Help for Exams and Assessments

What are mitigating circumstances?

If you're in a taught programme of study at King's College London, you'll be expected to take part in assessments at times specified by the university. Assessments include handing in assignments and sitting exams. However, King's recognises that there are times when circumstances might stop you from being able to do these assessments to the best of your ability. For this reason they have a process called a 'mitigating circumstances' procedure.

Mitigating circumstances are defined as “recognisably disruptive or unexpected events, beyond your control, which might have a significant and adverse impact on your academic performance.”

Recognisably disruptive means that the circumstances could be understood as disruptive usually due to evidence such as a medical note or death certificate.

Unexpected means that you didn't or couldn't have known the circumstances were going to happen. For example, travel out of the country that you had booked in advance would not, in itself be considered 'mitigating circumstances'.

Beyond your control means that you couldn't have made a different choice that would have not resulted in these circumstances. For example, choosing to have an optional, cosmetic operation during the examination period would not normally be considered 'mitigating circumstances'.

Examples of possible mitigating circumstances include:

  • Bereavement

  • Serious short term illness

  • Deterioration of a long term health condition

  • Mental health condition

  • Being in an accident

It’s very important that you inform King's if you’re experiencing any issues that are affecting your studies, so that you can get support with your studies and take care of yourself. If you sit an exam, participate in or submit an assignment, the College will deem you to have been in a position to do so, and it will be difficult to challenge the mark once you receive it if you don’t feel that it reflects your ability.

What happens if I submit mitigating circumstances?

If you are experiencing mitigating circumstances, you can request:

  • to defer exams in the future
  • to withdraw from exams you’ve already sat (before receiving the mark)
  • to have an extension for coursework in advance
  • that penalties are not applied to coursework you’ve submitted late

This means you can take the time you need to focus on yourself and on getting support with your circumstances.


How do I submit mitigating circumstances?

You need to complete a Mitigating Circumstances Form.

The completed form, along with your evidence, should be submitted to your departmental administrator or Academic Centre. Check your handbook for the correct location for your programme.

If you have mitigating circumstances preventing you from sitting an exam, or you become ill in an exam, you need to submit the Mitigating Circumstances Form. This can also be used to request to withdraw if you enter an exam but have evidence that illness or other circumstances meant that you were unable to recognise or make a rational decision about whether you were in a position to undertake the exam.

If you have mitigating circumstances preventing you from meeting a deadline or caused you to submit work late, you can use the Mitigating Circumstances Form too. Where possible you should continue working towards the original deadline until you know the outcome of your request. Your request will need to explain the extension you require and be supported by independent evidence relating to your circumstances.

You will need to provide relevant documentary evidence with your form, there is further information on what evidence is accepted in the King's guidance.

It’s worth noting that your marks will never be raised due to submitting mitigating circumstances. You can find out more about the what the outcomes of submitting mitigating circumstances will be below.

When are the deadlines?

The Mitigating Circumstances Form should be submitted as soon as possible however you can submit it up until 7 days after the essay deadline or exam. If your form includes multiple essay deadlines or exams, the form should be submitted no later than 7 days after the first deadline or exam you’ve listed.

You’ll need to provide evidence in support of your request, however, this can be submitted up to 21 days after the first deadline or exam you’ve listed on the form.

We recommend that you contact the KCLSU Advice team if you’re concerned about meeting these deadlines or are unsure of which form to use. Some departments have slight variations with their procedures, so if at all unsure, please contact us for advice.

Who can help me?

If you’re experiencing mitigating circumstances it is a good idea to speak to your personal tutor straight away. You should also seek help from the KCLSU Advice Team (you will need to log in and complete an online form). Even if you are not sure whether or not you want to submit a mitigating circumstances form, our advice caseworkers can talk this through with you and help you to explore the options that are available to you. Our advice is independent and confidential so you can talk this through with us before you decide to inform the College.

Our friendly caseworkers are here to support you and help identify the steps you should take to inform the College of your circumstances. We can:

  • Talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you may have
  • Discuss your circumstances to determine if a mitigating circumstances application is likely to be accepted
  • Assist you to complete the Mitigating Circumstances Form clearly and accurately
  • Advise on what to include in your supporting statement and check drafts of this before you submit
  • Advise you on appropriate evidence to support your case

King's has produced a useful set of frequently asked questions and some guidance on their Mitigating Circumstances webpage.


What about my outcome?

The Chair of the Programme/Part Board of Examiners responsible for your degree programme will consider your submission. You’ll normally be notified of this within 7 calendar days from the date you submitted the form. If you’ve submitted the form, but you’re submitting evidence later, the department can give you a ‘provisional acceptance’ subject to receipt of evidence. You’ll be contacted via your KCL email address with a summary of the outcome.

If your mitigating circumstances are accepted then one of the following will apply:

  • You’ll be awarded a replacement assessment at a later date
  • You’ll be awarded an alternative form of assessment at a later date
  • The assessment will be declared void and your module mark rescaled such that the module mark is based only on those elements of assessment you completed

If your mitigating circumstances are not deemed a valid reason for missing an assessment then you’ll be marked as absent from the assessment and awarded a mark of zero.

In this instance, you should log in and contact us as soon as possible for information about the appeals procedure.