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Welfare and Support in relation to your academic life

Special Arrangements

hat are special exam arrangements?
Special exam arrangements are adjustments to examinations designed to relieve students of any disadvantage arising from disability, medical reason, religious observance or other circumstances. This might include having an amanuensis, taking exams in college, extra time, taking the exam on another day and much more.

How are special exam arrangements organised?
Special exam arrangements are authorised by the board of exams and requests are made through colleges. Students should not apply directly but speak to their DoS or Tutor about organising adjustments.

When is the deadline for putting in requests?

It is best to start your request as early as possible- before you arrive or in Michaelmas term as the deadline for applications is early January. If a situation arises after this point, speak to your dos or tutor as soon as possible as it still may be possible to apply for adjustments.

Where can I find more information and advice?
Speak to your college tutor, the DRC or SAS. See the full guidance document for students and staff here: [pdf]

Four major areas in which you may be entitled to adjustments or special circumstances include:

  • Support or adjustments throughout the year: This might include, for example, lecture notes in an alternative format if you have a specific disability or special arrangements if you are unable to work on certain days for religious reasons.
  • Exam warning
  • Examination allowance
  • Specific Examination Arrangements: This might include additional time, supervised breaks, food and drink in the exam, alternative formats, alternative locations, a scribe, or alternative equipment such as a computer.

Your College Tutor and Director of Studies should provide support and assistance in arranging any of these special considerations or circumstances, and it is important to let them know about any potential requirements or concerns as soon as possible. If you have a specific disability (learning, mobility or any other), experience a mental health condition, or long term health issue (such as diabetes or ME) and require any special adjustments it is often essential to obtain medical evidence, such as a letter from your GP, and a recommendation from the Disability Resource Centre.

Your Rights

Cambridge University has a clear policy of equality and diversity and equality of opportunity and is subject to the 2010 Equality Act. In this way, they are therefore required both by law and internal policy to provide a supportive and inclusive system of education which supports all students, and make reasonable adjustments when required.

"Protected characteristics" in the Equality act include:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

It is worth noting that mental health issues come under the heading of 'disability', and thus that the university is required to recognise, consider and make adjustments for mental health issues just as much as it is for Specific Learning Difficulties, mobility issues, visual impairments and so on.

See more information on Equality and your rights.

The university has a 'Dignity@study' policy which is designed to protect students against any discrimination or inappropriate behaviour.