Reporting individual mitigating circumstances to the University
What to do if a condition or circumstance temporarily prevents you from undertaking assessment or impairs your performance in an assessment in 2020/21.
What are IMCs?
Individual Mitigating Circumstance - IMCs - are 'conditions which temporarily prevent a student from undertaking assessment or significantly impair the student’s performance in assessment: as such, the measure of their severity is not about impact on the student, but impact on the assessment'.
You can find examples of circumstances that are normally considered IMCs in the document What are IMCs?. It also explains the circumstances that are unlikely to be considered IMCs. Your IMC claim may also include COVID-19 related disruption.
Please note that if you are a PGT student, IMCs are not applicable to project/dissertation units as disruption or difficult circumstances should be dealt with through deadline extensions. You should speak to your supervisor or Director of Studies as soon as possible if you are concerned about your progress.
IMCs in the 2020/21 academic year
Here are the key points to understand about IMCs this year as part of 2020/21 no detriment measures:
Seek help by speaking to your Director of Studies, your personal tutor, and/or the SU Advice & Support Centre if you are having difficulty with study and assessments. They are there to help you, and the earlier you seek advice the more options may be available to support you.
You can submit an IMC claim if you feel your performance on an assessment attempt has been impacted by difficult individual circumstances. If you have a unit with an IMC flag against it, the Board of Examiners will consider your reassessment, progression and degree classifications within a wider range of possible decision-making rules.
We have introduced an additional no-detriment safeguard that allows the Board of Examiners to consider using IMC rules for students without IMCs, as well. In 2020/21, you should still make an IMC claim if you think your assessment attempt has been impacted by specific individual circumstances. This will help to inform the Board about which specific assessment(s) and units you feel were impacted.
Normal definitions of IMCs are still applicable this year. You can find more about what is normally considered an IMC at What Are IMCs? In addition to these, COVID-19 related disruption experienced at the time of your assessment, that is beyond normal life events, may be considered an IMC. The case you make will help the IMC Panel understand the nature and significance of what you are saying happened, in order to determine whether your circumstances should be accepted as an IMC.
Submission timescales have been extended. An IMC claim for an assessment must now be submitted up to seven calendar days after the affected assessment. However, you can submit one report form making IMC claims for multiple exams, submitted up to seven calendar days after the end of the exam period. So, for example, if you are submitting for one or more exams in the January period, your IMC claims will not be considered late until seven calendar days after the January exam period, regardless of the date an individual exam took place. Please submit your IMC claim(s) as soon as you can after your affected assessment(s)—don’t wait until the last moment, especially if you’re seeking advice from the SU Advice & Support Centre before you submit.
Evidence requirements have been made more flexible given the difficult pandemic circumstances. There is no requirement to provide formal medical evidence if your IMC relates to illness because we understand that may not be possible this year. You should, however, provide as much evidence as you can to clarify the case you are making. If you have struggled to provide evidence, you should explain this in your supporting statement. Where there is minimal evidence it will be very important for you to clearly describe in detail what your circumstances were and how they impacted your assessment attempt.
The IMC report form has been updated to make it clearer and more helpful to you in making your case. You can seek support from the SU Advice & Support Centre if you want advice on filling out the form and discuss which evidence you can provide.
You can apply for a coursework deadline extension or notify a deferral of your exam attempt if you are struggling from disruptive circumstances at the time of your assessments. The aim of a deadline extension or an exam deferral is to allow you to submit or attempt your assessment when you are no longer affected by the disruptive circumstances. However, we recognise that this won’t always be possible, and so if you do think your assessment has been impacted when you eventually undertake it, you can still apply for an IMC. You may also decide to apply for an IMC after your exam if you attempted it and it was disrupted, or if you did not attempt it and did not notify that you were going to defer.
Technical issues are not normally considered IMCs and normal late submission and non-submission penalties still apply to assessment. You should plan to leave enough time to submit your assessment and deal with technical issues, or consider deferral or an extension request if a difficulty is serious enough that you will not be able to submit on time. If you do submit your assessment, but wish to claim sudden and significant technical issues as IMCs impacting your performance, you may submit such a case and any evidence you have for the Panel to consider.
As normal, IMCs do not change or discount a mark for an assessment attempt. Marks are awarded on the basis of actual achievement not potential.
If you believe your performance in an examination or other assessment has been affected by circumstances that would be considered IMCs you can report this using the IMC form.
Your IMC report form must be submitted within seven calendar days of the affected assessment deadline and/or within seven calendar days of the end of the examination period .
For example, in January 2021, the semester 1 examination period ends at 09:30 (GMT) on Saturday on 23 January 2021. If your IMC circumstances related to two different exams, you would need to submit an IMC form and any supporting evidence you had no later than 09:30 (GMT) on Saturday 30 January 2021. Please submit your IMC claim(s) as soon as you can after your affected assessment(s)—don’t wait until the last moment.
When you submit your IMC report form you need to include a clear and detailed supporting statement. This statement is your opportunity to describe to the panel:
What: The circumstances that have affected your assessment
How: The impact the circumstances have had on your assessment
When: The period of time in which the circumstances occurred
What you did: If relevant, any actions you took to try to prevent the disruption to your assessment in the first place (eg: coursework extensions/deferrals/Disability Access Plan and/or support from medical professionals/University support services, etc.)
Evidence for IMCs
Evidence provides confirmation of what you said happened, and helps to clarify your circumstances, their timing, and their effect on your assessment performance.
It is important that you include all the evidence and information that you have available so it can be considered by the IMC Panel.
We understand that providing evidence may be difficult for many possible reasons in 2020/21. If it is only possible to provide minimal or no evidence you should explain this in the IMC report form.
For 2020/21 we understand that GP’s notes, or evidence of a death or illness in the family, may be too difficult for you to obtain. Formal medical evidence is therefore not required this year. If you do have medical evidence and wish to provide it, please do so.
The IMC panel will take a reasonable and proportionate approach to its expectations about evidence as part of our no-detriment measures for 2020/21. The Panel does need enough information to understand whether the circumstances that affected your assessment are applicable as valid IMCs. You need to provide a clear and detailed supporting statement so that the Panel understands what you are saying happened and/or the impact it had on your assessment attempt.
Please be assured that any submission you make will be considered carefully and respectfully, but if you are concerned about providing evidence or about disclosing a sensitive personal situation you may wish to speak confidentially with the SU Advice & Support Centre or to the Student Services’ Wellbeing Service.
IMCs and Deferrals or Extensions
Having had a coursework extension or an exam deferral does not affect your ability to then ask for an IMC if you feel your later attempt was impacted. Likewise, if you do not seek an extension or a deferral, for whatever reason, this does not affect your ability to ask for an IMC for the assessment you have attempted.
Please remember, however, that there is some uncertainty in applying for an IMC. The Panel may not consider your claim to be a valid IMC, and may not agree your request for an IMC. If you know in advance of your assessment submission or exam attempt that you will be, or are likely to be affected, then you should seek advice from your Director of Studies immediately to discuss your options and to understand your academic situation. The SU Advice & Support Centre can also provide guidance.
Short-term illness and IMCs
Always follow any medical advice you’ve already been given by your doctor. NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
There is more information about what to do if you have COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 here.
Short-term minor illnesses, such as headaches or a minor cold, are likely to be considered normal life events and not as valid IMCs. COVID-19 self-isolation or illness may be a valid IMC but will not be automatically assumed to be so—it will depend on the specific circumstances affecting you and how it affected your assessment.
If you feel your illness might disrupt your assessment and you are too unwell to attempt it, you may wish to defer your examination or seek an extension to your coursework deadline. These is more information about how to do this here, and you should speak to your Director of Studies about your circumstances. The SU Advice & Support Centre can also provide guidance on the different processes.
Long-term conditions or disability
The impact on assessment of long-term health conditions or disabilities will normally be addressed through assessment arrangements (eg Disability Access Plans, generally organised through the Disability Service) or deadline extensions already in place.
If you have experienced a flare-up of a long-term condition or disability you will need to explain this in your statement and provide any available evidence if you can.
We understand that COVID-19 circumstances may have had an impact on your normal health management or treatment, or academic support arrangements, and you should make this clear if this is the case.
Handling your information
Your IMC report form and evidence will be handled in accordance with the University’s Data Protection statement for student registration.
The full detail of your IMC claim will be considered by the IMC Panel. If your IMCs are accepted, your circumstances will be taken into account by the Board of Examiners for Programmes. You can speak to your Director of Studies if your IMC is accepted and you would like only the broad detail of your circumstances to be made known to the Board of Examiners for Programmes.
Disclosure of your circumstances is important to make sure you get the support and advice you may need. Please be assured that any submission you make will be considered carefully and respectfully, but if you are concerned about providing evidence or about disclosing a sensitive personal situation you may wish to speak confidentially with the SU Advice & Support Centre or to the Student Services’ Wellbeing Service.
Advice and support
You should speak to your Director of Studies or Personal Tutor as soon as possible if you are concerned about your academic performance.
We encourage you to let your Director of Studies or Personal Tutor know in advance of your assessments if you think any circumstances might affect them, so that other arrangements can be considered, if appropriate, and so that you can get advice.
The SU Advice & Support Centre can provide independent guidance and confidential support to you. They can assist you when you are preparing an IMC report form by offering help to detail your case and giving you feedback on your form before you submit.
Student Services’ Wellbeing Service offers counselling and other student support.
Student Services’ Disability Service offers support to students with a disability.