Grounds for Appeals

The grounds for appeal are very strict. It is a good idea to consult these regularly when writing your appeal statement, as it is crucial that you carefully show how your case meets the grounds for appeal. The Appeals Committee will not consider information in your appeals statement that doesn’t relate directly to the grounds for appeal.


Ground A

In order to appeal on Ground A, you need to be able to provide ‘substantial information directly relevant to the quality of performance in the examination which for good reason was not available to the examiners when their decision was taken’.


Ground A appeals are most often used when a student has struggled with personal circumstances that have disrupted their academic performance. These can include physical and mental health difficulties, bereavement, or the breakdown of a long-term relationship.


It’s not enough to be able to explain what these circumstances were and how they affected you; you also need to provide a good reason why you weren’t able to tell the University at the time. (The University would normally expect you to report this through the Special Circumstances procedures during the semester or before the end of the exam period.) You will usually be expected to provide evidence that explains why it wasn’t possible for you to come forward during the semester.


If you are appealing on Ground A, you will need to explain:


What the information is,

How it affected your performance in examinations,

Why it wasn’t possible for you to bring this information to the attention of the university in the semester or exam period.


For example if you were involved in a serious accident, you would need to say:


What happened (you were hit by a car the day before your exams).

How it affected you (you weren’t able to attend your exams due to hospitalisation).

Why you didn’t come forward sooner (you didn’t submit Special Circumstances because you were undergoing emergency medical care through the exam period).


You will need to provide relevant evidence to support your case. You should evidence not only your personal circumstances, but also the reason why you weren’t able to come forward sooner. Common forms of evidence for Ground A appeals include doctor’s notes, supporting statements from counsellors or therapists, police reports, or written accounts from University staff who have witnessed the circumstances you are using in your case (e.g. personal tutors). You can find out more about the relative strength of different kinds of evidence on page 4 of the Special Circumstances policy.


Please note that medical evidence is only likely to be considered if it is provided by someone you were consulting during the period in which you were affected by your circumstances. Medical evidence gathered at a significantly later date is not likely to be considered.


Ground B

Ground B appeals involve ‘Alleged irregular procedure or improper conduct of an examination. For this purpose “conduct of an examination” includes the conduct of a meeting of the Board of Examiners, Progression Board or Special Circumstances Committee.’


Generally, Ground B appeals are used when something has gone wrong procedurally. Some examples of Ground B cases might be if your course mark has been incorrectly calculated from your assessment marks, if your school wrongly advertised the time or format of an exam, if your work wasn’t moderated according to regulation, or if you had a request for Special Circumstances approved but the exam board forgot to account for this when handling your marks.


The University’s procedures can be complex and intimidating, so if you think something might have gone wrong but you are unsure about this, get in touch with one of our Academic Advisers and we can check this for you.


With a Ground B appeal, you need to show which procedures weren’t followed and explain how this had a negative effect on you. The evidence you need to submit in support of your appeal will often be quotations from copies of the University’s policies or guidance or from your course or degree programme handbooks. We can help direct you to relevant bits of guidance.


Your Course/Programme Handbook and the University’s Regulations can be very useful forms of evidence, but they must be used carefully. If you want to prove a discrepancy between what you were led to expect and what happened subsequently, then reference to your handbook or to regulations may support this. However, if you (for example) claim not to have been informed about something, make sure it isn’t in your handbook. If the information is in the handbook and you simply hadn’t read it, or was passed to you through an official channel — including via email — then this may undermine your appeal.


Ground C

This ground is open to Postgraduate Research students only. Ground C is when there is ‘evidence of prejudice or lack of due diligence in the examination on the part of any of the examiners.’ This is less precise than the other grounds for appeal, but if you think that your examiners were unduly biased against you, you might be able to make a case under this appeal ground. Cases where this might apply would be if one examiner was unreasonably hostile during your viva, or if it became clear that an examiner had not actually read your thesis. This would be difficult to evidence, but it’s possible that if multiple people witnessed your examination, one of them could write a supporting statement for you.


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