3.3 Deferral

A student who experiences serious difficulties (eg, resulting from an ongoing disability, acute illness or other personal reasons) has three options:

  • He/she may interrupt his/her studies.
  • He/she may apply to defer taking one or more examinations for one year.
  • He/she may continue and sit all their papers in the current session.

Students may only apply to defer taking one or more examinations if they have completed the teaching in the relevant subject(s), in other words, decisions about deferral can be made only in the Summer Term. If a student has missed a substantial amount of teaching, they cannot defer and would be expected to interrupt their studies. Repeat teaching in the next session is not normally granted for students who defer their examinations.

If a student applies to defer one examination, the decision may be made by the Chair of the relevant Sub-Board of Examiners (or the Chair of the Law Board in the case of LLB students). In making this decision, the Chair needs to check whether deferral of the paper will affect progression.

  • BA/BSc students cannot normally carry a first year paper to final year.
  • BA/BSc students should be informed that failure (or absence) in any further examination in the current session would prevent progression because they must pass a minimum of three whole units to progress.
  • LLB students need to pass all papers to progress.

If a student applies to defer all examinations, the decision may also be made by the Chair of the relevant Sub-Board of Examiners (or the Chair of the Law Board in the case of LLB students). It should be made clear to BA/BSc students that the next opportunity to take the deferred papers will be in one year's time.

If a student applies to defer more than one but less than all examinations, then the student must be referred to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The student cannot be advised that they can 'split' the degree in this way as School Regulations do not allow part-time study at the undergraduate level.  

The Dean sees the student and, where appropriate (eg, where the request for deferral involves an application for an adjustment under statutory legislation), consults with the Head of the Disability and Well-being Service, Nicola Martin, and other staff who have been supporting the student. In her discussions with the student, the Dean will explore the nature of the student's problem and ensure the student understands the implications of deferral (eg, progression implications).

The Dean's view will normally be one of the following:

  • The student should interrupt his/her studies.
  • There are grounds to support a request for deferral of more than one but less than all examinations.
  • Current circumstances are such that there are insufficient grounds to support a request for deferral of more than one and less than all examinations.

If a request for deferral is made prior to the completion of teaching, it must be explained to the student that such requests cannot be granted until the Summer Term when all teaching has been completed. However, where appropriate, it may be indicated to the student by the Dean that, in cases where circumstances are unlikely to improve, the request is likely to be looked upon favourably by the School. 

In all cases of deferral, it is the responsibility of the Sub-Board Chair to ensure that all academic departments involved are aware that a deferred paper will need to be set in the following session.

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