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USSA Guide to Personal Circumstances

What are Personal Circumstances?

Personal Circumstances are any set of conditions or events that negatively affect a student’s academic performance. These should usually be considered to be acute, severe, and outside the student’s control. They should be reported to the University so they can be recorded on your Pegasus account.  


Why do I need to submit them?

Submitting Personal Circumstances is the only way to ensure that your circumstances are taken into account when your performance in assessments and exams over the course of the year are considered. You will not be able to submit an appeal on grounds of personal circumstances if you have not notified the University of your circumstances prior to a Board of Examiners decision being made.  


What do I need to do/how do I submit them?

You must explain concisely what your circumstances were, exactly when you were affected by them, which assessments/examinations were affected, and the ways in which your academic performance was affected by those specific set of circumstances. 

You should record the details on Pegasus under ‘Personal Circumstances’ as soon as you are aware of the circumstances. As space is limited on Pegasus, you also have the option of completing and submitting a Personal Circumstances Form if you feel you need to provide more detail. This should be submitted to Student Business in the McCance Building. 

You will also need to provide evidence to support what you have said happened. This can take a number of formats, so if you’re not sure what to submit, contact the Advice Hub and we’ll help you out.


When do I need to submit them?

The University should be notified of any personal circumstances as soon as possible. 

When your performance in an exam or assessment has been affected, Personal Circumstances should be submitted within five working days of the last affected exam or assessment.

When an entire semester or a significant length of time has been affected, Personal Circumstances should be submitted at least one working day before the meeting of the relevant Personal Circumstances Board. 

Notification of circumstances will not be accepted after the Boards have met, so it’s best to get these in as soon as you can! 


What kinds of circumstances are accepted? 

You may experience a wide range of circumstances which have an effect on your academic performance. There is no exhaustive list of what would be considered by Personal Circumstances Boards, but the following is some examples:


  • Serious illness or accident, including unexpected and sudden deterioration of a long-term condition;
  • Bereavement or funeral of a close relative (usually defined as a parent, child, partner, sibling, or the person responsible for raising the student, but the Boards have discretion to consider other depending on the circumstances);
  • Hospitalisation during or immediately before the assessment period or for an extended period over the semester;
  • Exceptional and unanticipated travel issues which prevented you from attending an exam;
  • Family break up. 


Are there any that aren’t accepted?

As a general rule, circumstances that could have realistically been avoided or those that are no different than those faced by many other students (those to do with workload management, for example) will be disregarded. Some other examples of circumstances that would not usually be considered are:


  • Minor illness such as headaches, sore throats, and minor colds;
  • Long-term illness or disability where adjustments have already been made or could have been made if the University was made aware of them previously;
  • Timetabling concerns;
  • Holidays (previously planned or otherwise);
  • Missing an exam or assessment submission due to oversleeping or misreading of the timetable.


When will I know the outcome?

Personal Circumstances are considered by the relevant Personal Circumstance Board (PCB) who will make recommendations to the appropriate Board of Examiners based on the information submitted on whether or not any academic dispensation or allowances should be granted. They may, for example, recommend that part or all of an assessment be discounted, but will not simply raise marks. 

No notice will be given from the PCB itself, but you will receive notification of your grades and any allowances given by the Board of Examiners. These usually meet the end of May/beginning of June.

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