As with all universities in the UK, the University of St Mark & St John is responsible for the quality of the education it provides and for the academic standards of the awards it offers. The role of the External Examiner (and the closely-related role of External Moderator) is to ensure that it maintains nationally and internationally comparable academic standards; it is crucial, therefore, to the University’s quality assurance procedures. External Examiners also assist the University by advising on good practice in teaching, learning and assessment.
The Handbook for External Examiners and Moderators, which is updated annually, sets out the policies and procedures relating to the appointment, roles, duties, rights and responsibilities of External Examiners and Moderators. It also aligns throughout with the expectations, practices, advice and guidance set out in the QAA's UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
External Examiner and Moderator appointments are made by the University Board of Studies on behalf of Senate. External Examiners are normally appointed for four academic sessions and a roster of appointments is made available to staff and students.
Induction and mentoring
New External Examiners and Moderators are invited to an annual induction event, which takes place during their first session of appointment. A mentor is also assigned to External Examiners and Moderators who have no previous experience of external examining.
Home office checks
In line with Home Office regulations, the University is obliged to verify the identity of all newly-appointed External Examiners and Moderators, and their right to work in the UK, before arrangements can be put into place to pay them for their duties. This is normally done at the annual induction event.
Rights and responsibilities
External Examiners are responsible for a defined list of modules which may, or may not, correspond with specific programmes. Directors of School are responsible for ensuring that every module offered by their School is assigned to an External Examiner. Progression and Award Board (PAB) External Examiners oversee a range of awards, in line with the University’s two-tier system of Assessment Boards. External Examiners are responsible for assuring the overall standards of the University’s awards, and do not contribute to the assessment process by acting as second markers.
External Examiners and Moderators normally report annually, by way of a standard report form which is sent to them immediately before the Assessment Boards. They are expected to report within four weeks of the date of the Boards, so that their findings can be discussed at the beginning of the following academic session. Responses to reports are signed off by Directors of School, to be returned to External Examiners: a follow-up response is also sent immediately prior to the following Boards. The findings of External Examiners and Moderators also contribute to the annual monitoring process.