If you experience something short-term and unexpected that affects you and your academic performance, you might need the University to give you additional consideration for your exams or assessments.

Find out:

What exceptional circumstances mean

Exceptional circumstances are incidents that are:

  • short term
  • arise unexpectedly
  • beyond your control.

Its something that happens to you that negatively impacts your ability to study, prepare or complete an assessment or exam. 

If you decide you need to make an exceptional circumstances claim, all parts of the definition above must be met. 

Important: There is another process for claiming for reasonable adjustments

Who can make an exceptional circumstances claim 

You can claim for exceptional circumstances if you are a taught undergraduate or postgraduate student and you are taking an assessment which is credit bearing or weighted. 

  • If you are studying abroad, on a placement or a research student

    If you are studying abroad you cant make an exceptional circumstances claim to us. You must contact your host institution. If you need to retake an assessment this should take place (where possible) during the host institutions study period. If you are having difficulty resolving matters, you should speak to the Sussex Abroad Office.

    If you are on a placement you should use the sickness reporting systems in place at your employer/placement facilitator. You must also notify your School if you are absent for six consecutive days or more. An exceptional circumstances claim can only be submitted for a respective placement portfolio/project, with claims for non-submission or late exceptional circumstances submission permitted only.

    If you are a research student you should contact your supervisor.

    Find out more in our exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB]

Types of claim

There are three types of exceptional circumstance claims you can submit for consideration, if you are eligible. 

Late submission

You may be able to claim for this if you have missed an assessment deadline due to the circumstances you have experienced and submitted your assessment within the late submission period (if provided). You would usually receive a late penalty for submitting during this period.

Non-submission or absence 

You might be able to claim for this if you are absent from an assessment or did not submit your assessment work due to the circumstances you have experienced. You would usually receive a zero mark when this happens.


You may be able to claim for this if you attend an assessment or submit your assessment work, but believe your circumstances have seriously impaired your academic performance and will result in an unrepresentative mark.

Important: You cannot submit a late submission if the assessment does not have a late period attached to it. You also cannot claim impaired before your assessment or exam. 

Circumstances likely to be accepted 

We make decisions about claims on a case-by-case basis which are subject to our exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB] and procedural guide [PDF 213KB]

When considering a claim we take into account the impact experienced on the module assessment. 

Examples of experiences that may be accepted are: 

  • serious short-term illness, an injury or other ailment
  • the death or significant illness of a close family member or friend 
  • jury service (where deferral is not permitted by the court). 

Examples of experiences that may not be accepted are:

  • you feel your assessments are scheduled too close together 
  • poor time management on your behalf, including not meeting online assessment requirements 
  • general pressures, stress and/or anxiety from academic work.

You can see more examples of what may or may not be accepted in our exceptional circumstances procedural guide [PDF 213KB]

Providing evidence for your claim

You must provide evidence to support the circumstances you are claiming for – this is a reasonable requirement. 

You can provide evidence in two forms: 

Examples of evidence that may be accepted include: 

  • medical certificate or letter
  • letter from a registered counsellor
  • letter from a professional best placed to corroborate matters being considered (such as student advisor or disability advisor)
  • hospital admission report/appointment letter 
  • police/crime statement
  • court/tribunal letter. 

If you are registered at the University Campus Health Centre you may be able to request medical evidence

Important: You must not upload graphic images such as body parts. These could be seen as offensive and cannot be verified. 

How to submit a claim

You can submit an exceptional circumstances claim through Sussex Direct.

You will need to: 

  • log in using your University username and password 
  • select 'study and then 'exceptional circumstances from the drop down menu
  • select 'new claim to start writing your claim. 

Your claim will be considered in accordance with our exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB] and procedural guide [PDF 213KB].

Important: Youll receive an email confirming that a claim has been successfully submitted. If you dont receive an email confirmation, you must return to your draft claim and select 'submit'.

You can find more information about potential outcomes and how we respond to claims in sections 12 to 14 in the exceptional circumstances procedural guide [PDF 213KB].

Deadlines for submitting a claim

All claims (including any requested evidence or further information) should be submitted before the exceptional circumstances claim deadline (see table below). This is to ensure any accepted claims can be considered on time and will help minimise delays to progression or award decisions. 

Deadlines for exceptional circumstances claims will take place throughout the year. Claims after these deadlines will typically be rejected. This is because its too late for the exam board to review them. Instead, you may be able to submit a claim under the academic appeals process

Table of final claim deadlines
Level of studyAssessment periodStudent deadline to submit and provide all required information
Undergraduate (non-finalist including Foundation Year) Assessment/s during Semester 1 Monday 5th February 2024
Assessment/s during Semester 2 Monday 10 June 2024
Resit assessment/s (A3) Monday 26 August 2024
Final-year undergraduate Assessment/s during Semester 1 Monday 5th February 2024
Assessments during Semester 2 Wednesday 29 May 2024
Resit assessment (A3) Monday 26 August 2024
Taught postgraduate Assessment/s during Semester 1 Monday 5th February 2024
Assessment/s during Semester 2 Monday 10 June 2024
Resit assessment/s (A3) and dissertation/projects Thursday 19 September 2024
Online distance learning (ODL) students Assessment/s during Semester 1

(for ODL modules running from Sept – Dec 2023)

Monday 5th February 2024
Assessment/s during Semester 2

(for ODL modules running from Jan – April 2024)

Monday 10 June 2024
Resit assessment/s (A3) and dissertation/projects

(for ODL modules running from May – Aug 2024)

Thursday 19 September 2024

All deadlines are subject to UK time and by 11:59pm of the date stated, unless specified otherwise.

The claims process 

The exceptional circumstances claims process consists of three stages. 

  1. Assessment (stage one) 

    Your claim will be assessed to see if it can be accepted. We may contact you to request more information to help us decide. 

  2. Outcome (stage two)

    If your claim is accepted at stage one, it will be sent to your examination board for consideration. The examination board will make an academic judgement and decide the outcome, if any. Accepted claims for late submission at stage one will have the late penalty removed automatically. 

  3. Appeal

    If you are not satisfied with the outcome of stage one or stage two, you can submit an appeal. You are advised to read the academic appeal process and comply with any requirements specified – such as the date to submit your appeal (usually during an appeal window).

Important: The stage levels do not reflect the severity of an exceptional circumstances claim. 

Find out more about the process in our exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB] and procedural guide [PDF 213KB]

If you have exhausted the Universitys internal procedures, you will be issued with a completion of procedures letter. You may be able to make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator

If you have reasonable adjustments

Usually, your reasonable adjustments should be sufficient to support you during your studies long term. You can also seek extensions to your assessment submissions as part of this.

But sometimes there are occasions where you may need both reasonable adjustments and to make an exceptional circumstances claim.

These are: 

  • you are experiencing an atypical flare up, fluctuation or deterioration in your ongoing condition meaning all adjustments in place are no longer sufficient
  • there is a temporary issue in the implementation/presence of your reasonable adjustments (so temporary measures are required)
  • you experience an exceptional circumstance that is unrelated to your disability or reasonable adjustments. 

Find out more under section six of our exceptional cirumstances procedural guide [PDF 213KB] and find out about our disability support


For more information about exceptional circumstances, see: 

More information and support 

If you need more help and advice about making an exceptional circumstances claim you can contact: