Resources for External Examiners

The External Examiner system has long been the cornerstone of UK Higher Education quality assurance arrangements.


The duties and responsibilities attached to the External Examiner role at Queen Margaret University are formally explained in the following documents:

The QMU External Examining Regulations

The QMU External Examiners' Handbook

Forms for External Examiners 

Background to the External Examiner System

The External Examiner system has long been the cornerstone of UK Higher Education quality assurance arrangements. It offers assurance that the standards of awards can be calibrated across institutions, as well as providing an external mechanism for monitoring fair practice in the assessment of student performance.

External Examiners assist Queen Margaret University in the discharge of its duty to ensure the quality and the standard of its courses. In particular they provide Queen Margaret University with informed and appropriate reference points for the comparison of academic standards, offer independent, objective and impartial judgements on a range of matters, and provide professional advice and expertise in the form of findings and reports which are given serious consideration.

Within this context, the External Examining System has three main purposes:

  • It assists Queen Margaret University in the comparison of academic standards across awards and modules;
  • It verifies that standards are appropriate for the award for which the Examiner takes responsibility;
  • It helps ensure that the assessment process is fair and fairly operated in the marking, grading and classification of student performance.

Each programme that leads to a full award of the University must have one or more External Examiners.

Your Role and Responsibilities as an External Examiner

As an External Examiner of the University you are expected to undertake the following duties:

  • assess and comment on draft examination papers, other assessment instruments, and guide marking schemes;
  • moderate the work of the internal examiners;
  • review the work of all students recommended for failure or for the available category of the award, and to sample student work from each category of award;
  • be a member of the Board of Examiners, and participate fully in the decision making process;
  • ensure that the recommendations of the Board are consistent with the aims and curriculum of the programme, with Queen Margaret University requirements, and with good practice in Higher Education;
  • endorse the outcomes of the Board through agreement at the meeting, or separately in writing, if you are unable to attend the Board;
  • submit an annual report that addresses, substantively and appropriately, the issues listed in the external examiners report pro-forma.

Our Role: How QMU acts on feedback from External Examiners

Each External Examiner's report submitted to Queen Margaret University is provided promptly to the Programme Leader and copied to the: the Principal, the University Secretary, the Dean of School, the Head of Division, and the School Manager.

The Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement is responsible for distributing External Examiner reports to all parties, including Programme Leaders at collaborative partner institutions. The Programme Leader is responsible for arranging for the Examiner's report to be distributed to and discussed with the Programme Team and Programme Committee. The Programme Leader will agree a formal response to the report, in consultation with the Dean of School. Reports should normally be responded to within eight weeks of receipt. Through this process, any issues raised in the report are noted by senior staff as well as staff with responsibility for teaching, as are any commendations. Programme Teams are required to indicate how they will address issues and or build on identified strengths, and progress is noted formally through the Programme’s Annual Monitoring Report process.

Once a year, the University conducts a review of all External Examiner reports to identify and disseminate common themes, and this is reported to the Student Experience Committee. It is also published on our website as part of our commitment to providing public information on quality.

Support for External Examiners

The Academic Administration will: inform you of the dates of relevant Boards of Examiners, make travel and accommodation arrangements, and liaise with you in relation to the moderation of student work. The Academic Administration can be contacted at Academic Administration 

The Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement will oversee nominations to the External Examiner positions, provide advice in relation to your contract and tenure, and support you with the annual External Examiner’s report. The Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement can be contacted at

The Programme Leader will act as your main point of academic contact in relation to the programme. The Programme Leader will also arrange induction activities for you, as required, and will coordinate the University’s formal response to your annual External Examiner’s report.