External examiners

External examiners are an essential part of the University's quality assurance mechanism and must be appointed to all approved programmes.

The role of the external examiner is to provide assurance to the University that its assessment system is fair and operated equitably, and to ensure comparability of the University's standards with those in peer institutions.

Appointing external examiners

At least one external examiner must be appointed for each award/programme offered by the University.

It may be appropriate to combine a number of connected programmes within the remit of one external examiner. In other areas it may be necessary, because of the specialist nature of the modules offered, the breadth of the subject or the high number of students concerned, to appoint additional external examiners for specific modules. An external examiner should not normally be asked to take sole responsibility for a programme with more than 150 full time students in a cohort. 

Nomination

External examiners are responsible to the Senate of the University through the Taught Student Education Board (TSEB) and the Faculty Taught Student Education Committee (FTSEC) appropriate to the subject.

Heads of Schools should submit nominations for the appointment of external examiners to QAT using the external examiner nomination form. This should be accompanied by a detailed CV of the person nominated and, proof of the nominee's eligibility to work required by UKVI. QAT will present the case to the chair of the relevant FTSEC for approval on behalf of the University. The external examiner should also be asked to give consent to their details being held and used by the University in relation to their duties as an examiner and complete an Equality monitoring form

Criteria for the selection

External examiners will normally be of the rank of professor, reader or senior lecturer. Individuals of lecturer grade with areas of particular specialism could also be considered. Nominations for the appointment of external examiners from outside the University sector may be accepted in appropriate cases, eg from industry, the medical services or other professions. In some cases these appointments will be made alongside appointments of external examiners from within the University sector. The University does not normally appoint external examiners from outside the EEA (European Economic Area), please contact Quality Assurance Team for advice. 

If a nominated external examiner has no previous experience of the role, the school will be required to ensure that there is some overlap with an experienced examiner to provide a mentor for the new appointee. Details of such arrangements should be supplied by the school when it nominates the new appointee.

Nominations of members of staff from HE Institutions who retired more than one year previously will not normally be approved. Former members of the University's staff will not be appointed as external examiners until any student whom they may have taught has completed the programme. This time span will vary but will normally be at least three years.  

Heads of Schools are responsible for ensuring that there are no "reciprocal" appointments of external examiners working in connected areas between staff of this University and another institution. They are also responsible for ensuring that there are no successive appointments of external examiners from the same institution for their school's programmes.

Period of service

Appointments will be made for one year in the first instance, normally followed by a further three years. In exceptional cases approval may be given to the extension of an appointment for a fifth year. The re-appointment of an external examiner beyond the five-year period will not normally be considered until a further five years have elapsed.

The University reserves the right to terminate the appointment of an external examiner prematurely in the following circumstances:

  1. non-attendance at Board of Examiners’ meetings without prior agreement;
  2. non-submission of reports within the specified timescales;
  3. non-fulfilment of other duties outlined in the procedures;
  4. where, in the University’s judgement, a situation arises compromising either the University’s reputation or the good standing of the external examiner;
  5. where the University no longer requires the services of the External Examiner for academic reasons. 

Amendment to duties 

Once an external examiner is appointed, a school will need to make a formal request if they wish to change, or add to, the examiner's remit. The request to amend or add duties form will need to be completed and submitted to QAT. 

If a school wants to extend the appointment period of an external examiner, a request to amend the period of appointment form will need to be completed and submitted to QAT. Please note that approval to extend the appointment of an external examiner for a fifth year will only be given in exceptional circumstances.

Handbook

There is a Handbook for External Examiners which provides information on University policies and procedures, external examiner duties, and how the University considers external examiner reports.

Reports

External examiners are required to submit an annual report as soon as possible after the main Board of Examiners' meeting has taken place. For examiners appointed to both undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes, a separate report for each is required (the undergraduate report after the July Board of Examiners' meeting and the taught postgraduate report after the October/November Board of Examiners' meeting).

External examiners are asked to complete their reports electronically and submit them by email. Once logged by QAT, reports will be circulated to the relevant school. 

Current staff and students can view external examiner reports online.

Fees and expenses

External examiners are paid an annual fee upon receipt of the annual report (this includes the basic fee, per capita fee and any mentoring fee). They can also claim reasonable travel and subsistence expenses. Schools are responsible for the payment of fees and expenses to external examiners. Fee rates are in the schedule below:

Valid expenses will be reimbursed by the school concerned which will provide the necessary claim forms. The levels of reimbursement are the same as for University staff and are outlined on the reverse of the form available from the school. Valid expenses include the costs of travel to and from the University, overnight accommodation, postage and general subsistence.

If you are an external examiner and have a query about your appointment or the submission of your report, please email Charlotte Armstrong or call the QAT office on 0113 343 4113.