The UK higher education system requires the use of external examiners as part of its quality assurance process. External examiners come from other institutions in the UK and Europe and are considered experts in their field.
They are nominated by the Subject Area Chairs and appointed by the Academic Policy Committee in accordance with processes and criteria set by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). There is at least one external examiner for each subject area. The examiners meet at the Boards of Examiners to review grades and approve the award of degrees and distinctions.
Role of External Examiners
Each year, all LBS core and 1/3 of all elective courses, including all new courses, are subject to approval by an external examiner. The primary duty of the external examiners is to ensure that the academic standards of the degrees awarded by the School are consistent with Masters level awards made across the UK higher education sector and with the qualification level descriptors included in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
External Examiners review samples of assessment and determine whether grades are fair. At a minimum, they review the largest weighted individual assessment. However, the External Examiner can ask to review any assessment component, for example group assignments or class participation records, in addition to the major pieces of individual work.
In order to be able to effectively review the grades, the External Examiner must be given information showing where marks were awarded on each of the sample assessments. This could be in the form of a running score, mark breakdown or written feedback.
Sending work to External Examiners
For core courses and electives that have been selected to be externally examined, after choosing your 10% sample of assessments and copying them for internal moderation, send ASAP all the originals to the relevant person in the Assessment Team.
Upon receipt of the assessments, the Assessment Manager updates the grade sheet and sends them, along with the course syllabus (downloaded from Canvas) and solutions to the External Examiner for review. The External Examiner will usually assess the sample as a whole, and make a decision as to whether the grades are fair.
External Examiners do not make decisions about an individual student’s grading (as this would not be fair to other students that were not included in the External's sample) or step in to answer internal grading dilemmas between faculty.
Occasionally, the External Examiner may raise a query/provide feedback regarding either the exam paper/assignment, or with the grading. In this case, the Assessment Manager will raise this with faculty.
It is a requirement that queries raised by the External Examiner are responded to promptly by faculty. If the feedback suggests an amendment, it would usually be expected that this would be considered and incorporated into the assignment/grading.