Academic Manual


Enhanced Extenuating Circumstances procedure for 2020-21

The following enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure applies during the 2020-21 academic session

This page was last updated on 18 August 2021.

Changes due to Covid-19

2020-21 Academic Session

This enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure applies during the 2020-21 academic session, including the Late Summer Assessment Period 2021 and dissertations/ research projects for outgoing PGT Masters students.

2021-22 Academic Session

UCL Education Committee is in the process of agreeing a new self-certification policy for the 2021-22 academic session. Further details will be posted here.

Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances

1. During the pandemic, the definition of Extenuating Circumstances has been expanded to include:

Self-certification Policy

2. UCL recognises that students will not be able to obtain evidence for self-isolation, and that we risk placing undue pressure on the NHS and other health services if we require evidence for minor ailments or short illnesses. However we also recognise that an open self-certification policy can encourage students to submit ‘just-in-case claims’, and can focus support away from those students who are vulnerable and most in need of help. For 2020-21, UCL will therefore permit self-certification, within the parameters outlined below.

3. Students can self-certify for Extenuating Circumstances to access:

  • a) Coursework extensions up to 14 calendar days
  • b) Suspension of Late Submission Penalties for coursework submitted up to 14 calendar days late
  • c) Deferral without Tuition to the next normal occasion (typically the Late Summer Assessment Period)
  • d) Permission to spread their assessments between two assessment periods without penalty.

4. Students can self-certify for up to five separate periods within the 2020-21 academic session.

5. If a programme includes teaching after Term 3 (e.g. Taught Postgraduate Masters students) students can also self-certify on a sixth separate occasion.

6. Students can self-certify for any valid Extenuating Circumstance, not just those related to Covid-19. Students must still explain on their form why their circumstances are sudden, significantly disruptive and beyond their control, and are expected to only submit self-certified claims that meet the criteria set out in the UCL Academic Manual, Annex 4.1.1 Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances. Students who submit fraudulent claims may be subject to UCL’s Academic Misconduct Procedures.

Self-certifying for Extensions, Deferrals and Late Submissions

7. If a student has ECs covering a period of  up to 14 calendar days they can submit a self-certified claim to cover any assessments – coursework and/ or exams – falling within that period.

8. Normally, these periods must be 14 calendar days apart, although Faculty EC Panels can use their discretion to accept self-certified claims within a shorter interval if, for example, a student has two self-isolation periods close together.

9. Self-certified claims for extensions, deferrals and late submissions can be submitted no more than two weeks in advance of the affected assessments. As with the standard procedures, students must submit claims no more than one week after the EC has taken place.

Self-certifying for spreading assessments over two assessment periods

10. Self-certified claims for spreading assessments between two assessment periods in order to manage workload (e.g. because of caring responsibilities) may be submitted once the examination timetable has been published in March. In this case claims should be submitted as soon as possible.

11. This is an option available through the Extenuating Circumstances process. It can be used for any type of assessment but is most useful for students who are taking written exams.

12. Spreading assessments is intended to help where students have problems affecting their studies over a longer period (for example because they are a carer, or home-schooling children, or a critical worker) and enables students to manage their workload by deferring some of their assessments to the next assessment period. For example, a student could take some exams in the Main Summer exam period in April/ May 2021, and some exams in the Late Summer exam period in August/ September 2021.

13. The central examination timetable will be published at the start of March 2021, and departments will publish the dates for any locally-managed exams or coursework. Once students can see the spread of all their assessments, they can think about whether they would benefit from taking some assessments in the Late Summer. 

14. There are however some limitations that students should consider before applying:

  • a) Students will need to explain why they are asking to spread their assessments. Normally UCL expects all EC claims to meet UCL’s Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances. During the pandemic, ongoing parenting/ caring responsibilities, home-schooling and employment as a critical worker are also being considered valid grounds for spreading assessments.
  • b) Approval is not automatic and is at the discretion of the Extenuating Circumstances Panel. Some assessments may be more difficult to defer than others and the Panel may take this into account in deciding which assessments can be deferred.
  • c) Undergraduate students should aim to defer no more than 30 credits to the Late Summer to avoid any subsequent difficulties with graduating or progressing on time.  Students must not move more than 50% of their total credits for the year to the Late Summer e.g. on a programme of 120 credits, no more than 60 credits can be moved to the Late Summer.
  • d) Students can only spread assessments in advance. Students cannot use this for an assessment that they have already taken.
  • e) Applications should be submitted as soon as possible and at least one week in advance of the first assessment that the student wants to delay.
  • f) Students can submit a single self-certified EC claim to cover all of the assessments that they wish to delay (the 14 day restrictions do not apply) but the claim will count as one of their permitted self-certifications.  
  • g) Students should think carefully about the potential consequences of moving some assessment to the Late Summer. We hope that students will pass all of their assessments, but there is a possibility of failing, or the student might have Extenuating Circumstances in the Late Summer. If the student does not pass the Late Summer assessment this can have quite a significant impact:
    • For finalists, this could prevent the student from graduating on time, and might affect their ability to take up a job offer or a place on a Masters or PhD.
    • For non-finalists, this might prevent the student from continuing with their programme next year. UCL has put in place additional safety nets to reduce this risk, but students will need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for these.

Where Evidence is still Required

15. Students must still submit evidence for the following:

  • Coursework extensions of more than 14 calendar days
  • Suspension of Late Submission Penalties for coursework submitted more than 14 calendar days late
  • A Deferral without Tuition beyond the next normal occasion
  • A Deferral with Tuition (a postponement of the whole component or module, including all learning and teaching activities and the assessment, usually to the following year)
  • Deferrals associated with an Interruption of Study
  • Exclusion of an assessment component or module
  • Alternative methods of assessment
  • Any other form of mitigation in Chapter 4, Section 6.9.2
  • Claims on the grounds of technical issues

16. Under the standard procedures, Faculty EC Panel Chairs can use their discretion to waive the need for evidence. This will continue to be the case, and Faculty EC Panels can now use their discretion to delegate this authority to Departmental Panels as appropriate. Faculties may consider accepting alternative forms of evidence – for example a letter from the student’s Programme Leader or from UCL Student Support and Wellbeing, or evidence of their role as a frontline health worker.

17. If students are having difficulties obtaining evidence, they are encouraged to get in touch with their Department as soon as possible for advice. Help is also available from the Students’ Union Advice Service and from UCL Student Support and Wellbeing - go to askUCL and log an enquiry.