Appointment Criteria

Person Specification

The criteria for appointment are benchmarked against the UK Quality Code for Higher Education Advice and Guidance: External Expertise. These criteria are included on the nomination form.

  1. Knowledge and understanding of UK sector agreed reference points for the maintenance of academic standards and assurance and enhancement of quality.
  2. Competence and experience in the fields covered by the programme of study, or parts thereof.
  3. Relevant academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the qualification being externally examined, and/or extensive practitioner experience where appropriate.
  4. Competence and experience relating to designing and operating a variety of assessment tasks appropriate to the subject and operating assessment procedures.
  5. Sufficient standing, credibility and breadth of experience within the discipline to be able to command the respect of academic peers and, where appropriate, professional peers.
  6. Familiarity with the standard to be expected of students to achieve the award that is to be assessed.
  7. Fluency in English, and where programmes are delivered and assessed in languages other than English, fluency in the relevant language(s) (unless other secure arrangements are in place to ensure that External Examiners are provided with the information to make their judgements).
  8. Meeting applicable criteria set by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies.
  9. Awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of relevant curricula.
  10. Competence and experience relating to the enhancement of the student learning experience.
  11. Nominations for External Examiner appointments should normally be from within the higher education system and possess appropriate levels of academic and, where appropriate, other professional expertise, and experience in relation to the relevant subject area and assessment approaches.
  12. Retired staff can be considered if they provide sufficient evidence of continuing involvement in the academic area in question, and with current developments in higher education teaching, learning and assessment.
  13. Examiners from outside the higher education system may exceptionally be appointed as External Examiners, provided that such persons possess the relevant expertise and experience to fulfil the requirements for appointment as External Examiners. Such External Examiners shall not have sole responsibility for a programme of study.
  14. New External Examiners who have not held the position before at another institution, or are from outside the higher education system, should normally shadow the outgoing External Examiner during the final year of their tenure.

    If an External Examiner is nominated who does not meet the criteria for appointment a justification may be made for accommodating special circumstances. See the section Conflict of Interest.

    External Examiners must be eligible to work in the UK and provide the relevant evidence to the University prior to appointment.

Terms of Office

External Examiners are normally appointed for a period of four academic years, with a possibility of re-appointment for a fifth year subject to the approval of the Chair of the Progression and Awards Board.

  1. Other than in exceptional circumstances, an External Examiner cannot be re-appointed before a lapse of at least five years since their last period of appointment.
  2. The number of External Examiner posts held by candidates being considered for nomination as External Examiners should not normally exceed two during the External Examiner’s period of appointment.

Conflicts of Interest

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, External Examiners should not be appointed if they are any of the following:

  1. A current employee or member of the Court of Swansea University or current employee or member of the governing body of any of Swansea University’s collaborative partners.
  2. Have a close professional, contractual or personal relationship with a member of staff or student involved with the programme of study.
  3. Anyone closely associated with the sponsorship of students on the programme.
  4. Anyone required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students to the programme of study.
  5. Anyone in a position to influence significantly the future of students on the programme of study.
  6. Anyone involved in current or recent substantive collaborative research activities with a member of staff closely involved in the delivery, management or assessment of the programme(s) of modules in question.
  7. Former members of staff or students cannot be invited to be nominated for appointment as an External Examiner before a lapse of at least five years from the date of departure, or sufficient time for students taught by that member of staff or associated with that student to have completed that programme of study, whichever is the longer.
  8. The making of reciprocal arrangements for external examining with staff teaching similar programmes of study at other institutions is not permissible.
  9. An External Examiner cannot normally be succeeded by another from the same home department and institution.
  10. Only one External Examiner may be appointed from the same department of the same institution.

Right to Work in the UK

In order to comply with UK Immigration Law, all External Examiners must be eligible to work in the UK and must provide the relevant evidence to do so.

The University will conduct a Right to Work check to verify that every individual working for the University is eligible to work in the UK, prior to them commencing any work with the University. This requirement includes External Examiners and is in accordance with UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI), a department of the UK Government Home Office. The External Examiner will be asked to present or email a copy of their identification to the University Human Resources, usually a passport (and visa, if relevant), before they commence work with the University. The original documentation will be verified by the University’s Human Resources team.

Please refer to the following link for further information:

External Examiners’ Period of Tenure

Four academic years is the normal appointment period, with a fifth extension year possible. In some special cases, the term would be for one year only.

The period of office for undergraduate programmes is usually the academic year, 1 October to 30 September. The cessation date for postgraduate taught programmes would usually be 31 December of the relevant calendar year.

See also Appointing an additional module/programme or extending contract period for further details.

There should normally be at least a five year lapse since an External Examiner’s last period of appointment before they can be reappointed.

Number of External Examiner Roles Held Concurrently

An External Examiner is normally only permitted to hold limited number of External Examiner posts concurrently. See the sections Terms of Office, and Extension to the Period of Appointment or Accommodating Special Cases.

Types of External Examiner

Types of External Examiner

The University has two types of External Examiners:

  1. Subject External Examiner – oversees the standards of the discipline and in almost all cases oversees a specific named programme. In some cases, examiners are appointed to oversee stand-alone modules which typically do not contribute to a specific named award. The subject External Examiners represent the majority of External Examiners.
  2. Chief External Examiner –appointed in situations where a team of External Examiners has been appointed to consider a collection of related programmes/subject areas for multidisciplinary programmes and/or stand-alone modules. A Chief External Examiner may also be appointed if the team of External Examiners is made up of a significant number of non-academic examiners and/or those with limited experience as External Examiners. The Chief External Examiner is appointed in specific areas of the University’s provision, namely in the Swansea University Medical School and in some areas of the College of Human and Health Sciences. Chief External Examiners for the MBBCh programme in the Swansea University Medical School will be appointed to cover Phase 1 (Year 1 and Year 2) and Phase 2 (Year 3 and Year 4). See also the Role and Responsibilities of the External Examiners.

Number of External Examiners to be Appointed

There is no set number, but Faculties need to be aware of the total student FTEs enrolled on the programme, the subject diversity of the programme and any professional body requirements as these will influence how many External Examiners Faculties may need to appoint.

Number of External Examiners Required for a Joint/multi-disciplinary Programme

Faculties will need both subject-based External Examiners, along with a Chief External Examiner who will oversee the standards across each of the disciplines. The Chief External Examiner may be one of the subject examiners or someone else appointed to oversee the programme.

Termination of External Examiner Contracts
By the University

Contracts with External Examiners can be terminated before their term of office has expired. Reasons for termination might include:
• the External Examiner failing to fulfil their duties and responsibilities (including, specifically, non-submission of an annual report per academic year, non-attendance at an Examination Board without valid reasons, lack of involvement with the assessment process); or
• following the discontinuation or non-recruitment to the relevant programme of study.

The PVC Education is authorised to issue letters of premature termination upon the recommendation of the Chair of the Progression and Awards Board.

By the External Examiner

If the circumstances of an External Examiner change and/or a conflict of interest arises during their term of office and they wish to resign, a formal letter of resignation should be directed to the PVC Education. A three month period of notice will be required.

Termination of Contract Mid-academic Year

Should the termination of contract arise during the academic year, or an External Examiner wishes to temporarily suspend their involvement due to personal reasons, a temporary appointment will be made to cover the rest of the duties during that academic year until a permanent nomination is obtained, where necessary.


Appointment of External Examiners | The Role of the External Examiner >