Student Intranet. Please note, there are separate forms for UG and PG students.

It is a click-through process and you will have the opportunity to upload supporting evidence. It is important to note that applications without evidence will not be considered and the burden of proof does lie with you, the student. If you need guidance on what to use as evidence, our Advice Centre will be able to help you - get in touch at

It's important to note that you won't receive an outcome from your Extenuating Circumstances application right away. You will receive an email to confirm your submission has been received, but you will only be notified of any mitigation taken as a result of your application when you receive your final results for the year.

Your application will be reviewed by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee, which will then make recommendations for any mitigations they judge appropriate to the School Progression and Award Board (SPAB). It is the SPAB that decides progression outcomes (whether you have passed the year, are offered resits etc.) and who can apply mitigations as a result of your Extenuating Circumstances.

There are a limited number of actions that can be taken as a result of an Extenuating Circumstances application- the SPAB may allow the lifting of a late submission penalty or the opportunity to take the assessment again at the next available opportunity (this may be the next academic year). ECs cannot increase module marks, a year or degree average or Classification.

In very exceptional cases, they may decide to request a suspension of regulations; however, these are only granted in very exceptional circumstances by the Executive Committee for Assessment and there is no guarantee that such requests will be approved. You are strongly advised to read the relevant section on extenuating circumstances in the University regulations and Extenuating Circumstances guidance for students so that you are aware of the options that the School Progression and Awards Board has available.

How can the SU help?

Remember, these processes are in place to be a support for you during your time at Royal Holloway. If you need help understanding/completing the process or want to discuss extenuating circumstances further, please contact the Advice Centre.

To give you a helping hand, we will be holding drop-ins closer to the Extenuating Circumstances deadline (which will be at the end of the academic year) to answer any questions you have relating to the application, so keep an eye on our Events Calendar for more information.

want to speak to an advisor?

If you've already looked through our web pages and can't find the information you're after, and would like to discuss something face-to-face, it's easy to see an Advisor.


We hold weekly drop-in sessions on Zoom during term time. Check out our Events Calendar to find out when the next drop-in is - just use the "Advice" filter on the left-hand side of the page.


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