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Exceptional Circumstances

Let your School know when your work is affected

We hope that during your time at Keele you will feel able to perform at your best in your assessments. However, sometimes unexpected things can happen that have an impact on your performance, ability to sit your exams or submit your assessments on time. When this happens, you can submit an Exceptional Circumstances claim to ask for an extension or further assessment attempt.

You can find more information about ECs and details about the process in the University’s Exceptional Circumstances Code of Practice. The University has also produced a video to guide you through how to make a claim online:


*There have been some changes to ECs during the pandemic, including relaxed rules on evidence and IT issues. You can visit our Covid-19 page for information and also go to the University's page.*

There isn’t a definitive list of circumstances that will be accepted, each case is considered individually. However, the University gives the following common claims that are made: 

  • Acute illness or injury
  • Extended illness or injury
  • Bereavement
  • Significant domestic and/or personal problems
  • Court Attendance
  • Unforeseen Work Commitment (Part-Time/Distance Learning/PG students only)
  • Unforeseen representation of County or Country at Sport
  • Active Exercise of Citizenship
  • Unforeseen Major Transport Difficulties
  • Acute Illness of another person
  • Victim of Criminal Activity

Don’t worry if your circumstances don’t fit within the above examples, you can still submit a claim under the 'Other' category.

Your claim would be considered on your particular circumstances but there are some circumstances that are not usually accepted.

  • Mistaking the date/time of an examination or coursework deadline
  • General pressure of academic work e.g. a number of assignments with similar deadlines, as you are expected to plan your work schedule
  • Employment commitments (though there are some exceptions – seek advice)
  • Alarm failure on the morning of the examination
  • Holiday
  • Family events
  • Personal computer/other IT device failure as you should have taken adequate precautionary measures e.g. backups
  • Not leaving adequate time to access IT equipment/printing facilities and then finding that they are not available unless there has been a documented systems failure
  • Non-compatibility of your IT equipment with University IT equipment, as it is expected that you should have planned and checked that it was possible to transfer files from your computer to the University systems well before the assessment deadlines
  • Religious observance – as such issues are not unforeseen and students should submit a 'special provisions' claim to their Schools or Exams - see Personalised Exam Arrangements for more details.

You must submit ECs on the approved online form on eVision; it is not enough just to tell your tutor. The online form will ask you for some details about your circumstances. Try to give details on how you have been affected and why you have not been able to study or sit an exam, see below for more guidance on completing the form.

ASK can help you to complete the form if any part of it doesn’t make sense. Remember, we’re a confidential service. The University has a guide on how to complete an ECs form.

If you are struggling to write the statement on the form you can try using the headings below:

What are your exceptional circumstances?

Give details of what has happened - include dates and enough detail to allow the school to make a decision on your claim. If you have multiple circumstances that have impacted on you then put them in separate paragraphs to keep it clear.

How have the ECs prevented you from studying/revising/attending lectures?

Give details of how the circumstances you described have affected your performance. Be specific, even if it seems obvious!  For example, if you have been ill you may have had no energy to study or you could not concentrate on studying. If you have had to return home because of a family emergency then state that you were not at Keele so could not attend the exam. Remember that your circumstances will be treated sensitively and will not be disclosed to staff not involved in the EC process.

Evidence is an important part of completing an EC form, the form gives detailed guidance on the types of evidence you will be expected to provide to support your claim. If you are struggling to provide evidence speak to your school or come and see ASK for guidance.

It is possible to self-certify an absence of less than 5 days without evidence but your School may still ask you for evidence.

It is really important that you submit an EC form as soon as you realise that your studies are going to be impacted. Don’t wait until your results are released because you will then need to consider an academic appeal.

Claims will be accepted after the coursework deadline or examination, but they must be submitted before the marks are confirmed and each School will set its own deadline - speak to your School(s) to make sure you don’t miss their deadline.

There are a few possible outcomes:

  • A further assessment opportunity as the same attempt. If you're submitting ECs for your first attempt, you can get an uncapped resit.
  • An appropriate extension of a deadline for coursework submission - in most circumstances you can only get a total extension of four weeks, but your School may use its discretion to give more time for dissertations and Final Year Projects.
  • An extension to complete a placement.

The University will not raise your mark. You also cannot take a reassessment if you've attempted the assessment and passed the module - instead, your EC will be kept on record and considered again at the end of your course if you have a borderline degree.

Come and see ASK for advice on your options if your EC claim is not accepted or you have any further questions.

Depending on why your claim was rejected, you may be able to submit another EC. For example, if your first claim was rejected because you didn't have any evidence, you may be able to submit a new claim if you're within the deadline and now have evidence you can include.

If your School won't change the decision, you may have grounds for an appeal but you cannot submit an appeal until you have your official results. Make sure to note the deadline on your results email as you will only have 10 days to appeal against your ma

If your circumstances are long-term you may want to consider taking a Leave of Absence (LOA). This could be for a few weeks, in addition to any ECs claims, or it could be for a longer time - you may decide to suspend your studies for the year and come back next year, to repeat the year or Semester 2 (depending on when you went on LOA). You can read more about LOAs on the University website.

If you're continuing, the University may decide to put you on their Support to Study process to give you extra support and tailored deadlines. You can also request to be put on this process if you think it would help you complete your work. Information about Support to Study is on the University website and you can talk to your School and Student Services if you'd like to know more.

If you have a long-term disability or condition you may be able to get adjustments for your studies and assessments by speaking to Disability and Dyslexia Support.

The University has a free counselling service, which is still operating remotely. You can visit the Counselling webpage for information about their service, how to contact them, and for some great self-help resources.

The University has signed up to Togetherall (formerly known as Big White Wall), which provides anonymous, round-the-clock professional support online. You can sign up for free using your Keele email address.

You can also talk to your GP to discuss support, which could include accessing NHS mental health services or trying medication.

Our Mental Health page has links to a number of support services you can contact, including Samaritans.