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Deferral of assessments

The deferral of assessments is for addressing sudden and unexpected extenuating circumstances that may affect a student’s ability to undertake assessments. Before applying for a deferral of assessment, students should seek advice from their Faculty’s Student Advice Centre Associate Dean (Academic) or Personal Tutor.

Deferring multiple assessments may impact on your academic progression, so it is important for you to discuss your situation with your personal tutor prior to submitting any deferral requests. 

Students with prolonged chronic illnesses or disabilities should contact the Disability Support and Advice team in Student and Academic Services or their personal tutor for personalised advice, which might include individual arrangements in examinations.  Please note, the deferral of assessments is not an appropriate nor standard measure in respect of permanent or long-term conditions.

What are extenuating circumstances?

The regulations define extenuating circumstances as 'genuine circumstances beyond a student's control, or ability to foresee, and which seriously impair his or her assessed work', for example:

  • Acute illness or injury that is serious and debilitating and occurs at the time of the assessments concerned 
  • Flare-up of chronic conditions, examples of such conditions may include asthma, allergies, depression or migraines
  • The death of a member of your immediate family or a very close friend 
  • Being a victim of a serious crime

It does not include circumstances that:

  • Arise from minor accidents or injuries, ailments (e.g. a cold) or conditions that you should normally be able to control (e.g. hay fever, headaches)
  • Are symptoms relating to normal exam stress and anxiety. You should develop strategies to cope with this. Guidance and leaflets are available from Student and Academic Services
  • Are not related to the time of the assessment
  • Arise from your failure to manage your time effectively
  • Arise from your own negligence or carelessness (e.g. not getting up on time, going to the wrong room)
  • Arise as a result of bad planning (e.g. booking a holiday or making travel arrangements). It is your responsibility to ensure you arrive at the examination room before the start of the examination

Coursework deadlines and faculty scheduled tests

If you are unable to submit coursework by a particular deadline because of extenuating circumstances you should contact the relevant module leader before the deadline date to request an extension.

Module leaders may be able to grant a short extension of up to 14 days or they can, if appropriate or practical, make alternative arrangements for the assessment. Remember it may not always be possible to make alternative arrangements.

If an extension or alternative assessment is approved, you should ensure that your module leader places a written confirmation on your file.

If your circumstances are such that an extension of 14 days would not be sufficient, or if you feel that, despite being granted an extension of up to 14 days, your performance in a piece of coursework has been seriously impaired, you may apply formally to your faculty panel for a deferral of assessment of coursework. You will have to fill in the appropriate form below(hard copy is obtainable from your faculty office) and supply supporting evidence, forms should be submitted to your faculty office.

Formal examinations

If you are prevented by extenuating circumstances from attending a formal examination or you feel that your performance would be (or has been) seriously impaired by extenuating circumstances, you may submit a deferral request for the affected examination(s) as follows:

  • The request must be made on the form below, which is also available from Student Gateway or from your faculty office.
  • The form asks you to describe the extenuating circumstances and how they have or would impair your examination performance. You must include all relevant information and you must complete the form as close as possible to the timing of the circumstances you describe
  • Supporting evidence should be attached (please see section below on supporting evidence)
  • Completed forms must be submitted to the Head of the Academic Support Office in the Gateway Building

The examination deferral request will then be considered by a panel in the Academic Support Office.

Deferral Request Form 

Deferral Request Forms are available from Student Advice Centres or Student Gateway; alternatively you can complete the appropriate electronic form:  

Please ensure that you keep a copy of the form for your reference.

Supporting evidence

The request form (whether for coursework or examination deferral) should be accompanied by supporting evidence, normally from an independent third party. It is your responsibility to provide all the required documentary evidence; the Academic Support Office will not make enquiries on your behalf. You are advised to keep a copy of any evidence you submit.

Retrospective medical certificates or doctors' notes will normally only be accepted if you consulted the doctor at the time of the illness. They should be from your own doctor and contain a clear medical opinion that you were unfit to attend the examination on the day. A note stating only that you claim to have been unwell or that you told your doctor you were unwell at the time of your examination will normally be disregarded.

If it is impossible to include third party evidence when handing in your form requesting deferral of examinations, forms must be submitted before the deadline date with a note to say that supporting evidence will follow. The evidence must be submitted before the examination results are published, evidence submitted after the release of examination results will not be accepted as the deferral process will be closed.

Examples of other third party evidence that might be acceptable are:

  • A letter from a doctor concerning bereavement
  • A police report and crime reference number as evidence of theft, break-in or other serious crime
  • A letter from a counsellor whom you have been seeing

You may also wish to attach a letter of support from your personal tutor or mentor if they know your circumstances well.

Confidential evidence

It is normally in your own interests for your extenuating circumstances to be discussed by the full panel; however, if your supporting evidence is of an exceptionally sensitive or personal nature it can, at your request, be seen only by the chair of the panel. To do this you must place the evidence in a sealed envelope marked 'confidential: from (your name)' and addressed to the chair of the panel. You must then attach the envelope to the form.

Only the chair of the panel will read confidential evidence. He or she will inform the panel that confidential evidence has been submitted and will give an opinion on its seriousness and relevance.

What will happen if the panel accepts my deferral request?

The only course of action open to the panel if it accepts your case is to grant deferral of the affected assessment.

Examination and coursework deferrals are time-limited. You will be required to take the deferral at the first opportunity offered by the university, please contact your Faculty Student Advice Centre for further details. If you do not do this, the deferral will be withdrawn and you will be failed in the deferred assessment with a mark of zero.

If you have already taken the examination or submitted work for assessment it will not be marked. If a mark or grade has been awarded it will be declared void. 

The mark/grade awarded when you retake the assessment is the only one that will be entered on your record.

Once you have applied for a deferral and it has been accepted there is no going back, you cannot at a later date retract your request.

Deadlines

For information on deadlines for requests for deferrals for coursework, you should contact your faculty office.

The Academic Board panel that considers requests for deferral of examinations meets three times per session. The deadlines for the receipt of deferral forms by the Head of the Academic Support Office are detailed below. These deadlines will be rigorously enforced; forms will not be accepted after these dates.

There is no such thing as a 'retrospective deferral'. 

End of session examinations (May)

All requests must be received by Friday 25 May 2018.

August examinations

All requests must be received by Friday 24 August 2018.

Other examinations

For postgraduate examinations and undergraduate examinations that fall outside the main examination periods (May/August), the deadline for requests will be 14 days from the date of the exam concerned.

Remember, extenuating circumstances do not in themselves excuse poor performance.

If your request for a deferral in formal examinations is granted, you will have to sit the examination again the next time it is timetabled.

There is no provision to adjust marks; you can only apply to have the assessment deferred.

Late applications will not be considered. Deadlines will be strictly enforced.

In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances the panel will take into account:

  • The severity of the problem
  • The length of time it has lasted
  • The supporting evidence (remember to include it)
  • The closeness in time of the circumstances to the relevant assessment
  • Whether all assessments might have been equally affected

Student support

The university has a wealth of support services available to students; further information can be obtained from Student Gateway, Faculty Student Advice Centres, Library and Learning Services and, most importantly, your personal tutor.  If you are struggling with your assessments and/or deadlines please do seek help as soon as possible so that appropriate support and guidance can be identified and put in place for you.

Contact details

For further advice on the deferral process email acasupportoffice@dmu.ac.uk

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