Exceptional circumstances

You can make an exceptional circumstances claim if you experience something sudden, temporary and unforeseen, which could have an impact on one of your assessments.

Types of claim

There are three types of exceptional circumstances claim you can submit.

Tip: Read the guidelines on this page carefully because we have changed how you use a self-declaration form. This applies to all assessments due after 24 January 2022.

Late submission

If your claim is accepted, you can submit your assessment within the late period specified for the assessment and the late penalty will be waived.

Important: We cannot accept claims for late submission if the assessment does not have a late period attached to it.

If you have reasonable adjustments

If you are registered with the Student Support Unit and have reasonable adjustments, you’re already entitled to an automatic late penalty waiver where your assessment allows this. You don’t need to submit an exceptional circumstances claim to request a late penalty waiver.

We cannot approve an exceptional circumstances claim for more time beyond the late period. If you wish to request an extension beyond the late period, contact the Student Support Unit.

If your condition fluctuates or your symptoms get worse, and this has an impact on an assessment, you can submit an exceptional circumstances claim for impairment or non-submission.

Non-submission or absence from an exam

Your School exam board will consider your claim before the formal publication of your results. The exam board may let you take an uncapped sit of the assessment at the next available opportunity.

Impairment in an assessment

Your School exam board will consider your claim before the formal publication of your results. If the mark you got for the assessment is significantly out of line with your other marks or is a fail, the exam board may let you take an uncapped sit of the assessment at the next available opportunity.

Defining an ‘exceptional circumstance’

An exceptional circumstance is the University’s description of circumstances that are “sudden, unforeseen and which may temporarily and significantly impact upon a student’s assessments”.

This includes:

  • serious short-term illness or injury
  • flare-up of a diagnosed and ongoing illness or disability, including a mental health condition
  • symptoms of an infectious disease that could be harmful if passed on to others
  • death or significant illness of a close family member or friend
  • unexpected caring responsibilities for a family member or dependant
  • significant personal or family crises leading to acute stress
  • witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident
  • a crime which has had a substantial impact on the student
  • accommodation crisis such as eviction or the home becoming uninhabitable
  • an emergency or crisis that prevents the student from attending an exam or accessing an online assessment.

What you cannot claim for

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • circumstances that could have reasonably been foreseen or prevented
  • a minor illness or an ailment
  • holiday or wedding arrangements
  • financial issues (including employment or visa-related issues)
  • jury service
  • personal computer problems including theft or loss, data loss or printer problems.

You should make sure your work is backed up separately and do not submit your work at the last minute.

If you have a long-term condition or disability

You may not consider yourself to have a disability, but if you have a condition that is long-term (such as physical, sensory loss, mental health or a Specific Learning Difference), even if it only fluctuates periodically, you could be entitled to reasonable adjustments to help with your studies.

Find out more about reasonable adjustments and how to apply. You should use this support rather than rely on exceptional circumstances.

How to make a claim

You make a claim through Sussex Direct. Select the Study tab and choose Exceptional Circumstances from the drop-down menu.

Use the form and follow these steps:

  1. select which assessment(s) has been or will be affected
  2. select the type of claim (late submission, non-submission, absence or impairment)
  3. upload your supporting evidence or self-declaration form (see below)
  4. a short description of your extenuating circumstances (this is optional if you are submitting a self-declaration form).

Once you’ve done this, select the Submit button. You’ll get an email confirming your claim has been received.

If you don’t get an email, we have not received your claim. Go back and check your claim has been submitted correctly.

If you continue to have difficulties submitting your claim, contact the IT Service Desk.

Evidence and self-declaration form

We cannot consider a claim without evidence.

Important: The following requirements apply to assessments due on or after 24 January 2022. If you submitted a claim with the Covid-19 self-declaration form before this date, it will still be honoured and will not count towards the twice-a-year limit for the new form.

Types of evidence

Acceptable evidence is a document or letter from someone who knows you in a professional capacity and can verify your circumstances.

Examples of evidence include a:

You can self-certify using the self-declaration form, subject to the following:

  1. the self-declaration form can only be used to cover assessments that fall within a single seven-day period, and
  2. the self-declaration form can only be used twice in a single academic year, except in the following circumstances where the use of the self-declaration form is not limited:
    • you are registered with the Student Support Unit for a fluctuating condition and you are experiencing a flare up of that condition, or
    • a family member or close friend has died or has a significant (for example, life-limiting) illness.

Uploading evidence

Once you have gathered your evidence, upload it under “Evidence” in your claim on Sussex Direct.

Important: Please do not upload graphic images, such as body parts. These may cause offence and are not acceptable evidence because they cannot be verified.

When to submit your claim

Your claim and supporting evidence or self-declaration form should be submitted as close to the assessment deadline as possible and no later than 5.30pm on the final claim deadline dates below.

You cannot apply for “impairment” in an assessment until its deadline has passed.

Final claim deadlines

These are the final claim deadlines for this academic year.

Level of studyAssessment periodDeadlines for 2022
Non-finalist undergraduate, including foundation-year Assessments during Semesters 1 and 2 Wednesday 8 June
Resits in A3 Saturday 20 August
Final-year undergraduate Assessments during Semesters 1 and 2 Wednesday 25 May
Resits in A3 Saturday 20 August
Masters Resits during A1 period Friday 18 February
Assessments during Semesters 1 and 2 Wednesday 8 June
Resits in A3 and dissertation/project Saturday 10 September

Claims after these deadline may be rejected. This is because it is too late for us to bring your claim to the attention of the exam board ahead of its meetings, which take place soon after these deadlines.

However, you can submit your evidence by appealing an exam board decision once your results have been published. If your appeal is upheld, exceptional circumstances may be applied retrospectively (meaning the uncapping of resits, late penalty waivers or requests for optional sits).

Deleting a claim

If you have made a claim and you no longer want it to be considered, you can delete it in Sussex Direct. A claim can be deleted as long as the exam board has not yet made a decision.

You will not be disadvantaged in any way by submitting a claim.

After you make a claim

If, when processing your claim, we think you may benefit from more support, we may refer you to the:

  • Student Support Unit, if we think you might benefit from reasonable adjustments
  • Student Life Centre, if we are concerned about your safety or wellbeing
  • Director of Student Experience for your school, if we think you would benefit from academic advice.

After we have considered your claim and evidence you will receive an email confirming the outcome.

We may need more information to process your claim and will let you know if this is the case.

The people who see your claim

Your claim will be considered by a designated member of staff.

Your School’s Director of Student Experience and other members of staff in the Student Experience Team will be able to view your claims. This is so they can support you in your studies.

Details of claims will not be shared elsewhere within the School so your claim will be confidential. Your Academic Advisor and your tutors will not know you have made a claim.

Access to view claims is protected by the Data Protection Act and GDPR legislation.

On a placement or study abroad year

If you’re on a work placement, ask your employer what the sickness reporting system is and follow that. If you are away for more than six days in a row, you should also tell your School office.

You don’t need to make an exceptional circumstances claim to cover short periods of absence. Your assessment will be by portfolio or project; a claim is only appropriate if you don’t hand in your assessment or if it’s late.

If you are studying at a different institution, it is your responsibility to find out the regulations in place to support you. You cannot submit a claim for exceptional circumstances through Sussex’s system. Contact your host institution for advice.

If you haven’t been able to retrieve the credits at your host university, or need more help, contact the Study Abroad office.

Visiting from another university

If you are at Sussex as a visiting or exchange student – on a semester/year abroad or taking standalone modules – you can claim for exceptional circumstances through Sussex Direct.

We may only let you take an uncapped resit of an assessment if you failed a module at the first attempt. You won’t be offered an uncapped resit if you passed your module overall or if you fail a resit.


See our exam and assessment regulations, which includes exceptional circumstances.