A Student Mentor's Experience of Extenuating Circumstances

academic supportmentornews
No ratings yet. Log in to rate.
Graphic that says 'My Experience of Applying for Extenuating Circumstances'

Hi I’m Lucy, I’m a second-year student studying Politics and International Relations. I’m also a Student Mentor, so I have experience of applying for extenuating circumstances and advising people on how to apply.

Balancing studies on top of everything else going on in your life can be difficult. As exam season is just around the corner, it is important to know what extenuating circumstances are and how to apply, should you need to.

I, myself, have had experience with applying for extensions. This was due to starting new medication and suffering from side effects, but it’s important to note that extensions and ECs can be for numerous reasons. Both extensions and ECs are useful for when you are unable to perform your best in an assessment in certain circumstances.

What are extenuating circumstances (ECs)?

Extenuating circumstances (ECs) are situations:

  • Where you could not predict what would happen;
  • That you had no control over;
  • That have seriously affected your ability to study or do your assessment.

During your time at university, there may be instances where your ability to perform well in assessments are affected. Your School will have individual deadline dates for submission of ECs in relation to your assessments, so it’s important to check with them directly. If your ECs happen on the day of an exam (whether it is campus-based or an online examination), you must submit your EC form within 24 hours of the scheduled end time of the exam.

What’s the difference between extenuating circumstances and extensions?

Extenuating circumstances are almost always retrospective. They refer to exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances beyond your control that have adversely affected your performance in assessments. In contrast, extensions to coursework deadlines are normally prospective. These are for use in situations where exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances beyond your control prevent you from submitting coursework by the last date of the assessment submission period or deadline. You can only request an extension if the coursework deadline has not passed. 

How do I submit an EC?

Extenuating Circumstances submissions should be forwarded to your “Home” School. If in doubt you should consult your Personal Tutor or Wellbeing Officer.

You can make a claim using the Extenuating Circumstances Form (ECF). You must submit your claim as soon as possible. Do not wait to submit your ECF for any reason, even if you do not yet have all your evidence. Your School will have individual deadline dates for submission of ECs in relation to exams and other assessments.

You can access the form for your college via the University's website.

What evidence do I need?

To have your EC approved, you will need evidence. An example of this could be a medical letter from your doctor. You can view the University's list of what is accepted:

Evidence must be:

  • Genuine
  • Independent
  • Written in English
  • Dated
  • On official, headed paper or have an official stamp or seal of the issuing authority.


Overall, it’s important not to panic when it comes to extenuating circumstances, the University is here to help you, but there is a procedure that they have to follow. There are also different avenues of support which can assist you through this process:

Student Disability Service:

If you face barriers to learning during your time at University due to a disability, specific learning difficulty or a mental health condition, the Student Disability Service can help you to access the appropriate support.

Available assistance includes liaising with academic departments, arranging exam accommodations and other reasonable adjustments as required.

Guild Advice:

Guild Advice is also available to support you - they are a free, impartial and confidential advice service for students at the University of Birmingham. Their Education and Welfare Advisors specialise in the following areas: Academic, Housing, Wellbeing and International Support.




Back to News