These Regulations outline the policy and procedure to be followed when students apply for Special Considerations (in circumstances set out below), including requests for deadline extensions. They are divided in to two sections. Section A gives details of the policy, whilst Section B outlines the procedure to be followed.
Additional guidance can be found in the University's Quality Handbook.
Students can obtain free, independent and confidential advice about special considerations and extensions from the SUSU Advice Centre https://www.susu.org/support/advice-centre.html.
Section A: The Policy
1. Who can ask for special considerations?
1.1 Individual students enrolled and registered at the University of Southampton on a credit-bearing taught or pre-sessional programme.
1.2 Individual students enrolled and registered at the University of Southampton on a research degree with a taught component with regard to taught assessed components of the degree only.
1.3 A member of staff may ask for special considerations for a situation affecting groups or cohorts of students as set out in A2.2 below.
2. Under what circumstances do these regulations apply?
2.1 A student may apply for Special Considerations following the process in Section B if: there were exceptional circumstances outside of their control; and these have or will negatively affect their performance in a recent or upcoming assessment (including an exam) or ability to meet a deadline for submission of an assessment or to sit an examination.
2.2 Raised by a member of staff: A member of staff may use these Regulations where they are aware of exceptional circumstances that were outside of the control of a group/cohort of students that are likely to negatively impact performance in an assessment or their ability to meet a deadline for submission of an assessment or to sit an examination. See the procedure in section B.
3. What circumstances are not covered by these regulations?
3.1 These regulations:
- 3.1.1 do not apply to students who are already receiving support or reasonable adjustments from Student Disability and Inclusion for the specific exceptional circumstances raised where these are viewed to be medium to long-term in nature requiring ongoing support. It should be noted that despite a student receiving support for a long-term condition, they may not be receiving support for a worsening of the condition in a period which affects an assessment. Student Disability and Inclusion can provide advice and support relating to long term conditions, details of the support offered can be found at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/edusupport/disability_support/index.page
- 3.1.2 do not apply to situations which students can or could have taken reasonable steps either to avoid or to mitigate the impact on their performance;
- 3.1.3 do not allow for the marking process or a student's marks to be adjusted. A request for Special Considerations shall remain distinct from the marking process and actual marks shall be determined solely on the basis of work submitted. However, the Special Considerations Board may recommend that marks are disregarded as set out in section A6 below;
- 3.1.4 do not cover requests to extend candidature or to address matters affecting the submission of theses. Please refer to the section A7 on other regulations below.
4. Supporting information
4.1 Supporting information or self-certification for a period of up to 5 working days will be required and must demonstrate the points in Section A2.1. Please refer to guidance available in the Quality Handbook detailing the types of supporting information that will be considered.
4.2 Relevant information related to the student’s contact with Student Disability and Inclusion or Student Wellbeing will be considered.
4.3 Relevant information related to previous Special Considerations outcomes and / or extensions will be considered.
4.4 Wherever possible, original documents should be scanned. Students should be prepared to produce the original document, on request. Documents should be submitted in English. Documents in other languages must be accompanied by a verified translation.
5. Boards considering Special Considerations
Special Considerations requests are considered by a Special Considerations Board. Authority has been delegated to the Special Considerations Board to consider whether the request is valid in line with the Regulations. The Special Considerations Board will then make specific recommendations on outcomes to the relevant Board of Examiners based on the information before them. The Special Considerations Board should be run with due regard for privacy of the students, limiting the number of individuals who view the circumstances. Anonymity should be maintained within the Board, except in exceptional circumstances authorised by the Chair.
5.1 The Special Considerations Board Terms of Reference
5.1.1 The Deputy Head of School (Education) shall establish Special Considerations Board(s) at either School or Academic Discipline level, to consider requests for special considerations made by students enrolled in that School.
5.1.2 In addition to the terms of reference outlined in these regulations, Special Considerations Boards will take due account of any requirements from relevant Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) which govern the registration of students entering a relevant profession.
5.1.3 Each Special Considerations Board shall be constituted as follows:
- The Chair: a nominee of the Deputy Head of School (Education) (where a School has multiple Boards, the chair should wherever possible be the same for each Board)
- Exams Officer(s)
- Director of Programmes or nominee
- Faculty Academic Registrar / Head of Taught Programme Administration / Admin and Assessment Team Leader or nominee
- Senior Tutor(s)
- Special Considerations Assessors
- Co-opted members as deemed necessary by the Chair
5.1.4 Each discipline will be responsible for determining the appropriate individuals to undertake the initial review of cases, e.g. it could be a specific appointment, senior tutor, exam officer or another appropriate member of the committee (but not the chair). Selected academic members of the Special Considerations Board who undertake the initial review of Special Considerations cases will referred to here as Special Considerations Assessors (SCAs).
5.1.5 The SCAs will have delegated authority to make decisions on whether a case is appropriate to be considered, in line with the Regulations, so this can be communicated to students in a timely manner. The SCAs will also have delegated authority for dealing with requests from students for an extension of a deadline or removing a late penalty to ensure that timely decisions are made and communicated to the student.
5.1.6 SCAs will also prepare recommendations for the Board on proposed outcomes. Where those recommendations relate to straight forward cases, SCAs should ensure these provisional recommendations are communicated to the student. The SCAs should work with the relevant administrative team to ensure that all other cases are referred to the full Special Considerations Board. Further guidance on the role of the Special Considerations Assessors can be found in the Quality Handbook.
5.1.7 The role of the Chair is to ensure that the Board carries out its responsibilities in a fair, transparent and impartial manner and in accordance with relevant University and programme regulations and procedures. The Chair ensures that members have the opportunity to contribute to discussions and that business is conducted fairly.
5.1.8 The Board may consult and/or take advice from other relevant Faculties or Professional Services.
5.1.9 Decisions of each Special Considerations Board shall be made by a simple majority vote, with the Chair having a casting vote.
5.1.10 Personal Academic Tutors will not be able to vote on the outcome of a case for their own tutees. Members of Special Considerations Boards who are also the personal academic tutor of a student making a request for a special consideration shall not participate in any discussion related to that request and shall refrain from making a decision in connection with that request. They may however provide the student with a statement to be included as supporting information.
5.1.11 Special Considerations Boards shall be responsible to schedule their own regular meetings to be held at least once prior to each meeting of the School’s Board of Examiners. Each Special Considerations Board may decide to schedule more regular meetings or arrange extraordinary meetings when necessary.
5.1.12 All Special Considerations Boards are required to keep formal minutes of their proceedings. The purpose of the minutes of Special Considerations Board is to record decisions, to summarise any discussion relevant to those decisions (where this is required to give a context or rationale for the decision, or to establish precedents), and to capture for further consideration any areas of discussion or requirements for future action. Decisions regarding extensions should also be recorded.
5.1.13 The Special Considerations Assessors and Boards must be assured that the overall programme learning outcomes have been met before making a recommendation.
5.2 The Board of Examiners
5.2.1 To ensure due regard for the privacy of students, the Board of Examiners should not consider the personal circumstances of the student, which led to the request, as authority has been delegated to the Special Considerations Board to consider whether the request is valid in line with the Regulations.
5.2.2 Decisions made by the Special Considerations Assessors during the academic year must be reported to the Board of Examiners.
5.2.3 The Chair of the Special Considerations Board (or nominee) should assure the Board of Examiners that the process has adhered to University policy throughout.
5.2.4 Boards of Examiners shall consider recommendations from Special Considerations Boards before making a determination of the student's result and any progression decision arising from the result.
5.2.5 In all cases the Board of Examiners must be assured that overall programme learning outcomes have been met before implementing a recommendation by the Special Considerations Board.
6. Decisions and Recommendations of the Special Considerations Board
6.1 The Special Considerations Assessors will make a decision on whether the case is appropriate in line with the Regulations and may make a decision to grant an extension to a deadline for submission of an assessment, or remove a late penalty, where they are satisfied that Special Considerations should be applied.
6.2 For all other requests, the Special Considerations Assessors or Board will make one or more of the following recommendations to the relevant Board of Examiners.
- 6.2.1 Disregard a first attempt, referral or repeat and allow an additional attempt (at the same or equivalent assessment), in accordance with the relevant Progression regulations.
- 6.2.2 Recommend a different form of re-assessment, as determined by the module lead, if the same or equivalent is no longer possible, to assess whether the learning outcomes are achieved.
- 6.2.3 Remove the capping of marks in a referral or repeat.
- 6.2.4 Allow a student to retain the right of referral during a repeat.
- 6.2.5 Disregard marks for specific module(s), in computing the aggregate mark or classification.
- 6.2.6 Disregard an element of a module assessment and re-compute module mark based on completed components.
- 6.2.7 That a special consideration request be considered by a future Board of Examiners. In the final year it may be possible to revisit performance in earlier years where there was special considerations that may or may not have had an impact on the degree classification.
- 6.2.8 No further action.
6.3 When deciding which recommendations to make, Special Considerations Boards should always:
- 6.3.1 consider allowing a student an additional attempt in preference to disregarding marks, elements, or modules, making this latter recommendation only when additional attempts are not possible or practical; and
- 6.3.2 carefully consider the effects of the recommendation so that a student is not given an unfair advantage; the objective is as far as possible to put a student in the position they would have been in had the exceptional circumstances not occurred; and
- 6.3.3 be assured that overall programme learning outcomes and PSRB requirements have been met.
6.4 The Special Considerations Board may consider whether a student's performance has been negatively affected with reference to that student's overall marks profile when making a recommendation.
6.5 Where 6.2.2 above is recommended, marks for the disregarded attempt will not appear on transcripts; however, a note will appear confirming that the attempt has been disregarded due to Special Considerations. Marks disregarded in accordance with 6.2.6 however will appear on transcripts.
6.6 Where additional attempts are granted, the marks obtained in the additional attempt will be inserted into the student's marks profile, in accordance with the relevant progression regulations, regardless of whether these are higher or lower than the original mark obtained.
6.7 In addition to the outcome recommendation, the Special Considerations Boards may recommend:
- 6.7.1 That a student attend a meeting with a senior member of academic staff to discuss their circumstances;
- 6.7.2 That a student must seek support from Student Disability and Inclusion and / or Student Wellbeing (the Board should report such recommendations to the relevant team who will attempt to make contact with the student);
- 6.7.3 a Student Support Review;
- 6.7.4 that the Fitness to Practise Procedure is considered.
6.8 Should a student fail to seek appropriate support (e.g. from Student Disability and Inclusion and / or Student Wellbeing) following a recommendation from the Special Considerations Board in accordance with 6.7 above, further requests for Special Considerations made due to similar circumstances should be rejected.
7. Other relevant regulations and policies
7.1 The University's Student Support Review process outlines how the University will respond to situations where visible signs of illness, mental health difficulties, psychological, personality or emotional disorders may have a profoundly disturbing impact on the functioning of individual students and on the wellbeing of others around them. The procedure outlines support available to both students and staff and may be referred to should a student's Special Consideration request(s) raise cause for concern.
7.2 Any programme of study which has a practice component which will lead to a professional registration will be governed by a requirement that students demonstrate their Fitness to Practise. A student's Fitness to Practise may be challenged when their behaviour, health and/or professional conduct gives cause for concern. In these circumstances, a student should be considered under the Fitness to Practise Policy and Procedure.
7.3 The Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision and Regulations for Research Degrees provide information to students enrolled on research degrees wishing to suspend their studies or extend their candidature due to exceptional circumstances.
7.4 A student wishing to appeal against an academic decision made by the University should refer to the Regulations Governing Academic Appeals by Students.
7.5 Definitions of terms can be found in the Regulations and Definitions Applying to Progression for all Credit Bearing Programmes.
7.6 The Regulations governing Progression, Determination and Classification of Results: Undergraduate and Integrated Masters Programmes and Progression, Determination and Classification of Results: Postgraduate Master's Programmes provide information related to student progression.
7.7 Information related to the award of an aegrotat degree, diploma or certificate can be found in The Ordinances of the University 11.1.
7.8 If information about a safeguarding incident is disclosed the Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy should be referred to.
Section B : The Procedure
1. Submitting a Special Considerations Request
1.1 A student must submit a Special Considerations form and supporting information as soon as possible, but normally not more than five working days after any assessment or deadline which may have been affected by exceptional circumstances.
1.2 When a student is unable to submit supporting information at the same time as the form, this should be declared on the application and the documentation should normally be submitted within 2 weeks of the form.
1.3 Special Considerations requests which are incomplete in any material aspect and do not include sufficient information in support of that request, or a valid explanation of why that cannot be provided, will not be considered by the Special Considerations Board and may be rejected.
1.4 The appropriate Team will ensure all relevant information is collated and taken into account by the Special Considerations Assessors / Board, including that mentioned in section A 4.
1.5 Students must not lobby individual Board members about the decisions of the Special Considerations Board.
1.6 Raised by a member of staff: Where a member of staff, including Personal Academic Tutor or Senior Tutor, is aware of exceptional circumstances that member shall advise the Deputy Head of School (Education) for that School of the matter and provide such additional information as the Deputy Head of School (Education) may decide is required. The Deputy Head of School (Education) for that School shall decide whether to make a decision and refer directly to the Board of Examiners. In these circumstances the relevant students should be notified that individual requests need not be made by students or where made already, will instead be considered as a group matter.
2. Considering the Request
2.1 The Special Considerations Assessors will make a decision on whether the case is appropriate in line with the Regulations. Special Considerations Assessors may choose to consult with another member of the Board before making that decision. Should the request not be appropriate in line with the policy, the decision should be communicated to the student as soon as possible.
2.2 Requests for extensions of a deadline, removal of a late penalty and other time critical decision: Special Considerations Assessors will decide on special considerations requests for the extension of a deadline, removal of a late penalty or other time critical decision provided the request is appropriately completed and has supporting information as and when the need arises. Special Considerations Assessors may choose to consult with another member of the Board and the relevant tutor before making that decision. The decision should be communicated to the student as soon as possible.
For all other requests:
2.3 Special Considerations Assessors should prepare recommendations for the Board on proposed outcomes.
2.4 The Special Considerations Board will decide on all other special considerations requests which are appropriately completed, have supporting information and which are received normally at least five days in advance of their next available meeting. Where there is less than 5 days' notice the application may need to be held over until the next meeting.
2.5 The Special Considerations Board shall discuss the merits of the special considerations request in private.
2.6 Before the Special Considerations Board makes a recommendation, it may deem it appropriate to require the student to attend a meeting with a senior member of academic staff to discuss their request and the supporting information they have submitted.
3. Special Considerations Board Decisions and Recommendations
3.1 The Special Considerations Board will take a decision or make a recommendation as set out in Section A6.
4. Students will be notified of the decision and/recommendation(s) of the Special Considerations Board normally within 5 working days of formal marks release, however decisions are not finalised until they have been ratified by the relevant Board of Examiners (except for deadline extension requests or removal of a late penalty).
5. Board of Examiners Decision
5.1 All recommendations of the Special Considerations Board are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners.
6.1 Students wishing to appeal a decision of the Board of Examiners based on recommendations of the Special Considerations Board should refer to the Regulations Governing Academic Appeals. Students may only appeal if they are able to show that they satisfy one or more the grounds specified in the Regulations Governing Academic Appeals.
Reviewed in June 2019; no changes made.
During the Covid-19 pandemic these regulations were replaced by a temporary set of regulations. You can review these in the Calendar archive for 2019-20.
No changes made in June 2020
Reviewed in June 2021: Change in language from ‘evidence’ to ‘supporting information’. Clarification that the Special Considerations Board should be run with due regard for the privacy of the students, maintaining anonymity where possible.
Reviewed in April 2022: Change in terminology:
- Enabling Services to Student Disability and Wellbeing
- Fitness to Study to Student Support Review
Amendments to the wording in sections:
- 1.2: Special Considerations requests which are incomplete in any material aspect and do not include sufficient information in support of that request, or a valid explanation of why that cannot be provided, will not be considered by the Special Considerations Board and may be rejected.
- 1.4 Students must not lobby individual Board members about the decisions of the Special Considerations Board.