Illness and unexpected disruptions to your exam or assessment

If your assessments are disrupted by serious events like illness, bereavement or self-isolation, you can apply for ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ and self-certify for up to 14 days

This page was last updated on 15 March 2021. 

What are extenuating circumstances?
Self-certification during Covid-19
Apply for extenuating circumstances
What happens after you submit the form
Further information

What are extenuating circumstances?

UCL has a formal process to quickly let your department know about serious events that affect your ability to complete an assessment, but you need to let them know within 1 week. 

‘Extenuating Circumstances’ (ECs) are events which are unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond your control, such as a serious illness or bereavement.

You are responsible for letting UCL know about any event that might affect your performance in assessments (exams or assignments) at the time that it takes place.

The Extenuating Circumstances process is designed to help with any short-term problems that you might have with completing an assessment. If you have a longer-term condition or disability then we have other ways to help you, such as reasonable adjustments.

Extenuating Circumstances during Covid-19

Self-certification: In order to help you access support without placing extra pressure on the NHS, during the Covid 19 pandemic you will be allowed to self-certify within certain conditions. Make sure that you read the Enhanced EC Procedure for 2020-21 as this explains self-certification in more detail.

Expanded definition: During the pandemic, the definition of Extenuating Circumstances has been expanded to include ongoing parenting/ home-schooling, caring responsibilities, and employment as a critical worker, such as UCL students who work for the NHS.

Technical issues: New guidance about Technical Issues and Extenuating Circumstances supports the move to online assessment.

Apply for extenuating circumstances

There are 4 steps you need to take when applying for extenuating circumstances:

  1. Check whether your circumstances are covered

    UCL’s ‘Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances’ explain what will normally be considered as ‘extenuating’. ECs are designed to help with shorter-term problems; if you have a longer-term difficulty we may be able to support you better through reasonable adjustments, examination adjustments or an interruption of study.
  2. Complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form

    Make sure you tick the box allowing us to share your request with members of staff who are directly responsible for making a decision (don’t worry, we will keep your data secure). Make sure you tell us about every assessment that has been affected – we won’t assume it applies to assessments that aren’t on your form.
  3. Self-certify or get supporting evidence

    UCL normally requires evidence for ECs, but because of Covid-19 you can self-certify for some circumstances. The Enhanced EC Procedure for 2020-21 explains this in more detail. 

    If you run out of self-certifications, you can still apply for Extenuating Circumstances but we will ask you to provide some evidence. This needs to be from a registered doctor or other verifiable source - ask your doctor or evidence provider to read the guidance notes on the form carefully – we need to understand how your circumstance has affected your ability to do your assessment. If you need time to get your evidence, submit your form on time and give us your evidence as soon as you can.
  4. Submit your form within 1 week of the extenuating circumstance taking place

    We may not be able to help you if your claim is late. You need to submit your form to your home department or faculty office – your Student Handbook should give full details. The receiving office will forward your form and evidence, confidentially, to the appropriate person. 

    If you are applying to spread your assessments across examination periods, the one week deadline does not apply. You can submit your request as soon as the Examination Timetable is published in March. You application needs to be submitted at least one week before the first assessment that you want to delay.

What happens after you submit the form

If you apply for a 1 week extension, this will be considered by staff in your department, who will try to give you a response as quickly as possible.

If you apply for other help, your request will be considered by either your faculty or departmental Extenuating Circumstances Panel. The Panel will usually offer you one of the following, although they may suggest something else:

Further information

Please visit the UCL Academic Manual for further information on Extenuating Circumstances.

Find out more about how we are supporting your assessments during Covid-19.