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Mitigating Circumstances

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs are divided into five categories:

 

Defining "mitigating circumstances"
What are mitigating circumstances?

The College considers mitigating circumstances to be:

“recognisably disruptive or unexpected events, beyond the student’s control, that might have a significant and adverse impact on their academic performance”.

 

"beyond the student's control" means that you could not have reasonably prevented them from happening.

"a significant and adverse impact on their academic performance" means that the circumstances were disruptive enough to have a meaningful adverse impact on your academic ability.

What kind of mitigating circumstances would normally be considered valid/invalid?

Because your circumstances are unique to your individual situation, and circumstances can impact on individuals in different ways, it is not possible to provide a full list of circumstances that would be considered valid. The College has produced guidance on acceptable medical evidence that provides examples of the different types of circumstances that would usually be considered acceptable and the evidence needed to support the claim.  The guidance also sets out the circumstances which would not be considered acceptable.

What is the difference between mitigating circumstances and
Personalised Exam Provisions (PEP)?

Personalised Exam Provisions are organised for students in advance of assessments by the Examinations Office. The purpose of PEP is to provide an environment that gives all students an equal opportunity for assessment. 

The key difference between PEP and mitigating circumstances is that mitigating circumstances are unexpected events beyond your control. In contrast, PEP relate to longer term or 'foreseen' circumstances such as learning difficulties and medical conditions.

 

Examples of PEP might include extra time for a learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) or an exam paper produced in larger print.

All applications for Personalised Examination Provisions require specific supporting evidence and there are strict deadlines for each examination period. You can find out more about PEP on the Examinations webpages.

In what ways might mitigating circumstances affect my academic performance?

These are the situations an Assessment Sub Board Chair can take into account as “mitigating circumstances”:

  • Where the mitigating circumstances mean that you are unable to meet a published deadline for submission of assessed work;
  • Where the mitigating circumstances mean that you are unable to take an examination, class assessment, lab test etc at the prescribed time.

 

When mitigating circumstances are affecting or have affected your ability to complete an assessment
What should I do if I am unable to meet a coursework deadline?

In this situation you are required to submit a completed Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF)

The form can be submitted at any time before the submission deadline but normally no later than 7 calendar days after the submission deadline.

You must provide documentary evidence with your submission. This can be submitted along with the completed MCF within 7 days of the submission deadline/assessment date. If you are unable to get the evidence together within 7 days you must submit your MCF within 7 days, and then you can submit the evidence separately, within 21 days of the submission deadline/assessment date.

Don’t delay submitting the form if you do not yet have the appropriate documentary evidence.  Evidence can be submitted up to 21 days after the date of the affected assessment.

What should I do if my mitigating circumstances mean I am unable to
sit an examination?

In this situation you are required to submit a completed Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF).

The form can be submitted at any time before an examination but normally no later than 7 calendar days after the date of a missed examination.

You must provide documentary evidence with your submission. This can be submitted along with the completed MCF within 7 days of the submission deadline/assessment date. If you are unable to get the evidence together within 7 days you must submit your MCF within 7 days, and then you can submit the evidence separately, within 21 days of the submission deadline/assessment date.

Don’t delay submitting the form if you do not yet have the appropriate documentary evidence.  Evidence can be submitted up to 21 days after the date of the affected assessment.

I am affected by mitigating circumstances but I worry that these might
not be accepted. Is it better for me just to submit the assessment (or
take the exam) and see how it goes?

Assessment Boards make their decisions using the same information provided to students about what are acceptable circumstances, and what is the necessary evidence, so you are advised to read the guidance carefully before completing and submitting the MCF.

You are strongly advised not to risk completing an assessment of any type if you are experiencing difficulties that would have an adverse impact on your academic performance and would meet the definition of mitigating circumstances. In this situation, by submitting an MCF you are complying with the College’s regulations and are making a conscientious decision to be assessed at a time when your circumstances have improved. 

If you are worried about not being able to supply evidence at the same time as your MCF, then follow the procedure outlined on the MCF for providing it within 21 days.

What happens if I am taken ill during an examination and am unable to complete it?

In this instance you should report your illness to an invigilator in the examination hall who will provide you with a signed “incidence report form”. You should submit the Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF) along with the invigilator report as soon as possible and normally no later than 7 days after the date of the examination.  You will also be required to obtain and submit a medical certificate as soon as is reasonably possible, and in all cases within 21 days of the date of the examination.

What happens if I have taken an examination but with hindsight feel
that I shouldn't have done so?

"Exceptionally, a student who presents themselves for an assessment or submits coursework may, at the discretion of the Chair of the relevant Assessment Sub Board, be retrospectively granted an authorised absence from that assessment provided that they submit evidence of mitigating circumstances normally no more than seven calendar days after the date of the assessment or submission deadline. Supporting evidence should be submitted with the form provided for this purpose or within 21 calendar days of the date of the affected assessment." (T43.4).

 

This means that you can submit an MCF up to 7 days after your assessment or submission deadline, but you will be asked to provide a good reason as to why you did not follow the normal mitigating circumstances procedure before you presented yourself for an examination or submitted coursework (T43.6).

 

Completing and submitting a Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF)
What should I do if mitigating circumstances have affected
my academic performance?

It is important that you complete a Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF) as soon as possible. If you are able to, you should submit it in an advance of the missed/affected assessment date.

If you’re not able to submit the MCF in advance you must submit it no later than 7 days after the missed/affected assessment date.

7 days is defined as 7 calendar days which includes weekends. Bank Holidays (England/Wales) and College Closure days are excluded from these 7 days.

If you had a reason why you could not submit an MCF within 7 days you can discuss this with your personal tutor or the College advice service. KCLSU Advice can give you advice that is independent from the College. An MCF would not normally be accepted after 7 days except in exceptional situations, such as hospitalisation with no ability to inform the College.

What evidence do I need to provide?

Your mitigating circumstance claim will only be accepted if you provide suitable evidence.

This evidence needs to be

  • Documentary : it must be in writing
  • From an independent third party : you cannot self-certify, or produce your own documents
  • Supportive of your claim: it needs to include enough details that it can provide evidence of the circumstances you are submitting.
  • Signed by the person who wrote the document, have a date on it and presented on official headed paper
  • Written in English, or accompanied by a translation in English with a confirmation of the source of the translation

If you don’t have the supportive evidence immediately you still must submit your MCF within 7 days. You have up to 21 days from the date of the affected assessment to submit the evidence – but this will only apply if you have submitted your MCF within 7 days.

21 days is defined as 21 calendar days which includes weekends. Bank Holidays (England/Wales) and College Closure days are excluded from these 21 days.

The College has produced guidance that provides examples of the different types of circumstances that would usually be considered acceptable and the evidence needed to support the claim.

What medical evidence would I need to provide?

You would need to provide a 'fit note' (see King's Health Centre webpages) that is signed by a doctor. You cannot submit a self-certification form.

If I have a King's Inclusion Plan (KIP), can I use it as evidence?

You can only use a KIP as evidence if it confirms that you have a long standing medical condition or disability and explicitly states that the KIP may be used as evidence to support mitigating circumstances.

Please note that most KIPs will not include this adjustment. If yours does not, you should follow the procedure for evidencing an illness. You may wish to discuss your future requirements directly with the Disability Advisory Service.

Remember that mitigating circumstances are different to Personalised Exam Provisions (PEP), which are organised through the Examinations Office.

Where do I submit my form?

The MCF can be submitted electronically or in hard copy.  Each department/academic centre will have a dedicated centralised email address or postal depository for MCFs; if emailing, students must submit their MCF from their KCL email account. Consult your student handbook or use the faculty links below to find your department contact details:

Arts & Humanities

Dental Institute

Law

Life Sciences & Medicine

Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Nursing & Midwifery

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Social Science & Public Policy

A-Z of all academic departments/centres

Any supporting evidence that is available should be attached or forwarded at a future date, and in any event, no later than 21 days after the date of the first affected assessment.

What do I do if my mitigating circumstances are affecting assessments
for modules in different departments?

You should list all affected assessments on one MCF. This MCF should then be submitted separately to each relevant department (so you will send multiple copies of the same form).

How do I know if my mitigating circumstances will be accepted?

Your mitigating circumstances submission will be considered individually with a decision made on your specific circumstances and the evidence you supply.

Each circumstance is considered on a case by case basis, so even if you have submitted an MCF before it is important that you outline your circumstances clearly, that they fit into the acceptable grounds and that you provide the full evidence that is needed.

If you are unsure about whether your circumstances would be taken consideration under the regulations then please consult the guidance document and discuss your circumstances with your personal tutor. KCLSU Advice can give you advice that is independent from the College.

 

After an MCF has been submitted
Who sees my MCF and evidence?

The College recognises that it can be difficult to disclose sensitive, personal information to other parties. As such, please note that all documentation provided in support of an MCF will be treated sensitively, and will remain confidential to the relevant Assessment Sub Board.

Do I need to tell anyone I have applied for mitigating circumstances?

It is strongly advised that you seek additional help from the College that might support your circumstances, particularly if you are concerned that your difficulties are ongoing. You may also wish to consider contacting your Personal Tutor for support.

KCLSU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice and support with the mitigating circumstances procedure, including discussing circumstances, completing forms, and assisting with understanding the process.

Student Services includes a variety of support services, including the Counselling Service, Disability Advisory Service and Student Advice, which specialises in advice on money, housing, international student and welfare issues.

The Chaplaincy is a source of pastoral support for the entire King's community.

Webpages and guidance on harassment, bullying and discrimination

 

When will I get a response to my submission and what will I get back?

You will be notified, via your KCL email address, of the Chair’s decision, normally within 7 calendar days from the date you submitted the completed MCF and evidence, or within 7 days of the date you submitted the MCF, if the Chair has provisionally accepted your MCF, subject to the receipt of satisfactory evidence.  Please bear in mind that this period may be longer during periods when the College is closed, such as the Christmas and New Year break. You can, however, request a full copy of the Chair’s decision letter.

What will happen if I submit a MCF in advance but then decide to sit
the examination or submit my coursework?

If you have already submitted a MCF and then decide to take your assessment your MCF will be ‘voided’. This is because the College applies the principle that a student who attends, submits or participates in any form of assessment shall be considered by the College to be in a position to do so.

If you are unsure as to whether you are capable of undertaking an assessment and feel that you might have mitigating circumstances you are strongly encouraged to speak to a professional, such as a medical doctor or counsellor, to help you assess the impact your circumstances are having on you. You can also discuss the matter with your personal tutor or module leader. KCLSU Advice can give you advice that is independent from the College.

 

The outcome of a mitigating circumstances application
Who makes the final decision?

All MCFs are considered by the Chair of the relevant Assessment Sub Board or their nominee. The internal Examinations webpages provide a list of Assessment Sub Boards and the relevant Chairs.

In reaching a decision the Chair of Assessment Sub Boards will take into consideration:

  • Whether the mitigating circumstances are significant, including the period covered;
  • The number of assessments affected; within a given module there is a limit to the number of assessments you can miss whilst still being able to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes of the module;
  • The authenticity of the evidence provided.
Will my marks be increased due to my mitigating circumstances?

No. College regulations do not permit marks for individual elements of assessment to be adjusted to compensate for mitigating circumstances.

If your MCF is accepted then one of the following will happen:

  • You will be deferred and given a replacement examination or an alternative form of assessment at a later date;
  • The examination will be declared void and the module mark will be re-scaled so that the module is only based on the elements of assessment you have completed.

The second option (to void the examination) will only be used where

  • this is possible as part of the assessment marking, and
  • where the first options (an exam at a later date or an alternative assessment) are impractical and
  • where the contribution of the missed assessment is not more that 20% of the total module mark.
Can I appeal against the decision?

You cannot appeal against a decision regarding your MCF until your module results are published.  Only then can you appeal against a decision of the Board of Examiners by submitting a Stage One appeal. Please read the guidance notes associated with the Stage One appeal carefully before lodging an appeal.

 

 

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