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Professional Development Course for External Examiners (Online)

County / Region
United Kingdom
Position on the Pathway
All categories
Fellowship Category
All Fellowship Categories
Event Type
Online training
Teaching and Learning
Start Date
End Date
6 weeks
Institution Type
Higher Education and Further Education
Price From


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 ran from 2016 to 2021. 

This interactive, structured and tutor-facilitated course consists of an orientation module and five distinct units delivered over the six-week period. The course will be delivered via Advance HE's virtual learning environment and requires asynchronous learning and attendance at live webinar sessions with the facilitator.

Participants must complete all elements of the course to become certified and added to the External Examiners Directory.

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.

Learning Outcomes

  1. 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.
  2. Explain the nature of standards in the higher education context.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Explain the importance and use of key reference points for academic standards in the relevant subject, discipline and/or professional area.
  6. Explain the purpose and value of ongoing calibration activities in supporting the use of common ‘discipline community’ standards.
  7. Recognise the importance of their continuing professional development in assessment and external examining.

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.

Who is delivering the course?

Professor Peter Boyd

Peter Boyd is Professor Emeritus in Professional Learning at the University of Cumbria and focused on supporting the development of research-informed practice in education. He works as an education consultant, research mentor and doctoral research supervisor with academics, lecturers and teachers in universities, colleges, and schools. In his early career he taught in comprehensive schools and outdoor education for 15 years before moving to a teacher educator role based in higher education. He currently contributes to PhD research supervision and leads the research and development project ‘becoming a teacher educator’. He has published research on the work and identity of professional educators in nursing and applied health professions and has a research interest in assessment and feedback. He is currently chair of the Assessment in Higher Education Network Conference. 

Dr Rachel Forsyth

Rachel Forsyth is Head of the University Teaching Academy at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests focus on institutional change, particularly in relation to inclusive learning communities and assessment in higher education, and she teaches on the University's PGC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and MA in Higher Education. She is an Associate of Advance HE and works on the Degree Standards Project which is exploring sector-owned processes focusing on professional development for external examiners. As Editor-in-Chief of the Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, she is an active member of the Researching, Advancing, Inspiring Student Engagement (RAISE) network.