Boards of examiners

1   Purpose and function

1.1    A Board of Examiners shall be appointed by Senate for each programme leading to an award of the University or for each level of a programme.

1.2    In large complex programmes, arrangements may be approved by the relevant Dean of School whereby subsidiary Boards of Examiners take responsibility for certain aspects of a programme, and make reports and recommendations to the main Board of Examiners.

1.3     The Board of Examiners for a particular programme is responsible to the Senate for making:

  1. an assessment of each student on each module assessed
  2. an overall assessment of each student's performance and a decision on progression at each intermediate stage of the programme
  3. a decision on the award to be granted to each student on completion of, or decision to exit from, the programme

1.4    These decisions are made by the full Board of Examiners in the light of the standards of student achievement appropriate to the particular level of the programme and to the award to which the programme is designed to lead, the aims of the programme, the performance on the programme in previous years, the University's general assessment regulations, the specific programme regulations, and good practice established in the University and elsewhere.

1.5   The decision by the Board of Examiners is a corporate decision made by the full Board. The Internal Examiner(s) for a particular module is only one member of a full Board making a decision on student performance on that module.

1.6   Such decisions are ratified by the Senate, or they may be referred back to the Board of Examiners for further consideration and explanation. The more detailed procedures for such referrals are set out in paragraphs 1.7 – 1.9 below.

1.7   Decisions by the Board of Examiners that fall outside programme regulations but which are within the University general assessment regulations shall be fully documented in the minutes of the Board of Examiners. Any proposals regarding changes to regulations arising from these decisions shall be referred to the Student Experience Committee.

1.8   Students shall be formally notified of decisions affecting them after the Senate has ratified these decisions. In any prior communication of results to students it shall be clearly indicated that they are subject to formal ratification.

1.9   Any significant disagreement within the Boards of Examiners, or cases where the External Examiners are not in agreement with the Board's overall decision shall be referred explicitly and timeously to the Senate.

2 Membership

2.1  The composition of a Board of Examiners shall be as follows:


Head of Division/Dean of School in which the programme is based (unless the Head of Division is also programme leader). Alternative arrangements need the approval of the Dean of School.

Internal Examiners:

All members of staff with assigned responsibility for the assessment of those components of the programme on which the Board of Examiners is taking decisions. However this may not include all staff teaching on the programme.

External Examiner(s)

External Examiners appointed by Senate.

Programme/Subject Leader, Year/Level Tutors, Co-optee(s):

At the discretion of the Convener of the Board of Examiners (These may include other members of staff such as examination officers).


Appointed by the University Secretary

2.2      The Internal Examiners of each Board of Examiners shall be specified by the Convener of the Board concerned.

2.3      External Examiner(s) shall be appointed by the Senate for each programme leading to an award of the University. The regulations relating to External Examiners are contained in the Governance and Regulations.  

2.4      All staff with assigned responsibility for the assessment of a programme shall attend the Board of Examiners as Internal Examiners. Any Internal Examiner unable to attend shall consult the Convener who will normally require the submission of a written report to the Board of Examiners on the general standard of the class, and giving recommendations on such matters as the methods of re-assessment. The Convener alternatively may appoint a replacement Internal Examiner.

2.5      Where appointed, External Examiners shall have full membership of the Board of Examiners authorised to recommend the award for that programme. External Examiners are required to attend Board of Examiners meetings at which final awards are determined. They are invited to attend subsidiary/module Boards of Examiners as appropriate. The attendance of External Examiners is not specifically required at reassessment Boards of Examiners.

2.6      All student work contributing to the student’s final award or degree classification, as set out in the External Examiner Regulations, must normally be moderated by the relevant External Examiner(s) prior to the meeting of the Board of Examiners. This applies to both subsidiary and main Boards of Examiners. External Examiners will normally only be required to moderate samples for an individual module once per academic year. They will not normally be required to moderate samples for reassessments or multiple occurrences of the module provided the mode of assessment and marking team remain unchanged from the original assessment. The Board of Examiners will determine whether the External Examiner will be required to moderate additional samples for reassessment or an additional occurrence of the module.

2.7      For those Boards of Examiners where External Examiners are required, concurrence of all External Examiners is required to ratify the decision of the Board. In the case of award recommendations to be made by Convener's action, the criteria for the proposed award(s) should be determined at the appropriate Board of Examiners.

2.8      Where an External Examiner is unable to attend a main Board of Examiners due to unforeseen circumstances, and where no other External Examiner is present at the meeting, written confirmation of their agreement with the marks and the progression/award recommendations must be sought. Written confirmation of decisions will be not be released to students until full agreement of the External Examiner(s) has been received. Secretaries to Boards of Examiners must ensure that the written comments of External Examiner(s) who are unable to be present, are detailed in the minutes of the Board of Examiners.

2.9      A Board of Examiners shall be quorate if, in addition to the conditions set out in paragraph 2.5 above for External Examiners, sufficient Internal Examiners are present to represent 75% of the subject matter of the level being considered. This is a minimum and not the expected level of attendance. Three is the minimum number of Internal Examiners on any Board, in which case the quorum is two.

2.10    Where a Board of Examiners is found not to be quorate it may decide to proceed subject to the approval of all members present. The minutes of such Boards of Examiners must be circulated and approved by all absent members of the Board, including the External Examiners.

2.11    Boards of Examiners may require students to take re-assessment. In such cases the full Board of Examiners shall at the meeting where it decides to offer a re-assessment, determine:

  1. the students to be offered re-assessment, and in which modules
  2. the nature of the re-assessment for each student
  3. the consequences to be attached to the re-assessment results
  4. the membership of the re-assessment meeting of the Boards of Examiners,
  5. the means whereby the views of the External Examiner are to be obtained if required.

2.12   The membership of the re-assessment meeting of the Board of Examiners shall include the Convener, and all Internal Examiners responsible for the assessment of the modules involved in the re-assessments, or such alternative membership as the Board of Examiners at its main meeting shall determine. Regulations on quoracy remain the same as in 2.9 above.

2.13   Programme Committees, Subject Area Panels and Boards of Study are distinct from, and have separate functions to that of, the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners may convey comments relevant to the operation of the programme to the Programme Committee and/or Subject Area Panel and/or Board of Study as appropriate.

3 Overlapping responsibilities of Boards of Examiners

3.1       Cases will arise where a given module is a constituent part of two programmes and is jointly taught and assessed. One and only one Board of Examiners may take responsibility for the standard of such a module, and will take responsibility for assessing all the students taking that module. Another Board of Examiners may subsequently use these grades in order to make decisions on student progression and award, but it may not alter the decisions on student grades on that particular component.

3.2       On occasion, modules may be taught jointly but assessed separately. In such cases, the modules will be treated as separate, with different Boards of Examiners taking responsibility for their assessment. The arrangements for joint teaching are then a matter of resource and staff management.

4 Tiered Boards of Examiners

4.1      Senate may approve arrangements whereby much of the work of a Board of Examiners is passed to a subsidiary Board(s) who take responsibility for specific parts of a programme, and make reports and recommendations on these to the main Board of Examiners. Normally, the composition of the subsidiary Board of Examiners will be as defined by the main Board of Examiners, subject to the advice and approval of the University Secretary.

4.2      The subsidiary Boards will concentrate on marks, grades and forms and timing of reassessment. The main Boards will concentrate on conditions to be applied to progression, continuation of study and awards.

4.3      A subsidiary Board may have responsibility for a module or group of modules that constitute part of a number of programmes. In these cases reports will be forwarded to a number of main Boards of Examiners.

4.4      The subsidiary Boards will have the authority to moderate and confirm marks and grades, and determine the form and timing of reassessment for the parts of a programme for which they are responsible. The main Board(s) of Examiners has the authority to reconsider the decisions in light of the student’s profile.

5 Operation of Boards of Examiners

5.1      The focus of the Board of Examiners will be on the students (as individuals and as a cohort), the module and the programme. In making decisions on assessment and progression, the Board of Examiners should take account of:

  1. the performance of each individual student on a module by module basis leading to recommendations as laid down in the definitive document concerning progression, re-assessment, withdrawal or final award
  2. the grades achieved in the current academic year in comparison with previous years
  3. the distribution of grades and outcomes in similar programmes in other departments and other institutions
  4. reports from staff on any special circumstances affecting student performance
  5. whether every marginal or fail case has been given full consideration for every possible alternative programme of action open to the Board according to the programme and/or University regulations
  6. any scaling that has been applied to the marks or gradings for an individual, or a module, either by the examiner or the Board of Examiners
  7. any deviation from the programme regulations and/or the University general assessment regulations by the Board of Examiners, leading to a change in progression status or final classification; all deviations from the University's general assessment regulations should be fully documented in the minutes of the Board of Examiners and any proposed changes to the regulations arising out of these decisions, should be referred to the Student Experience Committee
  8. any comments the Board may wish specifically to make either to the Programme Committee/Subject Area Panel/Board of Study, to the appropriate School Academic Board or to the Senate

5.2   The Board should have access to such information as is necessary to make these judgements.

5.3   Decisions on extenuating circumstances for individual students should be approved in advance of the Board of Examiners in line with University guidelines. Details of individual cases should not be discussed at the meeting of the Board of Examiners.

5.4   All cases of suspected academic misconduct (including plagiarism) should be investigated by the Programme Leader and the Dean of School in line with the University’s general assessment regulations on academic misconduct. Investigations should be made in advance of the Board of Examiners and certainly no later than 7 days following the meeting of the Board of Examiners. Where the allegation has been upheld, a summary of action taken should be recorded in the Board of Examiners minutes and on the electronic student record for future reference.

5.5   To ensure that the Board of Examiners considers all relevant issues a model agenda identifies good practice.

5.6   The provisions of the regulations may not be varied without the explicit agreement of the University Secretary.

Sample agenda

7.1   To receive a summary report from the Programme Leader on individual students
7.2  To receive a report on special arrangements for assessment for a cohort
7.3  To receive notification of any modifications to the form of assessment for individual students
9.1  Mode of Reassessment
9.2  Timing of Reassessment

Last updated August 2022