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Guide to writing an effective appeal


How can the SU Advice Team help with academic appeals?

We can discuss grounds for appeal and help students make sense of the appeals process.

Provide knowledge and guidance regarding academic regulations, policies, and procedures.

We can read appeal drafts and make suggestions to ensure your appeal is as clear as possible and contains all the relevant information (as long as they are submitted to us in time).

Students should endeavour to write their own appeals from their own unique perspective, but we are here to provide support and guidance all the way through the process.

Before making an appeal, be sure to have read through the Appeals procedure and checklist on the website.

There are some useful points to consider when writing an appeal that we have complied below in our guide:

1. Keep it clear

The easier it is for someone to read and understand your appeal, the better chance you have at persuading them of your argument.

The person reading the appeal has likely never met you and doesn’t know anything about your situation or the people involved, and they will not be able to seek out any evidence on your behalf.

Don’t leave any room for uncertainty.

They should be able to understand:
•    The argument you are making
•    Which appeal ground has been met
•    Why that ground is relevant to your case
•    Which piece of evidence applies to which statement or argument

This could mean:
•    Using bullet points
•    Writing things in chronological order
•    Using Paragraphs to break up different sections.
•    Basing your argument on evidence and objective facts.


2. Keep it concise

Add as much detail as you think necessary to ensure the appeals team can understand your case, but leave out anything that isn’t relevant. Be as specific as possible, don’t leave any room for interpretation.
•    Keep to the specific timeframes relevant to your appeal.
•    Check to see if everything you have included is relevant to the grounds on which you are appealing.

For example:

If your appeal relates to applying for retrospective ECs/Mitigation, you will only need to mention the information in the lead up to your relevant assessment date.

Including a brief overview of other information can be useful for context, but the appeals team will only be interested in the information relating directly to the grounds on which you are appealing.

3. Add any policies and procedures your appeal relates to

Your appeal might have a university policy or procedure to back it up, perhaps the university hasn’t followed procedure, or an error has occurred. You will need to find out which university policy or procedure relates to your argument and name this in the relevant box on your appeals form, you can then reference this policy as it comes up in your appeal argument.

For Example:

Procedural irregularity:
If an official university procedure or policy states that processes will be done in a particular order, or within a specific timeframe, or that notifications will be sent out in a specific way, and you have evidence that this has NOT happened, then this would be considered a procedural error or irregularity and you can reference the relevant university procedure to show how the process should have been conducted, and compare it to the evidence you have to show how it was actually conducted.

4. Add dates

It is very important to add dates to your appeal.

If you talk about an event, add the date or timeframe it occurred in, plus evidence of this if relevant.

For example:

‘The issue around my submission for [module] on [dd/mm/yyyy], occurred due to [event] on [dd/mm/yyyy]’.
This will help the reader make sense of your appeal chronologically and allow them to be able to cross reference dates with other statements or evidence.

5. Add names

Just like adding dates, adding full names to your appeal will help the reader understand who was involved and when relevant, be able to question said people regarding your appeal.

It can also be useful to add job title with names to avoid any confusion.

For example:

Jeff Goldblum, Module Leader for [module, course].

6. Use evidence

One of the most important parts of an appeal is the evidence. If you don’t have good evidence, think about how you might be able to get some.

The evidence you require depends on the underlying facts and grounds of the appeal but might include any of the following:

  • Medical evidence (e.g. medical report, doctor’s letter)
  • Death certificates
  • Correspondence (e.g. email, letters)
  • Police reports
  • Court documents
  • Official summary of support needs

(This is not an exhaustive list)

Evidence needs to:

  • Be from a reliable and appropriate source.
  • Be relevant to your argument and grounds for appeal.
  • Clearly labelled: Evidence 1 – Letter from GP. Dated dd/mm/yyyy.
  • In the form of whole documents where possible, if screenshots must be used, ensure all relevant information is visible, like dates, times, names, signatures, headed paper, etc.

Students who have letters from Counsellors, Psychotherapists or Doctors may wish to ask their relevant practitioner to use the wording below (or similar) to help establish a strong appeal:

“Based on what the student has reported to us, this would be consistent with a diagnosis of (XXXXX) and this would have impacted their studies and their ability to engage with the Mitigation/Extenuating Circumstances and other university procedures”

“I have been supporting this student through (XXXXX) and can confirm they are now recovering/recovered and will be able to effectively engage with university again”

The dates that the relevant practitioner mentions will also need to be in line with the relevant timeframe of your appeal argument.

For example:

If you are asking to be considered for retrospective mitigation/ECs for an assessment due in on a certain date, then the evidence will need to be dated to show your difficulties during the lead up to that date and will need to coincide with when the mitigation/ECs application window was open.

You would need to provide evidence to not only show what the mitigating/Extenuating Circumstances were and how they impacted you and your ability to study, but also to show how they impacted your ability to follow the Extenuating/Mitigating Circumstances procedure and any other relevant university procedure to explain why you weren’t able to apply for ECs/Mitigation at the proper time. Only exceptional circumstances will be considered for retrospective mitigation/ECs.

7. Use referencing

As stated above, evidence is key to an effective appeal. Without it, your appeal is unlikely to be considered.

Aim to have some evidence to back up each point you make.

Upload/send all your clearly labelled evidence alongside your appeal.

Each time you make a point, add the evidence it relates to as a reference in brackets.

For example:

‘I contacted [name, job title] on [dd/mm/yyyy] as you can see from [evidence_name].’

8. Outcome Sought

Be clear on the outcome you want from your appeal.

If you want a cap removed, state which module and submission date this relates to. If you are asking for a retake, state the exact details of the modules you would like to retake and when.

If you have any questions about outcomes, book an SU Advice appointment and we can discuss this with you.


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