External examiners

We attach great importance to peer review from external examiners as a key means of ensuring that:

  • the academic standards of our awards and their component parts are set and maintained at the appropriate level, and that the standards of student performance are properly judged against this
  • the final assessment process accurately measures student achievement against intended learning outcomes, and is rigorous, fair and fairly operated, and in line with our regulations and policies
  • we are able to compare the standard of our awards with those of other higher education institutions
  • our provision is continuously enhanced to reflect developments in the sector, institution and discipline.

Role and responsibilities

The external examiner handbook provides a comprehensive guide to the role and responsibilities of being an external examiner at Cardiff University in line with the QAA Quality Code, Chapter B7: External Examining and the Higher Education Academy.

We believe the role should not be confined to consideration of examination results and attendance at examining boards only.

We encourage external examiners to comment and advise on the following areas:

  • content, balance and structure of programmes and modules/units
  • the development of programmes
  • assessment strategies and processes.

Whilst the role of the external examiner is multi-faceted, it is important to note that the external examiner is not responsible for marking, moderating or judging individual student cases. The external examiner should be an independent and impartial adviser who provides informed comment upon the overarching academic standards and the students’ achievement in response.

Reports

All external examiners are required to provide an annual report on the programme(s) and/or modules for which they are appointed, including observations on academic standards, aspects of good practice, learning and teaching, programme structure and content.

All reports and School responses are considered internally as part of the annual review and enhancement; and an annual overview of issues and good practice raised by external examiners is included in the annual quality report prepared for consideration by the University’s Academic Standards and Quality Committee.

If external examiners have very serious and continuing concerns about issues related to standards and have already exhausted previous discussions with the Head of School or the College Dean for Education and Students but without satisfaction, they are able to contact the Vice Chancellor directly and confidentially.

Beyond this stage, in extreme cases, external examiners have recourse to the procedures set up by the Quality Assurance Agency for investigating concerns raised about issues related to standards.