Everything You Need to Know about ECs

Sometimes life can throw difficult and unforeseeable circumstances your way, and even the best laid plans go awry. But don’t panic, there are people at the University who can help and support you through your studies no matter what life throws at you.


Sometimes life can throw difficult and unforeseeable circumstances your way, and even the best-laid plans go awry. You’re worried about how all of it is going to affect your upcoming exams or assignments, or if you can work to the best of your abilities in these difficult circumstances. But don’t panic - there are people at university who can help and support you through your studies no matter what life throws at you.

Given what you are going through at the time, trying to complete these applications can be more challenging. Therefore, we’ve put together some key considerations regarding Extenuating Circumstances, also known as ECs.

What are Extenuating Circumstances?

Extenuating Circumstances are situations/events that have happened in your life that make it difficult or even impossible for you to take an assessment (such as submitting coursework, making a presentation or sitting an exam) or made you not perform to the best of your abilities. They would usually be something that happened at the same time as, or when you were preparing for, the assessment.

ECs are events that are outside of your control as they are unforeseeable and unpreventable. These are situations which are different to what you deal with in your day-to-day life and you couldn’t know that it was going to happen. They are also circumstances that you can’t stop from happening and you don’t expect to last very long.

Examples of extenuating circumstances can include (but are not limited to):

  • 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.

Applying for an EC may feel daunting at first. We understand that in some cultures, it might be unusual to discuss the details of such difficult circumstances outside of your immediate family. We are fully supportive of students in these circumstances and want to assist you where possible. Always reach out to the support services available to you and avoid enduring struggles alone.

How to apply for ECs

You should complete and submit an EC form as soon as possible after the assessment or submission date for the assessment affected by your circumstances. You may apply again if your circumstances continue and affect later assessments. Leaving your application to the last minute close to the final deadline may limit the available options the Committee and your School Assessment Boards can put in place to take into consideration your circumstances.

It is important that you do not apply in advance (except for PGT students applying to defer) so the Committee can consider your application on how the circumstances have actually affected you rather than speculating on how it may affect you. You can only apply for one assessment on each form.

The form has moved online and can be accessed here. There are separate ones for UG and PGT students.

Applications are considered termly for standard UG and PGT students and deadlines are set for Autumn, Spring and Summer Term assessments (specific timelines and deadlines are in place for our Non-Standard courses).

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.

Examples of acceptable evidence include but are not limited to:

  • Medical evidence with your name and date
  • Death certificate if you have suffered a bereavement
  • Confirmation of emergency repairs from contractors/landlords
  • Evidence should cover the period of the time for which you are claiming and be relevant to the extenuating circumstances
  • Evidence also needs to be in English and if it needs to be translated, it should be done by an authorised notary/legal practitioner or third party

If you are unable to provide any official documentation to support your application, you may provide a Third-Party statement to prove your circumstances. Third-Party statement must also include a student statement to explain why you couldn’t provide other evidence.

If the EC deadline is close and you haven’t got the required evidence, you should contact the EC team for advice.

Outcomes of Extenuating Circumstances

There are a limited number of actions that can be taken as a result of an application, these include 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). Resits granted through ECs applications are First Sits, which means they are uncapped and have no fee associated. A list of possible outcomes can be found here.

ECs cannot increase module marks, a year or degree average or classification.

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 decide progression outcomes (whether you have passed the year, are offered resits etc.) and who can apply mitigations as a result of your Extenuating Circumstances.

Further Support

Our Advice Centre is a free, independent, and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced, and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Our advisors hold drop-ins on Zoom and in person every Tuesday and on Zoom every other Wednesday during term time. You can find more information on our Events Calendar on how to join the virtual drop-ins.

Email us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with any questions or to ask for a different meeting time.