Exceptional circumstances during the examination period

Please note that the information below applies to students on undergraduate and taught Masters (including MRes) programmes only. Students on PhD programmes should contact the Research Degrees Unit| for further advice.

1. What are Exceptional Circumstances?

Exceptional circumstances are those which you feel may have had a significant impact on your academic performance - be an exam or other form of summative assessment. Such circumstances might include, but are not limited to, illness, injury, or bereavement.

If you experience difficulties which you feel may have had an impact, you should submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form (ECF) within the deadline (see item 3 below). 

2. Why submit a Form?

Submitting an ECF to the Student Services Centre (SSC) is the only way to make the Sub-Board of Examiners for your programme of study aware of your circumstances when it considers your results.

3. What is the deadline for submission?

You must submit your ECF and corroborating evidence within seven calendar days after the date of your last assessment in the year of study affected.  If your last assessment is either a piece of coursework or a dissertation, then you must submit the form within seven calendar days after the deadline of submission.  If the seventh calendar day after your last assessment falls on a bank holiday, then your ECF will still be accepted on the next working day after the bank holiday. Any documentation submitted after this deadline may not be considered by the Sub-Board.

4. How do I make a submission?

You can print an ECF here|. The Form must be accompanied by appropriate official corroborating evidence (see Section 9 below)

The Sub-Board can only consider documentation that is submitted to the SSC. Therefore, you should ensure that any relevant documentation you may have given to your Department is also submitted to the SSC. Please note the SSC and/or your Department will NOT contact you to request further details or documentation to support your form.

You should submit the completed form together with original evidence (with an official translation if applicable) by hand to the SSC. You can either give your submission to SSC counter staff or, if outside of opening hours, post it in the drop-box opposite the counter. Please see the Student Services Centre| webpage for information about the SSC opening hours

If you are unable to submit these documents by hand, they should be posted to the following address:

Registry, Student Services Centre, Old Building, LSE, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE

It is your responsibility to ensure that your submission is received within the deadline.

5. What if I have already informed my Department or Academic Advisor about my circumstances?

All marks and exceptional circumstances are considered anonymously at Sub-Board of Examiners meetings. Therefore, the only way in which your circumstances can be   considered by the Sub-Board is by submitting an ECF with evidence to the SSC.

6. I have been given Individual Exam Adjustments (IEA). Do I need to submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form?

The Sub-Board will not be notified of any IEA that you have in place or of your condition. The Disability and Well-Being Service (DWS) will not pass on any information about your circumstances to your Sub-Board. Therefore, you must submit an ECF if you feel that the agreed IEA did not fully compensate for your condition, or if there are other circumstances which you wish to bring to the attention of the Sub-Board of Examiners.

7. What can the Sub-Board of Examiners do for me? 

Individual marks are never changed as a result of exceptional circumstances. Rather, the normal classification rules can be suspended so that you are awarded a higher degree classification than your overall mark profile would ordinarily allow. Such cases would only occur where the Sub-Board believes that, as a result of your circumstances, your performance fell marginally* short of a higher degree classification.

If you are a first or second year student and the Sub-Board believes that your circumstances have resulted in you failing or being absent from an exam, it may recommend that your failed or absent attempt be discounted (i.e. removed from your academic record) or a further exceptional attempt be awarded.

*Sub-Boards and School Boards of Examiners are looking for very specific conditions before the normal application of the classification rules can be suspended. Such conditions may include that a student must;

(a) be very close to the next higher classification boundary (normally within 3 marks of a single full unit course or 5 marks on aggregate),

(b) have marks in that higher classification range,

(c) clearly be able to show that the assessment(s) in question were significantly and negatively affected  by exceptional circumstances which were unforeseen and beyond your control,

(d) be able to show that his/her performance in the affected assessment(s) was significantly out of line with their performances in other, unaffected assessments.

In light of these specific criteria, suspension of regulation cases are very rare.

8. What information should I include in the form?

You will need to write a statement explaining how you feel the circumstances affected your wellbeing and your performance in an assessment or examination.

Please be precise about how you feel the circumstances affected you, and give relevant dates. For example:

'I became ill six days before my EC700 exam. This affected my revision because the medication I was prescribed made me drowsy and I could not concentrate fully. I was also ill on the morning of the exam on 25 May. I felt sick and unable to concentrate and was not able to complete the paper'. 

If your circumstances are of a kind where you feel your performance was affected because you were worried about somebody else’s wellbeing (for example a very sick relative), then where possible you should provide evidence of their illness. However, in such cases the School will also need to know how these circumstances specifically impacted on your own wellbeing. Therefore, you should also provide information and evidence relating to the impact of these circumstances on your own health and wellbeing.

9. What type of evidence should I include with the form?

You must attach an original version of official, corroborating evidence of your circumstances to your ECF. Examples of evidence include a detailed doctor's letter, a death certificate or police report.

Where the circumstances concern your health and wellbeing, the School expects corroborating evidence to clearly and concisely set out your symptoms, diagnosis and the period of time during which your health was affected. Sub-Board members cannot attach any weight to technical medical reports, X-rays, prescriptions or photographs of your condition.

All evidence must be in English. If your evidence is not in English then you must submit an original source-language copy of the evidence together with an officially translated copy. The translation must include a statement signed by a Notary Public, attesting that the translated text is an accurate and complete translation of the source-language text.

The LSE Language Centre may be able to help with official translations of some languages. 

It is your responsibility to attach all relevant documentation and to obtain an official translation at the time of submission.  The School is not able to obtain any documentation on your behalf.

10. What if I am unable to submit evidence on time?

If you can obtain corroborating evidence but will not be able to submit the evidence within the seven day deadline then you must still complete and submit the form and clearly note on the form that the evidence will follow shortly. You should then submit the evidence to the SSC as soon as you can.

If you submit evidence separately to your ECF, you should attach a note to the evidence which confirms your name and student ID number and state that it is to be added to your ECF.

11. I am worried that the content of my submission contains extremely confidential and private information.

Information submitted through the exceptional circumstances process will only be made available to staff who are directly involved with the process.

Only the Chair of the Sub-Board and relevant School Board of Examiners will know your identity at Exam Board meetings at which your ECF is considered. Your identity will remain anonymous to the other members of the Examination Boards.

The School will consider your exceptional circumstances submission in confidence. It will not inform anyone outside of the exceptional circumstances process about your circumstances. For the avoidance of doubt, the School will never talk to any external agencies about your circumstances or any of your personal details (not even to confirm that you are a student at the School) without your express authorisation.

12. What happens once I have submitted my form to the SSC?

Once your form has been logged and filed we will send you an e-mail to confirm it has been received. A record that an ECF has been submitted will be kept on the School’s central database. Your submission will then be made available to the Sub-Board of Examiners for your programme.

If you are a continuing student and have passed all of your papers for the year, your submission will be filed for careful consideration at the end of your programme. This is when the Sub-Board will determine which classification you should be awarded.

If, you are a continuing student and your ECF relates to a failed first or second year paper (including an unauthorised absence from an exam), the Sub-Board will consider your circumstances at the end of the year in question. On the basis of your submission the Sub-Board will determine whether or not to discount your failed attempt. Or, in cases where you have exhausted the usual maximum number of attempts, the Sub-Board will determine whether or not to allow you an exceptional attempt.

Please note that the School has very few instances in which the regulations are suspended. This means that although all forms will be considered very carefully, the vast majority of submissions will not result in a suspension of the regulations. 

13. I do not know how much my circumstances may have affected my performance. Can I just wait until I see my results and submit an appeal?

No, if you are aware of your circumstances before your results are known then you must submit an ECF within the seven day deadline.

It is an important part of the exceptional Circumstances procedure that you submit information about your circumstances before your results are known. This is so that the Sub-Board for your programme can properly consider them at the point of classification and if necessary suspend the regulations before your results are formally released.

Exceptional circumstances that are not declared within the seven day deadline normally cannot later be taken into account, i.e. they cannot be used as the basis for an appeal unless there is an extremely compelling reason why the circumstances were not declared to the School within the seven day deadline.

Failing a course or failing to be awarded a degree is not considered to be evidence that the assessment was affected by exceptional circumstances.

14. What do I do if I need further assistance?

If you are experiencing difficulties and require advice, you may wish to approach your Supervisor or Academic Adviser in the first instance. Please note, however, that any information given to your department will only be made available to the Sub-Board if you submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form via the SSC (see paragraph 4 above).

For advice on submitting the Form, and on degree and classification regulations, please contact the Student Services Centre|.

The Teaching and Learning Centre|  can provide help and advice regarding essay writing, time management, dissertation planning etc.

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