Frequently asked questions
Please refer to the External Examiner Handbook 2022-23.
As a subject standards external examiner, you will:
- confirm that the assessment process is conducted in accordance with the University's Academic Regulations, the approved scheme regulatory frameworks, course regulatory schedules and course regulations
- confirm that students have been assessed fairly and have been judged on whether they have achieved the aims and learning outcomes of the course as stated in the course specification and the University's general educational aims
- confirm that the range of marks given by internal examiners to students fairly reflect the standards of those students' performance, having regard to standards elsewhere in UK higher education.
As an awards external examiner, you will:
- confirm that the conferment of awards have been reached in accordance with the University's Academic Regulations, the scheme regulatory framework, the course regulatory schedule and the course regulations and that the process of conferment has been conducted in accordance with good practice in higher education
- attend Awards Board meetings at which decisions on the conferment of awards are made
As an external examiner for research degrees, you will:
- in respect of research degrees, conduct viva-voce examinations, to consider, and, as appropriate, confirm that the student has met the required standard for the award of the research degree
The University has two categories of assessment boards that operate on behalf of Academic Board:
- Subject Standards Boards (SSBs)
These are charged with setting and monitoring academic standards, confirming marks for individual students at module level and coordinating the assessment process at subject level. Subject Standards Boards relate to schools, and normally to level (undergraduate or postgraduate) and/or specific subject areas within schools. All approved internal module examiners and subject standards examiners (external examiners) in a subject area are members of a Subject Standards Board.
- Awards Boards
The University Award Board is responsible for conferring awards. Its work is supported by two sub-committees:
- The Awards Board sub-committee for Research Degrees
- The Awards Board sub-committee for the Auditing of Taught Awards
The external examiners who sit on Awards Boards and Subject Standards Boards contribute to the annual and periodic monitoring process. As part of the fulfilment of their contract with the University, they produce an annual report to the Vice-Chancellor on the maintenance of appropriate standards and the probity of the assessment process. Payment of the fee for external examining is conditional upon production of the annual report.
Following your appointment as an external examiner, you should expect to receive:
- an email welcoming you and directing you to the University’s web pages for external examiners, which provide detailed advice about your role, Academic Regulations, relevant processes, forms and contacts.
- a contract for services that you are asked to sign, which identifies your responsibilities as an external examiner (and for subject standards examiners the initial range of courses/modules for which you have responsibility).
- access to Evision for subject standards examiners.
- for subject standards examiners, a remote induction arranged by the Academic Quality Department (AQD) and a seperate training session run by the school to the relevant courses, modules, course-specific regulations and staff.
- for awards examiners, induction is via the Board and sub-committee meetings, where they overlap with existing and previous awards examiners before taking on the auditing responsibility.
As a subject standards examiner, you are asked to confirm the academic standards of modules, including specific judgements as to whether assessments and marking standards are or aren't appropriate. You also provide advice on ways of enhancing the quality of modules, courses and student performance. As an awards examiner, you are asked to make judgements as to whether students have met the required criteria for awards, but you also monitor and advise upon academic standards and assessment policy.
No. Your role is to confirm that students have been assessed fairly and that the range of marks across all students who submitted assessments for the module fairly reflect the standards of those students' performance. You will have regard to standards elsewhere in UK Higher Education, or be able to advise where you believe that this is not the case, which will result in internal re-marking. However, if you disagree with the overall marking standard we ask you to indicate the aspects of concern, which could, for instance, be students in a particular mark range.
Not necessarily. There is no provision in the Academic Regulations to supply evidence of second marking in the sample that is provided to you, and practices vary across schools.
However, student work goes through a process of second marking before you receive the sample. At least 20% of the work submitted for each module, subject to a minimum of 20 items (10 for postgraduate dissertations) or, if fewer, the total number of items submitted, is second marked, with the work spread across all degree class bands and failing grades.
Normally it is four calendar years and two months.
Normally the period of tenure commences at the beginning of October and continues until the end of November four years hence. In certain circumstances where there is a particular justification, an extension of tenure may be proposed.
External examiners are required to produce an annual report using online report questionnaires. There are two formats: the Awards Examiner Annual Report and the Subject Standards Examiner (SSE) Annual Report. SSE's annual reports should be completed online unless other arrangements have been specifically made with the External Examiner’s Coordinator. There are two versions of the SSE Annual Report: in-house and collaborative.
The SSE annual report must be submitted after the June Subject Standards Board (SSB) or after the September SSB mark confirmation meetings, where responsibilities include summer modules and postgraduate dissertations.
For subject standards examiners concerned only with undergraduate modules, the deadline to submit the report is the end of September. For subject standards examiners involved with postgraduate dissertation modules, the deadline is the end of October. For awards examiners, this would be after receiving the minutes of the mid-October Awards Board. All reports should be received by early December.
Expenses must be claimed using the Payroll Payments Form sent with all digital copies of receipts to the dedicated External Examiner email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
You should contact different individuals depending on the level of urgency and significance of the matter, eg:
- For any matter concerning external examiners' processes, assessment and awards regulations, contracts, tenure and payment of expenses or fees, please contact the dedicated External Examiner email address: email@example.com
- For matters which are specifically concerned with the suitability of proposed assessments, or other issues concerning academic judgements and academic standards, please contact the module leader, the course leader or the Dean/Head of School as appropriate. Details of these contacts will have been provided as part of the induction arrangements.
- If all the above procedures are exhausted and an external examiner still has serious concerns relating to the academic standards of a programme or programmes, they may invoke the QAA’s concern scheme or inform the relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body. Please see the QAA’s Concerns page and their guidance for external examiners for further information.
You will normally receive your annual fee within 45 working days of receipt of your annual report at the dedicated External Examiner email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please use the EEA1 form to nominate a potential External Examiner (EE). Staff must fully complete sections A and C. The nominated EE must complete Section B.
Please send the completed form and CV to the dedicated External Examiner email address: email@example.com
The list of conflicts of interests can be found on the last page of the EEA1 External Examiner Nomination Form. These will be reviewed when the nomination form is sent to the Academic Qquality and Development (AQD) team.
External Examiner tenure runs from 1 October until 30 November, with a four-year span in between. For example, if you are nominating an EE who is examining modules in July 2023, the nomination form should state a tenure start date of 1 October 2022 until 30 November 2026.
EE nominations should be sent in six months before the tenure of the of the previous EE runs out. EE tenures can also be extended by one year, provided a clear rationale is given.
Yes, please also send the CV and the right to work document of the nominating External Examiner. The right to work document is used to confirm the potential EEs UKVI checks as required by the UK Government.
The EEA1 form must be fully completed before sending it to AQD. If you are unsure about what to insert in some of the fields, please get in touch via the dedicated External Examiner email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please use the EER1 Extension and Reallocation Form to reallocate modules to existing External Examiners.
Please use the EER1 Extension and Reallocation Form to extend the tenure of an External Examiner, with a clear rationale.
Please email the dedicated External Examiner email address: email@example.com.