The “Who, What, When, and Where”, and any other questions regarding assessment.


“Assessments are designed to provide feedback on performance or to establish that students have reached an adequate standard to proceed or to graduate”.  This is the opening statement of the University Of Sydney Academic Board Resolutions: Assessment and Examination of Coursework, Part 5 – Special Consideration due to Illness or misadventure (  Ideally for both students and teachers it is best if the assessments are completed on time, but we recognize that sometimes circumstances such as serious illness can affect the performance of even the best-prepared student.


The School of Medical Sciences (SBS) is comprised of the Departments of Anatomy and Histology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Physiology.  We want to make sure that all students in all Units of Study (UoS) within the School of Medical Sciences are treated fairly and consistently so we have developed the guidelines below, which are in line with the University’s recommendations.  Please read these carefully, as they will apply to you while you are enrolled in intermediate and senior UoS taught by the departments within the SBS.


Always remember that these policies are designed to help cases of genuine need. Falsification of certificates or false representation of need is a serious breach of University guidelines and can lead to disciplinary action and/or expulsion from the University.


Any queries regarding this policy can be directed to the nominated Student Liaison Officer listed in the table below:



Contact person and details


Anatomy and Histology

Katherine Wilkinson

9351 2497


Anderson Stuart


Rm S463

Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Dr Allison Abendroth (Immunology)                                                       

9351 2776


Prof Peter McMinn (Infectious Diseases)

9351 2776


Dr Jim Manos (Infectious Diseases)

9351 2776


Blackburn Building

Rm 667



Brett Hambly

9352 3059


Blackburn Building

Rm 557



Nimmi Ramesh

9351 2408


Blackburn Building



Louise Harrison

9351 3478

Anderson Stuart Building

Rm E212




Where do I hand in essays and reports?

·         All essays and reports for all Units of Study taught by the School of Medical Sciences are to be submitted according to the specific directions given by the relevant discipline/department.  This information should be available in the relevant Unit of Study (UoS) Outline or you may contact the nominated Student Liaison Officer (see table above).

·         All essays and reports should be submitted with an Assignment Cover Sheet to the Student Liaison Officer or a nominated administrative staff member.  Complete the coversheet before you come to the office.

·         You will be issued with a receipt, signed and stamped by the Student Liaison Officer or a nominated administrative staff member.  Keep this receipt and a copy of your essay or report in case you need proof of submission in the future.

·         DO NOT SUBMIT ASSIGNMENTS TO YOUR LECTURERS OR TUTORS DIRECTLY, because they cannot issue a receipt and you will not have proof of having submitted them.

·         Under no circumstances will computer media (a disk) or electronic submission be accepted.  Remember to plan enough time to print your assignment as well as to write it.


What are the penalties for late submission?

If you have no legitimate reason (see below for excuses we do not accept) for submitting your assessments after the due date then your assessment will be dealt with in the following way:

Your assessment will be forwarded to the relevant marker and assessed.  The final mark awarded will, however, be multiplied by a relevant factor depending on how many days overdue your assessment is.  For example, if your assessment is one day overdue the awarded mark will be multiplied by 0.9, two days late by 0.8, three days late by 0.7, and 4 days late by 0.6.  Thus, if the assessment is judged to be worth 18 out of 20 and it was four days late, the final mark awarded will be 10.8 out of 20 (18 x 0.6).

No mark will be awarded if the assessment is submitted more than 4 days after the due date.

In the case where the due date is other than a Monday, then Saturdays and Sundays count as normal days and lateness penalties will be incurred.  For example, if the due date is Friday and you submit on Monday (i.e. three days late), then your awarded mark will be multiplied by 0.7.


What do I do if I am ill during the semester and cannot hand in written assignments by the due date or sit for semester tests?

All effort will be made by the School to ensure that illness or misadventure does not affect your academic performance.  However, only serious illness or misadventure will warrant consideration and this must be well attested by applying for Special Consideration (SCA).


You should be aware that an application for Special Consideration is a request, and does not guarantee that consideration will be granted.  However, if you feel that your circumstances are affecting your academic performance follow the procedures below:


·       You must obtain a Special Consideration Application pack (containing an information sheet, the Application for Special Consideration form, the Professional Practitioners Certificate and the Academic Judgment Form) from the Student Information Office of the Faculty of Science or from the Faculty website under ‘Special Consideration’ at


NOTE: Applications for Special Consideration for a Unit of Study taught by a School or Department within the Faculty of Science must be submitted to the Faculty of Science, regardless of the Faculty in which you are enrolled. Applications for a Unit of Study taught by a School or Department in a different Faculty must be submitted at that Faculty Office, even if you are a Science student. If you are unsure about where to submit an application, please contact the Student Information Office of the Faculty of Science.


·       You must lodge the original of the application form and originals of any supporting documentation at the Student Information Office within 7 days of the date of an exam or assessment (see below for more specific details). Where it is not possible to obtain original documentation (e.g. death certificate, police report), submission of a certified copy will be permitted. All other forms submitted must be originals, including the Professional Practitioners Certificate (PPC).


NOTE: It is also necessary to provide a copy of the application and all documentation for each piece of assessment in which consideration is being sought, to be stamped by the Faculty and forwarded to the School for assessment (for example, if you are applying for consideration for three different pieces of assessment, you must submit the original documentation plus three copies of all documents). The Student Information Office will not make copies of any documentation submitted.


·       For consideration due to serious illness you must have a registered medical practitioner or counselor complete the Professional Practitioners Certificate which is attached to the application form. Please note that only the Professional Practitioner’s Certificate will be accepted in support of an application for Special Consideration on grounds of serious illness: MEDICAL CERTIFICATES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. You are strongly advised to ensure that the medical practitioner completes this certificate on initial consultation by obtaining the form before the consultation.

·       For consideration due to misadventure, a Professional Practitioners Certificate or other form of appropriate documentation (a police report or death certificate, for example) is required which indicates the likely duration and effect of the misadventure on the student’s performance.


NOTE: Only the supporting documents provided at the time of initial application for Special Consideration will be used to assess the request. It will not be possible to submit further documentation relating to an initial application once an application has been lodged with the Student Information Office. Only those circumstances brought to the attention of staff at the time of lodgment will be taken into consideration when formulating an academic judgment.


·       The Student Information Office will check the application at time of lodgment to ensure that the forms are complete and that supporting documentation is adequate and if so, will sign/stamp both the original application form as well as the student’s copies to confirm lodgment of the application at the office.  Personal information (Name, SID, Assessment) on all forms must be completed before the forms are accepted at the Student Information Office; incomplete forms will not be accepted.


·       The Student Information Office will enter the details contained on your application form into the Special Consideration database, which will be used to monitor the progress of your application.


·       Once the form has been stamped by the Student Information Office, you must take the stamped and dated application form and documentation to the nominated Student Liaison Officer (see Table above) of the Department for which you are seeking special consideration.  Your application will be forwarded to the relevant UoS coordinator for assessment. Please note that this must be done for each Unit of Study for which consideration is being sought.


What does the UoS coordinator/Department do with the Application for Special Consideration?


·         Your SCA is treated confidentially and does not in any way disadvantage you.


·         The Unit of Study Coordinator plus the Head of School/Chair of Discipline or their nominee will assess the evidence you have provided in your application and make a decision (referred to as the ‘academic judgment’).


·         The Unit of Study Coordinator and the Head of School (or their nominee) will evaluate how serious the reasons for Special Consideration are and how they may have impacted on your performance or attendance.


·         The academic assessors will also determine the result of the application for Special Consideration in accordance with Faculty guidelines regarding possible outcomes (see below).


·         The academic judgment of the application for Special Consideration will be forwarded to the Faculty office.


·         The Faculty will send an e-mail to your University e-mail address informing you of the outcome. It is expected that you will receive a response within fourteen (14) days of initial application. Please check your University e-mail account regularly during exam and vacation times as this is the fastest and most efficient way of contacting you.




Should I hand in an SCA everytime I am sick?

·         NO

·         If you are sick for less than a week and there are no assignments due or test scheduled during your absence then you DO NOT need to submit an SCA.

·         However, frequent absences from tutorials, seminars and practical classes need to be explained and supported by relevant documentation (see note below).

·         See the end of the document for circumstances which we DO NOT consider and where your SCA will not be accepted.


NOTE: The following is an extract from the The Faculty of Science Handbook 2004, p. 34, and the Faculty of Science Guidelines for Application for Special Consideration Document regarding attendance and applies to all UoS in the Faculty of Science:


“Students enrolled in courses and units of study under the administration of the Faculty of Science are expected to attend a minimum of 80 per cent of tutorials, seminars and practical sessions etc associated with those courses or units, unless granted exemption by the Dean or Head of the relevant department. The Head of Department may set additional requirements for the minimum number of assessment items such as practical reports, tutorial papers, seminars, essays, exercises, quizzes etc which must be completed. On the recommendation of the relevant Head of Department the Dean may determine that a student fails a unit of study because of inadequate attendance or insufficient assessment items completed.”


Please note that this policy extends to attendance as well as assessment; where a Unit of Study has sessions at which attendance is mandatory (eg laboratory demonstrations), non-attendance may result in academic penalty or failure of the Unit of Study as determined by the School.


Unless the School determines otherwise, this policy permits a student to miss two weeks of attendance and/or attendance-related assessment without jeopardizing successful completion of the Unit of Study. If a greater period is missed, the School will be able to exercise the option of awarding the grade of AF (Absent Fail) for the given Unit of Study.



What happens if my SCA is not accepted?

If your SCA is not accepted then lateness penalties for written assignments (as described above) will be applied and the tests will not be rescheduled.


What happens if my SCA is accepted?


·         A new due date will be arranged for the written assignment or a new date scheduled in the case of a test.  The Student Liaison Officer will contact you with these details.

·         An extension will only be granted for a maximum period equal to the length of attested impairment (ie, if you were impaired for three days, you may be granted an extension of up to three days). If the assessment is completed or submitted within the period of extension, no academic penalty will be applied to that piece of assessment.

·         If the written assignment is not received by this new date then lateness penalties will apply.

·         If you do not attend a rescheduled test then no further opportunity to re-sit will be made available.

·         If your SCA is in relation to compulsory classes that cannot be taken at a different time, and for which a report must be submitted (e.g. a practical class report), then you may submit a report based upon data collected by fellow students or provided by teachers.  In the exceptional circumstance where a report cannot be written without attending the class, then you will be awarded a mark, which is the average of marks obtained for assignments relating to other classes.








What if I am unable to attend tutorials where group work is assessed?

If you miss tutorials in which your individual contribution or your contribution within a group is assessed, YOU SHOULD FIRST EXPLAIN YOUR ABSENCE TO YOUR UoS COORDINATOR AND APPLY FOR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION.  In these circumstances you may be able to make up the mark by providing some evidence of having prepared for the tutorial.  The nature of this alternate assessment should be negotiated with your tutor IN THE FIRST INSTANCE.




What do I do if I am sick on the day of a final exam?

You should make every reasonable effort to attend the final examination at the scheduled time. There are, however, several options for you to follow depending on the severity of the illness/misadventure.


·         Option One If you feel that you need some medical help, you should do the following:

·         Go to The University Health Service on the day of the exam before the exam starts.

·         A doctor will assess you and provide a room for you to sit the exam.

·         Alternately, see your own doctor and bring a completed Professional Practitioner Certificate to the University Health Service before the exam starts.

·         The staff at the University Health Service will arrange for the exam to be delivered to you at the University Health Service.


·         Option Two If you genuinely cannot attend the exam, you should do the following:

·         See your doctor immediately – do not wait for a week.  Your certificate may not be valid at this time.

·         Submit a Special Consideration Application within 7days of the date of the missed exam, following the procedures above.

·         As you are not the only one for whom we may need to arrange another assessment, it is imperative that you contact the relevant Student Liaison Officer or UoS coordinator immediately. 

·         Keep all original documents.





·         Option Three If you are experiencing chronic illness or misadventure that is affecting your study continuously throughout the semester, you should do the following

·         See your UoSC as soon as you think that your study is being affected.

·         All effort will be made to help you cope with the assessment deadlines and exam preparation

·         Your circumstances must be documented and supported by an SCA.

·         If at exam time you find you cannot comply fully with the steps in option two then your case will be considered by the UoS coordinator in consultation with the Departmental Teaching Committee where necessary.

·         A decision will be made which is in your best interests.


NOTE: The University makes a clear distinction between longstanding illness or misadventure which prevent students from attending classes or completing required work or which seriously interferes with their capacity to study for long periods, and short-term serious illness or misadventure that may prevent a well-prepared student from sitting an examination or completing a particular assignment. Students who, because of serious illness or misadventure, are prevented from attending classes for prolonged periods should seek an interview with the relevant Unit of Study Coordinator. Even if they do not exceed any specified permitted period of absence, they may need to consider whether their best academic interests are served by discontinuing with permission from the course until they are able to resume their studies effectively. International students may need to seek advice regarding visa requirements prior to making any changes to enrolment. Assistance can be sought from the International Office.


What happens if I don’t sit for the exam and my SCA is accepted?

·         If the UoS coordinator and HoD (or their nominee) accept your SCA then a time will be arranged for you to sit for further assessment.  Under some circumstances your case may be referred to the Departmental Teaching Committee for a final decision.

·         This will take place in the department as soon as possible and usually within a week of the original date so that all exams can be marked and results processed before the deadline for result submission to the relevant Faculties.

·         Failure to attend a further assessment examination would normally result in an “Absent Fail” in the UoS.


What happens if I sit for the exam but feel my performance has been affected and my SCA is accepted?

·         Arrangements for further assessment will be made.

·         In this case the original exam paper will not be marked and your deferred exam result will replace it.




What happens if my SCA is not accepted?

·         You have seven (7) days from the time of notification by the Faculty to make an appeal against the decision made by the UoSC and the HoD (or their nominee) (and in some cases the Departmental Teaching Committee).

·         Any appeals after this time will be rejected.

·         You must submit your appeal in writing to the Projects and Services Officer at the Faculty of Science (currently Mr Matthew Charet), and must outline the grounds for appeal with reference to the original application (including any additional supporting material, if appropriate).

·         The appeal must be made on the same grounds as the original SCA.

·         The appeal will be considered by the Dean, or their nominee, within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the appeal and the result communicated via e-mail to your University e-mail account.





What if I have a major timetable clash?

You are strongly advised not to enroll in subjects, which could result in substantial timetable clashes, though you are not prevented from doing so.  You should be aware, however, that enrolment in subjects, which produce timetable overlap does not constitute grounds for special consideration. (See note above regarding minimum attendance).


What if I misread the exam timetable?

Misreading the exam timetable or missing and exam without cause does not constitute grounds for special consideration or for the right to resit an exam.  Please ensure that all dates for exams are carefully observed and recorded.  The final exam schedule can be located by following links from the University of Sydney home page at


What can I do if I feel the grade given to an assignment, test or exam is too low?

·         Firstly, speak to the UoSC, who will make every effort to ensure that marks have been recorded and reported correctly.  Approach the UoSC as soon as possible so the issue can be resolved before the end of the semester.

·         Secondly, the UoSC should be able to justify clearly to you the reason for the grade.

·         You can request to have the assessment remarked but you run the risk of the grade being changed to a lower one if the marker feels the original grade was too high. 

·         If your concerns are not resolved at this stage then you can appeal to the Head of Department who may refer your case to the Teaching Committee. 

·         If the decision is still not to your satisfaction then an appeal can be made to the Dean of the Faculty.

·         More information on the specific details of the appeal process can be obtained by following links from the University of Sydney home page at


What excuses for lateness of submission will not be accepted?

·         This list is by no means exhaustive but gives examples of problems that can be avoided if you plan and think ahead instead of leaving written assignments to the last minute:

“My computer crashed….”

“My file wouldn’t print…”

“The disc is corrupted….”

“My lab partner had the results…”

“I had to move on the weekend….."

“I couldn’t find the references in the library”

“I had to work on the weekend…”

“I had a cold last week….”

“I had to play football on the weekend…..”


·         We do recognize, however, that real computer problems may occur.  Here are some suggestions to minimize the impact of these:

·         Make back-ups of your work in progress on floppy discs or on your hard drive.

·         Keep printed copies of your work in progress.  These can be used to prove that you are experiencing genuine technical problems.


The following is an extract from the Academic Board Resolution: Assessment and examination of Coursework (Part 5 – Special Consideration due to Illness or misadventure (


1.    Please note that Special Consideration will not be granted in the following instances:

a)        occasional, brief or trivial illness of a one- or two-day duration that occur seven (7) days or more before an assessment is due or exam undertaken;

b)       workloads from other units of study, disciplines and faculties, except where the request for special consideration is made within the first three weeks of semester;

c)        employment where the request for special consideration is made less than four weeks before the date of assessment;

d)       illnesses and misadventures that have prevented students from acquiring a Pass level of knowledge/skills (including all illnesses/misadventures resulting in the student missing six weeks or more of lectures or tutorials);

e)        adequate standards of documentation and processes have not been met;

f)         requests for extensions made after the assignment is due or an assessment has taken place (except where the circumstances prevented earlier submission, no special consideration requests shall be processed if submitted more than seven (7) days after the assessment is due);

g)       the supporting documentation post-dates the period for which special consideration is sought;

h)       the performance of the student was equivalent or superior to that demonstrated in other assessments in the unit of study;

i)         the circumstances pertain to planned commitments, such as elective surgery, holiday or work, where the student could reasonably be expected to have scheduled the commitment or their studies to not adversely affect their studies;

j)         computer-related problems, except where a police report is provided indicating that burglary or calamity has resulted in the loss of a computer and backups from the students’ place of residence (NB: it is assumed that students keep regular back-ups of their work, so theft of a laptop is not grounds for special consideration).

k)        Jury Service, Military Service, National Sporting and religious or cultural commitments which prevent a student from attending scheduled examinations would not normally be considered as cases of misadventure. Whilst faculties are encouraged to consider significant religious and cultural events when scheduling examination dates they may make allowances for these circumstances and consider these applications on a case by case basis. Students affected by these circumstances should approach the Unit of Study coordinator or Head of School for advice concerning their continuing enrolment in the Unit of Study.


This document is consistent with the Academic Board Resolution: Assessment and examination of Coursework Part 5 – Special Consideration due to Illness or misadventure ( and the Faculty of Science Guidelines for Application for Special Consideration Document.