Sometimes life gets in the way of exams and assessments. Whether it's a personal problem, health issue, bereavement or other difficulty, the University can take this into account through the Personal Extenuating Circumstances (PEC) procedure. This is the procedure where you tell your School about what is happening and how it has affected your studies, and they work to make sure that it is taken into account. You should also make sure to speak to your Personal Tutor about it.
For bigger issues, a different Change of Circumstances procedure may be more appropriate, such as taking some time off from University. For these procedures, you will need to speak to your Degree Programme Director as well as your Personal Tutor.
What issues can be taken into account?
There's no set list of situations that can be taken into account, and difficulties can include short-term health problems and mental health difficulties, illness, bereavement and other personal issues. In general an issue you're experiencing should be unforeseen and outside of your control, which means that you couldn't have expected it to happen and you couldn't have prevented it happening.
What issues can't be taken into account?
The University won't normally consider issues that you can control. Obvious examples of this include missing an exam because the Metro was late, missing an assessment deadline because the computer cluster in the library was full, or where you've gone on holiday.
The University also won't normally consider issues that you knew about. Long-term illnesses and disabilities, and long-term mental health difficulties, will not normally be considered under this procedure. The University expects you to take steps to get support on these issues long before your exams and deadlines, and you should get in touch with Student Health and Wellbeing Service's Specific Leanring Difficulties, Disability or Mental Health team to find out how they can help and if you are eligible for a Student Support Plan.
Repeated PEC applications for the same issue will normally also be rejected.
How do I tell the University?
If you're an Undergraduate or Taught Postgraduate student, you simply complete the online PEC form as soon as you become aware that your issues are affecting your studies. The online PEC form can be found on your S3P Student Portal.
The form itself is straightforward. You explain which assignments or exams have been affected, and you tick the boxes which show how you've been affected. You briefly explain what the issue is (e.g. illness, bereavement) and you should explain how these issues have affected you. It is important that you're clear on just how you've been affected, as the University can't make assumptions and can't guess how you've been affected.
PhD students inform the University of Personal Extenuating Circumstances differently, such as in your annual progress review documents or if an issue is going to affect your viva voce. If you need an adjustment to your studies, you will need to consider one of the Change of Circumstances procedures for Postgraduate Research Students. Not all of these will be possible depending on your situation so you should seek advice from the Research Student Support team or Medical Sciences Graduate School.
Do I need evidence?
Usually, yes. This ideally needs to be evidence from an independent third party, such as a doctor's letter or a death certificate, confirming what has happened. If you're asking for an extension for an assignment you can self-certify for seven days, so long as you've filled in a Student Notification of Absence form on your S3P Student Portal, and you won't need any more evidence. But if your issues have affected an exam then you will need evidence.
COVID 19 update for 2020/21: You do not need to submit documentary evidence for any health, bereavement or Covid-19 related PEC request for the 2020-21 academic year. However, you must explain the issues they have faced, the impact this has had on your studies and a rationale for the requested adjustment, which will be will be taken on trust for Covid-19 related issues to streamline the process. A PEC can also be considered for unexpected IT issues or software failure issues which impact on your access to, or completion of, online learning and assessments.
Here's a letter you can ask your doctor to complete. Download letter.
Some GPs charge for the doctor's note, but the University can reimburse up to £30. Download Reimbursement Form
What can they do to help?
Firstly, and most importantly, please be aware that the PEC process will not change your marks. You won't get extra marks because you submitted a successful PEC application.
Your PEC application will go to a PEC Committee, who will decide how severely you have been affected, if at all. This committee decides if they're going to accept or reject your application, and you should be told within a few weeks of applying.
If they agree that you have been affected, they usually ask the Board of Examiners to take this into account when they make the result decisions. The most common outcomes are that the PEC Committee give you an additional resit attempt, or if you were very close to the pass mark the Board of Examiners can give you a compensated pass (this means they treat you as having passed the module). The Board of Examiners can also decide to uplift your degree classification (e.g. from a 2:2 to a 2:1), although this is quite rare and is dependent on how well you've done in the rest of your course.
When do I have to do this?
The University rules state that you must tell them about any issues as soon as you become aware of them. You must tell the University before the Board of Examiners meets after exams. If you decide you were ill after your exam results come out then it is too late to submit a PEC form. You might be able to submit an Academic Appeal, but it is often too late to have illness taken into account after the event.
I need more information?
You can find the University's guidance and information on the Student Progress Service website.
If you would like help in filling in the PEC form, collecting evidence, or understanding the Change of Circumstances procedures, please make an appointment with the Student Advice Centre where one of our advisers can guide you through the process.
If you're not happy with a decision made in the PEC process, you should also come and speak to one of our advisers to discuss your options.