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Personal Circumstances Affecting Your Studies

Personal circumstances refer to significant and unforeseen events or challenges in your life, such as illness, bereavement, or other exceptional circumstances, which may impact your academic performance and require appropriate support and consideration from the university.

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Where do I start?

Difficult personal circumstances or health issues can affect the way you engage with your studies or how you approach your assignments.  Contact your Student Support Adviser or academic support team as soon as possible through Hallam Help.

Familiarise yourself with how to submit extension requests and/or Exceptional Circumstances (formerly known as a RRAA/Request to Repeat an Assessment Attempt), if needed.  See below for more details.

Also, be aware of the University's Academic Conduct Regulation - as it will be important to still complete your assessments correctly - and note that the University has a Student Engagement Policy that you will be expected to follow.  If you are struggling, it is important that you let the University know.

If your circumstances are affecting your mental health and wellbeing, explore the wellbeing and study support services and information available to you.

Are you concerned about an academic issue and would like free, confidential, and independent advice? Contact us.

What can I do if I'm unwell or if my circumstances mean I can't hand in my work or do my exam?

The three key things to do are:

Note that there are specific assessment support provisions for Students with Learning Contracts and Student Carers.

Short term problems - extension request

If you have an unexpected situation that you think will be resolved quickly (such as a short term illness), but which means you can't hand in a piece of work by the deadline, you can apply for an extension to your submission deadline. You must put in your request at least 24 hours before the deadline (see below if the circumstances occur less than 24 hours before your deadline), and you must upload your work in progress. Applications for an extension must be done online at My Student Record. An extension of 5 working days may be granted (10 working days if you have a Learning Contract, or are registered as a Student Carer or as an Elite/Talented Athlete).  In most cases, you do not need to provide evidence of the problem when you apply for the extension, but you are advised to keep this in case it is requested at a later date.  All students can have up to four automatic extensions per academic year without providing any documentary evidence.  If you need more than four extensions, you must provide appropriate documentary evidence.

If you are on track to submit your assignment on time (for your deadline, including if you have already been given an approved extension) and you experience unexpected extenuating circumstances during the 24 hours before your deadline that prevent you from submitting on time - but you are still able to submit within the 24 hours after the deadline – you can submit an extension request between 24 hours before the deadline and up to 24 hours after the deadline to explain the extenuating circumstances and provide evidence if possible. It is also best to speak to a Student Support Adviser (via Hallam Help) if possible, about your situation. If this extension is approved, your mark will not be capped as it normally would be when you submit up to 24 hours late. Find out more.

If you miss an exam because of a sudden illness or another unexpected and severe reason, you will need to use the Exceptional Circumstances process. In some circumstances, you may be able to use a self-certification form to evidence your illness.

Medium term problems - Exceptional Circumstances (formerly known as RRAA/Request to Repeat an Assessment Attempt)

If you have a slightly longer term difficulty and an extension is not going to be enough for you, or your circumstances have affected an exam, you need to submit Exceptional Circumstances (ECs).

If your ECs are agreed, you will get the chance to do the work again if you have not passed the assessment, on the same basis as the attempt the ECs request applies to, e.g. if it was your initial attempt at that assessment, the repeat assessment will be marked as a first attempt.

You need to complete the form online and put in as much detailed information as you can about how the situation has affected your ability to study. More information can be found online.

You should provide as much independent evidence as you can. If you can't provide evidence, explain why not, or explain that you will gather evidence and provide it as soon as possible. You are expected to provide evidence within 5 working days of submitting the ECs. If you need any help with this you can contact our service.

The ECs process is there to provide for unexpected and uncontrollable situations. The process is not there for recurring difficulties or routine life events; it is meant to cover exceptional circumstances.

Arrangements have also been put in place relating to students who encounter technical difficulties in online exams. Please refer to your exam instructions and this examination guidance for more details. Note that it is only if the exam has been submitted on time that it will be marked. An ECs request will not result in work being marked if it has been submitted late; however, if the ECs are accepted it may mean that your resit assessment mark will be uncapped (if the attempt you submitted the ECs for was your first attempt).

You need to submit your ECs request within 5 working days of the submission deadline or exam. A late ECs request may be accepted, but you will need to explain why it was late and provide evidence for the delay. The policy states that your explanation for submitting ECs late should normally be based on independent medical evidence that you were physically or mentally unfit when a request should have been made. 

Submitting ECs after the publication of results (information as of 19 January) - previously, if a student wanted to submit ECs after the publication of confirmed results, the process was to use a specific Appeal form for this, and it was covered under the University's Appeals procedure.  We understand from the University that the process now is for a student to submit their ECs (and evidence for why the ECs are being reported late) via the usual ECs process, even if it is after the Departmental Assessment Board has sat and confirmed results.  We understand that the University's Appeals procedure will be amended to remove the reference to submitting an Appeal in order to report ECs after the publication of results. See the University's Exceptional Circumstances Policy and Procedure for more information.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to apply for ECs. Please read the Exceptional Circumstances Policy, and contact your Student Support Adviser as a matter of urgency. If you wish to get advice from us on this, please contact us as soon as possible.  International students are also recommended to seek advice from the International Experience Team about how submitting ECs may affect their studies and therefore their visa and future plans.   

Long term problems - Learning contracts and taking a break in study

If you have a long-term health problem or disability that is impacting on your study, it is advisable to get a Learning Contract to make sure you have appropriate support for your studies. You can contact the University's Disabled Student Support Team for help with this.

If you need time out from your course because of a health problem, maternity or personal situation, a break in study can be agreed.

We would advise you to contact our service to discuss the possible implications of a break in study, e.g. the effect on your funding and benefits entitlement, housing, and visa if applicable. See the relevant section for more details.

What are the things to consider if you fail some of your work/need to do repeat study?

View our guidance on what happens if you fail part of your course.