External Examining at UCA: Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1: Nomination and recruitment

  • What are the criteria to be an External Examiner for UCA?

    The full criteria are stipulated at the beginning of Section G in the Quality Assurance Handbook. You can access Section G here.

     However, the key things to note are that External Examiners must not be:

    • Anyone with a close professional, contractual or personal relationship with a member of staff or student involved with the courses unless a period of 5 years has elapsed;
    • Former staff or student of UCA unless a period of 5 years has elapsed;
    • Part of a reciprocal arrangement involving cognate programmes at another institution;
    • From the same institution as their immediate predecessor.
  • What is the recruitment process for External Examiners at UCA

    Once you have agreed to be an External Examiner for UCA, you will be required to complete the nomination form and return it to the UCA Programme Director along with your CV and a colour scan of your passport (or other suitable ID).

    Once the QAE department has reviewed the nomination and the School Board of Study has approved it, the nomination will go to the External Examiners Group (EEG) for final sign off.

    Under the UK Border Agency requirements, UCA needs to confirm your right to work in the UK. Before commencing any work for UCA, we must see the original ID document to confirm that it is genuine, that you are who you say you are and that you have the right to work. We must then make a copy of the document, signing and dating when the check was made. This will be kept on file electronically during your employment with UCA.

    This check is usually done at the EE Forum (see section 2 below). If for some reason an EE is unable to attend the Forum, the right to work check must be carried out at the EE’s first visit to UCA (usually the main visit to review work). Before doing any work, the Programme Director will take the EE to a member of staff from either QAE or Campus Registry who will carry out the check and take a copy of the ID.

  • How long does the process take?

    Progamme Directors start looking for new External Examiners, for the following academic year, after the Autumn School Board of Study.  Nominations are normally approved at the Spring School Board. The final step is approval from the External Examiners Group; this annual meeting takes place in June. The QAE department then issues contracts; they run from 1 October to 30 September for UG courses and from 1 December to 31 November for PG courses.

  • How long is the tenure?

    The appointment will be for one year in the first instance with the remaining three years being considered and confirmed by the External Examiners Group at its annual meeting in June (four years in total).

Section 2: Induction and the External Examiner Forum

  • Is there an induction process for new External Examiners?

    All new External Examiners must go through the induction process.  The first stage is at the External Examiner Forum, which usually happens at the end of January/beginning of February. The QAE department organises the Forum.

    The second stage is at course level where you will become familiar with the course that you are examining and its specific assessment practices.

  • What does the External Examiner Forum cover?

    The Forum is the central induction into UCA’s procedures, practices, and academic regulations. All External Examiners are invited to attend, as it is an opportunity for UCA to feedback on themes raised by External Examiners the year before. It is also a chance to network, discuss good practice and meet your Programme Director.

Section 3: The end of year visit and sample

  • How many visits should an External Examiner make during the academic year?
    The process requires that External Examiners make one main visit to assess student work however, some courses arrange an interim visit. The Head of School and Programme Director decide whether an interim visit is beneficial and payment for such visits will be dealt with directly by the School.
  • Why does the University release provisional grades to students prior to the External Examiner visit and Graduation shows?
    UCA has an Assessment Feedback Policy predicated on the timely receipt of feedback to students.  Therefore, once a unit has been assessed and internally verified, each student will receive a feedback form with a mark. The form confirms that the mark is indicative and to be confirmed by the Board of Examiners.   Whilst it is rare for a mark to be changed, students are made aware that this could happen as a result of the external verification process.
  • Do External Examiners meet with students?
    External Examiners are not required by UCA regulations to meet with students and meetings are optional. Where an External Examiner and Programme Director wish to include a student meeting as part of the external examining process, the meeting should not focus on individual student marks but rather on the assessment process and the student experience of the units / assessment process.
    Some Examiners may choose to meet with students during their visit, if they and the Course Team believe this will help to provide context to the course and an understanding of the student experience of assessment.  This is not deemed an essential part of the External Examiner's remit.
    If any students raise issues outside of the remit of the External Examiner, they should be directed to the University’s student feedback mechanisms.
  • Should the External Examiner externally verify all units?
    Undergraduate provision:
    External Examiners will be provided with some work from levels 4, 5 and 6.  As a minimum, the University requires the External Examiner to see 25% of level 4 work (i.e. 30 credits); 50% of level 5 work (i.e. 60 credits); and 100% of level 6 work (i.e. 120 credits).  The level 4 and 5 units seen should be rotated annually so that during the period of their tenure, the External Examiner will audit all units.
    Postgraduate provision:
    The University requires the External Examiner to see all units from postgraduate taught courses.
  • How many students will be included in each sampled unit and what range of work will be provided?
    Samples must include a broad range of marks, including some from each grade band. The University does not require the External Examiner to see all fails.
    Amount of work to be sampled per unit*
    Number of students on unit Number of student submissions to be included in the sample
    0 - 6 All
    7 - 36 6
    37 - 49 7
    50 - 64 8
    65 - 81 9
    82 - 100 10
    101 - 121 11
    122+ 12

    * For the purposes of OCA, the number of student submissions to be included in the sample will be calculated across the three assessment points


Section 4: The Board of Examiners

  • Are External Examiners required to attend the main and resit Board of Examiners?

    External Examiners are not required to attend either the main or resit Board of Examiners however, they are welcome to attend the main Board if they wish. 

    External Examiners receive confirmation of the date of the relevant Board of Examiners from UCA’s QAE department. 

  • What should I expect from a Board of Examiners?

    The examining board process at UCA is relatively automated – no work is received and no discussion is had about an individual student’s marks or profile. If examiners attend a board meeting, they are asked to confirm that the organisation and conduct of the Board is satisfactory and that all students have been dealt with fairly and objectively. You will be asked to confirm that you have seen an appropriate sample of student work and undertaken an audit of assessment.

  • How / when are student profiles presented?

    The student profiles are confidential and consequently not distributed prior to the Board.  At the Board, the profiles may be projected onto the wall or provided in paper copy for the purposes of the meeting only.

    The profiles contain the student name and number but all minutes pertaining to the meeting will record student numbers only for confidentiality.  The profiles received record all levels and academic years for a student (the full profile).

    At the end of the meeting, any paper versions of the profiles are retained for secure disposal.


  • Does the Board consider claims for mitigating circumstances?

    No, the Board of Examiners does not consider individual claims for mitigating circumstances. All decisions regarding mitigating circumstances are dealt with at either course or school level and reflected accordingly in the student profiles.

    Please follow this link for the University’s Mitigating Circumstances Regulations: http://webdocs.ucreative.ac.uk/Mitigating_Circumstances_Regulations-1471444320358.pdf

  • Does the Board make discretionary decisions concerning the issue of resits, retakes and classification outcomes?

    No. The University’s Common Credit Framework (CCF) details the rules for reassessment and the rules for classification outcomes.  You can access the CCF here.


    Students are automatically entitled to a reassessment opportunity should they fail a unit.  Reassessment is awarded at the end of a stage (at the Board of Examiners) and the type of reassessment a student is offered will depend on the level of course the student is undertaking (undergraduate or postgraduate) and the amount of credit the student has failed / passed in a given stage.  Decisions to award resit / retake are not discretionary.

    Honours Degree Classification:

    Where a student achieves an indicator score on the borderline of a classification (within 2 percentage points) their indicator score will be rounded upwards where 60 credits or more at Level 6 have a percentage unit mark that is in the band for the higher classification. Decisions to award the higher classification are not discretionary.

  • Does the University operate a system of compensation?

    Yes. A student on level 3, 4 or 5 of an undergraduate programme with a marginal fail in a unit may be eligible for compensation in that unit on the basis of performance overall in the Stage within which that unit sits. In order to be eligible for compensation the following criteria must be met:

     i) the failed unit must have a credit volume of 30 credits or less;

    ii) an overall mark of at least 35 must have been achieved in the failed unit;

    iii) all other units in that Stage must have been passed;

    iv) the overall Stage mark (calculated using the actual mark for all Stage units including the failed unit) must be at least 40.

    Where a student has met these criteria it will be flagged on their profile and the decision to apply compensation will be automated rather than discretionary.

    Please note:

    Compensation is not applied to BA (Hons) Architecture at any level. 

    Compensation is not applied to level 6 of any undergraduate programme or to postgraduate programmes.

  • Is the Board asked to make a judgement regarding cases of academic misconduct?

    No. Academic misconduct is considered in accordance with the University’s Academic Misconduct Regulations. You can access these here http://webdocs.ucreative.ac.uk/Academic_Misconduct_Regulations-1471444320312.pdf

    However, you will see evidence of the outcome of academic misconduct cases flagged in the student profiles received at the Board of Examiners.

Section 5: The Examiner Report

  • What is the deadline for submitting the Examiner Report?


    Examiner Reports are due in three weeks after the main Board of Examiners. There should be one per course.


  • What should be included in the report?


    Examiner Reports inform the Annual Academic Monitoring Reports (AAMR).  The KPI questions in Section B of the report capture key information, the analysis of which provides the University with an indication of course performance.

    The role of the Examiner is to audit the assessment process and monitor the academic standards of awards at UCA. The report should therefore only reflect the Examiner’s judgement on these areas.

    The Examiner may receive feedback on other areas outside of the remit of their post (for example, students may reflect on resources or timetabling during optional meetings with students).  UCA has other processes in place to receive feedback from staff and students and for considering the resources available for a course, and such feedback should be redirected as appropriate.



  • What do I do if I have concerns about the level of English language demonstrated by student work?


    The University has an Admissions Policy approved by the Academic Board which defines standards of English language required on entry as follows for undergraduate and postgraduate courses of study:

     ‘If a student’s first language is not English, they will require an IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent. Should a student require a visa to study in the UK they will also need to demonstrate a minimum score of 5.5 in each individual component.’

     The University operates pre-sessional language courses for international students and signposted English language support is in place for students whose first language is not English. The University is a practice-based provider offering programmes that are predominantly visual / practice based rather than written.  BA (Hons) Journalism and the MBA Fashion Business require a higher IELTS score on entry to reflect the written content within those courses.

    If you consider a student's grades are not appropriate due to English language levels, you should include this in your report, however this must relate to the course’s intended aims and learning outcomes as not all courses require demonstration of strong written English language skills.



  • What happens to the report once it has been submitted?


    The QAE team receives all reports and conducts the initial analysis. The Course Team then considers their own Examiner Report and use it to produce their AAMR. This is later sent out to the Examiner to help ‘close the loop’.

    The Examiner Report is also received by the Leadership Team and is considered as part of the University’s annual Quality Report. Reoccurring themes, strengths and weaknesses from Examiner Reports are pulled together and feed into the Quality Report which is received by the Board of Governors.


Section 6: Payment

  • What is the process for claiming fees and expenses?


    All External Examiners are paid via the University’s Payroll into a UK bank account.

    Examiners can claim for payments once they have submitted their Examiner Report (apart from attendance at the Forum which can be claimed for immediately).

    All completed and signed claim forms should be submitted in hard copy, with receipts, to the QAE department (except any relating to interim visits).

    A list of specific fees can be found in Section G of the Quality Assurance Handbook.

    Payment is made on the 26th of the month into a UK bank account. We encourage Examiners to send in their forms by the end of the previous month to ensure prompt payment.


  • What may I claim for in terms of expenses?


    The University only reimburses proper and reasonable expenses in line with HM Revenue and Customs guidelines.

    Original receipts containing the date must be attached for all amounts being claimed, with the exception of mileage claims.

    The University will pay for all travel expenses at the rate of 45p per mile if travelling by car, or standard class public transport costs. 

    Subsistence will be paid on the following basis:

                                    Evening meal  - up to £30 per person per day

                                    Lunch              - up to £6 per person per day

    Where travel arrangements or overnight accommodation are required, please contact the QAE Department at least one month in advance of the visit to request the necessary arrangements.

    The University will not pay for expenses other than those necessary for travel and subsistence and will not refund any alcohol consumed as part of an evening meal or lunch.


Section 7: Additional questions for External Examiners appointed to Collaborative Partners

  • Are External Examiners appointed to a UCA validated course run by a Collaborative Partner working for UCA or the partner institution?


    External Examiners are appointed by UCA and will adopt the role and remit of a UCA External Examiner. You can access Section G here.


  • Are External Examiners appointed to International Collaborative Partners required to assess work at overseas partners and attend the Board of Examiners?


    External Examiners may occasionally be required to visit partners overseas to assess student work and to attend a Board of Examiners. This will be made clear at the time of appointment. Visits for both activities will be scheduled together so only one trip will be required.


  • Does the External Examiner travel on their own?


    No, the Head of School, Programme Director or QAE representative will travel at the same time.


  • Who will organise the visit?


    The Collaborative Provision Officer liaises with partners, UCA Heads of School and External Examiners to establish suitable dates for the visit. Flights, hotel bookings and visas are organised by the QAE department.


  • How long do overseas visits take?


    The schedule normally includes two days for the assessment of work and one day for the Board of Examiners, in addition to travelling time.


Section 8: Who are my key contacts at UCA?

  • Who are my key contacts at UCA?


    General Examiner or Quality Assurance queries – Jo Humphreys, jhumphreys@uca.ac.uk

    Accommodation, travel or claim form queries – Clare Burns, cburns2@uca.ac.uk

    Academic queries (course documents, visit, review of work) – your Programme Director

    Payment or tax queries – Payroll, payroll@uca.ac.uk