How to Get an Assignment Extension

No matter how dedicated and hard-working a student is, everyone can encounter circumstances that prevent them from completing assignments on time. This is of course a highly stressful situation, but it can be handled in a way that minimizes the possibility of low marks or failure. The first course of action in these situations is to seek an extension to the deadline.

Extensions in UK Universities

First, it is important to be aware that coursework extensions are seriously frowned-upon within UK universities. Students are expected to develop a range of practical life-skills alongside subject-specific knowledge, and the ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure is a key part of this.

Late submission of coursework is harshly penalised. Typically, students will receive a deduction of 10 points for work handed in a few days late. Work handed in within one week of the deadline might be awarded a maximum mark of 40 (a minimum passing grade). Failure to submit an assignment within one week usually results in a failing mark. These lowered grades mean that missed deadlines can have a serious impact on your overall grade average. That being said, most universities have provisions to allow for extensions.

14 Scenarios

  1. Illness
    This is typically a serious illness that has a lengthy impact on student performance (feeling briefly unwell for a day or two is usually not sufficient). Often a doctor’s note must be obtained as evidence for this.
  2. Family Illness
    If a close family member is seriously ill and the student is required to provide care, this can prevent them from completing assignments. Usually, the illness should be sudden or so severe that students could not possibly make other arrangements ahead of deadlines.
  3. Travel
    Sometimes students can encounter travel difficulties that prevent them from getting to the university on time to hand in an assignment. In these cases they should notify the University as early as possible to make a record of the situation – this may provide a basis for an extension to be filed after the deadline.
  4. Finance
    If a student encounters severe financial difficulty it can create a level of stress that impacts their work. They may also find it difficult to travel to classes or to the library.
  5. Mental Health
    Exam stress can be a serious issue for students, and when severe it can result in symptoms like sleeplessness, anxiety and panic attacks. As with other kinds of illness, this situation usually needs to be supported by a doctor’s note.
  6. Miscommunication
    In rare circumstances, a student might be unaware of assignment criteria if updates sent by tutors were not received. The burden will be on the student to demonstrate that they were not adequately informed.
  7. Moving House
    This situation would only make a student eligible for an extension if it was sudden and unexpected. This can happen if a student has been evicted from their current residence, for example.
  8. Unavailable Resources
    If a student is unable to acquire essential resources, such as library books, journal articles or practical materials, this can be a valid reason for an extension. They should be prepared to be specific about what items they are lacking, and how long they have been trying to acquire those resources.
  9. Computer Problems
    IT issues can often thwart students at the last minute. Some universities explicitly refuse to consider these issues as the basis for an extension, because they feel that students should allow plenty of time for writing and printing. However, many Course Tutors are more sympathetic.
  10. Divorce or Tragic Life Events
    When a student undergoes extreme life changes, such as divorce or the death of a family member, they are frequently granted an extension to allow them time to cope.
  11. Maternity Leave
    Most universities have formal procedures for student absence due to pregnancy and childbirth, and these will often allow much longer extensions than normal.
  12. ‘Force Majeure’
    This term refers to any unforeseeable event that creates severe disruption for the student or the university. Examples include severe weather, natural disasters, political violence, and industrial strikes.
  13. Academic Difficulty
    If a student is genuinely struggling with an assignment they may be offered an extension by the Course Tutor. This is especially likely if they can show evidence of having worked on the assignment for an extended length of time, with little progress.
  14. Job Interview
    A student may be granted an extension if they are invited to a job interview, especially one that relates directly to their course of study.

Typical Procedures for Assignment Extensions

In order for a formal extension to be granted, students are normally required to apply in advance. This means completing a form and submitting it to your Course Tutor for them to approve and sign. The form will typically ask for the detailed circumstances that prevent you from meeting the deadline. If the Tutor agrees to your request, he or she will assign you a new deadline based on your circumstances (usually 1-2 weeks later). Both of you must sign the form, which will then be passed on to University Administrators.

Note! If you require a last-minute extension and cannot meet with your Tutor before the deadline, most universities will allow you to complete the extension form and submit it to your Course Administrator. Provided that your Tutor subsequently approves the request, this will count as making the extension request in good time.

Avoiding the Need for Extensions

Many of the situations listed above are not always considered serious enough to warrant an Assignment Extension. It is therefore best to avoid the need for an extension in the first place, by planning ahead and allowing yourself enough time to deal with unforeseen circumstances!



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