It’s that time of year again where exams are here and everyone is seriously questioning whether they actually need this degree or not. The only thing that can make this time more stressful is when something unexpected happens that affects your ability to perform! If this happens though, do not fear, as you can submit a mitigating circumstances from.

Mitigating circumstance forms are read by your school, along with evidence submitted, to determine whether your grades in assignments or exams needs to be altered as it may not be a true reflection of your capabilities at that time. As Vice President of Academia the most common question I’m asked by students is whether something counts as a mitigating circumstance.

Now a mitigating circumstance is defined as an “unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance which affects your attendance and performance”. Therefore ANYTHING that fits these criteria can be used as a mitigating circumstance.

Below is a list of things people often forget are a mitigating circumstance, but this list is in no way exhaustive and if you have any doubts about whether your circumstance would qualify please email vpa@dusa.co.uk and we will confirm for you. Please also remember that you NEED evidence for a mitigating circumstances appeal if you want it to be successful.

Forms of evidence can be:

  • Doctor’s note (so if you wake up ill go to the doctor and get a note!
  • Death certificate
  • Crime reference number
  • Evidence of family illness

Include absolutely anything you think could be evidence – you can never have too much! If you are struggling to think of potential evidence please email vpa@dusa.co.uk and I will be happy to help.

1. Mental illness

If you have a long term mental illness that you are currently managing this does not count as a mitigating circumstance, but you should let the disability services know! If though your mental illness/s is presenting worse at a certain time for whatever reason this is a mitigating circumstance, so please go and speak to your doctor to get a note and then fill out a form!

2. Family illness

If a member of your family falls ill and you find that this has affected you academic performance in anyway then this counts as a mitigating circumstance. Evidence for this would include evidence of your family member’s illness e.g. doctors note, hospital note etc. Make sure when you fill out the form for this reason that you describe how and why you think this has affected your performance clearly!

3. Death of a family member/friend

This of course counts as a mitigating circumstance and therefore if this does happen please make sure you submit a form and make your advisor of studies/LTF aware. Evidence for this is a copy of the death certificate, so please make sure you have this to submit. I understand that this can be difficult to obtain especially in the case of friends so if you are struggling to get this please contact vpa@dusa.co.uk and we can discuss alternative evidence.

4. Physical illness

Whether it is a flu that is draining all your energy or something that may be considered more serious, this can always count as a mitigating circumstance. Make sure that if it’s something less serious that you see your GP as soon as possible to get a doctor’s note as evidence! If it is something more serious evidence from the hospital should be included along with anything else you think is helpful. Remember that no matter the illness if you think it affected you performance then submit a form!

5. Accident

I am fully aware that this is going to sound like one of those accidents in the workplace ads, but if you have had any form of accident that you think affected your performance this also counts as a mitigating circumstance. For this evidence can vary dependant on the type of accident, but anything that proves that the accident happened and the injuries you sustained should suffice. If the accident has had effects on your mental rather than physical wellbeing then consult your GP and get a letter of support from them as evidence.

6. Relationship Breakdown

This can be the relationship with a family member or a partner. If you feel this has affected your studies you should submit a form. For this there is little evidence that can be provided so try and provide something if you can, but make sure you are very clear about what happened and why it has affected your academic ability.

7. Expecting a child/having a child

If you find out you are expecting a child and this affects your ability to study, or you already have a child and that is causing you lack of sleep etc. for whatever reason/s and therefore is affecting your studies then you can of course submit a form. Evidence for expecting a child can include a doctor’s note. Evidence for having a child can be hard, but if it is that you have a young child that won’t sleep a copy of the birth certificate may be useful. If it is that your child is ill and therefore you have had to stay home to look after them then a doctor’s note supporting this would be useful.

8. Disciplinary/police case

If you have been the victim of a crime that is being investigated by the University or police or both and find this is affecting your studies you can of course submit a form. A crime reference number for police matters or a letter from the University for University matters can be used to support this. If you are being accused of something by the University and/or the police you can also use this as grounds for mitigating circumstances if you think it’s affecting your studies. Letters sent to you regarding the case is an example of evidence that can be used for this.

9. Financial difficulty

If you are in financial difficulty for whatever reason and this has affected your studies in some way or you have to work a lot then you can also submit a form. Financial problems to do with accommodation also qualify you for mitigating circumstances, for example if your flatmate has suddenly left and you are required to pay double rent. Evidence of this is evidence of the financial difficulty you are in, plus something showing the increase in your work hours, or effect on your health.. If you are struggling financially please contact also the student funding on 01382 384801 or email them at studentfunding@dundee.ac.uk as they may be able to help or advise you.

Find further details here of what does and does not qualify as a mitigating circumstance. 

And that’s it! Remember this list is not exhaustive and if you have any doubts over whether what you are experiencing counts as a mitigating circumstance then please contact vpa@dusa.co.uk and I will assist you. If you want someone to check over your form before submitting it please also send it to that email address. Remember these forms can be submitted after the exams (check with your school office for a cut-off date) so please submit one if you feel your performance has been affected by something unexpected and out with your control!