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Role of the Award/Progression External

What is not expected of my External?

Award/Progression External Examiners would NOT normally be expected to:

  • Change grades;

  • Viva students to obtain additional information to determine a grade or classification, except when a requirement of a professional body. However, vivas may form part of a module’s or a course’s assessment regime;

  • Be involved in cases of academic misconduct. 

What is expected of my External?

Award/Progression External Examiners for all undergraduate, Edexcel and postgraduate courses are required to:

a)   Attend the final External Award/Progression Assessment Boards, normally held in June/July for undergraduate courses, but often held at other times for postgraduate courses. External Examiners may be invited to attend Resit Boards.

b)    Sign the Award Approval Form (Form AU1) issued at the meeting of the Board. By signing the Approval Form, External Examiners are indicating that

  • Due process has been followed by the Award/Progression Board in arriving at its decisions;
  • They are able to confirm that the academic standards of the award achieved by students are comparable with student achievement on similar provision with which they are familiar, and
  • The standards are consistent with the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, including the Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark; and, if appropriate, professional body standards.

c)   In the unlikely event that an External Examiner is not able to endorse the recommendations of the Board, the matter, together with all relevant documentation, should be referred to the chair of Academic Board for resolution.

d)   Submit an Annual Report within four weeks of the final External Assessment/Progression Board meeting of each academic year.

e)   Make a statement in the Annual Report that processes adopted by the University assure consistent and fair treatment of all students

f)    Confirm the integrity and equity of the process of conferring awards on the basis of:

  • The consistency of the application of the award regulations for classification
  • The range of classifications awarded
  • Success and compensation rates
  • The variations between grade distributions awarded by subjects contributing to the award where appropriate
  • Progression rates
  • The fair treatment of all students
  • Comparing performance across different awards
  • Be consulted about modifications to courses.

Externals may also:

g)    be asked to consider Level 3, 4 and 5 statistical data for the awards for which they are responsible. For qualifications, such as Foundation Degrees and Higher National Diplomas, to which Level 4 credits contribute to the final award, External Examiners will be required to exercise the level of scrutiny normally associated with credits at Level 5 or above.  

h)    be associated with Award decisions on RPL. Award/Progression External Examiners may be asked to receive and comment on samples of processed applications for RPL. Comments must be recorded in the RPL section of the External Examiner Report. 

How do I determine workload for my External?

It is estimated that Award/Progression External Examiners should spend approximately two to three days per academic year discharging their duties. This calculation is based on:

  • One day for induction/briefing when first appointed and continued briefings
  • Up to two days for attendance at the Award Board and writing the Annual Report
  • One day attendance/work for the Extenuating Circumstances Committee where necessary

In determining the level of workload allocated, Faculties should take into consideration whether the External Examiner will be requested to view samples of processed applications for RPL. 

What documentation should be seen by my External?

External Examiners should receive copies of or be given access to:

  • the current course guide(s);
  • the University Assessment Handbook which includes University Performance Descriptors;
  • University Regulations and exemptions to Regulations (where appropriate)

Should my External meet with students?

External Examiners are encouraged to meet students:

  • to fulfill the requirements of a Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body (PSRB). At these meetings, the PSRB may require the External Examiner to assess the performance of an individual student or a group of students.


  • Where a course is delivered collaboratively (UK and Overseas), the External Examiner may be asked to undertake visits from time to time, (potentially twice during a four year term, to meet students in order to confirm a) that standards are appropriate and comparable to similar UK-based courses, and b) that the assessment process is fair and consistent for all students. Where an External Examiner has been approved to undertake a visit to consider the academic health of several partners, student meetings will form an integral part of this visit.


For PSRB courses, Course Teams may ask an External Examiner to meet students or an External Examiner may request a meeting with students so that Externals can enhance their understanding of the operation of the course and can familiarise themselves with the students’ experience of learning, teaching and assessment. Such meetings would not contribute to the assessment of either individual students or groups of students.