Special Consideration - Section contents

As a student, you may experience extraordinary or unusual circumstances, or ongoing circumstances that adversely affect your academic performance. The University has policies in place to support students who are experiencing academic disadvantage.

What is Special Consideration?

The University's Special Consideration policy supports students whose studies are genuinely and significantly impacted by:

  • Exceptional or extenuating circumstances outside of their control that have a demonstrated impact on your ability to complete your academic requirements.
  • Events or circumstances of national or state significance within cultural, sporting, military, emergency service or legal domains that require a student's participation

Special Consideration applications are created in my.unimelb, and require particular documentation to be assessed by each subject's relevant Special Consideration Committee.

Approved Special Consideration outcomes can provide opportunities to complete assessment tasks, taking into account the impact of your circumstances. Examples of possible Special Consideration outcomes include:

  • A special assessment (i.e. a deferred examination, where the originally scheduled examination could not be completed due a severe illness)
  • An extension (i.e. an additional week in which to submit an essay)
  • An exemption (i.e. a smaller assessment item may be exempted from assessment, with a larger assessment task more heavily weighted to account for the difference)
  • A late withdrawal from a subject without academic penalty (i.e. a Withdrawn result, rather than a Fail, applied to a subject where eligible severe circumstances impact over half the teaching period)
  • An alternative examination arrangement (i.e. additional time to complete an examination)

Please note that Special Consideration cannot provide mark adjustments.

Before you apply, consider an extension

For some subjects, the fastest path to an academic adjustment is to speak with your subject coordinator or teaching department about an extension. Before applying for Special Consideration, see the FAQ on applying for an extension.

A special notice on examinations

If you are already registered with Student Equity and Disability Support and are applying for Special Consideration for an end-of-semester examination, you will need to supply additional supporting documentation if your existing Impact Statement does not cover end-of-semester examinations.


The types of adjustments you will receive will depend on your circumstances and the impact they are having on your study. Before you apply, you need to identify which circumstances best describe you.

Types of circumstances Example circumstances Application process

Circumstances that significantly impact your ability to study for a short period of time (days or weeks) or for a particular piece of assessment.

If you are only seeking a short extension of less than 10 working days, refer to Applying for an Extension.

  • Short-term illness
  • Hardship or trauma
  • Religious observance
Apply online via my.unimelb
You should apply immediately after your circumstances become known

Ongoing or long-term
Circumstances that can be expected to have a significant and enduring impact on your studies, for an entire semester or the duration of your course.

  • Elite Athlete or performer requirements
  • Army Reservists
  • Chronic illness
  • Disability
  • Students with carer status
  • Emergency service volunteers
Register with the Student Equity and Disability Support office
You should register as soon as you start in your course, or as soon as your circumstances become known

Circumstances that are considered reasonably in your control and/or that do not have significant impact on your studies.

  • Computer failure
  • Public transport delays
  • Personal events such as weddings/birthdays
  • Minor ailments or illness, where you are still capable of completing assessment
  • Travel plans
Do not apply.

Short-term circumstances

If you are experiencing a short-term or one-off situation that is significantly impacting your ability to study, you may be eligible to receive Special Consideration that will entitle you to study adjustments to assessment or examinations.

Example Circumstances Type of Study Adjustments
  • Short-term illness
  • Hardship or trauma
  • Religious observance
  • Emergency services volunteers
  • A written (special) exam
  • An oral exam
  • A take-home exam
  • Exam sat externally
  • Additional written exercise
  • An extension
  • Re-weighting of other assessments
  • Late withdrawal

Your eligibility and the type of adjustments receive will depend on the nature of your circumstances and the impact they are having on your studies.

Please note that not everyone who applies for Special Consideration will receive it. If you decide not to sit your examination and are subsequently deemed ineligible for Special Consideration, you will receive a fail grade.

You can apply for short-term study adjustments through you my.unimelb account.

  1. Log into my.unimelb.
  2. Go to the 'Student Admin' tab.
  3. Click the 'Go to my exams and results' button under the 'Exams and Results' section.
  4. Select the 'Apply for Special Consideration' link.
  5. Submit your application by the deadline
    • No later than 5.00pm on the fourth working day after the sitting of the exam.
    • Before midnight on the due date of the assessment item.
    • If the application is for the whole subject (i.e. you've been unable to meet attendance requirements or you are seeking late withdrawal from the subject because of your circumstances) your application must be submitted no later than four days after the final assessment item due date.
  6. Once your online application is submitted you will be able to access and print the Health Professional Report (HPR) form. If your reason for applying for Special Consideration relates to your health, a Health Professional Report (HPR) form is the preferred document for submission. If using the HPR form, this must be completed and signed by the appropriate Health Professional in support of your circumstances, usually during an appointment, so be sure to take this with you and ask for it to be completed and signed. You must then submit your HPR form or Statutory Declaration and any other supporting documentation within five working days of lodging your online application. A scanned copy of all supporting documentation must be submitted online via my.unimelb. For more information, see the ask.unimelb FAQ Special Consideration Overview.

Once you have submitted your application for Special Consideration for short-term circumstances, you must then submit either a Health Professional Report or a statutory declaration with supporting documentation.

  • A Health Professional Report (HPR) form is the preferred document for applications made on medical or psychological grounds. A range of healthcare and allied professionals can complete this form. This form requires that the health professional assess the extent to which your studies have been impacted by your circumstances. A HPR does not guarantee that you will be given Special Consideration.

    For a list of suitable health professionals, check AHPRA's Professions & Divisions page, or the Health Workforce Regulation in Victoria website.
  • A statutory declaration with supporting documentation is required where the Special Consideration application is not based on medical or psychological ground. Statutory Declarations must be witnessed by an authorised person (e.g. a Pharmacist, Police Officer or Justice of the Peace). You may wish to make an appointment with the UMSU Justice of the Peace

    Supporting documents are any documents or paperwork that verify your circumstances and, where possible, address the impact of those circumstances on the assessment tasks. An appropriate supporting document could be a police report or a death notice/certificate.
  • If there is no independent person who can either verify or comment on the circumstances affecting your studies, you must supply a statutory declaration. Lack of independent verification of your situation or evidence outlining the impact is likely to affect the outcome of your Special Consideration application.

There are deadlines you must observe for submitting your application and supplying supporting documentation. 

You must submit all supporting documentation within five days of lodging your online application. If you do not provide required documentation, your application will be denied.

You will be advised via your University of Melbourne student email of the outcome of your Special Consideration application. If you do not receive an outcome by the time exam results are published, you should contact your Student Centre.

Special Consideration usually alters the circumstances for you to complete assessment tasks. Outcomes may include:

In some circumstances, an outcome of Special Consideration might be:

  • Late withdrawal from a subject.
  • Extended Leave of Absence from your course.

What are my options if I am offered special assessment through Special Consideration?

If you are offered special assessment as a result of your application for Special Consideration for an in-semester test or exam, you have two options, regardless of whether you have received the mark for the original assessment or not:

  1. You accept the offer (by attending the scheduled special assessment). If you accept the offer, the mark from the special assessment will supersede the mark from the first assessment (even if the original mark is higher than the second mark).
  2. You decline the offer (by choosing not to attend the scheduled special assessment) and accept the original mark.

Ongoing or long-term circumstances

If your studies are significantly impacted by ongoing or episodic circumstances and can be reasonably predicted to interfere significantly with assessment activities, on either an ongoing or episodic basis, you may be eligible for study adjustments. For students with recognised long term circumstances, study adjustments will usually be applied for a longer duration. This means that you will not have to reapply for Special Consideration every study period. 

Example Circumstance Type of Study Adjustments
  • Chronic illness
  • Disability
  • Students with carer status
  • Elite Athletes
  • Army Reservists
  • Performers
  • Reduced study load
  • Leave of absence
  • Extra leave
  • Extension
  • Alternative exam arrangements
  • Support, such as note-takers
  • Specialist equipment
  • Assistive Library technology
  • Accessible teaching spaces

Register with Student Equity and Disability Support by booking an appointment. Supporting documentation will be required and discussed with you in your first appointment.

Occasionally you may be impacted by short-term circumstances that require extra adjustments beyond what's been approved. In this case, you would apply through my.unimelb.

If you have ongoing circumstances that may impact you over the longer term, you are encouraged to register with the Student Equity and Disability Support office at the beginning of your course, or as soon as your circumstances become known.

While there are no official deadlines for registering, register early to ensure you receive optimal support and adjustments.

If you meet the criteria for ongoing study adjustments, Student Equity and Disability Support will work with you to determine appropriate support for your study and assessments. Possible adjustments will be discussed with you in your appointment.

Special Consideration Policy

The Special Consideration Policy explains the principles involved, covers some reasons that you may or may not be given Special Consideration, explains timelines for applying and supplying documentation, and explains possible outcomes.

Need Advice?

The Student Advocacy Service can provide help and discuss the options that might be available if you need to apply, or have applied for, special consideration.

Special exams and graduation

If you have been approved to sit a special exam in the December 2015 period, you will not be eligible to graduate at a ceremony in 2015. Instead, you will be invited to the next round of ceremonies following the successful completion of your course requirements. The next scheduled round of ceremonies is March 2016.