Academic Appeals

You can appeal by letter against various decisions that affect your study if you believe you have grounds for appeal.

GUSRC Advice Centre Academic Appeals Header

Read the GUSRC Academic Appeals Leaflet online.

The rules relating to appeals are listed in the University Regulations (formerly known as the ‘University Calendar’).

The only grounds for appeal are:

  • Unfair or defective procedure
  • A failure to take account of medical or other adverse personal circumstances
  • There are relevant medical or other adverse personal circumstances which for good reason have not previously been presented

COVID-related changes to appeals in 2020

The University No Detriment Policy has implications for appeals which relate to assessment between 15th March and 11th September 2020. The University envisaged that many (if not all) students were very likely to have suffered adverse personal or health circumstances because of the COVID situation, which could detrimentally affect their performance on assessments after 15th March.  The No Detriment Policy provides for some grades from post-15th-March assessment to be disregarded where performance has dipped – whether this dip was due to circumstances connected with the pandemic or with any other circumstances you would normally have raised through the Good Cause Process. (The No Detriment Policy only applies up to 11th September 2020, so if your appeal relates to a different time period you will not be affected by this section).

The No Detriment Policy means that personal and health circumstances are unlikely to be taken into further consideration in an appeal.  The only remaining ground which may still be considered, is unfair or defective procedure.

If your appeal relates to something other than assessment between 15th March and 11th September 2020, then the appeals procedures will apply as normal.

Discretionary Zone changes

The rules for dealing with GPAs which fall in the discretionary zone have also changed during the ‘COVID period’ in 2020.

For Honours students with a GPA between X.1 to X.4, promotion to the upper band is only available under very limited circumstances, outlined in the document at the above link.

It is advisable to discuss your case with your Advising team or Honours Convenor. You can ask them to check if you meet the criteria listed in the new policy. If you do meet the criteria, then your adviser can check to see if your case was already discussed by the Exam Board.  If it turns out that your case was not considered by the Exam Board then you may be able to submit an academic appeal on grounds of unfair or defective procedure in that instance.

Re-sit Opportunity

Under the No Detriment Policy, students unhappy with their degree result had the opportunity to resit all the April/May exams in August, and the result would be whichever was better of the two. Honours students do not normally have the opportunity for re-sits, this was a one-off change to policy because of COVID-19.

Health Warning

Academic appeals are not just an automatic recourse for anyone who is unhappy with their grades. You need to have grounds for appealing (see above), be able to present your case, and show supporting evidence. There needs to be a realistic and workable remedy available which doesn’t involve compromising academic standards. Often the remedy involves resubmitting work or re-sitting part of a course.  Academic appeals take a lot of work to prepare properly and you will need to do most of that work. If you aren’t prepared to put that work in, you need to ask yourself how important this is to you.

Of course, The Advice Centre is there to help and support you with all of this. But at the end of the day it’s your appeal — your responsibility.

What Should I Do?

Approach your School

Firstly approach your School or Adviser of Studies to see if the situation can be resolved without the need for a formal appeal. The Advice Centre staff can help with this if you don’t feel confident about approaching staff, or aren’t sure what to say.

Consulting at School level won’t necessarily avoid the need to go to a formal appeal, but remember that when you do approach the College to notify them of an appeal, they will themselves approach the relevant School for feedback on the case.

If you have already had a good meeting with someone in the School then their report to College stands a better chance of being positive towards your case.

Let your College know you want to appeal

If you do wish to appeal, the first stage of an appeal is always to your College. You have 10 working days (2 weeks) from the date of the decision against which you are appealing to submit your intimation of intention to appeal to the Head of Academic and Student Administration in your College. If you are working towards an informal resolution of the problem you should still put in your intention to appeal to avoid running out of time (you can always withdraw it later if your informal route succeeds).

The Advice Centre has produced an Intimation of Intent to Appeal letter that you can customise with your own details.  Although it is in letter format, it is fine to send both the IIA letter, and the full appeal letter, by email.

You then have a further 20 working days (4 weeks) to submit a full appeal letter with all your evidence included.

Tips for writing a full appeal letter

We recommend you read our tips for writing a full appeal letter.

If you are not experienced in writing formal letters, you might find our tips on writing formal letters useful.

Your appeal is likely to be dealt with under preliminary disposal (i.e. without a hearing), hence the need for a really comprehensive appeal letter. Sometimes, though, the College Appeals Committee will want to hold a full hearing so they can ask you questions about your appeal.

At any time during this process, if you are at all unsure, want to talk it over with someone or would like to request representation, please contact The Advice Centre and our trained and experienced staff will be happy to help.

Appeal Letter Checklist

Important – check this list before you submit, to make sure you’ve included all necessary information.

  • Have you included your name, address, phone number and email address?
  • Have you included the name of your course and your year of study?
  • Have you stated what decision you are appealing against?
  • Have you stated the grounds that you are appealing on?
  • Have you included your evidence? If you’ve mentioned things like a doctor’s letter or excerpts from your course handbook, you should include these.
  • Read through your letter — have you stuck to the facts? Is your letter easy to read? If not, it’s likely the Appeals Committee will also think this.
  • How have you ended the letter? Make sure that you include the resolution you’re looking for.
  • Have you said whether you will attend if a hearing is called?
  • Have you confirmed whether you have arranged for someone to accompany you to a hearing, if one is called?

Once you’ve checked that you have everything, you’re ready to submit your letter to the Head of Academic & Student Administration for your College. If you’re not sure about anything in your letter, one the Advice Centre staff members can read through it to see if they think you’ve missed any important details.


There is also a very useful FAQ section on Academic Appeals on the University website.

What if my appeal is unsuccessful?

You may be able to pursue the matter further – please read our information on next steps if your appeal has been dismissed.