Mitigating circumstances

Our policy on mitigating circumstances in relation to assessment applies to students studying on any Heriot-Watt University taught programmes and any taught elements of research degrees.

There are circumstances in which, through no fault of your own, you may be unable to take an assessment, or not done as well as you could have because of issues beyond your control. These are described as ‘mitigating circumstances' and you can apply to have them taken into account.

Please note that if you are experiencing difficulties which will adversely affect your ability to study or to take an assessment, you should contact your personal tutor. You can also seek advice and support from Student Wellbeing Services.

Such difficulties might include health issues – both mental and physical, personal, relationship or family issues, unexpected life events, having to take on unpaid caring responsibilities, or anything else that affects your ability to study effectively or take an assessment.

Mitigating circumstances application deadlines

If you intend to submit a mitigating circumstances application for coursework, examination or PGT dissertation, please ensure you meet these deadlines so that your application can be considered by the relevant Award and Progression Board.

  • Assessment (coursework and examination) – Thursday 15 August 2024
  • PGT dissertation/project (SoTD) – Monday 12 August 2024
  • PGT dissertation/project (EGIS, EPS, and MACS) – Monday 26 August 2024
  • PGT dissertation/project (SoSS) – Friday 6 September 2024

For students enrolled on the Direct Entry Programmes, Fast Track and Foundation Programmes in Malaysia, Dubai or Edinburgh please consult your local School or Campus Academic Support Admin Team for advice.

How to apply for consideration of mitigating circumstances

  1. Check in the policy that the circumstances are acceptable grounds for an application
  2. Complete an online application form and provide supporting documentary evidence, see What evidence must I provide? below
  3. Submit the application as soon as possible after the events under consideration occur.  Any application submitted after the deadline (see the Mitigating circumstances application deadlines section above) may not be considered.

Policy and guide for mitigating circumstances

For further information contact your personal tutor in the first instance

What are mitigating circumstances?

Some examples are:

  • Having a significant illness on the day of an exam
  • A flood in a city preventing an exam taking place
  • Political upheaval disrupting your study and learning
  • A significant illness or accident affecting you over time
  • Bereavement – death of a close relative or significant other
  • Jury service, although student assessments would normally exclude you from this
  • Industrial action by University staff affecting your studies
  • Ongoing infrastructure or IT systems affecting your studies.

Events like these are described as ‘mitigating circumstances'.

Mitigating circumstances frequently asked questions

Where can I get advice on the mitigating circumstances process?

Your personal tutor is your first point of contact for advice or assistance on academic and non-academic matters. Please note that telling your personal tutor about a mitigating circumstance does not count as the beginning of the formal process.

What evidence must I provide?

In all cases, you must provide independent documentary evidence, such as medical certificates.

The Health Centre on campus has provided guidance on medical supporting evidence.

Student Wellbeing Services can provide supporting evidence where a student is in contact with and receiving advice and guidance, and/or other support from any of the Wellbeing Services and the circumstances relevant to the MC request are known to the member(s) of staff supporting the student.  See the guidance on evidence: Mitigating Circumstances Evidence Provided by Student Wellbeing Services.

Examples of evidence are available in Appendix 2 of the Mitigating Circumstances Policy.

It is your responsibility to ensure that this information accompanies your application.  If you are unable to obtain evidence to support your application and the period affected is no more than seven days, you will need to complete a Mitigating Circumstances Self-Certification Form.

The University will keep your information completely confidential in line with data protection law. It will only be shared with others who need to know, and will be held securely at all times.

Where can I find the mitigating circumstances policy and student guidance?

The policy and student guidance are below. The policy is what is used by the mitigating circumstances committee when considering your case.

How long do I have to submit a mitigating circumstance application?

The form and supporting evidence must be submitted as soon as possible after the events under consideration occur and no later than the deadlines in the Mitigating circumstances application deadlines section above.

Is telling my personal tutor or course leader enough to start the official process?

No. It is an important first step in notifying the School of an issue which will likely affect your ability to perform to your academic best. However, you must submit an online mitigating circumstances application, with supporting evidence, no later than the deadlines in the Mitigating circumstances application deadlines section above.

What if I don’t have evidence to substantiate my case?

If you are unable to provide evidence in support of your application and the period affected by your circumstances is no more than seven days, you may include a Mitigating Circumstances Self-Certification Form with your application.

How is my case considered?

A mitigating circumstances committee is set up within the School to consider your claim and supporting evidence. The committee will take into account the following factors when considering an application:

  • Seriousness of circumstances
  • Evidence presented
  • Amount of work affected by the circumstances
  • Any results achieved under the circumstances which are inconsistent with unaffected periods of study

After you apply for consideration of your mitigating circumstances you will receive an email from your School outlining the process.

When do I find out if my MC application has been accepted?

You will be emailed within ten working days of receipt of your MC application to be told if it has been accepted, rejected, or if you need to provide more information.  If your application is accepted, a further decision will then be made, normally after the assessment period is over, on what form of mitigation is appropriate in your circumstances. 

What can I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome?

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the examiners, you can appeal under the terms of Regulation A12: Student Academic Appeals.

Please note that appeals will not normally be considered if they are about mitigating circumstances that were not made known to the mitigating circumstances committee or exam board before it made its decision. The University's guidelines on student academic appeal procedures give more information.

Key information

Edinburgh Campus

Scottish Borders Campus

Orkney Professional Services Team

+44 (0)1856 850 605

Dubai Campus

+971 52 205 7232

Malaysia Campus

+603 8894 3610