Exceptional Circumstances

Exceptional circumstances allow you to make the exam board aware of any difficulties which you feel may have had an impact on your performance

We have a “fit to sit” policy that applies to all students. If you submit an assessment, or sit an exam, we consider you have declared yourself well enough to do so.

However, you may experience circumstances which are sudden, unforeseen, outside of their control and proximate to an assessment. They may have a significant impact on your academic performance in an exam or other form of summative assessment.

If your assessment has not yet taken place, you should first seek an Extension Request. This may be appropriate for a summative essay, project or dissertation.

If you require more time to submit the work than an extension would normally allow, or the assessment in question has a static deadline e.g. an exam or take home assessment, you may need to apply for a deferral.

If you have submitted an assessment or sat an exam and you feel your performance has been affected by unforeseen circumstances that were outside of your control then you should submit Exceptional Circumstances (ECs).

Summer Term Assessments

Due to COVID-19 the School has made some changes to extensions, deferrals and exceptional circumstances.

Please click on the link below for the student guidance on the changes to these procedures:

Student Guidance

*This guidance has been updated on 29 April 2020

The new Exceptional Circumstances Form can be submitted here.

General information about Exceptional Circumstances

What are Exceptional Circumstances?

Exceptional circumstances are unforeseen circumstances outside of your control which you feel may have had a significant impact on your academic performance, e.g. an exam or other form of summative assessment. Such circumstances might include, but are not limited to, illness, being victim to a crime, injury, personal/family problems and/or bereavement.

By submitting an assessment or by entering the exam room you are declaring yourself fit enough to attempt the assessment. If you experience disruption to your studies prior to the assessment (e.g. due to personal difficulties, crime, bereavement, illness etc.) you must think carefully about whether you should attempt it or whether you should discuss applying for an extension or deferring the assessment.

If, having attempted an assessment,  you experience difficulties which you feel may have had an impact on your performance, you should submit an ECF within the deadline. When considering your ECF, the Exam-Board(s) reserve the right to determine whether or not it was appropriate for you to attempt the assessment.

You are encouraged to discuss your circumstances with your Academic Mentor, in order to ensure full support and referral to other appropriate sources of support. However, you must ensure you also submit an EC form and evidence to the SSC. Submitting an ECF to the Student Services Centre is the only way to make the relevant Exam-Boards aware of your circumstances when it considers your results.

What is the deadline for submitting Exceptional Circumstances?

You must submit your Exceptional Circumstances Form and corroborating evidence by the following deadlines:

  • No later than seven days after your final School assessment in the relevant academic year, except for those taking assessments in IRDAP. For those students, ECs should be submitted within five calendar days. 

If you are unable to meet the School’s Standards of Evidence, you must submit any corroborating evidence you do have within the normal deadline or as soon as possible. It is not possible for Exam Boards to consider evidence once results have been formally ratified. Therefore, evidence must be submitted in good time.

If the seventh calendar day after your last assessment falls on a bank holiday, then your ECF will still be accepted on the next working day after the bank holiday. Any documentation submitted after this deadline may not be considered by the Exam-Boards.

How do I submit my Exceptional Circumstances form?

You are encouraged to discuss your circumstances with your Academic Mentor, in order to ensure full support and referral to other appropriate sources of support. However, you must ensure you also submit an EC form and evidence to the SSC.

Exceptional Circumstances Form

If you are able to obtain corroborating evidence, but will not be able to submit the evidence within the seven day deadline: you must still complete and submit the form and clearly note on the form that the evidence will follow shortly. The evidence must then be submitted as soon as possible.

If you are unable to meet the School’s Standard of Evidence: you must submit any corroborating evidence you do have within the normal deadline or as soon as possible. It is not possible for Exam Boards to consider evidence once results have been formally ratified. Therefore, evidence must be submitted in good time.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your submission is received by the SSC within the deadline and that all documents are included. 

What happens once I have submitted my form to the Student Services Centre?

You will be sent an email to your LSE account confirming your request has been received and we will keep a record that your EC form has been submitted. 

  • If you have submitted assessments throughout the academic year and/or main summer exam period and submitted ECs relating to a failed course, the ECs will be considered at the end of the academic year.
  • If the ECs do not relate to a failed course they will be considered at the end of the degree programme when the Sub-board of Examiners determines the overall degree classification.

If you are a third year undergraduate or 9 month postgraduate student, your ECs will be considered in July. If you are a 12 month master’s student, your ECs will be considered between September and November.

If you are a first year undergraduate student that attempts assessments during the August 2019 IRDAP and you submit ECs relating to a failed course, they will be considered in September.

What will the Exam Boards do with my Exceptional Circumstances?

Individual marks cannot be changed as a result of the submission of Exceptional Circumstances (ECs). However, ECs may result in the lifting of a penalty where late submission penalties have been applied. Information about the types of decisions Exam-Boards can make are explained below.  

All Students: treatment of fail marks and late submissions

Whether you are a continuing student or due to graduate and you have failed a course, it is open to the Exam-Board either to discount a failed​attempt at assessment or grant an additional attempt on the basis of your Exceptional Circumstance (EC) claims. Please note, attempts may only be discounted (treated as a deferral) where ​you fail a course ​but have attempts remaining. Additional attempts would only be offered where you have already exhausted the usual number of attempts permitted at an assessment. Where a discount has been approved the fail or absent mark will not appear in LSE for You or your final transcript. If you have been granted discount(s) or if you have exhausted attempts and have been granted an exceptional attempt then the Results Team will write to inform you of this by email.

Exam-Boards also have the authority to revoke late penalties that have been applied to assessments ​that have been received after the agreed deadline. It may be the case that late penalties were never applied if​, shortly after submission but prior to the publication of provisional results, you had direct contact with the department responsible for administering the assessment in order to provide your reasons for why the work in question could not be submitted by the deadline. Where late penalties have been applied and you included information about why you were unable to submit on time in your EC submission, the Exam-Board will consider whether or not to revoke these penalties. 

Continuing Students with no fail marks

If you are a continuing student and have passed all of your courses for the year, your EC submission will be filed for consideration at the end of your programme. This is when the Exam-Boards will determine which classification you should be awarded. However, if your ECs relate to a failed course, the Exam-Boards will consider your circumstances at the end of the year in question. 

Undergraduate Students

If you are an undergraduate student, ​have submitted ECs and are considered to have a borderline mark profile then the Exam-Board will carefully consider whether it is appropriate to award you a higher degree award than the classification scheme would normally allow. ​In order to do so, the Exam-Board must be satisfied that you have also met all the conditions as stated in the General Proviso of the classification scheme for your programme. The General Proviso states that the following conditions also apply: 

 - that the student is very close to the next higher classification boundary i.e. within 3 marks in a single unit which has been used for classification i.e. one full-unit or two half-units or 10* marks on aggregate using the criteria determined in section 4;

-  and that the student has marks in the higher classification range;

-  and that the student has demonstrated that the assessment or set of assessments in question were significantly and negatively affected by exceptional circumstances that were sudden, unforeseen, out of the student’s own control and proximate to the assessment(s) in question;

-  and that the student’s performance in the affected assessment(s) was significantly out of line with their performance in other, unaffected assessments.

*This has been increased to 15 marks in light of COVID-19

The School defines the ​criteria for a borderline degree classification as being no more than three marks below ​achieving the next higher grade in a single course, which if achieved would increase your degree classification overall. Or, ​having achieved the requisite number of classification marks, being no more than fifteen marks away ​from the required aggregate, which if achieved would result in a higher award. 

Postgraduate Students

If you are a postgraduate student, ​have submitted ECs and are considered to have a borderline mark profile then the Exam-Board will carefully consider whether it is appropriate to award you a higher degree award than the classification scheme would normally allow. ​In order to do so, the Exam-Board must be satisfied that you have also met all of the conditions stated in the General Proviso of the classification scheme for your programme. The General Proviso states:

-  that the student is very close to the next higher classification boundary (within 3 marks in a single unit or 5** marks on aggregate); 

-   that the student has marks in that higher classification range; 

-   that the student has demonstrated that the assessment or set of assessments in question were significantly affected by exceptional circumstances that were sudden, unforeseen, out of the student’s own control and proximate to the assessment(s) in question; 

-   that the student has demonstrated that their performance in the affected assessment(s) was significantly out of line with their performance in other, unaffected assessments.

**This has been increased to 10 marks in light of COVID-19

The Exam-Board will also carefully consider anyone that is three marks away in a single course from being awarded the degree or is five marks away from achieving the compensation aggregate which would allow for the award of the degree. This may also include being within three marks in a single course or five marks on aggregate of any local rules as stipulated in the LSE Calendar

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When will my Exceptional Circumstances be considered?

Decisions about exceptional circumstances are confirmed on the day your formal results are released and can be seen by checking your results on LSE for You. You will only receive individual notification if you have been granted an exceptional third attempt or had attempt(s) discounted. Candidates are not sent separate notification if their exceptional circumstances have not resulted in a suspension of the regulations. 

Please note that the School has very few instances in which the regulations are suspended. This means that although all forms will be considered very carefully, the vast majority of submissions will not result in a suspension of the regulations.

 

What if I have already informed my Department or Academic Advisor about my circumstances?

All marks and exceptional circumstances are considered anonymously at Exam-Board meetings. Therefore, the only way in which your circumstances can be considered by the Exam-Boards is by submitting an Exceptional Circumstances Form (ECF) with evidence to the Student Services Centre.

This includes if you have requested and were granted an extension but still feel that your performance was impacted by circumstances beyond your control. When considering your ECF, the Exam-Boards reserve the right to determine whether or not the extension was enough to compensate for your circumstances and/or whether it was appropriate for you to attempt the assessment.

I am worried that the content of my submission contains extremely confidential and private information.

Information submitted through the exceptional circumstances process will only be made available to staff who are directly involved with the process.

Only the Chair of the Exam-Boards may know your identity at Exam Board meetings at which your Exceptional Circumstances Form is considered. Your identity will remain anonymous to the other members of the Examination Boards.

The School will consider your exceptional circumstances submission in confidence. It will not inform anyone outside of the exceptional circumstances process about your circumstances. For the avoidance of doubt, the School will never talk to any external agencies about your circumstances or any of your personal details (not even to confirm that you are a student at the School) without your express authorisation.

I do not know how much my circumstances may have affected my performance. Can I just wait until I see my results and submit an appeal?

No, if you are aware of your circumstances before your results are known then you must submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form within the seven day deadline.

It is an important part of the exceptional Circumstances procedure that you submit information about your circumstances before your results are known. This is so that the Sub-Board for your programme can properly consider them at the point of classification and if necessary suspend the regulations before your results are formally released.

Exceptional circumstances that are not declared within the seven day deadline normally cannot later be taken into account, i.e. they cannot be used as the basis for an appeal unless there is an extremely compelling reason why the circumstances were not declared to the School within the seven day deadline.

Failing a course or failing to be awarded a degree is not considered to be evidence that the assessment was affected by exceptional circumstances.


If you are experiencing difficulties and require advice, you may wish to approach your Supervisor or Academic Adviser in the first instance. Please note, however, that any information given to your department will only be made available to the Sub-Board if you submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form.

If you would like further support in relation to sexual violence, including sexual harassment, a Safe Contact will be able to refer you to LSE and external specialist sources of support.

For specific advice on submitting the Form, and on degree and classification regulations, please contact the Advice Team.

The Students’ Union Advice Service can provide independent advice on your case. 

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