Complaints and academic appeals

Approach to complaints and academic appeals

If you have cause for concern, then often initially discussing it with us informally will lead to a satisfactory resolution.

However, if you remain dissatisfied, then other procedures are available to you. These are set out on the University Complaints and academic appeals web page, and explain which procedure you should follow, and whom to contact. (These will depend on the type of issue, and on which part of the University is involved—department, library, admissions office, college, and so on.)

All student complaints and academic appeals are managed under these procedures, and there is further guidance below about specific arrangements for Continuing Education students.

Making a complaint

See: Complaints and academic appeals and University Student Complaints Procedure

Which process to use, and whom to contact

Refer to the Complaints and academic appeals web page:

  • Complaints about departmental facilities (other than libraries), or teaching and supervision can be raised initially with the Department for Continuing Education for informal resolution (see below).
  • Complaints about the behaviour of a member of staff in the University, or a case of a conflict of interest should be raised with the Director of the Department under the University policy and procedure on harassment.
  • Complaints about any other matters are dealt with under University Complaints and academic appeals and related web pages.

How to resolve a complaint informally

This section assumes that this Department has been identified as the ‘local’ body for informal resolution of a complaint under University Complaints and academic appeals procedures.

  1. You should first seek to resolve your concern or complaint informally with your course director, tutor or administrator; in the interests of resolving the issue, they may need to refer to other staff.
  2. If this does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, you should set out in writing to the relevant Director of Studies (see below) the nature and grounds of your complaint, the steps already taken in seeking redress, and the remedy which is being sought. Your complaint will be acknowledged when received; it will be dealt with as quickly as is consonant with a thorough investigation of the matter, and normally within not more than thirty working days of receipt.
  3. If deciding to uphold the complaint, the Director of Studies may, as appropriate, close the issue with a letter of apology and/or some other form of redress.

  4. If deciding not to uphold the complaint, the Director of Studies will respond to you in writing setting out the reasons for the decision.

Directors of Studies email addresses: Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies - Taught, Director of Graduate Studies - Research.

How to register a formal complaint

If you are not content with the outcome of the informal stage (or ‘first’ stage), you may raise your complaint with the Proctors under the University Student Complaints Procedure. (Please note the limitations of what may be considered under this procedure.)

How we deal with feedback and complaints

  • We hope and intend that cause for complaints will be infrequent. We are committed to maintaining an effective system for managing and reviewing concerns raised, and for resolving them swiftly. We aim to make clear to students how matters should be raised, and how they can expect matters to be treated.
  • We encourage general areas of concern about provision affecting students as a whole to be raised through student feedback channels, such as questionnaires, discussions with course leaders, student representatives, and course committees. This does not preclude concerns being raised through the University student complaints mechanisms, however, including on behalf of a group of students.
  • Complaints will be dealt with confidentially by all parties involved, except where it is necessary to disclose information to carry out a fair investigation (so, for example, student X’s identity will usually need to be disclosed to person Y if student X’s complaint involves person Y).

Academic appeals

See: Academic appeals

When you can make an academic appeal

You may make an academic appeal if you have a concern about procedures not being correctly followed in the examination of your assessed work, or if you have reason to believe that your examination was not conducted fairly. Academic appeals will be considered only on the basis of procedural irregularities, and never on examiners’ academic judgement.

How to make an academic appeal

The full University procedure is described under Academic appeals.

Specific arrangements for Continuing Education students

  • If you are dissatisfied with a decision relating to the award of credit, a mark or a grade, you can raise this with the Directors of Undergraduate or Postgraduate Taught Study (contact details above). You should not contact the marker or Course Director because students are not permitted to discuss marks with Examiners.
  • The ‘First stage: informal resolution’ referred to in the appeal procedure will be conducted by the Department for courses whose students do not have an Oxford college.
  • Only concerns relating to finalized assessment may be escalated to the ‘Second stage: formal appeal’ of the appeal procedure.


Revised July 2021