External examining for assessed components excluding the Thesis
External examiners shall be appointed to provide impartial and informed comment on the academic standards of the programme and on professional doctorate student achievement in relation to those standards.
There shall be at least one external examiner for each professional doctorate programme. The total number of external examiners to be appointed must be sufficient to cover the full range and complexity of the syllabus and the size of the professional doctorate student cohort.
External examiners must not be:
- members of the University’s staff or of the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit
- members of staff of an associated institution
- honorary or emeritus staff of the University
- former staff or students of the University unless a period of at least five years has elapsed
External examiners must not:
- have or have had a close personal, professional, or contractual relationship with any member of the programme team including the programme markers
- have or have had a close personal, professional, or contractual relationship with a professional doctorate student registered on that programme
- be or know that they will be in a position to influence significantly the future of professional doctorate students registered on that programme
- hold concurrently more than two external examiner appointments at the University or another institution excluding appointments as external examiner for a research student viva voce examination
Staff from the same department and institution shall not be appointed as external examiners for the same professional doctorate programme where their terms of appointment would be concurrent. An external examiner whose term of appointment has ended shall not be directly succeeded by a member of staff from the same department and institution.
Retired and emeritus staff of another institution may be appointed as external examiners provided that they can demonstrate continuing involvement in the discipline and familiarity with current developments in higher education teaching, learning, and assessment.
The Programme Director shall be responsible for nominating external examiners. The appointment of all external examiners shall be subject to approval from the Senate.
The nomination of an external examiner shall demonstrate evidence of:
- knowledge and understanding of the UK higher education sector’s agreed reference points for the maintenance of academic standards and quality assurance and enhancement
- competence and experience in the relevant area(s) covered by the professional doctorate programme
- relevant academic experience to at least the level of the qualification to be examined as well as relevant professional/practitioner experience as appropriate
- competence and experience in the design and operation of a variety of assessment activities appropriate to the discipline and the assessment activities used on the programme
- standing, credibility, and breadth of experience within the discipline sufficient to command the respect of academic peers and, where appropriate, professional peers
- familiarity with the standard of academic achievement professional doctorate students are required to demonstrate in order to achieve the qualification to be examined
- appropriate English language proficiency
- compliance with any applicable criteria specified by relevant professional, statutory, or regulatory bodies
- awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of relevant curricula
- competence and experience relating to the enhancement of the student learning experience
Term of appointment
The term of appointment for external examiners shall normally be four years. An extension of no more than one year may be approved by the Senate where this is needed to ensure continuity in the delivery and/or assessment processes of the programme.
The external examiner shall not normally be reappointed to the same programme. In exceptional circumstances where reappointment is proposed, a period of at least five years must have elapsed since the end date of the previous appointment.
The University may terminate the appointment of an external examiner should they fail to meet the specified requirements of the role.
Responsibilities of external examiners
External examiners shall be provided by the programme team with evidence of the intended assessment patterns and assessment instruments sufficient to determine the appropriateness of the assessment strategy.
External examiners shall be provided by the programme team with samples of the assessed work submitted by professional doctorate students together with the agreed marks of the markers sufficient to determine whether the markers have properly assessed student performance against the specified marking criteria. Samples of work submitted by professional doctorate students should be sufficient to provide confidence in the standard of marking and constitute a sample across the range of student achievement.
External examiners should be consulted regarding access to non-written assessed components and attendance at any live assessment events. External examiners may be required to attend non-written assessed components regardless of location.
External examiners shall be required to provide informative comment and recommendations as to whether or not:
- the University is maintaining the threshold academic standards for its awards in accordance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and relevant subject benchmark statements
- the assessment process measures professional doctorate student achievement rigorously and fairly against the intended learning outcomes of the programme and is conducted in accordance with the University’s policies and regulations
- the academic standard and the achievement of professional doctorate students on the programme are comparable with those on equivalent programmes at other higher education institutions with which the external examiner is familiar
External examiners are invited to comment on the standard of marking against the written criteria but may not seek, or be invited, to raise or lower the marks of individual professional doctorate students. External examiners may ask for marks across a full cohort to be reconsidered by markers against the written criteria if they consider that there is evidence to suggest under- or over-marking or they have concerns about the robustness of marking.
External examiner reports
The external examiner shall at the end of each annual assessment cycle submit a written report to the Vice-Chancellor. The report shall:
- confirm whether the University is maintaining the threshold academic standards for its awards in accordance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and relevant subject benchmark statements
- confirm whether the assessment process measures professional doctorate student achievement rigorously and fairly against the intended learning outcomes of the programme and is conducted in accordance with the University’s policies and regulations
- confirm whether the academic standard and the achievement of professional doctorate students on the programme are comparable with those on equivalent programmes at other higher education institutions with which the external examiner is familiar
- confirm whether the external examiner received sufficient information and/or evidence to fulfil their role
- state whether issues and/or concerns raised by the external examiner in previous reports have been appropriately addressed
- address any issues specifically required by any relevant professional, statutory, or regulatory bodies
- provide an overview report at the end of the external examiner’s term of appointment
The University reserves the right to reject the view(s) of the external examiner but shall do so only after careful consideration of the issue(s) raised.
The external examiner may if needed raise in confidence directly with the Vice-Chancellor any matters of serious concern.
The external examiner may invoke the Quality Assurance Agency’s Concerns Scheme or inform the relevant professional, statutory, or regulatory bodies if they have a serious concern relating to systemic failings with the academic standards of the professional doctorate programme and they have exhausted all published applicable University procedures, including the submission of a confidential report to the Vice-Chancellor.
With the exception of any matters which the external examiner has raised in confidence directly with the Vice-Chancellor, external examiner reports shall be made available in full to students and others.
The Senate shall receive from the Education Committee an annual digest of the comments made by the external examiners for all professional doctorate programmes and shall use these to identify issues where further action may be needed.