Appointment of External Examiners

The Appointment Process
  • Colleges/Schools should approach a possible External Examiner to seek their agreement in principle.
  • College/School staff should fill out the relevant nomination form (depending on whether overseeing an undergraduate or postgraduate taught programme).
  • Staff should submit the completed form with a current CV and copy of passport (and visa, if appropriate) to Academic Quality Services for initial scrutiny. Please note that Colleges/Schools may request that all nominations be routed through a central College/School Office first.
  • The Chair of the Progression and Awards Board or PVC Education (as appropriate) will review the proposed nomination.
  • If approved, the External Examiner is sent a contract letter by Academic Quality Services confirming what they are contracted to oversee. Academic Quality Services will notify the College/School when the External Examiner accepts the appointment. Work should not be sent to the External Examiner until this notification is received.
  • Colleges/Schools should send the External Examiner relevant information about the programme, including scrutiny of draft assessments/assessed work.
  • Academic Quality Services will invite External Examiners to participate in an annual induction event.
  • Colleges/Schools can only appoint an External Examiner or extend the contract/add additional programmes for existing External Examiners using the approved appointment procedures.

Criteria for Appointment

External Examiners must meet the criteria specified in the Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes. These criteria are appended as a checklist to the nomination form and should also be completed.

There are restrictions around being appointed as an External Examiner of taught programmes. A justification may be made for accommodating special cases. 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.

Non-approval of Nominations

If the nomination is not approved, reasons will be given and the College/School may submit further information and justification in support of the nomination. The PVC Education has the final decision. See the section Extensions to the Period of Appointment or Accommodating Special Cases

End of an External Examiner’s Period of Office

Academic Quality Services staff will contact the Head of College/School, usually in the January prior to the end of an External Examiner’s contract. Please contact Academic Quality Services at any time for details about current External Examiners and periods of office.

When to Appoint an External Examiner

Every programme of study that leads to a Swansea University award must have an External Examiner. The External Examiner oversees those modules and components that contribute to the award. At undergraduate level, an External Examiner is often not required until the second year of the programme. However, External Examiners are appointed to oversee the first year of Foundation Degrees. External Examiners oversee all elements of postgraduate taught programmes.

When new programmes are approved, programme proposers are reminded that they must allocate the programme to an existing/new Board of Studies and initiate the External Examiner nomination process.

Extensions to the Period of Appointment or Accommodating Special Cases

If a College/School wishes to appoint or continue to appoint an External Examiner, who, in exceptional circumstances, contravenes the general criteria for appointment, the College/School must submit justification with the nomination /extension form which details why the new/continued appointment is necessary.

The College/School should submit its justification to Academic Quality Services, where staff will scrutinise the request. Incomplete or ineligible requests for extension will be returned to the College/School for further information/re-nomination of an alternate.

In appointing special cases, the term of office is typically one year.

Completed and valid requests for extension/special circumstances will be examined by the Chair of the Progression and Awards Board (for extensions of office up to a fifth year) or the PVC Education for all other special cases. Where nominations are not approved, the College/School may re-submit the nomination providing further details to justify the nomination.

Decisions on nominations which are not approved are retained by Academic Quality Services.

Programme Structure Changes and/or Increase in Student Numbers

External Examiners’ contracts and fees for undergraduate programmes are based on information provided by Colleges/Schools at the time of appointment. Should these arrangements change significantly, please contact Academic Quality Services with the relevant information so that the contract might be amended accordingly.

The maximum fee payable per External Examiner at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level is £750. Should fees reach this maximum figure, Academic Quality Services will contact the College/School to recommend that an additional External Examiner be appointed to share the load.

Adding an Additional Module/Programme or Extending the Contract Period

Additional modules/programmes can be added to an External Examiner’s load, provided the numbers of students are not excessive and the number of concurrent External Examiner posts held by individuals is not above the “normally only two” rule. Only two External Examiner appointments should be held at any one time. The College/School should contact the External Examiner to query whether they are content to take on further duties. Colleges/Schools should then contact Academic Quality Services to request an extension form /additional modules form /additional programme form, as appropriate.


< Code of Practice – External Examiners | Appointment Criteria >