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This information will give you a understanding of what might be asked of you as an external examiner here at Southampton Solent University. This includes information on reporting, assessment boards and academic procedure.

Assessment boards

A small number of external examiners will be nominated to attend all relevant assessment boards for their school.

Nominated unit external examiners should attend all meetings of the unit assessment board at which marks are agreed.

Progression and award external examiners should attend all meetings of the progression and award board at which decisions on student awards are agreed. 

Assessment boards are generally held in February/March and September/October, although this can differ depending on the provision.  

Academic Handbook, Section 2K - The purpose and conduct of assessment boards

Academic Handbook, Section 2O - Assessment regulations

Annual report

All external examiners are required to submit an annual report, the submission of which will allow you to claim your annual fee.

You will be sent an email by Academic Services (AS) in June. This email will contain a link to a personalised web page which will contain the annual report pro-forma. This email will contain login details which will work only for access your annual report template.

You will be asked to complete the form electronically and click the 'submit' button at the bottom of the form. The report form contains a combination of questions requiring a 'Yes', "No" or 'N/A' response, and questions requiring qualitative responses. The report interface enables you to save your report whilst you are working on it and prior to submission, meaning should you need to stop and return to your report at a later time, you will not lose saved sections.

You will be prompted to use free text boxes within your report in order to provide qualitative feedback. This will be used to disseminate good practice and identify areas for enhancement.

External examiners annual report form help guide

When to submit your annual report

You are expected to submit your annual report within four weeks of completing your external moderation, or if you have been nominated to attend, within four weeks of your main assessment board. You will receive an email reminder if your annual report is overdue.

Content of your report - unit external examiners

Unit external examiners are required to report annually on issues related to unit assessment. The annual report will cover all units examined in the academic session, including those considered by unit assessment boards at the end of period one. Issues covered in the report will include:

  • the overall performance of the students in relation to their peers on comparable units; 
  • the strengths and weaknesses of the students; the quality of knowledge and skills (both general and subject specific) demonstrated by the students;
  • the structure, organisation, design and marking of all assessments;
  • the quality of student learning as indicated by student performance;
  • the implications to be drawn from the assessments for the curriculum, syllabus, teaching methods, and for the resources for the course; and
  • any other recommendations arising from the assessments.

Content of your report - progression and award external examiners

Progression and award external examiners are required to report annually. The report will cover:

  • standard and conduct of progression and award boards;
  • application of University assessment regulations;
  • course profiles.

Responses to your annual report 

The University aims to send a written response to your annual report within six weeks of the submission date. The response may come from the School or the University's Academic Services, as appropriate.

How the University uses your annual report

External examiner reports will be received and considered by Academic Services. They will also be considered formally by the course team(s) and the School management team as part of the course review process. You will normally receive a response to your report within six weeks of submission. A summary of themes emerging from external examiner reports is presented to the University’s Academic Board.

External examiner reports are made available in full to students. They also constitute recorded information held by the University and are therefore open to disclosure if requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Please note: Individual students or members of staff should not be identified in the report.

The University will take any negative answers very seriously, and will work with the course teams concerned to address the issues raised in a supportive and developmental way. 

At an institutional level, the external examiner reports play a key role in the University's quality assurance and enhancement procedures. The outcomes of the annual external examiner reports are reported to the University's Academic Quality Committee at various points in the year.

Analysis of external examiner reports

At its first meeting of the year the University's Academic Board receives a paper on the emergent themes arising from the most recent external examiner reports received by the University. 

Emergent themes from external examiner reports 2014-15

Emergent themes from external examiner reports 2013-14

Emergent themes from external examiner reports 2012-13

Emergent themes from external examiner reports 2011-12

Emergent themes from external examiner reports 2010-11

Good practice analysis

As part of the University's efforts to establish the 'Solent Curriculum' as a distinctive offering to our students, between 2008-09 and 2011-12 external examiner reports were analysed to identify areas of distinctive and/or innovative good practice. Comments on the development of practical and intellectual skills, on industry relevance were student employability are of particular interest. 

Papers setting out the results are available below:

Summary of good practice from external examiners and themes for further analysis 2011-12

Summary of good practice from external examiners and themes for further analysis 2010-11

Summary of good practice from external examiner reports 2009-10

Summary of good practice from external examiner reports 2008-09

The University values the input of external examiners and is grateful for the work you undertake. We look forward to receiving your report and thank you for your interest in the University and our students.

Grade marking

This paper provides an evaluation of grade marking. It examines assessment marks and unit marks, as well as external examiner comments and concludes that grade marking has not had an inflationary impact of assessment marks, there has been some increase in the range of marks used and a marked increase in the use of the A4 grade suggests the numeric equivalent for that grade mark should be adjusted.

Extenuating circumstances  

Throughout their studies, students are required to complete and submit, or sit, a wide range of assessments. This will require students to balance workload and use time management skills to ensure that assessments are submitted to stated deadlines.

However, the University recognises that there may be serious adverse circumstances outside of a student's control that prevent them from completing assessments and that it is in their best interests that any extenuating factors should be considered when determining student results.

Southampton Solent University has therefore developed an extenuating circumstances policy to advise students how, and against what criteria, they make formal submission for consideration of their personal extenuating circumstances.

Academic Handbook, Section 2P - Extenuating circumstances

Visiting the University

You will be invited to attend the annual external examiners' briefing in your first year as an external examiner at Southampton Solent University.

Unit external examiners

The nominated external examiners are expected to attend all unit assessment boards for the relevant school. In most cases, this will involve attendance at boards, usually held in February/March and June/July.

Unit external examiners may wish to make additional visits to the University. This will vary depending on the subject area and such visits should be discussed with the programme team. The University will reimburse reasonable travel and accommodation costs for these visits.

Progression and award external examiners

Progression and award external examiners are expected to attend all progression and award assessment boards at which decisions on student progression and awards are considered. In most cases, this will involve attendance at boards, usually held in June/July.

Information on how to get to the University

Policies and regulations

The University's policies and regulations that external examiners are most likely to be involved with are accessible below.

Strategic plan

Academic handbook section 2I: External examiners

Academic handbook section 2O: Assessment policy 

Academic handbook section 2O: Annex 1 Assessment regulations

Academic handbook section 2O: Annex 2: Grade criteria

Academic handbook section 2O: Annex 3: Grade marking criteria

Academic handbook section 2B: Academic framework for credit-bearing provision

Extenuating circumstances

Professional development framework

Professional and statutory bodies

External examiners are expected to be familiar with the subject benchmarks for the area(s) covered within their unit allocations.

Subject benchmark statements are general expectations about the standards of achievement and general attributes to be expected of a graduate in a given subject area. Subject benchmark statements can be accessed from the QAA’s website by accessing the following links:

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

The FHEQ comprises a series of level descriptors setting out capabilities and transferable skills acquired by students completing an award. The FHEQ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can be accessed here.

Externals examiners are encouraged to advise on any issues of non-alignment within their annual reports.

Over many years, different departments within the University have established strong and robust links with relevant professional bodies.

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