Mitigating Circumstances: A Life Less Ordinary


This page explains what a mitigating circumstance is and how you apply for mitigating circumstances. We know that life isn’t always plain 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' 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.

Examples may include:

  • illness
  • bereavement
  • late diagnosis of additional learning needs
  • unforeseen caring responsibilities e.g. illness, emergency
  • transport issues causing significant delay (those not under your control, such as industrial action, road traffic incident, adverse weather conditions 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;
  • 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 mitigating circumstances?

Look at the SUBU website to learn more about mitigating circumstances and then seek advice form your Programme Leader, Programme Support Office, Academic Advisor and/or SUBU Advice.

You need to apply by completing the Mitigating 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 mitigating circumstances relate to a short-term sickness, then submit your form (and evidence) before your assessment board sits.

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 mitigating circstances 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.


What if I am unwell for a couple of days, or wake up unwell on the day of an exam or assessment deadline? - 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 mitigating 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 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 them.



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