What is special consideration?

Special consideration is ‘a process that affords equal opportunity to students, who have experienced circumstances that adversely impact their ability to complete an assessment task.’ These circumstances (illness, injury or misadventure) need to be unexpected and out of your control. You can apply for special consideration if you are unable to complete an assessment or exam because you, or someone you are the primary carer for, is affected by seriousness illness or misadventure.

If there is an existing illness or disability you need to demonstrate that you are experiencing an exacerbation of this condition. An illness can be physical or mental. Misadventure can include, but is not limited to, unexpected financial problems, family illness, recovering from bereavement, sexual harassment, a car accident or problems with a landlord. You normally need to be able to demonstrate that these events occurred close to the assessment date. Where someone doing group work needs special consideration, special rules apply.

If the University approves an application for special consideration they will give some flexibility in meeting assessment requirements, such as an extension or a further examination. They cannot give you extra marks. For some (e.g. weekly class tests, tutorial participation, lab work), assessments re-weighting or averaging might be granted. Even if there are no assessment tasks in tutorials you should apply for special consideration, or at least submit documentation (see below), in order to ensure you are not penalised for missing class. If you do not apply for special consideration you may be marked absent and risk receiving an Absent Fail grade even if you pass all assignments.

You are able to apply for special consideration for a supplementary assessment if you experience illness or misadventure. Where the faculty is unable to provide an additional supplementary assessment you will be given a Discontinue Not Fail (DC) grade.

Special arrangements

If your study is affected by important things that are not sickness or misadventure, you can apply for ‘special arrangements’. This includes, but is not limited to, jury duty, court summons, armed service, birth or adoption of a child, an essential religious commitment, sporting or cultural commitments where you are representing the University, state or nation, and in some cases essential employment. This does not include attending a wedding. You will need to provide supporting documentation.

For final exams supporting documentation and necessary forms must be lodged no later than 14 days after the exam timetable is published.


If you have a long term or pre-existing medical condition you can apply for disability support. Disability Services can help you to create an academic plan to successfully complete your degree with any reasonable accommodations. This means that you will be given reasonable adjustment so that your disability provides you the same opportunities that are available to other students. Medical conditions that may be considered as a ‘disability’ include, but are not limited to, conditions listed in the Disability Discrimination Act (1992), as well as “temporary disabilities” including broken limbs and pregnancy. If your disability becomes exacerbated around the time an assessment is due, even if you have a Disability Plan and have already been provided with a reasonable adjustment, you can still apply for special consideration.

Discontinue Not Fail (DC – formerly DNF)

If you discontinue from a Unit after the census date (31st March for first semester or 31st August for second semester), but before the automatic DC date (end of week 7), you will receive a DC grade. This means no academic penalty – no effect on your Weighted Average Mark, (WAM), or on progression requirements. You ordinarily still have to pay for the subject. However, if you have special circumstances you may be able to ask for your fees (HECS debt or fees to be refunded if you are awarded a DC.) Similarly if you have special circumstances you may be able to apply for a DC after the deadline. (See the SRC leaflet on DC) Discontinue Not Fail.

Discontinue Fail (DF)

If you withdraw from a subject after week 7, but before the end of week 13, you will receive a DF grade. You will still have
to pay for the subject. It will NOT affect your WAM*, however, however, it will count as a fail and may effect your progression
(e.g., show cause). *Some faculties have their own version of WAM used to assess suitability for honours. A DF grade may affect this version of WAM. If you want to enrol in honours enquire with your faculty before withdrawing.

Simple Extensions

A Unit of Study Co-ordinator is able to grant a two working day extension for a non-examination task. Note that this does not change any conditions or deadlines of special consideration.

Applying for special consideration

1. Deadline

You must apply for special consideration within three working days of the assessment. Do not apply late. (If you have a compelling reason why it is late, the University may consider it, but this is far from guaranteed).

2. How to apply

Visit the university website for more information on eligibility and how to apply. (http://sydney.edu.au/current_students/special_consideration/index.shtml). You will need to download the appropriate form for your supporting documentation and apply online. Make sure you keep copies of everything that you submit.

3. Supporting documentation

If you are sick you will need a Professional Practitioner’s Certificate (PPC) completed by your treating doctor or counsellor. If you are the primary carer for someone who becomes sick you should get a PPC to show how you are affected by the illness – it is not enough to just get a doctor’s certificate for the person you are caring for. Download a PPC from the special consideration website. The PPC must be completed on the same day you are sick, on or before the date of the assessment. If you are too sick to attend a doctor’s surgery on that day, search the Internet for a home visit GP. Backdated PPC’s are generally not accepted. The PPC should indicate the severity of your condition (eg, severely affected), and a description of the things that you are unable to do, such as attend classes, leave bed, or sit up for longer than 10 minutes.

Appropriate misadventure documentation varies according to the situation. You want to prove that what you say did happen and it did affect you and your studies. This might be a death certificate, letter from a hospital social worker, or police event number with contact details for the reporting officer.

It is usually best to also get a PPC from a doctor or counsellor to show how you were affected by the misadventure. While it is possible to use a statutory declaration (written by you or someone close to you) it is generally not seen as effective as the other forms of documentation.

Can’t get documents in time or in English?

If your supporting documents are not in English, you should submit what you have, while you get it translated by a certified translator. The same applies if there is a delay in getting a supporting document. Explain this delay to the University before the deadline, and get the documents to them as soon as you can. The University is not obliged to wait for you to get the supporting documents organised.

What can I do if my application is rejected?

You can appeal a rejected special consideration application. The University’s special consideration website has the details. You have 15 working days from the original decision to lodge an informal review. Consider if your application satisfied the University’s requirements. That is, was your supporting documentation dated on or before the assessment date, and does it show you were severely affected and could not reasonably complete the task in question. If this is the case seek advice from an SRC Caseworker about appealing the decision.

False documentation

If you are caught using false documentation (e.g., a medical certificate that you bought) or alter a document, you will not be granted special consideration. You may also be found to have committed academic misconduct, which may lead to your expulsion from the university. Your actions may also be reported to the police and you could face prosecution, as it is an act of fraud. The SRC strongly advises against the use of false documentation.

Information updated on 14.9.16 (SPCON)