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.
- what exceptional circumstances are
- who can claim
- types of claim
- circumstances that are likely to be accepted
- types of evidence required for your claim
- how to submit a claim
- deadlines for applying
- more about the process and our policies
- what to do if you have reasonable adjustments (longstanding and/or chronic health conditions)
- where to get extra support.
Exceptional circumstances are incidents that are:
- short term
- arise unexpectedly
- beyond your control.
It’s 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.
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 can’t 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 institution’s 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].
There are three types of exceptional circumstance claims you can submit for consideration, if you are eligible.
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.
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].
You must provide evidence to support the circumstances you are claiming for – this is a reasonable requirement.
You can provide evidence in two forms:
- a self-certification form [PDF 222.19KB] (subject to conditions stated in section eight of our exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB] and procedural guide [PDF 213KB])
- supporting evidence (ideally from an independent and authoritative source).
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.
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.
Important: You’ll receive an email confirming that a claim has been successfully submitted. If you don’t 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].
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 it’s too late for the exam board to review them. Instead, you may be able to submit a claim under the academic appeals process.
|Level of study||Assessment period||Student deadline to submit and provide all required information|
|Undergraduate (non-finalist including Foundation Year)||Assessment/s during Semester 1||Monday 29 January 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 29 January 2024|
|Assessment’s during Semester 2||Wednesday 29 May 2024|
|Resit assessment (A3)||Monday 26 August 2024|
|Taught postgraduate||Assessment/s during Semester 1||Monday 29 January 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 29 January 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 exceptional circumstances claims process consists of three stages.
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.
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.
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 University’s 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.
But sometimes there are occasions where you may need both reasonable adjustments and to make an exceptional circumstances claim.
- 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:
- exceptional circumstances policy [PDF 143KB]
- exceptional cirumstances procedural guide [PDF 213KB]
- exam and assessment regulations, which includes exceptional circumstances.
If you need more help and advice about making an exceptional circumstances claim you can contact: