What are Exceptional Circumstances affecting Assessment (ECA)?
The University defines exceptional circumstances as problems that students have encountered that go beyond the normal difficulties experienced in life and that have affected their academic performance adversely during the assessment period for which they are claiming. According to the University, these events must be exceptional and unforeseeable. For example, you may have been ill affecting your ability to attend an exam or meet a coursework deadline.
If you think that exceptional circumstances may apply to you, then please read the whole page as it contains important advice.
The standard that we will use when measuring whether a circumstance is ‘exceptional’ is similar to that which employees can expect to be held to in the workplace. (Which is to say, how many days, or weeks, would this person have been excused from paid employment based on the claim and evidence provided).
A full list of circumstances that are and are not usually accepted can be found at: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/studying/progress/exceptional-circumstances/
The normal deadline for submitting an exceptional circumstances claim is 7 days after the assessment deadline. If you cannot submit your form by this deadline, then you will need to provide additional evidence explaining why you could not submit the form on time.
Further details relating to deadlines can be found in the University’s exceptional circumstances policy, which is available through the link above.
Things to consider before applying for Exceptional Circumstances
The ECA procedure is in place to support you but it’s worth thinking carefully about whether it is in your best interests to apply. Here are some things to consider before you apply:
- If you apply for exceptional circumstances and that claim is rejected then normal penalties will apply. This means that if hand in the assignment late, and your claim is unsuccessful, then you will get a reduced mark or a mark of zero. If you submit a claim close to the deadline, then you may not find out the results of your claim until after the deadline has passed. If at all possible, you should continue to work towards the original deadline even if you are applying for exceptional circumstances.
- If you are granted an extension for your assignment(s), then your deadlines will start to back up and you may have several deadlines in quick succession. This can lead to added stress.
- If you apply for exceptional circumstances for an exam, you will have to take that exam at another time, perhaps interrupting your plans for the summer.
- If you sit an exam ‘as if for the first time’, your new mark will stand even if it is lower than your original mark. As a result, this course of action involves an element of risk.
- Finally, remember that results from your first year do not count towards your final degree mark. The mark for any given assignment in later years is worth only a very small proportion of your overall degree.
Applying for Exceptional Circumstances
If you would like to request an extension to coursework or request to sit an exam as if for the first time, you will need to complete an online exceptional circumstances form and submit it, along with the relevant supporting evidence.
The exceptional circumstances claim form can be found here: https://facultyapp.york.ac.uk/app/excircs/
When completing the form, please include brief details of your circumstances and state how many days have been lost as a result of these circumstances. We aim to compensate for time lost on a one-to-one basis, so please make sure you provide a realistic estimate; Please note that this might not necessarily be the same as the duration of the circumstance itself.
In cases where you are still waiting for the supporting evidence, you should submit the ECA claim form without the supporting evidence, but clearly state on the form the nature of the evidence you will supply, explain why it is not currently available and when it will be available. Exceptional circumstances might be accepted conditionally, pending supporting evidence. All outstanding evidence should be provided within 3 weeks of the original claim being made.
Please note: If supporting evidence is not received within 3 weeks or is insufficient, the conditional acceptance will be withdrawn and the original submission deadline (with the usual penalties for late submission) will apply.
Evidence in support of exceptional circumstances claims should reflect an independent professional opinion of the impact of the circumstances on your ability to perform in assessments, and should be based on the professional having met with the student at the time they were affected. Letters from professionals such as GPs, counsellors, medical consultants, nurses or other independent third party practitioners or the University’s student support teams including the Open Door Team must outline the impact of the exceptional circumstance. It may be helpful for you to gather your evidence using the following form: Confirmation of Exceptional Circumstances Form_ Guidance for Professionals.pdf
Any evidence which states “the student reports that” they were being affected by circumstances does not constitute meaningful evidence for a claim. Such a claim will be rejected. Furthermore, a letter confirming that a student met or will meet with a practitioner, but which does not confirm the impact of an exceptional circumstance will not be accepted as evidence.
Where the timing and nature of your exceptional circumstances has affected longer periods, or where you have submitted several claims throughout the academic year relating to the same issue, you may wish to consider the option of applying for a leave of absence.
Students with ongoing health problems
If you have ongoing physical or mental health problems that are likely to continue for at least 12 months, then you should visit Disability Services (https://www.york.ac.uk/students/support/disability/). Disability Services can work with you to create a Student Support Plan (SSP) that helps you to proactively manage your situation. If this Student Support Plan contains reference to the need to grant extensions for coursework, then you can apply through the same procedure as above, but using the form for students with an SSP. It may then be possible to grant an extension without the need to provide additional evidence. Please note this only applies to coursework extensions, not exams.
What will happen when Exceptional Circumstances are accepted?
If exceptional circumstances are accepted for an assignment, you will be granted an extension of the deadline for submission of the assessment for which the claim was sought. The exact length of the extension that is granted will depend on the particular circumstances of the case, and will be decided by the ECA Committee on a case-by-case basis. The submitted work will then be marked as normal, as if there were no exceptional circumstances to be considered – that is to say, that all mitigation is deemed to have been dealt with by giving an extended period in which to complete the assessment.
Compensation for exceptional circumstances is dealt with by allowing you the possibility to resit the exam in question ‘as if for the first time’ (i.e. the resit mark will contribute to your final Award Mark, and will appear on your Academic Transcript as though it is the only sitting of that exam). If you were able to sit the exam in the first place, you will receive your original exam mark back before deciding whether or not you wish to resit. Please note that if you choose to resit the exam, the new mark will stand and you will not be able to choose between marks gained at the first and second attempt. The original mark will become void when the second attempt takes place. Failure to attend or submit for assessment ‘as if for the first time’ will be treated as declining the opportunity to do so.
What will happen if Exceptional Circumstances are NOT accepted?
If exceptional circumstances are not accepted then the mark attained for the assessment stands. This means that for instance for a missed exam the mark will be recorded as 0, or for a piece of “handed-in” work, normal late submission penalties will apply.
Who to contact
If you have read all of the relevant information and still have questions on the exceptional circumstances procedure, please contact your supervisor or email@example.com as soon as possible before a deadline/exam.
University Policy documents etc.
This page describes the Psychology Department's detailed procedures for dealing with Exceptional Circumstances. For a full list of documents and University policy information visit: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/studying/progress/exceptional-circumstances/