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Extenuating Circumstances and Time Out

Sometimes, unexpected things happen in life that are beyond your control. This can make it harder for you to:

  • do well on your course
  • finish your coursework
  • submit your coursework on time.

If something unforeseeable happens to you, you can let us know and we'll consider that when we mark your work. We call these situations extenuating circumstances. 

You can also request to take a break from your studies. We call this taking time out.

What are extenuating circumstances?

These are the types of extenuating circumstances we will consider:

  • a serious medical problem
  • the death of somebody you love
  • trauma
  • caring responsibilities
  • court attendance
  • any serious disruption caused by an incident
  • IT/system failure that makes studying online or uploading your coursework difficult.

What aren't extenuating circumstances?

We will not consider the following as extenuating circumstances:

  • studying online
  • unforeseeable IT/system failures that are very close to the deadline for uploading/submitting your work (you should always aim to submit your work well before the deadline, to avoid this situation)
  • any circumstance that was not unforeseen and unavoidable.

How it works

You need to apply and:

  • explain what has happened
  • provide evidence of what has happened (such as medical certificates)
  • talk to us to help us understand the challenges you're facing and work out the best option for you.

Read our Extenuating Circumstances Evidence Guidance (PDF 95KB) for a complete list of the types of evidence you can use.

If you can't provide evidence, you can self-certify for up to 60 credits per academic level or stage. For example, Year 2 of a BA course is 1 level. If you have to retake a level/stage, you can only self-certify if you haven't already used all 60 credits for that level/stage.

If we grant you extenuating circumstances we will mark your work and offer you a deferral if you submit your work:

  • on time or
  • up to 7 days late.

Situation in Ukraine

1 March 2022: UAL recognises that the situation in Ukraine will be having an impact on our students from there and may affect their ability to engage fully with their studies at this time. Students from Ukraine, or from other countries, who consider the conflict will have an impact on an assessment may apply for extenuating circumstances and UAL has, for this situation, waived the requirement for evidence in support of an EC claim.

Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

UAL recognises that the earthquake in Turkey and Syria will have had an impact on some of our student’s ability to study and complete their academic work. Students who have been impacted by this traumatic event can submit extenuating circumstances without the requirement to provide evidence.  Students will just need to explain how the circumstances have had an impact on their ability to complete their assessment to their full potential in their submission.

Situation in the Middle East

7 October 2023: UAL recognises that the situation in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon will be having an impact on our students from these countries and may affect their ability to engage fully with their studies at this time. Students from these countries, who consider the conflicts will have an impact on an assessment may apply for extenuating circumstances and UAL has, for this situation, waived the requirement for evidence in support of an EC claim

When to apply

To apply for extenuating circumstances, your module must have already started. If your module hasn’t started yet, please wait until it does before applying.

Please try to submit your application within 2 weeks of the circumstance happening. We will only accept applications at least 10 working days before the Exam Board meeting for your course.

How to apply

You apply through the UAL Student Portal:

1. Log in to the Portal.

2. Click on the My Assessments tab.

3. Select Extenuating Circumstances.

If you can’t use the Portal then contact your College by email for guidance:

If you are a PhD or MPhil student, please email your extenuating circumstances query to

Time out

You might want to take some time out from your studies. This could be part of a year or a full year.

Who can take time out

There are some restrictions. Please read the Student Guide to Requesting Time Out (PDF 250KB) first.

How to apply for time out

You should make an appointment to see your Year/Pathway Leader, Course Leader or Programme Director to discuss your request and advise you on your eligibility for time out. You will need to fill in the Time Out Request Form (Word 73KB).

Read the rules in more detail

It's a good idea to take some time to read the regulations so you know where you stand.

We also have guidance for doctors and other medical professionals who might be treating and supporting you.

What to do if you're an MPhil or PhD research student

MPhil/PhD research students should email the Research Student Team:

You can email questions about:

  • extenuating circumstances
  • taking time out
  • transferring to another course or institute.

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