What are mitigating circumstances?
Mitigating circumstances (MCs) are serious unforeseen, unpreventable circumstances that significantly disrupt student performance in assessment.
As a student, you are expected to plan your work so you can meet assessment deadlines at the same time as other obligations you may have both inside and outside the University. The mitigating circumstances process should only be used if you experience significant disruption to your studies due to circumstances that were unforeseen and out of your control.
In order for a mitigating circumstances claim to be accepted, you must demonstrate, to the Mitigating Circumstances Board that the mitigating circumstances:
- were outside your control; and
- were unforeseen and unforeseeable; and
- were serious; and
- were evidenced to be true; and
- relate directly to the timing of the assessment affected (ie that they occurred at the same time as the assessment date, or during the preparation period immediately prior to the assessment date); and
- either prevented you from submitting or presenting for the assessment by the due date, or where you have undertaken the assessment, adversely impacted on your performance such that if it had not been for those circumstances you would have performed significantly better. Please check the ‘fit to sit’ policy below for further details
The following are the most common examples of mitigating circumstances for which a claim might be accepted (this list is not intended to be definitive):
- Serious short-term illness
- Death of a close relative or friend
- Sudden deterioration of a long-term condition
The following are examples of circumstances for which a claim will not normally be accepted (this list is not intended to be definitive):
- Medical circumstances that occurred outside the relevant assessment period
- Holiday/employment commitments
- Personal computer/printer problems
- Poor study practice
- Ignorance of due dates/times
- Poor time management
- Late disclosure of circumstances on the basis that a student felt unable or uncomfortable confiding in a University staff member about their mitigating circumstances
Please note that if your claim to defer assessment to the following year is successful, this may mean that you have not completed the minimum amount of modules/credits you are required to pass before being permitted to the progress to the next level (see FAQs for further information). This could mean that you have to return as a part-time or ‘assessment only’ student for up to one year in order to retrieve any outstanding assessments. This can also affect your eligibility for SLC funding and may also affect the conditions of your Visa (if appropriate).
For University purposes, a distinction is drawn between disability and mitigating circumstances, which may affect assessment. The procedures for adjusting assessment for disabled students are separate from the procedures for mitigating circumstances. A student requiring adjustments to assessment due to any circumstances arising from a disability must contact Disability Learning Support; you should not use your evidence of a disability in support of a claim for mitigating circumstances.
Deadlines for the 2019/20 academic year
You should submit the first claim as close as possible to the timing of the assessment and normally within one month of the mitigating circumstances occurring.
You should normally receive the decision of the Mitigating Circumstances Board within five working days of the submission of the claim. During busy times of the academic year, you may be notified within ten working days.
If your claim has been rejected, details of why the claim was unsuccessful will normally be made available to you via e:Vision and email. If you require additional information, you must contact your Campus Registry Office.
You will have only one further opportunity to re-submit the claim. This must be based on and accompanied by new additional evidence. In addition to the new evidence you submit, you can request the Mitigating Circumstances Board to consider previous evidence submitted; please make this clear in your statement.
The submission of a second claim should normally be made within one month following the outcome of the first claim. Where a second claim is submitted after this period, you will need to explain why it is late, and your evidence should also support your reasons for the late submission.
Late claims after the final published deadline will only be considered in highly exceptional circumstances, where there is credible and compelling evidence supporting the reason for late submission.
- Semester 1 — Friday 17 January 2020 (for all Semester 1 assessments and January scheduled exams)
- Semester 2 — Tuesday 19 May 2020 (for all Semester 2 assessments and May exams)
- Semester 9 (referrals/deferrals) — Friday 17 July 2020
- Semester 3 (Summer School) — Friday 31 July 2020 (for all study abroad summer school modules)
- Deadline for Postgraduate Dissertations/Projects in Semester 1 — Thursday 30 January 2020
- Deadline for Postgraduate Dissertations/Projects in Semester 3 — Friday 18 September 2020
Deadline for Postgraduate Life Sciences students deferral/referral assessments — Friday 14 August 2020
LPC claims should be submitted within three days of the date of assessment as required by the professional body.
If you are a student studying Legal Practice within the Westminster Law School please note there are specific MC regulations that apply to you, in particular when you are required to sit deferred examinations, which may not be in line with the normal university deferral periods.
Details are provided in the course handbook. Please ensure that you always check the handbook or with the LPC Administration Officer.
Please note in particular that Civil and Criminal Litigation must be taken in the same examination period.
How to submit an MC claim
Mitigating circumstances (MC) claims are now submitted online via My Student Record. This process replaces the previous paper-based system.
To submit your claim, you'll need to:
- log in to My Student Record
- go to the 'My Profile' tab
- in the 'My Self-Service' box, click on the 'Submit a Mitigating Circumstances Claim' link
- complete the MC claim submission process
You will not be able to submit your claim online after results have been processed prior to the Assessment Board meeting. You must contact your Campus Registry Office for further advice on the procedure to submit your claim.
Please note: you may be required to present your evidence to the registry for authentication if requested by your registry to do so.
You should seek advice and guidance from your registry office and/or personal tutor or course leader prior to submitting a claim. A student’s misinterpretation or lack of awareness of these regulations will not be considered a valid reason for non-compliance.
You should be aware that discussing your circumstances with staff does not constitute a submission of a mitigating circumstances claim.
You will find a link to the MC regulations and FAQs at each step of the process should you need to refer to them for help.
Independent documentary evidence
The following examples of types of evidence are provided for guidance only. It is important that you provide as much evidence and information as possible in support of your claim. Where evidence is not presented in English, it is your responsibility to have it independently translated by an accredited translator, prior to submission.
If you require further advice or guidance about the mitigating circumstances process, please speak to your registry office or your personal tutor.
If you are seeing a Professional Counsellor, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Clinician, etc for difficulties that have impacted on your studies, you may ask them to provide a confidential statement.
The University's Counselling Service will only provide statements for mitigating circumstances claims where you have received support over a period relevant to the claim in question. Letters will not be provided at the first meeting with a University Counsellor or Adviser.
Please note: any letter provided by the University's Counselling Service is not a guarantee that your claim will be accepted.
In the case of evidence relating to medical conditions, this must take the form of a medical certificate or doctor’s letter that is either obtained at the time of the illness or evidence that makes it clear that you were unwell at the time. Images of prescriptions and medication cannot be accepted alone as evidence for a claim. The evidence must state the time and duration of the illness and include a clear medical opinion. A note from the doctor indicating that the student told them they were unwell will not normally be accepted, and self-certification cannot be accepted.
Where the mitigating circumstances relate to the death of someone related to or known to you, the University normally requires a death certificate or an officially certified copy of a death certificate, or equivalent official document to be provided. If you have been affected by a death of someone other than a partner, parent, child or close family member, the University requires you to explain the relationship to the deceased and the impact upon your studies.
Bereavement will normally be considered to cover the assessments within the semester when the death occurred. If you feel you have been affected by a death beyond this you will normally need to provide additional evidence to indicate how the death has affected you personally eg a doctor’s certificate.
Failures of equipment, including IT systems and computer viruses will only be accepted when they occur University-wide, site-wide, college-wide, nationally or internationally and are verified by the University Information Systems and Support Department. Exceptionally, documentary evidence does not need to be presented when claiming for computer and Information Technology problems as evidence will be provided direct from the University’sInformation Systems and Support Department.
If you are a part-time or evening student in employment and you are prevented by your employer’s action(s) from attending assessments or completing work by the published deadline, you must provide documentary evidence from your employer to support your claim. Full-time students will not normally be eligible to claim for mitigating circumstances in relation to employment. The University appreciates some students work to finance their studies but assumes that students will make their studies a priority. It is a student’s responsibility to evaluate whether they can comply with the requirements of their chosen course before enrolling at the University.
Financial and accommodation problems must be substantiated by documentary evidence. Claims and evidence for financial and accommodation problems are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Where a scheduled assessment such as an In Class Text, presentation, performance or formal examination is held on a religious observance date, a claim for mitigating circumstances may be submitted in accordance with these regulations. Except where the Faith and Spirituality team is unable to confirm that the assessment coincides with a day of religious observance, the student will be offered a deferral to the next available opportunity. Students should refer to the Religion and Belief Policy.
You may seek a supporting statement from your Personal Tutor (or another suitably qualified member of University staff), in order to help you to articulate your claim, if that individual is aware of the circumstances and their effects, although this cannot, in itself, constitute independent documentary evidence.
What is the 'fit-to-sit' policy?
The University operates a ‘fit to sit’ policy, which means that if you submit a piece of coursework or sit an exam and/or in-class test etc you have deemed yourself fit to do so. It is your responsibility to determine if you are fit to participate in assessments or if a mitigating circumstances claim should be submitted.
Where due to the nature of the circumstances you were unable to determine that you were not fit to be assessed when deciding to submit or present for assessment, a mitigating circumstances claim may be submitted where this can be supported by independent documentary evidence.
Such claims must demonstrate with evidence to the Mitigating Circumstances Board that not only were you unfit to undertake the assessment, but also that you were unfit to appreciate that fact at the time.
The full University regulations governing mitigating circumstances are available in Section 11 of the Handbook of Academic Regulations.
Please contact your registry office if you need further advice or guidance.