Sickness and adverse circumstances


If you are experiencing difficult circumstances like illness, family crisis, or bereavement, the last thing you want to worry about is the effect on your studies. The University has specific procedures to ensure you get the degree you deserve, and it’s important to find out about these as soon as you can so that the process can be as simple and effective as possible.


If you are ill or experience other circumstances that affect your attendance for up to seven days, you should submit a self-certification of absence form, stating your circumstances and the duration of your absence. The forms are available either from your college or on the University’s website here. You need to submit the form to your college who will pass it on to your department. You do not need to provide medical evidence at this stage.

If you are ill for more than seven days, you will need to provide evidence to support your self-certification form.

Undergraduate students may self-certify on two occasions per term. Postgraduate students may self-certify on two occasions per each three month period.


If your sickness or absence becomes prolonged it is important that you inform your department and college about your circumstances. You may be offered a concession, or may have to consider temporarily withdrawing from your course.

Before you make any decision it is important to consider your whole situation. Any funding that you receive could be affected by a break in your studies. If you are an international student, you will be subject to strict immigration rules and so must seek advice from the Immigration Unit before making any decisions.


You cannot use self-certification for either coursework or examinations. If you are unable to hand in a piece of coursework because of your circumstances, you will need to inform your department and apply for a concession. A granted concession often takes the form of a deadline extension to enable you to complete the piece of work. As a mitigation for the current Covid-19 pandemic, all deadline extension requests should be granted by the department. This extension will normally last for 7 days. If you don't think this will be long enough, speak to your departmental office or your college support to discuss your options.    

If you miss a summative assessment or an exam and have good reasons for doing so, or if you are aware of circumstances that will affect your performance in examinations or your preparation for those examinations, you will need to submit a Serious Adverse Circumstances form. The process for filling out this form can be found below.


The Serious Adverse Circumstances (SAC) form is available on DUO under the Student Registry tab. You can then fill out the form on banner, where you can select your reason for submitting, any evidence, and which assessments you want your SAC to relate to. It’s recommended that you receive assistance from your college if you wish to submit an SAC form, though you can book an appointment with us for help completing the form or navigating the process.

The form is to be used if you miss a summative assessment or an exam and have good reasons for doing so, or if you are aware of circumstances that will affect your performance in examinations or your preparation for those examinations.

If you experience serious adverse circumstances during the exam period, you need to complete the form within 5 days of your last exam.

How will the University take into account my circumstances? [+]

The form is intended to make the Board of Examiners aware of your circumstances to ensure fair assessment of your performance. The board cannot alter your marks but might:

  • request a concession to allow you to take a resit which would not normally be permitted
  • allow you to progress to the next year of study despite having marks which would normally make this impossible
  • consider awarding you a degree class higher than the one which your marks would normally entitle you to have
How do I complete the form? [+]

You will need to give the following details:

  • details of your illness or other events that have affected you
  • how the illness or situation actually affected you both physically and practically, and specifically which work has been affected
  • when it affected you, to show it directly affected the work you are asking to be considered
  • evidence to show that your normal standard of work is at a higher level than the work submitted
Supporting Evidence [+]

You will be required to provide evidence to support your case which might include medical evidence or a letter of support from any organisation you have been seeking professional support from. If you have been seeking support from your college, or another University department, this can also be submitted.

What if I didn’t get support at the time? [+]

If you have been ill but have not sought any professional advice you can ask your doctor / service to provide you with retrospective evidence. The fact that you did not seek support at the time will substantially weaken your case. It is therefore essential to report any issues you have and seek support and advice as soon as possible to maximise your chances of success.


If you feel ill during an examination you should notify your department and get a doctor’s note as soon as possible, which will be used as evidence for you to submit a Serious Adverse Circumstances form. Depending on the level of your examinations, the outcome may either be a resit, a concession, or an award based on work already completed.

More information can be found at paragraph 50 of clause 6.2.6 of the Learning and Teaching Handbook, which you can find here.

Page last reviewed: 27/05/2020