Academic Support

During your time at University, you may need advice about an academic issue. The Students' Union offers an independent and confidential advice service, which can advise and guide students through the University’s academic regulations.

Academic Support

During your time at University, you may need advice about an academic issue. The Students' Union offers an independent and confidential advice service, which can advise and guide students through the University’s academic regulations. The Full-time Officers can support and represent students facing fitness to practice, allegations of plagiarism (unfair practice) or a disciplinary due to misconduct at University hearings.

The University expects you to be familiar with your course handbook and the academic regulations. Both can appear to be quite complex, but the full time officers will be happy to sit down and help you to understand them.

Attendance is very important. However, if, for unavoidable reasons, you need to miss some of your timetabled activities, here’s what you need to do:

For short absences (less than 10 working days), email your course leader. For absences of 10 days or more, you have to request an authorisation of absence.

In some cases, students can request to suspend their studies for a year..

Absence & Attendance

For many students, class attendance is not monitored as strictly as it would be in secondary school. That does not mean that attendance is optional – it can be crucial to your academic and personal success..

Information on this webpage forms part of our commitment in our Student Charter.

What's in it for me?

The University has done some research comparing performance among students of different levels of attendance. We found that students with good attendance experienced the following benefits:

  • Greater chance of progression
  • Higher grades
  • More knowledge to inform assessment
  • Opportunities to improve transferable personal skills
  • Familiarisation with the views of others, which helps shape your arguments/knowledge
  • The whole summer to relax: no resits!

What you lose by not being in class

The flip side of the coin is that poor attendance has been shown to pose serious risks to students’ attainments:

  • Higher risks of failure
  • Poorer grades
  • Limited knowledge of course materials: Blackboard cannot fully replicate the vital input from tutors in class
  • Higher likelihood of resit coursework and/or exams in the summer
  • Lower chances of completion within three years – and therefore higher risks of more debt and financial repercussions

Attendance monitoring for international students with a study visa

If you are studying on an international study visa, you will be required to report regularly to the University in order that the University can confirm you are actively engaged in your studies. Staff on your campus and course will advise you of their particular requirements for reporting..


It is normal to be worried during exam time, but don’t worry help is at hand!

“Exams bring out the best in some people, and the worst in other…whatever the case, remind yourself that you can only do your best – and your best is all that you can do.” - Mind UK

Log off Facebook. Although many of you will use laptops, tablets and phones to help you to revise, having Facebook on in the background will distract you. Log off and don’t log in again until you have finished revision each day.

Find a revision environment that works for you. Exam season doesn’t mean you need to move into the library. Find a comfortable revision environment that works for you, and move around during the day.

Take a break. As soon as you notice that you are losing concentration, take a short break and you will come back to your revision feeling refreshed

Eat well. Try to resist the temptation of taking packets of biscuits and sweets to the library to keep you going. Instead, take a break for lunch and eat healthily. Also, drink water rather than energy drinks and caffeine.

Sleep well. Sleeping is important during the exam season to ensure that your brain is recharged, but worrying that you aren’t getting enough sleep can keep you awake. Tell yourself that if you don’t have enough sleep it’s not the end of the world as you can just sleep more the next night and try to get into a routine each day.

Exercise. Exercise will help to keep you calm during exams. You’ll feel more energised and refreshed, and that will help you perform better in your studies. However, during exams you may feel unable to take much time out from studying. Instead of giving up on exercise altogether, try taking small, regular breaks to refresh yourself and clear your mind and a 15 walk to the library or around campus is a good way of getting some exercise.

Procrastination. Proscrastination can be a student’s worst enemy around the exam season, but you can overcome it. Try to commit yourself to completing realistic and manageable tasks and reward yourself when it is done to keep yourself motivated.

Don’t try to be perfect. It’s great to succeed and reach for the stars but keep things in the balance, worrying you won’t get a 2.1 will only create more stress. If the exam goes badly, there is always other options and support available.

Take steps to overcome problems. If you find you don’t understand your course material, talk to your module leader, personal tutor or class mates.

Worried or stressed about non-academic issue, perhaps relating to finance, housing or consumer issues? Contact the Students’ Union who will do their best to help you and relive stress during exam time.

Methods of revision

There isn’t a ‘right way’ to revise for your exams and it is important you stick to methods which work for you. If your friend is spending hours and hours in the library everyday it doesn’t mean that you need to too.

How to revise the syllabus

There are many methods of revision which are not limited to the ones listed below. People learn in different ways so if you are finding it difficult to revise, try out a variety of these methods.

Visual methods of learning

  • Write down key facts and using mind maps
  • Summarise your notes onto small cards and taking them around with you (but make sure that you photo copy them incase you loose them!)
  • Make diagrams and mnemonics to help you to remember things

Audtory methods of learning

  • Listen to lectures (if you have recorded lectures on your course)
  • Reading aloud
  • Record yourself reading your revision notes (you could exercise whilst listening to your notes)
  • Explaining your notes to someone else

Kinaesthetic methods of learning

  • Walk around whilst reading
  • Underlining or highlighting key points
  • Putting key point onto index cards and putting them in order
  • Making a model
  • Group studying

Revising exam technique

  • Look at plenty of past papers to look at the style of writing
  • Work out how long the exam is and how many marks are available for each question to work out how long you should spend on each question in the exam
  • Do past papers and time yourself

Extenuating Circumstances

If you experience circumstances that may affect your ability to perform in assessments you may be able to apply for Extenuating Circumstances.

Fit to Sit Policy

In submitting each assessment and/or sitting an examination you are confirming that you are fit to sit and you will not subsequently be able to claim that your performance in that assessment was affected by extenuating circumstances. If you consider that you are not ‘fit to sit’, this must be for a substantial reason and you should inform the University in advance unless this is not possible (as set out in the regulations). You will therefore need to take responsibility for deciding in advance whether you are unwell or facing other significant extenuating circumstances. If so, you should contact the University to seek either an extension for submission or non submission/attendance. In making such a decision, you need to consider the consequences of delaying your studies and your Advice Centre/tutors will be able to provide you with guidance about this should you require it.

What are extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances are defined as “Exceptional circumstances which are outside the control of the student and which have prevented, or will prevent, him/her from performing in assessment at the level expected or required of him/her.”

If you are requesting extenuating circumstances:

  • Claim forms are obtained from your Advice Zone.
  • The claim must be presented by you as soon as the circumstances arise.
  • All circumstances should be supported by evidence from an independent source.
  • It is your responsibility to seek and provide evidence.

A successful claim may involve extending a deadline, or offering you the opportunity to retake a piece of assessment. However, you should note that you cannot ask for the original piece of work to be regraded. The options available to you will be explained when you discuss your claim with your Advice Zone.

Why should I apply?

If you feel that circumstances beyond your control have affected your ability to study effectively you should submit a claim. Your claim will be dealt with privately and confidentially. We will never disclose information without your prior consent in conjunction with our confidentiality code.

How do I apply?

Making a claim is a straight forward process. Extenuating circumstances forms are available from your Advice Zone where you can also obtain advice and guidance on preparing your claim and the evidence you will be required to provide in support of your claim. Please note that applications without independent evidence covering the dates being claimed for will not be accepted. The Advice Zone will also be able to advise you on any other support mechanisms available to you.

Your claim must be submitted as soon as the circumstances arise and prior to the assessments taking place. If your circumstances make this impossible, the Advice Zone will advise you accordingly.

Univeristy regulations about extenutating circumstances

Extenuating Circumstances are covered in section A.2.6.7 of the Regulations for Taught Courses. The regulations and procedures can be found in the Extenuating Circumstances Regulations document. Please familiarise yourself with these sections to understand how your claim will be processed.

Medical certificates

For students seeking medical certification from the University Health Service, Ashgrove Surgery or Llanedeyrn Health Centre please note that doctors/nursing staff can only provide independent confirmation in support of a case for extenuating circumstances if a doctor/nurse has previously seen you and there is a written record of this in your medical notes. This independent confirmation will be a statement of fact, derived from the medical records. It will usually only cover the period of time for which you were being seen for that particular medical condition. It is your responsibility to explain how the medical condition affects your ability to study.

Whilst the Medical Officer, doctors and nursing staff appreciate that there are often other circumstances when your ability to study is affected, such as a bereavement, a relationship break-up, or other stressful life events, they are unable to issue a medical certificate under these circumstances, unless these circumstances are such that they have led to a recognisable medical condition. Further information is available from the Health Service.

If you decide to consult external agencies to obtain medical evidence, the University has prepared a guidance document which can be completed by your medical practitioner instead of a supporting letter. This will be provided by a Student Advisor, along with the application.

THe Wellbeing Service

If the Counselling and/or Mental Health Service are working regularly with you during a time of difficulty for which you wish to claim extenuating circumstances, then at your request and with your permission, they are able to provide you with a letter which confirms your attendance.

The Counselling and/or Mental Health Services will not be in a position to provide letters for students who have not been using the service during the time for which they are claiming extenuating circumstances.

Students who have on-going mental health conditions for whom an Individual Support Plan (ISP) has been put in place are advised to note the guidance below under Disability & Dyslexia Service.

Disability & Dyslexia Service

If you have a disability or health condition which impacts on your ability to study you should contact the Disability & Dyslexia Service (DDS) as soon as possible to discuss appropriate assistance and the possibility of additional funding in the form of the Disabled Student Allowance. It is your responsibility to inform the University and seek assistance for a disability or health condition as early as possible.

Extenuating circumstances can be applied for only in cases where there is a sudden or unexpected deterioration of a disability of health condition which has impacted on your ability to study.

When you complete a faculty form for extenuating circumstances you will be asked whether you are registered with the DDS and if your application is in relation to an existing disability. You will be asked to give consent to the information about your support requirements to be shared between the DDS and the faculty.

You may request an Adviser from the DDS to provide evidence to support an application for extenuating circumstances if you are registered with the service.

Further information

For further information and advice on processing an extenuating circumstances claim please contact your Advice Zone.

University Complaints

USW has an official complaints procedure to help students voice concerns and resolve problems.

  • Early resolution is the first step – raise concerns verbally or in writing with the person responsible
  • Formal investigation is the next stage, if required
  • Advice and support is available at every stage

Complaints Procedure

If you are dissatisfied with an aspect of the University’s provisions and you wish to complain, you should follow the University’s Complaints Procedure, which is open to all students of the University of South Wales.

When a complaint is received, the University seeks to resolve it as quickly and fairly as possible, whether it is about services provided by the University, treatment by a member of staff, student or visitor, or any other issue.

The Complaints Procedure is explained on the University Secretary’s Office website here.

In brief:

  • Early resolution – attempt to resolve the problem informally with the person/people involved.
  • Formal Investigation – if early resolution fails then initiate a formal investigation by completing a Student Complaint Form and sending it to the Student Casework Unit.

Advice and Support

Students can seek advice and guidance on how to lodge an appeal or complaint through a number of avenues, including the Students’ Union, Advice Zones and Student Services. Specialist advice on the regulations and procedures is available from staff in the Student Casework Unit. Pastoral support is available from the Students’ Union, Student Services and the Chaplaincy. Support for students with certain disabilities with regard to access to regulations and procedures is provided through the Disability and Dyslexia Service within Student Services and Library Services.