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Discontinue a unit of study

  1. Drop a unit of study
  2. Late discontinuation under special circumstances

Late discontinuation under special circumstances


The late discontinuation under special circumstances process is outlined in Part 92 of the Coursework policy, and the Late discontinuation under special circumstances procedures.

Usually, census date is the last day you have to withdraw from a unit of study without financial or academic penalty.

If the census date has passed, but you have been impacted by circumstances beyond your control you can apply to discontinue from a unit of study under special circumstances.

If your application is approved, you will receive a DC grade which does not count as a fail on your transcript and fees associated with your unit of study will be remitted.

What are special circumstances?

Special circumstances are circumstances that are:

  • beyond your control,
  • did not make the full impact on you until on or after the census date of the unit, and
  • make it impracticable for you to complete the unit.

Special circumstances could include medical, family/personal, employment or course related challenges where it would be unreasonable to expect a student to continue their studies.

  • illness or a worsening, or changing, medical condition
  • a family member dying
  • a family member having a serious medical condition
  • changes to your employment
  • changes the provider makes that disadvantages the student
  • a natural disaster or other emergency in Australia
  • any other circumstances that a provider considers relevant.

In addition, special circumstances may apply to domestic students where financial difficulties experienced by the student, or their family prevents them from continuing their studies.

How to apply

You will need to submit your application using the late discontinuation under special circumstances form.

In your application you will need to nominate which units of study you are intending to discontinue from and provide a short description explaining why you are applying for late discontinuation under special circumstances.

Supporting documents

You will also need to attach a statement and (original or certified) supporting documents to demonstrate in more detail that you have been impacted by special circumstances.


Make sure you demonstrate how the circumstances:

- were out of your control

- made it impracticable for you to complete the requirements of your unit

- had full impact on or after the census date.

Your supporting documents need to:

  • describe what happened in detail
  • demonstrate the impact of the circumstances and how they made it impracticable for you to complete the requirements of the affected unit
  • explain how these circumstances were out of your control
  • include the period of time which you were affected
  • be truthful and accurate
  • be in English
  • if you need to translate non-English language documents contact an accredited translation agency, such as NAATI. You will need to provide documents as a pdf, tif, tiff, gif or png file. Word file formats (doc and docx) are not accepted.

In the case of illness, you can provide a Professional Practitioner Certificate (PPC) (pdf, 313KB) or a medical certificate that contains the same information.

What happens next

If you are still enrolled in the unit(s)

By submitting a late discontinuation under special circumstances application, you are indicating that your circumstances will severely impact successful completion of your unit(s). Once you’ve submitted your application you can either:

  • officially discontinue from your unit to receive a DF (Discontinue Fail). You will need to do this through Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, ‘Units of study’, ‘Other options’, then ‘Discontinue from a unit of study’). Your application for consideration under special circumstances will still be assessed.

  • choose to remain enrolled. You will need to remain engaged with your studies and submit any required assessments that are due prior to receiving an outcome. If you are unsuccessful in your application to discontinue under special circumstances, all assessments due within this timeframe will contribute to your final mark.

Receiving an outcome

We will send the outcome of your application to your University student email account and you can monitor the progress of your application through the portal. We may also contact you there if we need to request further information.

If your application is approved you will receive a DC (Discontinue not to count as failure) for the unit(s) you applied for. A DC does not count as a fail on your transcript, and means you are not financially liable for the unit. Any fees associated with the unit of study that you have paid upfront will be returned to your fee account.

This amount will be recredited to your fee account and automatically allocated to your future enrolment. If you would like to receive the amount in your fee account, you can request a refund in Sydney Student.

Review of a decision

If you feel you have genuine grounds to contest any units not approved in your application, you can apply for a review of the decision. You will need to submit your application for review within 20 working days of receiving your outcome. Log in to view your application, and select ‘review’ next to it. Refer to Clause 8 of the Late discontinuation under special circumstances procedures.

Student Centre



1800 SYD UNI (1800 793 864)
or +61 2 8627 1444 (outside Australia)

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Last updated: 13 March 2024

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