Academic Manual


Technical Issues and Extenuating Circumstances

Further guidance on students who experience technical difficulties during assessment

This page was last updated on 15 March 2021.

Technical Issues and Online Exams

1. Please refer to the Technical Failures in Online Exams Policy.

Technical Issues and Coursework

2. When submitting coursework, students should give themselves plenty of time to upload their submissions by the published deadline and technical failures will not normally be considered valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances unless there are very exceptional reasons for doing so. 

3. If there are exceptional circumstances which have had a significant impact on the student, EC Panels can use their discretion to change a ‘Category C’ circumstance into a ‘Category B’ circumstance. 

4. Students must provide evidence (e.g. screenshots or photos of error messages, network failures etc., emails or text messages from internet service providers) to support their claim. 

5. Technical issues must have had a material impact on the student; minor or reasonably-foreseeable technical issues will not be considered as valid grounds. If the deadline is missed, UCL’s normal late submission penalties will apply (Chapter 4, Section 3.12 Coursework Deadlines & Late Submissions).

Technical Issues and Take-Home Papers

6. ‘Take-Home Paper’ refers to a written examination with a fixed start and end time but with a duration of more than 24 hours e.g. 48 or 72 hours. These are managed by departments rather than the central Examinations Team. For the purposes of this policy we are recommending that these are viewed as being closer to ‘coursework’ than to examinations i.e. the normal EC and Late Submission rules apply. However, due to the relatively short nature of these assessments, it is recognised that substantive technical failures could have a disproportionate impact on a student. EC Panels should consider whether it would be reasonable to relax the ‘normal’ Grounds for ECs and allow severe technical difficulties to be considered.

Technical Issues and Practical Examinations

7. ‘Practical Examinations’ include presentations, laboratory work, practicals, orals, OSCEs etc. where the student has a set number of minutes or hours in which to perform a task. These may take place under controlled conditions, but would not usually fall under the regulations in Chapter 4, Section 4: Examinations.

8. At the time of the assessment, the internal examiners should use their discretion to allow for any technical or internet failures which the student could not have reasonably foreseen. For example, a student might reasonably foresee that a PowerPoint file is faulty, but might not reasonably foresee that their internet connection would drop in the middle of their presentation. As these types of assessments are often highly discipline-specific, departments might find it helpful to give students guidance on how best to prepare for the assessment and minimise the chances of technical failures.

9. The internal examiners should use their discretion to decide whether the assessment can go ahead, or if the student will need to undertake the assessment at a later date – for example, if there are other students waiting to be assessed, it may not be possible to continue with the assessment. If this is the case, the student may submit an Exam Query Form. Departments should make sure that a local Exam Query Form is created and clearly communicated to students.