Worcester College
Lavender in the Worcester College quad
(Image Credit: May Chan / Graduate Photography Competition)
Application Guide

Extenuating circumstances

What can I declare?

We recognise that some applicants may have been affected by extenuating circumstances that will impact the strength of their application. To ensure our academic assessors can understand the impact of these on your application, the application form includes a section for you to declare significant relevant circumstances. This section may be used to declare circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, or for other circumstances (eg bereavement or mental/physical health issues).

You may declare any relevant significant extenuating circumstance that negatively affected the strength of your application. 

We will not be able to take into account extenuating circumstances for which adequate mitigations have already been applied by your current/previous institution or where there is no clear impact on your application. If your extenuating circumstances relate to a previous or current qualification, you should first approach the awarding institution, including where an issue was diagnosed after you completed the course. You should, therefore, contact the relevant institution to request consideration of extenuating circumstances in advance of making an application. Where the awarding institution did not make an adjustment or is not able to take these extenuating circumstances into account for policy reasons, evidence would need to be supplied of this (such as a link to their policy or email correspondence with the institution) and of the extenuating circumstances.

When should I declare it?

You should declare the circumstances as part of the application form, uploading evidence if applicable.

You can also declare sensitive personal extenuating circumstances separately from the application form. This can be done after submitting your application form, but at least a week ahead of the deadline to which you are applying to ensure the information is available to the academic assessors in good time. Deadlines for course applications are available on the course pages.

Do I need to provide evidence?

To help our academic assessors, it is recommended that you submit supporting evidence of the impact of the extenuating circumstances you are declaring, although we recognise that this may not always be possible. Because this may take some time to obtain, you should start this as soon as possible.

You will be given the opportunity to upload evidence in the 'supporting documents' section of the application form should you wish to do this. Evidence is essential where you are reporting the loss of an internship or job opportunity. Where evidence is not provided but our academic assessors consider that it is required in order to consider the extenuating circumstances you have declared, we may contact you to discuss what, if any, evidence you may be able to provide. Where evidence is not in English, it must be accompanied by a certified professional translation.

Declaring sensitive personal circumstances

Where the circumstances are highly sensitive and access to this information should be closely restricted, they should be disclosed separately by completing a Sensitive Personal Extenuating Circumstances form and uploading it via the sensitive circumstances upload portal. Access will be restricted only to those assessing your application. We only process special category data, such as your health data, with your explicit consent.

You have the right to withdraw this consent at any time by contacting Graduate Admissions.

The Sensitive Personal Extenuating Circumstances form is in PDF format. To request an accessible version, please contact Graduate Admissions using the online form or by sending an email to [email protected].

How will my personal information be used?

Personal data will be collected, stored and retained in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation and related UK data protection legislation, and in accordance with the University’s Data Protection Notice.

Extenuating circumstances information will only be processed for the purposes of considering extenuating circumstances with respect to considering your application and for the purposes of considering you for scholarships. Such information will be made available to relevant staff in academic departments and appropriate scholarship funding panels according to the University’s data protection policy.

How will it be used in assessing my application?

The assessors will consider relevant issues raised when making decisions and, where appropriate, take these into account in their assessments, including as regards applicants’ academic merit and potential. Applicants submitting extenuating circumstances forms are not guaranteed either to be interviewed or offered a place on the course.

It is important to be aware that most extenuating circumstances declarations in relation to an impact on previous exam results or qualifications are unlikely to result in any change to the assessment decision. This is because assessors will not be able to adjust marks accurately or fairly for an impact on an examination with which they are not familiar. The awarding institution is much better placed to make that judgement which is why you are asked to demonstrate that you have raised the matter with them in the first instance.

The assessors can, however, take certain actions where the evidence is very persuasive that a candidate has been severely affected and the awarding institution has not made any adjustment.

Examples of actions which assessors might take include:

  • If there is strong evidence that your performance on one particular paper was affected and it is clearly out of line with your performance in other papers, the assessors might decide to disregard that paper and/or have regard to your academic trajectory in the periods before and after the extenuating circumstances declared.
  • If you are lacking some relevant experience that would have advantaged your application but which you were unable to gain due to the circumstance you encountered, the assessors might seek other evidence in your application to compensate for the apparent gap.

Please note that these are only examples, and that extenuating circumstances declarations are considered carefully on a case-by-case basis.

Extenuating circumstances will not be taken into account by the University when considering English language test results. If you wish to raise extenuating circumstances in this respect, please contact the relevant English language test provider.


The impact of extenuating circumstances on the assessment of an application is a matter of academic judgement which cannot be appealed under the admissions complaints procedure, as this is part of the academic assessment.

An appeal can only be made where there has been a procedural irregularity, there is bias or a reasonable perception of bias in the decision-making process, or if you are subsequently diagnosed with a disability which, if known at the time of the decision, would have required reasonable adjustments which could have been material to the decision-making process.


Rather than submitting a separate CV, most courses capture information about your experience such as professional qualifications, employment etc in the application form.

The How to apply section of the course page will tell you whether your course requires a separate CV and, if so, there will be a slot on the ‘Supporting documents’ page of the application form to upload it. Courses using a separate CV will not ask these questions in the application form.

You do not need complete every section if you do not have relevant information to add, but please note that you will not be able to insert additional material here after submitting your application.

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