Exceptional circumstances

You may be able to make an exceptional circumstances claim if something affects your performance in an exam or other assessment.

Coronavirus update

Important: This update relates to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting your end-of-year assessments during the May and June assessment period and also summer resits.

We understand that you may have experienced disruption to your studies. We have taken measures to ensure you’re not disadvantaged, including:

  • a two-week extension for all A2 assessments during the end-of-year assessment period
  • a No Detriment Policy (also known as a “safety net”) designed to ensure that, where possible, you won’t encounter any detriment in the awarding of grades for Semester 2 as a result of Covid-19
  • assessment boards meeting in the summer having detailed information for each student to apply the safety net and take this fully into account when determining progression and award decisions.

However, we understand that, even with these measures, you may have circumstances that go beyond the general disruption of the pandemic.

If you are unable to submit work on time in relation to this assessment period or summer resits because you have Coronavirus symptoms or you need to self-isolate, you can alternatively submit a self-declaration form [DOCX 45KB]. You then upload this to your exceptional circumstances claim within the same section you would normally upload supporting evidence.

You can also submit a self-declaration form [DOCX 45KB] instead of supporting evidence if you have or had:

  • tested positive with Covid-19
  • been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19, and are awaiting your own test results
  • exacerbated symptoms of an existing condition or you became unwell with something unrelated to Covid-19 and could not obtain medical evidence
  • a recent bereavement
  • been required to undertake Covid-19 key worker duties as defined by the government, such as for the NHS or armed forces – check if your job is defined this way as you'll need to declare your job title on the form
  • caring responsibilities, such as caring for children, someone with an ongoing condition or someone who is unwell
  • sudden or unforeseen IT or technical issues when completing an assessment.

You may also be affected by issues not related to the coronavirus, such as domestic violence, a hate crime or other similar circumstance. If this is the case, and you cannot get supporting evidence due to Coronavirus, you should also complete the self-declaration form and upload this to your claim.

You can claim for either a “non-submission” or “late submission”. The “impairment” option is not available for end-of-year assessments during the A2 assessment period or during the summer resit period. This is because of the alternative measures we have put in place to support you through the current situation.

See common questions about exceptional circumstances and Coronavirus.

Why you might make a claim

You might make an exceptional circumstances claim if you experience something sudden, temporary and unforeseen, which has an impact on your assessment.

What you can claim for

You can normally make a claim if, for example:

  • you become ill and this affects your assessment
  • you experience bereavement from the loss of a relative or partner
  • you have a scheduled medical operation that conflicts with an assessment
  • someone else’s circumstances affect your assessment, such as caring for a relative who has been discharged from hospital.

And, as a result, you are unable to:

  • submit an assessment on time
  • submit a piece of work by the late submission deadline (if there is one)
  • attend an assessment, such as an exam
  • complete your assessment to the best of your ability due to impairment.

Defining impairment

Impairment in an assessment means being physically or mentally affected by an illness or condition, such as a migraine or bad back.

If you’re not sure, check what you cannot claim for.

Important: If you have a long-term condition, you should consider reasonable adjustments. If you have a temporary condition, such as a broken limb, or you’re pregnant, you can also be considered for reasonable adjustments.

If you have queries about an assessment, talk to your academic advisor in your School.

Talk to a Student Life Advisor in the Student Life Centre if you need non-academic advice or welfare support.

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 to outline your claim, including:

  • a short description of your extenuating circumstances
  • supporting evidence
  • which assessment was affected, and
  • the type of claim (late submission, non-submission, absence or impairment).

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 haven’t received your claim. Go back and submit your claim.


Examples of evidence to support your claim include a:

  • doctor’s letter or medical document for an illness
  • death certificate or a letter from a relative for a bereavement.

If you’re using the on-campus health centre, follow its exceptional circumstances process.

Important: Your supporting evidence needs to confirm that the circumstances were sudden, unforeseen and temporary when you were due to complete your assessment.

What should not be submitted as evidence

Only give us images of documents relating to your claim.

Don’t upload any other type of image – instead, explain your mitigating circumstances in the short description.

Only send evidence relating to the assessment you’re claiming for. If you don’t have any recent evidence, you’ll be asked to provide some.

When to submit your claim

Submit the following documents through Sussex Direct:

  • your claim – within seven days of your assessment deadline or date
  • supporting evidence – within 21 days of your assessment deadline or date.

You may still submit a claim after this, but you’ll need to explain why it’s late.

Final claim deadlines

These are the final claim deadlines for this academic year.

You must provide your claim and evidence by 5.30pm on the deadline day.

Level of studyAssessment periodDeadlines for 2020
Undergraduate, including foundation-year Semester 1 Thursday 20 February
Semester 2 Tuesday 7 July
Semester 1 module resits Tuesday 1 September
Semester 2 and year-long module resits Tuesday 1 September
Final-year undergraduate Semester 1 Thursday 20 February
Semester 2 Tuesday 23 June
Semester 1 module resits Tuesday 1 September
Semester 2 and year-long module resits Tuesday 1 September
Taught postgraduate Semester 1 Thursday 27 February
Semester 2 Tuesday 21 July
Semester 1 module resits Thursday 15 October
Semester 2 and year-long module resits Thursday 15 October

You can also see the final deadline on the exceptional circumstances claim form within Sussex Direct. This is before your exam board meets.

Claims after this deadline will be rejected. If this happens, you may wish to consider an academic-related appeal.

Retrospective claims

You can’t submit a claim for an assessment already considered by an exam board. See academic-related appeals instead.

Deleting a claim

If you have made a claim and you no longer want it to be considered, delete it in Sussex Direct. A claim can be deleted as long as a decision hasn’t been made.

After you make a claim

This is what happens after you submit your claim:

  1. We consider your claim and evidence – you’ll receive an email confirming we have your claim. After we have reviewed your claim, you will normally get an email confirming its outcome. We may need more information to process your claim.
  2. Exam board consideration – if we accept your claim, the exam board will take your claim into consideration and decide the appropriate outcome.

Who sees your claim

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

The Director of Student Experience within your School will also be able to view all claims made within your School. They’re supported by another member of staff who can also view these claims. This is so they can support you in your studies.

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

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

If your claim is more complex or unclear, we may discuss this with the:

  • Chair of the University Education Committee, in confidence
  • Student Support Unit (SSU), if we think you might benefit from reasonable adjustments. The SSU provides a confidential service
  • Student Life Centre, if your claim raises a cause for concern. If that happens, you’ll be contacted.

If your claim is accepted

If you ask for a late submission to be excused, the late penalty will be removed.

If you then don’t submit your work at all, your accepted claim will be updated and treated as non-submission.

If your claim is because of a non-submission or an absence from an exam or other in-person assessment, the exam board may offer you another assessment opportunity.

If you’re claiming impairment, the exam board will consider if your performance is out of line with your usual standard and may offer you another assessment opportunity.

What you can’t claim for

You cannot normally make a claim if you have:

  • technology problems, such as losing files
  • issues with printing your work
  • jury service
  • to go on holiday or to a wedding
  • a minor illness, such as a cold.

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 can’t submit a claim for exceptional circumstances through Sussex. 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.

See our regulations for more information.

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 get an uncapped resit if you passed your module or failed a resit.

You can’t claim impairment for any of your assessments.


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