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

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

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.

Self-certification during Covid-19

Covid-19 might affect your studies in a number of different ways. In order to help you access support without placing extra pressure on the NHS, you will be allowed to self-certify for up to 14 calendar days on two separate occasions during the 2020-21 academic session, within specific conditions.

•    Read the FAQs about Covid-19 and Extenuating Circumstances
•    Read the Enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Policy for 2020-21

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 up to 14 calendar days on two separate occasions during the 2020-21 academic session, within specific conditions.

    If you need support for more than two weeks, or on more than two occasions, you will need to provide 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.

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:

  • an extension of more than 1 week
  • a ‘deferral’ i.e. postponing your assessment to the next scheduled occasion
  • suspending the normal penalties for handing work in late.

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.

FAQs: Covid-19 and Extenuating Circumstances

I think I might have Covid-19 - do I need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances?

If you think that you have symptoms of Covid-19, visit our About the virus and taking precautions page for further information, guidance and support.

If illness affects your ability to complete assessments, you should complete an Extenuating Circumstances form. Your Faculty or Department will give you details of how to do this.

I need to self-isolate - do I need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances?

We know that self-isolation/quarantine is not a carefree ‘holiday’. While many students will be largely unaffected and able to continue their studies as normal, some may find this distressing or disruptive. 
If you are required to self-isolate, we will not automatically assume that you need an extension or deferral. However, you can decide to apply for extra support via the Extenuating Circumstances process if self-isolation is having a significant impact on your ability to study or complete assessments.

Can I only self-certify for Covid-19?

No, you can self-certify for any valid Extenuating Circumstance, not just those related to Covid-19. You must still explain on the form why your circumstances are sudden, significantly disruptive and beyond your control. 

How long can I self-certify for? 

You can self-certify for up to 14 calendar days at a time. If you need longer, you will need to submit evidence. 

Can I self-certify more than once? 

Yes, you can self-certify for up to two 14-calendar-day periods during the 2020-21 academic session. Normally these periods should be two weeks apart, although UCL will consider exceptional circumstances, for example if you are required to self-isolate for two 14-day periods close together. If you need help on more than two occasions, you will need to submit evidence.

Do I need to submit separate EC forms for different assessments?

No, you only have to submit one form for each 14 day period. Each self-certified claim will cover any assessments – coursework and/ or exams – falling within that period.

What happens to my assessments if I self-certify? 

For timed online assessments such as online exams, you will be granted a deferred assessment i.e. the opportunity to take the assessment as if for the first time and without academic penalty at a later date. 

For coursework type assessments, you may be granted an extension where possible, however you may be granted a deferred assessment instead. It is your responsibility to ensure you meet any coursework extension deadlines. 

Do I have to self-certify if my department has changed or delayed my assessment? 

No, if your department has advised your whole class that an assessment will take a different form (e.g. online exam), will take place at a different date, or that all students will have an extended deadline, you do not need to submit an EC claim. 

I work for the NHS or other frontline services. What should I do? 

Professional emergencies are covered by the Extenuating Circumstances regulations. If, for example, you work for the NHS or police, or are involved in critical research, you might be worried about missing classes or exams, or not being able to finish coursework or your dissertation. 

You can still self-certify for 14-day periods or, if you need longer, your Faculty may be able to consider alternative evidence such as a letter from your Programme Leader confirming your frontline role. Your department will be as flexible as possible deferring assessments or allowing you to interrupt your studies.