Student Advice

Understanding mitigating circumstances

Ben Maples  · Jul 24th 2024  · 2 min

Deferring and Mitigation can always differ for university-to-university and so many universities have so many different rules for each process, that it’s almost impossible to do a “one size fits all” approach to an article, such as this.


Every university will have its own procedure for students going through a rough time, which will vary depending on the institution. Here we give an overview of likely policies and procedures to be aware of.

What do mitigating circumstances mean?

Mitigating circumstances refers to serious or significant events that affect a student's personal life or health (whether mental or physical). These are typically events beyond your control and not planned that will impact your ability to go to university, submit your coursework or sit an exam.

Across all universities, this process is there to ensure you aren't penalised for personal situations that you can't control.

Examples of mitigating circumstances

Some common examples of mitigating circumstances include:

  • Absence due to jury service, maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • Bereavement of a family member
  • Disability
  • Domestic disruption
  • Illness or accident that requires medical intervention
  • Illness of a close family member
  • Victim of a crime

Mitigating circumstances likely doesn't include any ongoing circumstances or avoidable situations such as rising stress levels due to exams or high workloads from conflicting deadlines. Check your university's policy before submitting your mitigating circumstances request.

What do mitigating circumstances do?

If you are granted mitigating circumstances, the university will provide you with adjustments to your work. The specifics will depend on your circumstances as well as what work it will be affecting. For example, you may receive an extension on a coursework deadline, be able to take an exam at a later date, or resit an exam.

How to request mitigating circumstances

Each university will have a different system. Most will require you to fill out a mitigating circumstances form, outlining why you're requesting and providing evidence for the reasons you state. The evidence will differ based on the circumstances and what your university requires. Examples would include a medical certificate or letter for any short-term illness, or the crime number related to the case.

It can be a hard process to understand if you don't have on-campus support, so do reach out to your assigned tutors as they can guide you through the process.

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