5.13 FAQs for External Examiners
1. External Examiner Reports and Attendance at Exam Boards – what is the expectation?
External Examiners are required attend an Examining Board at least once a year and submit written reports both annually and at the end of their period of office. All Departmental and Senate Examination Boards are now conducted virtually (online) using MS Teams, unless a case has been successfully made by the department to the Academic Registrar for a board to be held in person. This includes all taught boards, including the research training board. Aberystwyth University recognizes that there might be some cases where External Examiners might still need to travel to Aberystwyth, e.g. to review samples of work that could not easily be accessed online, conduct placement visits, observe live performances or art exhibitions, or limited marking and moderation time preventing samples of examination scripts being sent to an external examiner ahead of an Examining Board meeting. In such cases, provided that there is good reason, in-person attendance at Examining Boards would be possible. External Examiners for PGCE Primary/Secondary with QTS programmes of study are also expected to attend a number of placements each year as agreed in advance with the Head of Department/Programme Director.
External Examiners on undergraduate schemes are required to complete an annual report which should be submitted by email within 4 weeks of the meeting of the final Examining Board in June; attendance at the final degree awarding board in June is expected.
Taught Postgraduate schemes
External Examiners on taught postgraduate schemes are required to complete two reports; an annual report which should be submitted by email within 4 weeks of the meeting of the semester two Examining Board in June, and a short report submitted at the end of the dissertation component of the degree scheme (November/December).
External Examiners on taught postgraduate schemes are formally required by the University to be present at the semester two meeting of the Examining Boards in June. There should be at least one External Examiner present at the final degree awarding board in November/December; this will be determined by the department on a rota basis. Departments may invite other External Examiners to attend the final degree awarding Examining Board in November/December, in addition to the nominated External.
Where an External Examiner on taught postgraduate schemes is required to attend (on a rota basis) the final Examining Board in November/December, in addition to the semester two Examining Board at which attendance is expected, they are required to submit the appropriate sections in the dissertation report pertaining to the Examining Board.
The External Examiner on the ARCHE scheme is required to complete a report after each of the two ARCHE panels; each report should be submitted by email within 4 weeks of the meeting of the ARCHE panel; attendance is required at both panels.
The PGCTHE external examiner is required to submit an annual report after the main PGCTHE Examining Board in February, unless requested to do otherwise by the Chair of the Examining Board. The report should be submitted by email within 4 weeks of the Examining Board meeting.
The Senate Reviewer is required to complete a report after each of the Senate Examining Board meetings. The reports should be submitted by email within 4 weeks of the Examining Board meetings.
2. Content of annual report
The content of the annual report should include sufficient commentary to enable departments to implement recommendations, or support the answers that have been provided in the report. Where content is considered incomplete or insufficient the department may ask you to add further commentary.
3. Are the annual reports published?
Annual reports, with departmental responses, will be published on the University’s AberLearn Blackboard site and will be available to registered students at the University. It is therefore important that reference is not made to individual candidates and individual members of staff by name.
4. How is the annual report considered?
On receipt of the annual report the Academic Registry will forward the report to:
- Departments, who should respond to you after their Departmental Board has considered the report;
- Reports and departmental responses are forwarded to Associate Deans who compile a faculty summary;
- Associate Dean summaries are considered by the appropriate faculty committee;
- Faculty minutes are considered by Academic Board.
External Examiners receive a copy of the extract of Faculty and Academic Board minutes relating to the reports. External Examiners may also receive a direct response for the Chair of the Committee should it be necessary.
5. Fees and expenses – how and when are they paid?
Annual fees are detailed in the appointment letter and are settled by bank transfer and subject to PAYE.
Expenses will be paid (subject to submission of supporting receipts) by bank transfer.
Payment of the annual fee (and per capita FTE for appointments that commenced prior to 2021/22 only) and expenses are dependent upon receipt of your annual report (at the end of Semester Two) and a completed Expenses Claim Form; you should submit an Expenses Claim Form when you submit your annual report.
For taught postgraduate External Examiners, keep a record of the names of the dissertation candidates examined; a claim form may be submitted at the time a dissertation is examined, or a complete list submitted on a claim form when you submit the short dissertation component report (Nov/Dec).
It will not be possible to process expenses or fee claims if the right to work verification process has not been completed.
Annual fees include attendance at the examining board (online or otherwise) and the tasks described in Section 5.6 paragraph 3.
Additional fees for attendances for examining where external examiner’s presence in Aberystwyth is necessary are paid on a half-day basis for the actual time that is taken up for activities such as attending live performances, exhibitions, school visits or visits to placements. Please note that this does not include travel time or time not taken up by the aforementioned activities.
6. Is there an induction / training event?
External Examiners are no longer required to come to Aberystwyth to attend an induction/training event. The Academic Registry will provide briefing materials and online presentations on AberLearn (Blackboard) each session for new Examiners on undergraduate and taught postgraduate schemes. New External Examiners will receive an email notifying them when the materials are ready and where to find them. In addition to the briefing day materials provided by the Academic Registry, the Advance HE handbook Fundamentals of External Examining (published February 2019) offers a comprehensive general introduction to external examining of taught schemes for new External Examiners, and can be used as a reference source for both new and existing External Examiners. As part of Degree Standards project, Advance HE has, in partnership with Office for Students, developed practical approaches for reinforcing UK standards of external examining in the form of a Professional development course for external examiners, which may be of interest to both new and existing External Examiners. For more information, please see: Professional development course for external examiners | Advance HE (advance-he.ac.uk).
7. Is my right to work in the UK checked?
All External Examiners are checked for their right to work in the UK. External Examiners are asked to scan and email a copy of the approved documentation (this is usually a passport or full birth certificate) as part of the nomination process. At the time of publication of this chapter, the Right to Work checks will be undertaken by the Human Resources department.
8. How am I granted access to E-Learning resources?
A New Starter Form will be sent with the appointment letter which the External Examiner is asked to complete and return. Upon receipt of the completed New Starter Form, the External Examiner will be added to the University Finance and Information Services systems. An Aber user id will be generated which will allow departments to add External Examiners to the relevant modules on AberLearn Blackboard, the portal through which e-submission is undertaken. The Aber user id is not a University email account; it is a means of granting the correct levels of access to the Information Services systems.
External Examiners are strongly encouraged to complete the security questions once the account has been activated; this enables you to manage your password yourself 24/7 in the event that you forget it or that your account has been locked. This can be done here: https://myaccount.aber.ac.uk/
9. What information do I receive, and from whom, to enable me to undertake the role?
The Academic Registry provides a link to all appropriate central documentation on Rules and Regulations and Examination Conventions (published within the Academic Quality Handbook) in the appointment letter (we do not post out hard copies, although these can be requested).
The Academic Registry provides a copy of the previous external examiner’s annual report (where applicable) electronically in Semester 1 after they have been approved by the Faculties. If it is not available at that time it will be forwarded as soon as it becomes available.
Departments provide subject/departmental/faculty specific information, including exam board dates.
10. Are the names of external examiners published?
Departments publish names, roles and home institutions on their departmental staff webpage, and may be published against module/scheme details on the module/scheme database; contact details are not published and students are advised that direct contact with an external examiner is not permitted.
11. Useful links and contact information
Guidance on QA Procedures:
Completion of security questions - IS account:
Guide for External Examiners who need to review module materials and student submissions to Turnitin:
Information Services: email@example.com, 01970 622400
Blackboard and E-learning Support: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01970 622472
Academic Registry: email@example.com, 01970 622527
Anka Furlan, Quality Assurance Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01970 622072