Exceptional circumstances is an unforseen event that has a negative impact on your ability to study and is not within your control and which BU believes might adversely affect the academic performance of a student in one or more elements of assessment. This information should be read in conjunction with:  6J – Exceptional Circumstances including Extensions: Policy and Procedure

Examples of what is and isn't a exceptional circumstance

The follow are considered to be a exceptional circumstance:

  • illness (yourself or family)
  • travel disruption causing more than one hour delay as a result of industrial action or road traffic accident
  • beareavement
  • pregnancy related illness
  • acute personal difficulties/domestic disruption
  • jury service


These are not normally considered valid exceptional circumstances:

  • computer/IT failure of student’s own equipment;
  • 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.
  • Missing your bus/train or your bus/train being late.


How do I apply for exceptional circumstances?

You can seek advice form your Programme Leader, Programme Support Office, Academic Advisor and/or SUBU Advice.  You need to apply by completing the Exceptional Circumstances Form  as soon you know your circumstances are having a negative impact on your ability to study. Gather any evidence to support your application, unless your exceptional circumstances relate to a short-term sickness, then submit your form (and evidence) before your assessment board sits. SUBU Advice can help you complete the forms if your unsure on what to include.


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 next assessment season, which in some cases could be August. Meaning that if you were to fail your first attempt in August your progression on to the next year of study could be affected. 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 request for Exam Board Consideration if you are informing the Faculty of your circumstances after you have submitted an assignment or sat an exam.


What evidence is needed?

To evidence your circumstances you can submit a letter from a professional service you have accessed for help and support, this must be from someone who has been actively supporting you, for example;  a Counsellor, SUBU Advice, Chaplaincy or Student Wellbeing. 

Medical evidence and/or 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.



SUBU Advice is confidential and independant of BU.  You can discuss your issues with us to seek advice before disclosing to the Faculty. Your application for exceptional circumstances is only seen by those that need to make a decision regarding your academic progression. Your information will be kept in the strictest of confidence.


Short-Term Sickness Policy

If you are unwell for a couple of days, or wake up unwell on the day of an exam or assessment deadline you can call your Programme Support officer and invoke the short-term sickness policy. No evidence is required for short term sickness (illnesses that last for 5 days or less), but ensure to phone your Programme Support Team immediately (text and emails are not accepted).  The short-term sickness policy can not be used retrospectively. You can self-certify as you may not be able to get evidence of your circumstances e.g. unable to access necessary support in time but have booked an appointment. Illnesses which can be managed without seeking professional support, e.g. flu, food poisoning. Falsifying requests for exceptional circumstances can result in disciplinary action. You should also be aware of the implications of requesting an extension or postponing an exam. We advise you seek academic advice to ensure you are aware of how this may impact your academic progression.  Contact us or your Programme Support Office if you have any questions.


What are the potential outcomes if I submit a Exceptional 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 Exceptional 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.


Faculty contact details


Science and Technology: 01202 965576 |

Health and Social Sciences: 01202 961772 |

Media and Communications: 01202 965351 | | Please call your Programme Support Officer


Sources of Support

Bournemouth University Information page

Chaplaincy | 01202 965383 or 07894598915 |

Student Wellbeing | 01202 965020 |

Student Engagement Team | Contact details for each Faculty are here.

Additional Learning Support | 01202 968663 |

Medical Centre | 01202 965378 

Samaritans | 116 123