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Are you unhappy with a result of an exam or a piece of coursework or your degree classification?

If so, you might want to consider whether you have grounds for appeal. It’s worth starting by stating that you can’t appeal against ‘academic judgment’. So, if you achieved a mark of, say, 52%, but think your work was worth around 65%, that isn’t going to give you a ground of appeal.

However, the grounds on which you can appeal are:

  • Material circumstances affecting your performance of which a Board of Examiners or the Board of the Faculty had not been aware before reaching its decision, though only if you can present reasonable grounds why such circumstances had not been presented to the Board in advance of its meeting.
  • Procedural irregularities in the formal conduct of an assessment or in reaching another academic decision.
  • Evidence of prejudice or of bias on the part of one or more examiners and/or markers.

Other factors that you should consider are:

  • Appeals should be started within 10 working days of you being notified of the decision that you want to challenge.
  • Appeals should be started using the University’s Stage 1 appeal form – copy available as a click through at paragraph 6.1 of the University’s appeals procedure (see below).
  • You are likely to improve your appeal by getting advice from an SU adviser.

Academic and exam misconduct

The University is concerned not to allow academic dishonesty, whether this is by plagiarism, collusion with another, or cheating and expects all of students to behave in a manner which upholds the principles of academic dishonesty.  And, when the University’s concerned that a student might have breached that principle, it’s likely to subject that student to its disciplinary procedure.

  • Academic misconduct “involves behaviour which, if not detected, would have deceived those setting, administering and marking the coursework and/or could have obtained advantage on the part of the student”.  At one end of the spectrum it includes poor referencing, and at the other extensive plagiarism or impersonating another person during an examination.  The University’s procedure for dealing with academic misconduct starts with ‘inviting’ the student to a meeting with the Academic Misconduct Officer – at that meeting you can be accompanied by an SU President or member of The Students' Union’s staff.  The full procedure is detailed and includes provision to appeal.
  • When the University suspects severe examination misconduct, it will send student a Student Allegation Form setting out the nature of the alleged offence.  The student will be given 7 days in which to respond with her/his account of what happened.  The matter will then be referred to a Review Panel for a decision.  If a penalty is imposed there is a right of appeal – but, get advice as early in the process as possible. 

Full details of the University’s procedures for dealing with academic and exam misconduct are available here.

Not surprisingly, the University takes academic and exam misconduct seriously.  So, if you get caught up in either procedure, get advice.

Factors that you should consider are:

  • The range of penalties available to the Review Panel is wide-ranging and, potentially, very significant – for example, depending on the nature of the ‘offence’, it could result in the University terminating a student’s registration.
  • If the University suspects you of academic or exam misconduct, get advice at the earliest opportunity – you can do this by making an appointment to see an SU adviser.

Course complaints

The University’s complaints procedure is available for students to raise concerns about their University experience - for example in relation to teaching, supervision or support services.

Complaints can be made by an individual student or by a group of students.  If no one is willing to be the spokesperson for the group, the group members can ask The Students' Union to fill that role.

Complaints should be made within 30 calendar days of the incident.  The University’s procedure has 3 stages (Informal; Formal Stage 1 and Formal Stage 2) and a strict timetable.

Before submitting a complaint or at any stage during a complaint that is already underway, you may want to discuss the issue with an SU President or Adviser. 

Health, well-being and support for study (sometimes known as Fitness to Study)

From time-to-time the University might become concerned that a student’s health, wellbeing and/or behaviour is having a detrimental impact on her/his ability to progress academically and function at University. At such times, the University might invoke the procedure as a means of supporting the student.  Despite that objective, not all students respond positively to the process – as the University recognises, care should be taken to avoiding causing the student additional stress.

The procedure has 3 levels – each one becoming progressively more formal.  There’s also provision to appeal decisions made at either of levels 2 and 3.

As indicated above, the process can be stressful – it can involve an already vulnerable student feeling exposed and even more vulnerable.  If the University refers you into the fitness to student process you can get support and guidance from The Students' Union by speaking to an adviser.

Interrupting your studies

For various reasons, sometimes a student may want to take time out from their studies.  If you’re that student, you should start by discussing the issue with College staff.  You should also consider the financial implications of interrupting – not least to ensure that when you return, you have sufficient funding to enable you to complete your course.  You can discuss this with an SU adviser.  You could also read through The Students' Union’s checklist for interrupting student’s checklist

If you decide to interrupt your studies, you should complete an online interruption form. This can be done either in person or over the phone with your college administrator, or can be accessed by logging into SID with your username and password.

Mitigating circumstances

If there’s anything affecting your ability to study, complete your coursework or prepare for an exam, you should let the University know.  You can do this by speaking to your personal tutor, course leader of other academic staff. 

Applications for mitigation should be made at or before the point of assessment.  Therefore, applications should be made on submission of the assessment or examination or within 1 working day.

For examples of circumstances which the University may (and may not) consider to have significantly affected a student’s performance, click here.


Similarly, for various reasons, sometimes a student may want to withdraw from their studies.  Again, you should discuss this with College staff – even if you’ve already made up your mind. 

Withdrawing could result in significant financial implications for the student involved – that’s why you should get advice before confirming your decision.  You can get that advice from an SU adviser.  Also, you can find out more by reading The Students' Union’s checklist for withdrawing students.