Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) Guidance
If you have suffered from serious personal mitigating circumstances which are beyond your control and which have affected your ability to complete assessments, you can use this secure personal mitigating circumstances (PMC) form to advise the University of your circumstances (click here to access).
Mitigating circumstances are situations or circumstances of a serious nature (i.e. not day-to-day minor illnesses or circumstances you could have easily avoided through prior planning). The University does not define those circumstances which are serious and which are not. However the following are examples of circumstances which will probably not be taken into account:
- circumstances over which you have some control over through prior planning (e.g. moving house, getting married, computer problems);
- circumstances experienced by all or most students (e.g. financial difficulties);
- minor illnesses of a short-term nature;
- circumstances which have already been appropriately provided for by special assessment arrangements or via a Reasonable Adjustment Plan/Student Support Plan.
You can find a link to the University’s PMC Procedure here.
You can submit a PMC for the following reasons:
- absence/non-attendance at an exam, presentation or similar type of assessment
- late submission of coursework (up to 7 consecutive days)
- non submission of coursework
Or exceptionally in cases where you
- were unable to determine if you were fit to sit/submit an assessment but you did submit or take the assessment and
- have appropriate medical evidence to confirm that you were not in a position to determine your fitness
then you can use the PMC procedure to request that the assessment attempt should become null and void (i.e. a non-submission or absence).
If you submit a PMC for late submission but then do not submit your assessment, you should be aware that your PMC request will not automatically change to a PMC request for non-submission. If this is the situation, you are advised to contact your School.
If you are issued with a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) part way through a trimester and have submitted assessments earlier in the trimester without the support identified in the RAP, it may be possible to submit a PMC to request that your submitted assessments should become null and void and effectively request a replacement attempt.
The deadline to submit a PMC must be observed. You cannot ask for a replacement assessment attempt for assessments completed in a previous academic year or trimester when marks have already been confirmed by the Assessment Board.
If you are a student in one of these Schools and registered on a programme that either requires, or leads to, registration with a professional or regulatory body (e.g. HCPC or NMC) you need to be aware of the following:
- submitting a PMC (or an academic appeal) on the basis that you were unable to determine if you were fit to sit or submit could affect your fitness to practise or may impact on your fitness to study. The University has specific policies and procedures for each scenario and links to these are provided.
- if you are required to complete an annual declaration of good health and good conduct, you must discuss any mitigating circumstances which may have an impact on your completed declaration with your Programme Leader or Personal Tutor. This is very important in cases where ongoing health issues may impact on your ability to complete your programme. Staff may be able to direct you to appropriate support.
Students who are registered on post qualifying programmes or postgraduate modules/programmes should remember that they may need to inform their employers of any mitigating circumstances which may impact on their fitness to practise.
If you are a student on the final stage of a taught Masters programme, you can submit a PMC for the following:
- Late submission of your project/dissertation – if your PMC is accepted this means that any late submission penalties applied will be removed.
- Non submission of your project/dissertation – if your PMC is accepted this means a new standard submission date will be set:
- 6 weeks for students on a full time Masters programme (from the original submission date);
- 12 weeks for students on a part time Masters programme (from the original submission date).
If you are a part time student and have had significant increases in your workload (e.g. as a result of paid employment) and which has not been planned for, you can ask for consideration to be given to these circumstances through the PMC Procedure. You will need to provide evidence of this change in your circumstances (e.g. a letter from your line manager). Your PMC request can be considered for non-submission of an assessment, absence from an assessment or late submission of an assessment (work must be submitted within the late submission period). An increase in workload arising from paid employment would not normally be considered as an appropriate PMC request for full time students.
Whilst you can submit a PMC in advance of the assessment date if you know that you will be unable to attend an assessment or submit a piece of assessed work and if relevant evidence is available, you are advised to wait until close to the assessment point in case do submit your assessment.
You must submit your PMC no later than 10 working days from the date of your assessment (e.g. from the date of your exam or the coursework submission date).
What is self-certification?
Self-certification is a way of reporting to the University personal mitigation circumstances (PMC) of up to 7 consecutive days due to a short-term acute illness of condition for which it is not reasonably possible to obtain independent third-party evidence.
What assessment situations can self-certification cover?
Students can use the self-certification process for absence (non-attendance) at a scheduled assessment event, such as an examination or presentation, OR the late submission of work during the late submission period OR for non-submission of an assessment.
Students can use the self-certification process for situations where, for example, a short term acute illness or health issue such (e.g. migraine, flu, stomach bug, panic attack) resulted in absence (non-attendance) from a scheduled assessment event, such as an examination or presentation; OR prevented the timely submission of coursework. It cannot be used if you have simply been unable to meet an assessment deadline.
Self-certification can only be used for work submitted during the late submission period to request the removal of the late submission cap and cannot extend the length of the late submission period.
We trust students to use self-certification of PMCs accurately and honestly. Self-certification should not be used in respect of the general pressure of workload or as a way to address poor personal planning and time management. The provision of false information will be regarded as a disciplinary matter by the University and action may be taken through the Student Disciplinary Procedure.
Submitting a PMC on the basis of previously documented evidence with respect to a registered disability would not be treated as applying for self-certification.
What is the process to notify the university of short-term PMC?
Students will need to notify the University of short-term PMC using the student self-service/PMC portal. Students will need to provide a clear description of the nature of their PMC, the impact on assessment(s), which assessment(s) have been affected, dates during which they were affected and a confirm that details provided are accurate. Students are not expected to explain within their PMC why it was not possible or unreasonable to obtain independent third-party evidence.
What is the deadline to notify the University of PMC?
Students will need to notify the University of relevant PMC within 10 working days from the submission/assessment date. Students should ensure that all assessments affected by the notified condition are included in the same PMC request.
How often can students use the self-certification process?
Students have one opportunity during an academic year to have a self-certificated PMC request accepted. In some instances, a number of assessments or submission dates may be affected by the notified condition. In which case, students can use this self-certification period to claim for all assessments which fall within the 21-day period and which were specifically affected by the notified condition.
What happens if a PMC request is accepted?
If a PMC request is accepted for absence from a scheduled assessment, the student will be given a replacement attempt the next time the assessment runs.
If a PMC request is accepted due to late submission, the student will have any late submission penalty removed from the affected assessment(s).
What if a PMC request is rejected?
If a PMC request which involves self-certification has been rejected, students will be able to make use of the standard PMC reappraisal process to provide clarification of their request or provide additional information. In addition, if a student uses self-certification on one occasion in an academic year and the PMC request is rejected, the student will have further opportunities to self-certificate at a later point in the same academic year; however, only one request can be accepted within an academic year.
What if a student’s PMCs last for a longer period?
If a student has circumstances which last for a period longer than 21 consecutive days, the student will be expected to support their PMC request with evidence from an independent third-party professional.
Final Year Students
Students in the final year of their studies should be aware that if they are unable to submit an assessment (and a PMC request for non-submission/absence is submitted), this may result in a delay to their graduation as it may not be possible to offer a further assessment opportunity prior to graduation.
If a student submits a self-certification PMC, can this extend the late submission period?
If a student has an accepted self-certification PMC, this cannot extend their late submission period. The late submission period is seven consecutive days. A late submission penalty is applied to work submitted during the late submission period. An accepted self-certification PMC request will only be able to remove any late submission penalty applied.
You must include relevant independent third party evidence to support the mitigating circumstances which have affected you. The PMC Procedure (appendix 1) provides guidance on the type of evidence which could be used to support your PMC. The University is unable to obtain evidence on your behalf. It is important that your evidence confirms:
- the circumstances which have affected you
- the dates you were affected so that we can see how these relate to your assessment
- the impact of the circumstances on your ability to prepare for, submit or attend an assessment.
If your evidence is in language other than English, an official translation should also be provided.
If you have an illness or health condition which has affected your assessments you are advised to obtain a signed and dated letter on headed paper or with an official stamp from a health professional (GP, clinical specialist, registered professional in psychiatric practice, registered nurse/midwife etc.). Healthcare professionals may charge for any letter or medical evidence which they provide and students are responsible for the payment of these fees. Students will not be reimbursed by the University for any costs associated with obtaining medical evidence. Appointment cards are unlikely to provide sufficient evidence of a health condition alone, as they will not confirm a medical condition or the period during which you were affected.
Letters from family members, friends and fellow students are unlikely to be considered as valid evidence for a PMC due to the fact they are not from a professional or independent third party.
As mentioned above, evidence needs to be from an independent person, so if you have an injury for example, it would not be appropriate to provide a photography of your injury but it would be appropriate to provide some kind of medical record (i.e. fit note, hospital discharge paperwork, letter from a doctor) which confirms the injury and the impact it has had on you.
Photographs are not normally considered as appropriate evidence; however, a photograph of a document generated by a third party will normally be reviewed and considered.
If you do not have all the information available now, you can save the details which you completed (i.e. save your PMC as a ‘draft’) and then return to complete in at a later stage. You must do this no later than 10 working days from the date of your assessment (e.g. from the date of your exam or the coursework submission date set by your School). In addition, please note that any draft PMC that is not edited or submitted within 2 weeks of its initial creation will be deleted.
Your PMC form will be seen by staff in your School who have been appointed as PMC reviewers. You should be aware that the information you provide may be shared with staff linked to your programme of study and relevant support services for the purpose of providing you with appropriate support and guidance. Please note that any disclosures of risk to yourself or others will be shared with the Wellbeing service to ensure that the University can act in your best interests.
The PMC Procedure isn’t meant to be used to mitigate against ongoing illnesses or circumstances. Instead you should seek advice from your Personal Tutor or Programme Leader. You may also find it helpful to speak to Disability and Learner Support Service if you have a disability or ongoing health issues which is affecting your ability to study and be assessed. Alternatively, if you feel that the issue is impacting on your mental health or general wellbeing, you can contact the Wellbeing service for support.
If you have a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) which makes provision for individual assessments arrangements (e.g. extra time to submit assessments), you do not need to complete a PMC form to make use of these arrangements.
You cannot submit a PMC form for matters covered by a RAP or where other interim arrangements have been put in place.
If you have a RAP but experience additional personal mitigating circumstances or the circumstances covered by the RAP worsen, then you may submit a PMC with relevant evidence but you are advised to seek a review of your RAP through the Disability and Learner Support Service.
If you have flexibility around deadlines, you are reminded that this flexibility is built into your RAP for use when required but you and you should try to meet the standard deadlines as far as possible. You should also note that flexibility around submission deadlines cannot be used for reassessments.
If you have not completed all the assessments associated with your course, you will not be able attend graduation until you have done so. This may mean a delay in attending a graduation ceremony.
The reviewers will look at the following:
- is there any evidence to support the case being made?
- does the period you have been affected by mitigating circumstances correspond with the date of the assessment ?
- how long did you have to complete the assessment (i.e. what was the date when assessment set and deadline for submission)?
- did you have time to complete the assessment if mitigating circumstances were disregarded?
- the severity of your circumstances
- the nature of your circumstances
- the impact of the circumstances
- if you have submitted a previous PMC for the same reason (PMC reviewers will be able to see if previous PMCs have been submitted).
PMC outcomes will be reported to the Assessment Board. The Assessment Board cannot estimate your potential to obtain higher marks therefore it cannot award marks for an assessment you have not taken. It can decide whether your circumstances are sufficiently serious to warrant you being given another opportunity to demonstrate your skills and competence at a time when you are fit to do so.
The Assessment Board can take the following actions where PMCs are accepted:
- in cases of late submission of assessment, the Board can remove late submission penalties
- in cases of non-submission or absence, the Board can offer a replacement attempt; this also applies in cases where an assessment has been declared null and void. Replacement attempts will take place at the next available assessment opportunity. You should speak to your School to find out when the next assessment opportunity will take place and whether this may delay completion of your course.
If your PMC is rejected due to the evidence which you have provided, you will have one further opportunity to submit additional information to support your PMC. You must do this within five working days from the date you receive the outcome of your PMC following the instructions provided in the email which notifies you of the decision.
If your PMC is still rejected, you may be able to submit an Academic Appeal to ask for a further review but you will need to clearly demonstrate why you were unable to provide appropriate evidence when you submitted your PMC.
Whatever the outcome of your PMC application, you are advised to ensure that you have appropriate support in place to ensure that you are fit to undertake your course and assessments. Speak to your Programme Leader or Personal Tutor if you need any advice about sources of help and support or contact askUS.
If concerns arise regarding the authenticity of evidence provided to support a Personal Mitigating Circumstances request, the University reserves the right to check the authenticity of such evidence with the identified originating source.