Reading a manuscript

Academic appeals

Find out how to make an academic appeal

What is an Academic Appeal?

An academic appeal is a mechanism to review or challenge a decision made by the University which relates to your academic studies. 

There are specific grounds of appeal depending on the decision you wish to challenge. The Appeals Guidance sets out:

  • the grounds of appeal (these differ slightly depending on the type of appeal)
  • the deadline for submission of an appeal
  • the evidence requirements
  • What to expect from the appeal investigation

Important: the mark awarded for a piece of assessment is the academic judgement of the marker(s) which cannot be challenged or appealed.  Work will not be re-marked unless a procedural irregularity is found in the marking process (i.e. it is not in compliance with the University regulations).  If you are unsure why you have received a particular mark, or believe that it is not an accurate reflection of your ability, please discuss your concerns with your personal tutor or the module leader. Academic appeals cannot be accepted on this basis. 

Overview of the Appeals process

  • Read the Academic Appeals Guidance
  • Discuss your concerns with your Department/School and the Students’ Union, if appropriate
  • Complete and submit the Appeals Form including relevant evidence by email to the Academic Investigations team within 15 working days of the decision you are appealing
  • An Investigating Officer will decide whether your appeal falls within the remit of the Academic Regulations, whether you have grounds for appeal and whether you have provided sufficient evidence
  • Yes
    The Investigating Officer will
    investigate your case
  • No
    Your appeal will be dismissed
  • The Investigating Officer will write to you to inform you of the outcome of your appeal within two months.  If it is not possible to conclude your appeal within this time frame (because it is complex, or it is a particularly busy time of year) we will write to let you know when you can expect a response.
  • If you believe that your concerns have not been addressed and you meet the grounds set out in the University Regulations you may request a review within 10 working days of receiving the outcome letter.
  • Once the review is complete, you will be sent a Completion of Procedures Letter confirming the University's final decision.
  • End of Royal Holloway's internal procedures
  • If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome you may be able to ask for your case to be reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

Quick links

What is an academic appeal?

An academic appeal is a request for review of a decision made by the University relating to a student’s academic studies

Relevant Regulations:

Undergraduate Regulations; Postgraduate Taught Regulations; Research Degree Regulations; Regulations on Academic Misconduct; Regulations on the Conduct of Assessment

Possible outcomes: Consideration of extenuating circumstances; reconsideration of progression decision or award; reconsideration of student status
Submission Deadline:  15 working days after the decision was communicated


What is a complaint?

A student may make a complaint if they are dissatisfied with the provision of services (including teaching) or facilities by the University.

Relevant Procedure: Student Complaints Procedure
Possible outcomes: Apology; review of process to identify areas for improvement
Deadline: Within 3 months of the events complained about

Before submitting a formal complaint, students are expected to raise the issue with the area of the University concerned to allow for early resolution, if possible.  A formal complaint is unlikely to be accepted until this step has been taken.

Which decisions can I appeal against?

  1. Exam Board decisions
    • For undergraduate and postgraduate students this includes:
      • Progression decision (e.g. repeat or resit)
      • Degree award and classification
      • Termination of registration for academic reasons
      • A decision made in response to a request for consideration of extenuating circumstances
    • For postgraduate research students:
      • Decisions made by an upgrade panel
      • Decision of an MPhil/PhD/DPS/DClinPsy/ Masters by Research viva panel
  2. Termination of registration through the formal warning procedure
  3. Penalties applied for examination offences and academic misconduct
  4. Reconsideration of requests for access arrangements for assessment
  5. Decisions made by a Fitness to Practise Panel 

What if I want to make an academic appeal and a complaint?

Sometimes it may be appropriate to submit an appeal and a complaint.  If so, the University will determine whether they will be dealt with together or whether it is necessary to determine the complaint or appeal first (usually the complaint).  This will depend on the facts of each case and you will be notified of the University's approach and the reasons for it.

Find out more about Complaints

Is there anything I cannot appeal against?

You cannot appeal against:

  • The academic judgement of examiners. Work will not be re-marked unless there has been a procedural error in the marking process
  • Decisions made as a result of extenuating circumstances which have been accepted by the Exam Board. These decisions are the academic judgement of the Board of Examiners.

I want to make an appeal, where do I start?

Please read our Academic Appeals Guidance and refer to the flowchart above. 

Make sure you:

  1. Wait for your confirmed results to be released via CampusConnect (if you are appealing an Exam Board Decision)
  2. Submit your appeal within 15 working days of the decision you are appealing.  If you need more time to obtain evidence, submit your appeal by the deadline and indicate when further evidence will follow, and why you cannot yet provide it. We do not normally allow extensions for submission of appeals.
  3. Provide appropriate supporting evidence (see below for more details)
  4. If you are not submitting your appeal with MS Forms, ensure that your appeal form is signed. 

You may appoint a representative to act on your behalf. 

Please note that if you are unhappy with a mark for a piece of work, this is a matter of academic judgement and you cannot appeal it.  However, if you think that the marking process has not been completed properly you can appeal on the ground of a procedural irregularity once your mark has been confirmed by the Exam Board (known as the Department Assessment Board).  In the meantime, we recommend that you discuss the position with your Personal Tutor or the Module Leader.


What are the grounds for an appeal?

You may only appeal on the grounds listed in the appeal form, and they depend on the type of appeal so please read the appeal form and the Academic Appeals Guidance carefully. The followings reasons for an appeal will not be accepted:

  • I am not happy with the mark achieved for an assessment as it does not reflect my ability or effort (the mark attributed to a piece of work is the academic judgement of the marker)
  • I wasn’t aware of the extenuating circumstances procedure
  • I didn’t know there was a deadline for submission of extenuating circumstances
  • I didn’t submit extenuating circumstances because I was worried about confidentiality/for cultural reasons
  • I didn’t realise how my circumstances had affected me until I received my results

Which documents should I include with my appeal?

Please make sure you include:

  • All relevant supporting evidence, including all documentary evidence which you wish to be investigated and/or taken into account. It is helpful if you can explain clearly how each piece of evidence relates to your appeal
  • Official English translations of any documents which are being supplied in a language other than English
  • Where relevant, an explanation for why you were previously unable to disclose any of the evidence or information
  • Where relevant, a record of all comments or remarks made by the examiners which, in your view, indicate bias.
  • If not using the online form. your completed and signed Appeal form indicating the decision you are appealing against and the ground(s) upon which you are appealing

It is important to check you have included all relevant evidence as the University is not obliged to take into consideration any additional matters which are introduced later in the appeal process, for example at the review stage.

How do I submit my appeal form?

If you are completing the online version, you will be instructed to submit your appeal at the end of form. Otherwise, please send your appeal form and supporting documents by e-mail to the Academic Investigations team using the email address:

We may ask you to provide the originals of supporting documentary evidence and if so, will provide an address for correspondence.

Please be aware that the Academic Investigations team are currently working remotely from home, and therefore please submit your appeal form via email. If you wish to submit original documents, please email the Academic Investigations Team for guidance using the email address:

When will I hear from you?

We will confirm that we've received your appeal within 10 working days.

We aim to complete our investigation and provide an outcome within two months. However, sometimes it can take longer, especially if your appeal is complicated or submitted over the summer period when we receive a large number of appeals.  We will try and prioritise urgent appeals (where a decision may affect summer resits or academic progression) but cannot guarantee that your appeal will be concluded in time to affect the outcome. We will let you know by email if this is the case.

While you await the outcome of your appeal, you must assume that the current decision will not be changed, and make any associated decisions on that basis.  If your appeal is subsequently upheld and there is a change to the original decision, we will ensure that (so far as possible), you are returned to the position you would have been in, had that decision been made at the outset.

How can I contact you if I have a question about my appeal?

You can email the Academic Investigations team and we aim to respond within three working days. Please note that we are unable to discuss individual cases over the telephone.

How will you investigate my appeal?

Your appeal will be investigated by a senior member of Student Administration, who is known as the Investigating Officer.

The Investigating Officer will first decide whether or not:

  • Your appeal has been received within the deadline;
  • the issues you have raised fall under the appeals procedure;
  • you have given enough information and provided enough evidence to investigate.

If your appeal is submitted after the deadline, or you do not provide sufficient information or evidence to allow us to investigate, it may be dismissed without further investigation and you will be advised in writing of this decision.

If the Investigating Officer decides to proceed with an investigation, they will begin by establishing the facts and which University regulations, policies or procedures apply. This may involve contacting other areas of the University including your School/Department, DNS or the Wellbeing Service and sharing information about your appeal with them. However, please be assured that the information will be treated as confidential by all members of staff, and will not be shared more widely than necessary.

Please remember that the appeal form is your opportunity to fully explain your reasons for appealing and provide all the information you would like taken into account. In exceptional cases we may contact you for clarification, but do not assume that you will have a further opportunity to make your case.

How will I know when my appeal has been decided?

Once the investigation is complete the Investigating officer will decide whether your appeal should be upheld. In some cases they will seek guidance from a Vice Principal or a senior member of academic staff before a decision is reached.

You will receive an outcome letter which will explain the facts, relevant considerations and conclusions of the investigation. This will be emailed to your University email address and any other email address you provided on your appeal form.  If you have nominated a representative, the letter will be copied to them too. Please ensure that you check your email accounts regularly.

  • If your appeal is not upheld, the original decision will stand.
  • If your appeal is upheld, the Investigating Officer will already have taken steps to rectify the position, so far as it is possible to do so. This may include referring your extenuating circumstances back to your School/Department Sub-board of Examiners for retrospective consideration, or correcting a procedural irregularity.  However, it is important to understand that even if your appeal is upheld, this may not result in any change to the original decision.   If appropriate, the Investigating Officer may recommend that University processes are reviewed.

What can I do if I'm dissatisfied with the appeal outcome?

If you believe that your concerns have not been addressed in the initial findings letter you may request a review of the decision by completing a 'request for a review' form.  You must do so within ten working days of the date of the outcome letter.  The form should be be emailed to 

The review will not normally result in a full reinvestigation of your case. There are limited grounds on which you may request a review which are that:

  • fresh evidence can be presented which you could not with reasonable diligence have been submitted with the initial appeal and which might cause reasonable doubt as to the fairness of the decision in the outcome letter
  • there is evidence of a failure to follow the procedures in the regulations which might cause reasonable doubt as to the fairness of the decision in the outcome letter
  • the decision in the outcome letter was perverse given the evidence which was available at the time.

How is the review carried out?

The review will be carried out by the Legal and Compliance team.

They will determine whether you meet the review grounds. If you do not, your request will be dismissed and the investigation will be considered complete.  You will be sent a Completion of Procedures Letter confirming the University's final decision on your appeal and the completion of the University's internal procedures.

If you meet one or more of the review grounds, your appeal may be returned to the Investigating Officer for reconsideration. Occasionally, in particularly complex cases or those which raise important questions of principle, the case will be referred to a Review Panel for a final decision. 

At the end of the review process you will be sent a Completion of Procedures Letter confirming the University's final decision and the completion of the University's internal procedures.

What can I do if I'm still dissatisfied following the review?

Once a Completion of Procedures letter has been issued, the University will not discuss or consider the matter further. If you believe that your concerns have still not been addressed you can ask for your case to be reviewed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

Your Completion of Procedures Letter will explain how to contact the OIA and provide the deadline by which your case must be referred to them for review.  This will be 12 months after the date of the Completion of Procedures letter.