The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Case Studies

Here are some fictional examples of students affected by different circumstances to illustrate the sort of action that the University can take.

Case Study 1: Bereavement in family

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 tells her school that she will be away so that arrangements can be made to minimise the impact on her study, for example by giving coursework extensions.

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

Case Study 2: Caring responsibilities

Louis has an elderly mother who is cared for. During the exam period the care changes and Louis 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, but the University will consider that Louis should have started his revision sufficiently early that the loss of one day would have only a minimal impact on his preparation.

If the care duties extended to a number of days during the revision period the impact will likely be considered to be significant, and the circumstance will be taken into account by the Board when considering Louis's progression or degree classification.

Case Study 3: 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, is not usually considered an extenuating circumstance in itself. However in Yanli's case it exacerbates a long-standing disability that has already been declared, where support already available is not adequate. Therefore the school and faculty exam boards will take this into account as long as Yanli submits an extenuating circumstances form.

Case Study 4: Revision disrupted

Olu lives in a University 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 his Personal Tutor or anyone from his School. He subsequently fails the exam and appeals against the decision of the board of examiners on the basis that his revision has been affected by the disruption.

Olu's appeal is not successful because, even though his performance may have been affected, he didn't have a good reason for not submitting an extenuating circumstances form at the correct time.

Case Study 5: Leaving exam due to illness

Annabel, who is in her final year of study, feels fine prior to starting an exam, but then suffers from sickness during an exam. It becomes impossible for her to complete the paper. She tells the invigilator and leaves the exam. Annabel then fills in an extenuating circumstances form and submits it to her school office. The exam is one of two assessments in the unit. As she only completed a small part of the exam, she receives a low mark and therefore narrowly fails the unit.

The Extenuating Circumstances Committee considers her extenuating circumstances form along with the invigilator's report and classifies the impact of the circumstances on Annabel's capacity to perform in assessment as ‘moderate’ and ‘acute’. The boards of examiners decide that since Annabel was unable to complete the exam, the mark she received for the unit was affected by her illness and doesn't reflect her academic ability.

Normally, Annabel would be allowed to reattempt the exam at the next sitting, without penalty; however as she was in the final year of study the Board of Examiners decide 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 her degree classification.

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. The extenuating circumstances form should then be submitted to your School Office as soon as possible.