Non-appearance, mitigating circumstances and transcription


A candidate in any University Exam may, through his or her college, request the Proctors to accept an application that the candidate will be or has been prevented by illness or other urgent cause from submitting a thesis (or other exercise) at the appointed time and place for any part of a University Exam.

Click to view the Excusal of Non-Appearance at an Examination Form.

Mitigating circumstances for late coursework submissions

The Proctors’ office considers requests for students, made on their behalf by their college or department, on the basis of mitigating circumstances to:

  • have the academic and financial penalty for submitting coursework after the deadline waived (late submission)
  • arrange an extension for a piece of coursework and have a new deadline set (extension)
  • be excused for not attending an exam
  • withdraw and resubmit work

Information for students is available on the student pages and in the University Student Handbook

A long extension may be referred for consideration as a dispensation if it is likely to take the submission date beyond the examiners’ term of office.

Information for staff on the process for notifying students about late submissions is available on the exam processes pages.

Mitigating circumstances notices to examiners

Students may submit a mitigating circumstances notice to examiners (MCE) if their academic performance has been seriously affected by a medical or personal issue. MCEs can be started and submitted by the student directly or via their college or department (for non-matriculated students).

Notices should be submitted as soon as possible after completing the affected assessments and must be submitted before noon on the day prior to the final exam board meeting.

  • Notices submitted by the deadline will be automatically considered by the exam board and the outcome recorded in eVision prior to results being released.
  • Notices submitted after the deadline but within 1 calendar month of the final exam board meeting will not be forwarded to the examiners unless the Proctors deemed it appropriate to do so
  • Notices submitted over 1 calendar month of the final exam board meeting will not be considered.

Departments and Faculties are reminded that final exam board dates must be recorded in eVision as soon as possible after the start of the academic year and no later than 10 November.

Notices may be submitted by the student or on the student's behalf by the college office or the department for non-matriculated students.

The relevant department or faculty overseeing the exam board are responsible for recording the outcome for all MCE notices in eVision before results are published.

Further information for students is available on the Oxford students website.

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  1. A student can start and submit an MCE notice in Self Service or request that their College Office or department (for non-matriculated students) do so on their behalf.
  2. If starting an MCE on behalf of a student, the college or department (for non-matriculated students) can start an MCE notice by clicking on Start mitigating circumstances notice to examiners link in the Mitigating circumstances notice to examiners (colleges) container in eVision. Further eVision instructions are available in the Quick Reference Guide.
  3. Once the MCE notice has been activated in eVision the student will receive an email inviting them to complete a personal statement and upload supporting documentation in Self Service. Students are reminded to not upload password-protected documents. eVision is a secure platform by which to transfer confidential information.
  4. Once the student has confirmed that they have completed their statement and uploaded supporting documentation they can either submit the notice to their examiners or submit the notice to their college for review, for which an email notification will be sent to the college.
  5. If the MCE has been submitted for the college for review, the college may upload any additional supporting documents and submit the notice once complete.
  6. A summary of the MCE notice can be downloaded as a single PDF file to print or save locally.
  7. The notice will automatically be referred to the exam board, via the exam board administrator, to consider. Notices received after the deadline may be forwarded to examiners. For notices received after noon on the day before the exam board this requires agreement from the Proctors, who will determine whether to pass the notice to the exam board. Notices submitted 1 month after the final exam board meeting taking place will not be considered.


If no final exam board date has been recorded in eVision the notice will be referred to the Exams and Assessments Team to determine whether the notice be referred to the exam board or Proctors Office.

Accessing submitted notices

  1. The department or faculty administrator overseeing the exam board will receive an automated email on receipt of a new mitigating circumstances notice for examiners (MCE) with a link to eVision. Further eVision instructions are available in the Quick Reference Guide.
  2. The MCE notice and supporting documentation will be available to access and download as a single PDF file from eVision to print or save locally.
  3. Once a notice has been accessed, the department or faculty may choose to return to the list of all notices received for that course or to mark the notice as having been actioned. NB: once a notice has been marked as actioned it will be removed from the list and no longer accessible.

Exam Board meeting

  1. A subset of the exam board (the 'Mitigating Circumstances Panel') should meet to discuss the mitigating circumstances notices for examiners (this may be the entire board in smaller departments). Further guidance is available in the Examinations and Assessment Framework.
  2. A formal record should be kept using the pro forma noting that the mitigating circumstances had been considered, how the information had been considered and the outcome of the consideration by the board. The pro forma is also available in the Examinations and Assessment Framework.
  3. The exam board, or administrator, should record the outcome of the exam board's decision in eVision before results are published.
  4. The student will be able to view the outcome in Student Self Service once their results are published.

1. Review the classification/overall outcome requirements (giving particular consideration to candidates who are just below boundaries for classification or progression)

Where there is evidence that a candidate's performance has been affected over one or more papers and this leaves them just below a classification or progression boundary, examiners may consider whether they should be awarded the higher classification, or be allowed to progress.

2. Pass the notice to the examiners of the final results/classification meeting

For early parts of multi-part exams, and exams which release final marks throughout the course, the mitigating circumstances notice must be passed to the final exam board which will make the final classification decision, so that the board can consider whether the final classification should be affected.  However, examiners for the earlier parts can also consider notices if this is felt appropriate, e.g. to determine eligibility for progression.

3. Disregard a paper or papers and finalise results on the basis of the remaining work

This is most likely to be appropriate in cases of acute illness, where it is clear that performance in a particular paper affected by that illness is weaker than other papers.  Where a paper is disregarded, its mark should be reported as 'no result expected' rather than zero.

Note: If a student missed a paper (absent) then they should apply for excusal from the exam from the Proctors.  The mitigating circumstances notice to examiners process should not be used in this instance.

Boards should not take this action where doing so would compromise the competence standards for the award.

4. Finalise the mark for a paper or papers taking into account all available material

This could mean finalising a mark for a paper on the basis of the number of questions actually completed rather than the number of questions required, where there is evidence that a particular paper was affected.  Examiners should not otherwise change the mark for an individual paper, but may award a higher classification or permit the student to progress, where the student would otherwise have been just below the boundary for classification or progression.

5. Impact of circumstances considered, no appropriate adjustment could be made. 

It is likely that in most cases no further action will be required for notices in Band 1.  It is also possible for there to be clear evidence of moderate or even very serious impact on a student (Bands 2 or 3) but no appropriate action which the examiners can take, and therefore for no adjustment to be made.

6. Removing any cap on resit marks

Where a candidate has submitted evidence that they were significantly affected for an assessment or assessments, but the examiners do not consider it appropriate to give the assessment a passing mark (or to disregard the assessment), and the resit attempt would ordinarily be capped, the examiners may recommend to the resit board that the resit attempt should not be capped. This is an alternative action where examiners are unable to take action 1 or 3 because it would compromise competence standards

Please see Examinations and assessment framework (EAF) for further guidance on outcome options.

  • The outcome(s) must be recorded in eVision after notices have been considered at the relevant exam board meeting but before results or year outcomes are released.
  • Refer to the eVision reference guide on how to record outcomes.
  • Outcome(s) are available for students to view in Student Self Service once interim results or year outcomes are published.
  • Outcome(s) are available for colleges to view in eVision once interim results or year outcomes are published.

Mitigating circumstances notices for examiners data security guidance for staff

By receiving and opening electronic files containing student data, or by downloading the data from eVision, you accept responsibility for the data and its security, and agree to comply with relevant University or college policies on data protection and information security.

In particular, you agree to the following.

  • Student data shall be used only to meet the collegiate University’s educational, pastoral, statutory or administrative responsibilities and purposes, in accordance with the University or college student privacy notice.
  • The data shall be kept secure and appropriate safeguards taken to ensure that it is not lost or disclosed to unauthorised persons. Unauthorised persons would include other members of the collegiate University who have no need to access the data in order to perform their duties.
  • For data held in GSR, authorised persons are expected to include: allocated supervisor(s), college advisor(s), course director(s), Director of Graduate Studies, as well as some departmental, divisional and college staff (which may include the college Senior Tutor and Head of House). If a student is in receipt of funding from the University, including research council funding, their supervision reports may also be shared with relevant University employees responsible for the oversight of these awards, in order to fulfil requirements associated with their funding. In some circumstances, details of supervision reports may also be shared with the Disability Advisory Service, Proctors’ Office and Education Committee.
  • If the data is downloaded to a mobile device (laptop, memory stick, tablet, Smartphone) the device must be appropriately secured. Laptops and memory sticks may be used to store the data only if the device is encrypted.
  • If the data file is emailed, or if it is held outside the University firewall then it must be encrypted at all times. This includes college desktops and college servers.
  • If the data is stored with a cloud service e.g. DropBox, the file must be encrypted, as such services do not guarantee data security.
  • The data shall not be disclosed to a third party i.e. any person or body outside the collegiate University.
  • The data shall be kept only for as long as it is needed to meet the collegiate University’s educational, pastoral, statutory or administrative responsibilities and purposes. When this need expires, the data must be securely deleted.

Access is managed by your local Information Custodian.

If you do not have access to view mitigating circumstances notices or to record outcomes please contact your Information Custodian to request access to Mitigating Circumstances notices to examiners-Depts (Dept_FAP).

If you do not have access to submit notices please contact your Information Custodian to request access to COLL_MCE or to DEPT_MCE if you need to submit notices for non-matriculated students.


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1. Examiners deem script(s) or particular questions within script(s) to be illegible.  

2. Examiners send script(s) to candidate’s college, indicating which questions are illegible.  

3. The college reviews script(s) and may challenge the Examiners’ decision: if so, script(s) are referred to the Proctors for a final decision. If the Proctors find script(s) to be legible, they will return them to the Examiners for marking. If the Proctors agree that all or part of the script(s) is illegible, they will return them to the college.  

4. If script(s) are to be re-typed, the college should organise this in-house.  

5. Only after all of the student’s exams have concluded (so as not to cause concern at an earlier stage), the college notifies the student that one or more of their examination scripts is deemed to be illegible and that it will need to be transcribed. The student must not be informed of which script(s) are deemed illegible in advance of the transcription session.  

6. The college arranges a combined typist-invigilator.  

Who can act as a typist-invigilator? 

Please note that these roles may be combined for ease of staffing (not two separate roles as previously). The typist-invigilator should be: 

  • On approved list of college invigilators, OR 

  • A graduate student, providing there is no conflict of interest with the candidate transcribing (noting that it can be helpful if the graduate student is familiar with the subject matter of the exam), OR 

  • A member of staff employed by the college or University (including via the University’s Temporary Staffing Service. 

In all cases, the typist-invigilator should not be involved in the examining of the subject area. It may also be possible for colleges to recruit trained typists via the University’s Temporary Staffing Service.

Providing the typist-invigilator meets the criteria above, it is not necessary for the college to seek Proctors’ approval for their appointment. The typist invigilator should be provided with this information in full and read it carefully before the transcription session. 

7. The college liaises with the student to arrange a time, date and venue (in a quiet college room with a PC, or online) for the dictation exercise. Transcription sessions may be held remotely, via Microsoft Teams, with camera and audio switched on for both the student and typist-invigilator. 

8. The college has discretion to charge students for transcription costs. The cost of the typing and invigilation shall not be a charge on the University. 

9. When the script(s) have been dictated, the college should ensure that the candidate has checked the typescript or handwritten copy and marked on it any inaccuracies. The college then returns the original script to the Examiners with the typescript.  

10. Examiners must have both versions (original handwritten script and typescript) to compare page-by-page, and are instructed to report any discrepancies to the Proctors.

1. The typist-invigilator should ask to see the student’s University card, in order to confirm their identity (or to hold up their University card to the camera if the transcription session takes place as an online remote session through Microsoft Teams). 

2. The typist-invigilator will type from the candidate’s dictation using a computer either in the same room as the student or via a secure communication method, such as Microsoft Teams.  

3. The candidate should not be told in advance which scripts have been deemed to be illegible. The candidate must not bring with him/her, or be provided with, a copy of any examination paper for the purposes of the dictation and typing exercise.  

4. The candidate must dictate the contents of his/her script/s to the typist-invigilator without asking for their advice or help. The details of the paragraphing, punctuation, etc. must be dictated to the typist-invigilator and must be reproduced unchanged in the typescript; no attempt may be made to amend even minor errors of spelling or syntax. If the candidate is unable to read any part of his/her own handwriting, the word or words should be omitted from the typescript and replaced by [illegible] or else a straight line for each word which cannot be read. Any crossings-out present in the manuscript should be denoted by [word/words deleted] in the typescript.  

5. The candidate must read from the script line by line, ending each line with the words ‘new line’. The typist-invigilator must type the script line by line adding a 'return' at the ‘new line’ instruction.  

6. After dictating each script (or each answer, or other convenient section of the script), the candidate must check the typescript or handwritten copy and mark on it any inaccuracies. The candidate must not ask the typist-invigilator for advice or help in interpreting his/her handwriting. Further word-processing to produce fair copies correcting inaccuracies is not allowed. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the typed material to be submitted to the Examiners reproduces exactly what had been written in the script by hand (the Examiners will have both versions to compare page-by-page, and are instructed to report any discrepancies to the Proctors).  

7. The responsibility of the typist-invigilator is to take down what the candidate dictates and to provide him/her with typescript (on which the candidate can mark any inaccuracies). The typist-invigilator must not offer advice or help to the candidate. Extra copies should not be made and computer disk copies of an examination typescript should be wiped as soon as the script has been printed and confirmed.  

8. The typist-invigilator may allow one or more rest-breaks (e.g. taking account of requirements for VDU operators not to spend too long at the screen).  

9. The transcription session may last up to four hours. After four hours the session must be brought to a close, whether the examination script has been fully transcribed or not in order that all parties may rest.  

10. The candidate and typist-invigilator should receive copies of the scripts just before the first transcription session with the typist and candidate by a secure method, such as SharePoint/OneDrive.  

11. The candidate and typist-invigilator may be provided with all exam scripts identified as illegible at their first transcription session.  

12. The exam scripts shared with the candidate and typist-invigilator should be those provided by the department. The candidate must transcribe exactly what was submitted as the exam script.  

13. The exam scripts should be handled in a secure way, such as SharePoint or other tools deemed secure by IT. The exam scripts should be shared as read only with both the candidate and typist-invigilator, and the typist-invigilator only to be given access to upload read only copies of the typed exam scripts to this location. This location may also serve as the secure method to share transcribed exam scripts with the department.  

14. The candidate should be able to view the typed scripts, but not to edit them. If minor edits are noted the candidate may provide these via email, such as saying “exam A495950, Page 3, Line 40, second word should say XXX”. If the candidate reports that there are major discrepancies to the typed scripts the examiners may view and compare the scripts initially. If there are no major discrepancies identified then this should be picked up with the candidate. If there are major discrepancies then this will need to be picked up with the typist-invigilator. 


For more information go to the Examinations and Assessment Framework

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