Case Studies

Image of students sitting in richmond building foyer

These examples are fictional and not binding. They’re intended to reflect what might happen in different situations. Each case will be treated in relation to the context in which it is presented.

+ Case Study 1: Bereavement in family

Click to read about Maryam, who's results are affected by the death of a close family member

Maryam was brought up by her grandparents. Unfortunately, her grandfather dies during term time, and Maryam takes a short while out of her study to return home to attend the funeral and to grieve. Maryam notifies her School that she will be absent so that arrangements can be made to minimise the impact on her study, perhaps through extensions to submission deadlines or making available lecture materials.

This would normally be sufficient to account for the disruption. However as this allowance proves to be insufficient, Maryam also submits an extenuating circumstances form so that the Board of Examiners can take her circumstances into account when making decisions about progression.

+ Case Study 2: Caring responsibilities

Click to read about Louis, who has to take on care duties over the exam period

Louis has an elderly mother who is cared for. During the exam period the care changes and the student has to take on care duties and, in doing so, loses a day of revision. The loss of a revision day will of course be difficult to accommodate at short notice, it is likely that, although this may seem to be an ‘extenuating circumstance’, it will be expected that Louis should have started their revision sufficiently early that the loss of one day would have only a minimal impact on his preparation, and therefore no change would be made.

What if the care duties extended to a number of days during the revision period? In this case the impact will likely be significant, and the circumstance will be taken into account by the Board when considering the student’s progression or classification of their degree.

+ Case Study 3: Depression

Click to read about Yanli, who suffers from depression

Yanli is vulnerable to depression, but has been receiving support through both Student Counselling and the Students’ Health Service, so it does not usually have an effect on her study. Unfortunately, in the run up to her exams, she breaks up with her long-term partner and she finds that the coping strategies that she had developed are insufficient, and her mental health deteriorates.

The break-up of a relationship, even with a long-standing partner, would not usually be considered an extenuating circumstance in itself; however, in this case because it exacerbates a long-standing disability that has already been declared, and in such a way that the support already available is not adequate, Yanli should alert her School to the problems they are having as soon as possible and submit an extenuating circumstances form.

+ Case Study 4: Revision disrupted

Click to read about Olu, who's exam results are affected by building work during the revision period

Olu lives in a Hall of Residence which is undergoing substantial building work during the exam period causing lots of noise throughout the day. He does not submit an extenuating circumstances form or alert their Personal Tutor or anyone from their School. He subsequently fails the exam and appeals against the decision of the board of examiners, claiming that his revision has been affected by the disruption.

The appeal is not successful because, even though the student’s performance may have been affected, he did not have a good reason for not submitting this information as an Extenuating Circumstance by the deadline.

+ Case Study 5: Leaving exam due to illness

Click to read about Annabel, who's results suffer due to illness during an exam

Annabel, who is in her final year of study, feels well enough prior to starting an exam, but then subsequently suffers from sickness during an exam. It becomes impossible for her to complete the paper. She informs the invigilator and leaves the exam. Annabel then goes straight to the Student Health Service to see a GP and obtain a medical note for her illness. She subsequently completes and submits an extenuating circumstances form along with the medical evidence. The exam is one of two assessments in the unit and given that she has only completed a small part of the exam, she receives a low mark and therefore narrowly fails the unit.

The Extenuating Circumstances Committee considers the information and evidence provided by the student and classifies the impact of the circumstances on the student’s capacity to perform in assessment as ‘moderate’ and ‘acute’. On the basis of the classification, the boards of examiners decide that since the student was unable to complete the exam, the mark she received for the unit has been compromised by her illness and does not reflect her academic ability.

Normally, the student would therefore be permitted to undertake the exam again at the next sitting, without penalty; however as she was in the final year of study and the re-taking of the exam would delay her graduation, the Board of Examiners decides to award credit for the unit on the basis of the otherwise ‘good’ marks she received in the year, and agrees to disregard the mark when calculating the degree classifications.

If you are ill during an exam:

If you are ill during the exam and cannot complete the paper, you must inform the exam invigilator at the time.You should then attend an appointment with a doctor on the same day as the exam to obtain a medical note. The note and extenuating circumstances form should then be submitted to your School Office as soon as possible.