Dealing with personal issues that interfere with your studies
Reporting special circumstances
Special Circumstances are circumstances beyond your control that have had a significant negative impact on your performance.
Your Personal Tutor (PT) and Student Support Team are your first point of contact if you are considering making a Special Circumstances application. They can give you advice, guidance, and direction to other University Services if necessary, such as Student Counselling and the Student Disability Service.
Special Circumstances are submitted online, through the Assessment Support System
The Extensions and Special Circumstances Service have produced step-by-step instruction videos on how to complete and submit a Special Circumstances application
Some examples include (but are not limited to):
Significant short-term physical illness or injury;
Significant short-term mental ill-health;
A long-term or chronic physical/mental health condition, which has recently worsened temporarily or permanently;
A relationship breakdown;
Exceptional (i.e. non-routine) caring responsibilities;
Experience of sexual harassment or assault;
Experience of other types of harassment;
Victim of a crime which is likely to have a significant emotional impact;
Military conflict, natural disaster, or extreme weather conditions.
Special Circumstances also include circumstances related to Covid-19, where students have experienced a unique, significant impact due to the situation, such as:
Been ill with Covid-19;
Experienced the exacerbation of an existing health condition due to the pandemic situation;
Experienced the death or serious illness of someone close to you;
Taken on exceptional caring responsibilities due to Covid-19;
Been required to carry out more paid work than usual, as a “key worker” (e.g. in healthcare, retail, delivery);
Experienced significant and prolonged problems with access to teaching and learning materials, e.g. due to connectivity, power, or equipment issues;
Experienced catastrophic technical failure preventing submission on an online assessment by the relevant deadline;
Experienced prolonged exposure to a difficult/challenging home environment;
More guidance on what is considered Special Circumstances is available on the Extensions and Special Circumstances website.
PPLS has set deadlines for submitting Special Circumstances each Semester, regardless of students’ final assessment deadlines.
Undergraduate Deadline: Friday, 7 May 2021 at 5pm BST
Postgraduate Deadline: Friday, 14 May 2021 at 5pm BST
Given the current pressures on health services, the University has relaxed the evidence requirements for Special Circumstances this semester, so students are not expected to provide medical documentation for Special Circumstances. If you have medical evidence to hand, you can still provide this with your application, but you can also ask family and/or friends who are familiar with the circumstances to write brief supporting statements and include this as your supporting documentation.
While the Special Circumstances Committees can’t change or adjust any individual marks, there are a range of outcomes they might choose from, depending on the circumstances and the assessment affected. Some of the more common outcomes include:
Waiving any penalties for late submission.
Potentially discounting smaller missed assessments from the overall mark, like labs, quizzes, or participation components (final essays and exams normally cannot be discounted from the overall mark).
Offering the chance to complete resit assessment in the case that a course is failed.
Flagging a course as affected by Special Circumstances, to be taken into account for either progression to the next year (at Pre-Honours) or for final overall degree classification (at Honours).
The full list of possible outcomes are listed in Section 10.2 of the University’s Special Circumstances Policy.
Special Circumstances applications are considered in a two-part process. First, the Extensions and Special Circumstances Team aims to let students know within 5 working days of receiving a completed application whether their application is accepted as valid Special Circumstances. Please note: The system doesn’t send notification messages when the application is reviewed, so you will need to log back in and view your application on the system to see its status.
Next, if the application is accepted, it will then be passed on to the relevant Special Circumstances Committee for each affected course, to decide on any action that they can take. The Special Circumstances Committees meet in June, after the end of the Semester. Students will be informed of what action was taken as a result of Special Circumstances as soon as possible after Boards of Examiners confirm final results in June and July.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible on the new system to edit or change your Special Circumstances application once it’s been submitted. If there are additional courses or assignments that have been affected, you should submit another application to include these – if it’s for the same set of circumstances, it’s fine to use the same statement and supporting documentation as the previous application.
Who to contact
To report special circumstances, please contact the School postgraduate office.
Dugald Stewart Building
Monday to Friday:
9.30 am to 12.30 pm
1.30 pm to 5.00 pm
We are working in the office on a rota basis due to social distancing regulations.
If you would like to talk to a member of the team, please email us and we will respond as quickly as possible.