Appointment Criteria

Person Specification

The criteria for appointment match QAA Quality Code. They are attached to the nomination form for your reference.
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 Welsh where possible, 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 or 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.

Terms of Office

External Examiners shall normally be 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 shall not be reappointed before a lapse of at least five years since their last period of appointment.
2. The number of External Examinerships held by persons 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 shall not 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 shall not 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.
11. New External Examiners cannot be appointed from the same institute where staff from Swansea University have External Examiner roles.

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 Academic Quality Services, usually a passport (and visa, if relevant), before they commence work with the University. The original documentation will need to be presented on the External Examiner’s first visit to the University premises.

How Long are External Examiners Appointed for?

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

For undergraduate programmes, the period of office is usually the academic year, October 1st to September 30th. For taught postgraduate programmes, the ending period would be to December 31st of the relevant calendar year.

See also How to appoint an additional module/programme or extend contract period (see above) for further details.

There must normally be at least five years since their last period of appointment before an External Examiner can be reappointed.

How Many External Examinerships can be Held?

An External Examiner is only permitted to hold two external examinerships concurrently.

Research External Examiners are appointed to examine specific students. There are no restrictions on the number of research students that an External Examiner can oversee for the taught element. For the thesis element there is a restriction on the number of theses.

Types of External Examiner

The University has two types of External Examiners:
1. Subject External Examiner – who 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 – who is 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 MB BCh 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).

How Many Examiners do I Need to Appoint?

There is no set number, but you 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 examiners you may need to appoint.

How Many Examiners do I Need for a Joint/Multidisciplinary Programme?

You 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 may be one of the subject examiners or someone else appointed to oversee the programme.

Terminating 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 fulfill their duties and responsibilities (including specifically non-submission of an annual report per academic year, non attendance at an Examining/Awards 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 Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is authorised to issue letters of premature termination upon the recommendation of the Chair of the Progression and Awards Board.

Terminating Contracts 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 he/she wishes to resign, a formal letter of resignation should be directed to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic). A three month period of notice will be required.

When the Contract Ends Mid-way Through an Academic Year

Should the termination of contract arise during the academic year, or an 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 >