The Union's guide to Mitigating Circumstances

A comprehensive guide to mitigating circumstances

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Of course, we hope that nothing will go wrong, and you'll happily progress through your studies, but life can throw us all unexpected curve balls. This is why the University have a process called Mitigating Circumstances - a formal way to explain any difficulties you are experiencing and the impact on your studies. Please have a wee read of our guide - it isn't difficult to read, and we want you all to be aware of this!


What do these words mean?

If you have “Mitigating Circumstances” then you have a crisis in your life which prevents you studying effectively. To support you, the University can take steps to “mitigate” this. The verb “to mitigate” means to make something less severe, less bad. If you have very difficult circumstances, the University can “mitigate” the consequences of this on your studies by (for example) giving you another opportunity or removing a penalty for late submission.


What kind of crisis counts as Mitigating Circumstances?

Any personal crisis which causes so much disturbance or impact on your life that you are unable to study. For example, physical or mental illness, family illness, bereavement, an accident, or any stressful circumstances which are so severe there is an impact on your wellbeing and ability to study.


If this is happening to me, how do I tell the University?

You need to use the Mitigating Circumstances process. This means completing a short online form. In the form you explain in your own words:

  1. What has happened/is happening to you?
  2. How has this impacted on your studies?

The link to the University webpage about Mitigating Circumstances and instructions on “How to Apply” is here, including a helpful step by step video guide:


Do I need to provide evidence?

Yes, you must provide evidence. For example, if you have been/are unwell, either physically or mentally, you must provide a note from your doctor or from a qualified counsellor to confirm this. If you are bereaved, then you must provide a copy of the death certificate or obituary or other possible proof. You need to upload any evidence together with the online mitigating circumstances application form.


What if I do not have evidence?

Unfortunately, without evidence, your application form will not be accepted into the University system.


Can I just tell my personal tutor about my circumstances? Is that not enough?

No, it is not enough - the only way to ask your School to support you, and consider your difficult circumstances, is to apply online using the Mitigating Circumstances application form. It is a very good idea to talk to your personal tutor and you should certainly do this, but only the formal mitigating circumstance process allows the school to (for example) give you another opportunity or other adjustment.


What if my mitigating circumstances are very personal and sensitive and I do not want to share them with the school committee?

If you have reasons to ask that the details of your circumstances are kept as confidential as possible, then please speak to us at the Advice Hub

It is possible to request that only the Chair of your School Committee read the details.


What happens after I submit the Mitigating Circumstances application form and my evidence?

You will hear back about your application usually within a couple of weeks. There are three possibilities:

  1. Your application has been accepted
  2. Your application has been rejected
  3. More information is required


What does it mean if my application has been accepted?

This means that your application and evidence has been accepted into the system and will be read and considered by a group of academics in your school called the Mitigating Circumstances Committee. It does not guarantee there will be any recommendation. Sometimes even when the committee accepts there have been difficult circumstances, they do not accept there has been a significant impact on studies. In other cases, they will recommend some action.


When will I know any recommendation made about my mitigating circumstances application?

Your school will not meet to look at any mitigating circumstances applications until after the exam diet in each semester is completed. Therefore, there is often a long wait especially if you submitted a Mitigating Circumstances application near the beginning of the semester. You will see when you get your results if “MC” has been applied and another opportunity offered.


Can I wait until I see if I pass my exams or not, and then apply for Mitigating Circumstances if I have failed any?

No, this is not possible. The University expects you to apply for Mitigating Circumstances as soon as you are aware that you are experiencing difficulties. There are strict deadlines at the end of every semester for submitting Mitigating Circumstances applications. Usually this is approximately one week following the end of the exam diet. After the published deadline, no applications will be accepted into the system. If you have difficult circumstances, it is wise to follow the mitigating circumstances process and apply as soon as you can. The University expects students to know about the Mitigating Circumstances process and follow it if necessary.


What happens if I miss the deadline for submitting Mitigating Circumstances? I was very unwell last semester, but I didn’t know about Mitigating Circumstances.

There is no possibility to submit Mitigating Circumstances late. You cannot apply for last semester. The only option you now have is to make an Academic Appeal (which is a different process). In the appeal, you will be required to explain a good reason why you did not apply for Mitigating Circumstances at the time you were unwell. The University does not accept lack of knowledge of the process as an acceptable reason. This is why knowing about the Mitigating Circumstances process from the beginning of your studies is very important.


I was unwell for a couple of weeks recently but didn't go to a doctor as it didn’t seem necessary. I’m better now but can I still apply for Mitigating Circumstances?

Unfortunately, your application is almost definitely going to be rejected, as evidence is required. This is one reason why we would always advise you to seek medical help or counselling support rather than try to cope with illness alone.


What happens if I did apply for Mitigating Circumstances but in fact, I somehow managed to pass all my exams and progress?

Your school Mitigating Circumstances Committee will see that you have passed all courses and therefore no recommendation will be required, so nothing will happen. But at least by submitting your Mitigating Circumstances application you would have had some hope of an adjustment or reassessment if you had failed.


If I normally get A grades, but I got a C or a B due to being ill, will these grades be adjusted to A grade if I apply for Mitigating Circumstances?

In general, no adjustment is made if the student has managed to pass courses and can progress.


I have been away to attend a close relative’s funeral and missed the deadline for my dissertation submission. Is it enough to explain this to my supervisor?

No, you must always submit a Mitigating Circumstances application. Otherwise, you will be penalised for late submission. The school can only remove the late submission penalty if you submit a Mitigating Circumstances application with evidence of your bereavement.


If I fill in the Mitigating Circumstances Application form, can someone check it for me before I submit it?

Yes, the student union advice hub can do this for you. Just send your draft to


I have a question about Mitigating Circumstances. Who can I ask?

You can ask the student union advice hub


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