Teaching & Learning


UCL approves enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure for 2020-21

16 September 2020

Students can continue to self-certify for Extenuating Circumstances of up to 14 days. Steps taken to limit ‘just-in-case’ applications in advance of actual disruption to studies.

Student taking notes

UCL has approved an enhanced Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Procedure for 2020-21.

Students will be allowed to self-certify for up to 14 calendar days on two separate occasions in the 2020-21 academic session, within specific conditions

Students must still submit evidence for more than 14 calendar days and they will not be able to submit claims more than two weeks before the assessment.


UCL agreed to allow self-certification for Extenuating Circumstances during 2019-20 due to the exponential increase in students needing support during the Covid-19 crisis.

We hope that the number of claims will reduce as we begin to settle into a new way of working, but we are still anticipating that students will need more help than normal due to the potential challenges of moving to a new mode of learning, a need to self-isolate, the risks of a second wave, and an increase in students experiencing mental health difficulties. We also want to avoid putting pressure on the NHS by asking students to submit evidence when they don’t require medical attention.

Remember, if any student thinks they have symptoms of Covid-19, they should be advised to visit our About the virus and taking precautions page for information, guidance and support.

Other key features of the new policy

Students can apply to self-certify for up to two separate 14-day periods within the 2020-21 academic session.

  • Students can submit a self-certified claim to cover any assessments – coursework and/ or exams – falling within that period. 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.

Students must still explain on the form why their circumstances are sudden, significantly disruptive and beyond their control.  

Self-certified claims can be submitted up to two weeks in advance of the affected assessment(s).

  • If a student wants to submit earlier, they will be required to provide supporting evidence. As with the standard procedures, students must submit claims no more than one week after the EC has taken place.

Where students self-certify, mitigation will be limited to:

  • Coursework extensions up to 14 calendar days
  • Suspension of Late Submission Penalties for coursework submitted up to 14 calendar days late
  • Deferral without Tuition to the next normal occasion (typically the Late Summer Assessment Period)

Extenuating circumstances requiring evidence

Students must still submit evidence for periods of more than 14 calendar days, and for other types of mitigation.

Faculty EC Panel Chairs can continue to use their discretion to waive the need for evidence – as is the case under standard procedures.

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.

Application process

Students should go back to using the standard Extenuating Circumstances Form. In many cases this is made available locally as an online application form. Departments are asked to make sure that they publish clear information for students on how to submit a claim.

This policy may be subject to change if there are significant, unforeseen developments in the Covid-19 pandemic. We will notify staff and students of any changes as far in advance as possible.