External examining is a key feature of the UK higher education system. This course has been developed as part of the Degree Standards project on external examining that is running from 2016 to 2021. Course participants will:
- gain an understanding of the role of the external examiner as articulated in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education
- consolidate their understanding of the nature of academic standards and professional judgement, and explore the implications for external examining
- develop their ability in using evidence-informed approaches to contribute to impartial, transparent judgements on academic standards and enhancing student learning.
"I attended the External Examiner course yesterday in Birmingham. I think it should be made compulsory for all aspiring and existing External Examiners. I wish there had been one available when I started a quarter of a century ago."
Professor Marina Orsini-Jones, Coventry University
- Explain and discuss the nature and purpose of the external examiner role, its function for quality assessment in higher education, including the importance within it of their contribution to safeguarding academic standards.
- Explain the nature of standards in the higher education context.
- Draw on practical and scholarly knowledge of assessment as appropriate to the role, including
a. professional judgement;
b. assessment reliability;
c. assessment validity;
d. purposes of assessment;
e. principles of assessment;
f. programme coherence in assessment.
- Recognise the varied provenance and uniqueness of individuals’ standards and the challenge this brings to examiners representing the standards of their subject, discipline and/or professional community.
- Explain the importance and use of key reference points for academic standards in the relevant subject, discipline and/or professional area.
- Explain the purpose and value of ongoing calibration activities in supporting the use of common ‘discipline community’ standards.
- Recognise the importance of their continuing professional development in assessment and external examining.
The UK Professional Standards Framework
The UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) is a comprehensive set of professional standards and guidelines for everyone involved in teaching and supporting learning in higher education.
Participants for this course are likely to be involved in external examining or may be leading external examining policies across a faculty, programme or team. If you are considering preparing an application for fellowship of the HEA, you should look at how your external examining experience relates to the dimensions of the UKPSF. There are follow-up activities in the Participant Handbook for the course, as well as guidance on aligning your external examining experience to the UKPSF.
Who should attend?
The design of the course reflects an active learning approach, with an emphasis on valuing participants' experiences and prior knowledge. As such, it is equally relevant for aspiring, new or experienced examiners.
The course will be delivered by:
- Andy Lloyd, Cardiff University
- Dr Teresa McConlogue, University College London
- Professor Margaret Price, Oxford Brookes University
- Dr Nicola Reimann, Durham University
- Professor Chris Rust, Oxford Brookes University
- Dr Rachel Forsyth, Manchester Metropolitan University
- Professor Peter Boyd, University of Cumbria
- Berry O’Donovan, Oxford Brookes University
- Dr Ian Sadler, Liverpool John Moore University
- Corony Edwards, University of Exeter
- Dr Jennifer Hill, University of the West of England
Read our case studies
Read about how the professional development course for external examiners was implemented in these institutional case studies: