External Examiners

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About the role

The QAA’s Quality Code for Higher Education requires that Institutions ensure independent and external participation in the management of Threshold Academic Standards. External Examiners are appointed as members of the Board of Examiners and play an essential part in ensuring that formal procedures are adhered to, that the standards of awards in Cambridge are comparable to those elsewhere, and in suggesting improvements to the examination process.

They are employed principally to ensure that:

  • the standards set for an award are appropriate for the qualification;
  • the standards of student performance are comparable with similar programmes or subjects in other UK institutions with which they are familiar;
  • the processes for assessment, examination and the determination of awards were sound and fairly conducted.

The General Board already issue guidance on the role of External Examiners both to the External Examiners themselves, and to faculties and departments. Importantly, External Examiners are not normally expected to carry out marking of assessed work. Assessors should be appointed to mark components of the examination. External Examiners are involved in reviewing a sample of scripts and assessing whether internal marking has been appropriately and consistently applied.  

Faculties or departments or Degree Committees may wish to produce their own guidelines for External Examiners to supplement the information provided by the General Board. In drawing up any guidelines, faculties and departments will want to ensure that the General Board's guidance is not contradicted and may want to consult the UK Quality Code for Higher Education on External Examining, Chapter B7.

Information on procedures for dealing with External Examiners' reports can be found under Examiners' Reports.

University guidance and report coversheet

External guidance