This page explains what a mitigating circumstance is and how you apply for mitigating circumstances. We know that life isn’t always plane sailing. If you are having a difficult time then it may be appropriate for you to submit mitigating circumstances. This page should be read in conjunction with:

6J Mitigating Circumstances inc Extensions: Policy and Procedure


If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances or any of the information below, then contact us for an appointment.


What is a mitigating circumstance?

The Policy and procedure states that ‘Mitigating circumstances may be defined as the taking into account of circumstances which:

  • were not within the foresight and/or control of the student
  • are not already registered with BU’s Additional Learning Support service


    and which BU believes might adversely affect the academic performance of a student in one or more elements of assessment.’ Examples may include: illness, bereavement, unforeseen childcare responsibilities and severe weather warnings advising you not to travel.


What isn’t a mitigating circumstance?

The following are not normally considered valid mitigating circumstances:

  • computer/IT failure of student’s own equipment;
  • transport problems;
  • misreading of assessment dates and times;
  • moving house;
  • holidays or expeditions;
  • inadequate planning, organisation or time management;
  • timetabling of coursework/examinations;
  • demands of paid employment.


How do I apply for mitigating circumstances?

You need to apply as soon as you know your circumstances are having a negative impact on your ability to study. You apply by completing the Mitigating Circumstances Form and submitting this to your Programme Support Officer, including evidence to back up your claims.

If you are informing your Faculty of your circumstances before an exam or assignment is due then you can you can request to postpone an exam or have an assignment extension. Be aware that if you postpone an exam you may be required to sit the exam in the reassessment period in August. Meaning that if you were to fail you may not be able to proceed on to the next level of your course. We strongly advise you speak with the Programme Support Officer before requesting this. An assignment extension will give you more time to finish your essay.

You will need to tick the Exam Board Consideration box on the form if you are informing the Faculty of your circumstances after you have submitted an assignment or sat an exam.


What if I am unwell for a couple of days, or wake up unwell on the day of an exam?

If you have a short-term illness, such as flu, food poisoning or an ear infection, you can self-certify your sickness for up to 5 days. If you sickness lasts longer than 5 days you will need to provide supporting evidence. You can self-certify as you may not be able to get evidence of your illness. The rules for self-certification are very strict so we strongly advise you read the student guidance notes on page 10 of the6J Mitigating Circumstances inc Extensions: Policy and Procedure. Contact us if you have any questions.


What evidence is needed?

To evidence your circumstances you can submit a letter from a service you have accessed for help and support. This may be a GP letter or a letter from your counsellor, or even a letter from us. Hospital discharge documents can also be submitted. Screen shots of severe weather warnings have been used in the past when students have been away over the Christmas vacation and were unable to travel back to Bournemouth to sit their exams. Where possible death certificates or a funeral order of service may be required.


What are the potential outcomes if I submit a Mitigating Circumstances Form?

The potential outcomes depend on how much of an impact your circumstances have had. Some people may be more adversely affected than others in a given situation so your Faculty will consider what the impact has been, and not solely the issue that has arisen. It’s important that you express this in the appropriate section on the Mitigating Circumstances Form.

Your Faculty cannot simply ‘bump’ up your grades or allow you to progress on your course until you have successfully completed all of your assessments. The Faculty can however offer you the opportunity to resit an exam or resubmit an assignment uncapped. This means your grade will not be capped at the pass mark and you can achieve a mark which reflects your true academic ability.


6J Mitigating Circumstances inc Extensions: Policy and Procedure has Student Guidance notes attached and we highly recommend you read these in addition to this hand-out.

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