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Thank you for agreeing to become an external examiner at Brookes. I hope you will enjoy working with colleagues at the University and - for some of you - at the partner organisations who deliver programmes of study leading to Oxford Brookes awards.
Our external examiners (around 300 are currently employed on taught programmes across the University) play a key role in helping the University maintain the academic and professional standards of its award, and in providing advice to programme teams on how to improve the quality of the student learning experience. Faculty staff, collaborative partners and University managers value the suggestions for enhancement that are made by external examiners, and I hope that you will develop mutually beneficial working relationships during your time as an examiner at Brookes.
You may be familiar with the role of the external examiner from your experience in your own institution, but institutions differ in their approaches to programme delivery and assessment, and this handbook is intended to be an accessible online reference guide to help external examiners understand the policies and systems at Oxford Brookes, and to help you to fulfil your role effectively.
Liz TurnerHead of Academic Policy & Quality Office
In this section of the Handbook, you will learn more about the University structure as well as our regulations and committee governance.
Oxford Brookes University is one of the top-performing modern universities – it is ranked No.1 for both teaching and research in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2018, and is the UK’s only university in the QS Top 50 Under 50 Ranking for 2019.
Brookes has around 18,000 students studying on a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, many of which carry professional accreditation. Many other students are registered on programmes of study leading to Brookes awards through collaborations with partners in the UK and around the world.
The University is based on several campuses in and around Oxford. The largest campus is in Headington, just outside the city centre. Other campuses are at Wheatley, Marston Road, Harcourt Hill, and in Swindon. See the campuses and facilities pages on the University website for details of the location of the different sites.
“Oxford Brookes University is committed to leading the intellectual, social and economic development of the communities it serves through teaching, research and creativity that achieve the highest standards.”
The key priority areas for Oxford Brookes University’s 2020 Strategy are:
The key strategy relating to the achievement of the first of these objectives is the Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience, or SESE, which is supported by a programme of enhancement projects. Links to web pages with further information about the SESE and PESE are given in the ‘Useful Links’ section (10) below.
Read more about the 2020 strategy, and our guiding principles
The University has a broad portfolio of academic and professionally-accredited programmes, delivered by Departments and Schools organised within four Faculties, as follows:
You can find out more about each subject area and the programmes they deliver by visiting the Faculty and Department web pages
The academic Faculties are supported by a range of professional support services, organised into what we call ‘Directorates’, as follows:
An A-Z list of all the teams within these Directorates, with links to their web pages.
The University also works with a range of partner organisations in the UK and overseas to deliver programmes leading to Brookes awards, and you may be appointed to examine on one of these programmes. A list of these programmes can be found on our register of collaborative arrangements
Detailed information about the University’s structures for academic governance can be found our University committees Google site. You will need your Brookes affiliate staff number and password to log onto this site.
QLIC is the University’s senior quality committee, with authority for decision-making delegated by the Academic Board. It is responsible for maintaining an overview of the appointment of external examiners and of the issues raised in their reports, including those appointed to the University’s collaborative arrangements.
Faculty quality committees are responsible for ensuring that Programme Leads (and Programme Managers at partner organisations, supported by Brookes Liaison Managers) provide timely and satisfactory responses to external examiners’ reports. QLIC’s ‘sister’ committee, the Teaching & Learning Enhancement Committee, also reports directly to Academic Board, and oversees activities to enhance the student experience across the University.
Examination committees make recommendations to the Academic Board on progression and awards. Every programme of study leading to a University award will be overseen by an examination committee and the Programme Lead for the awards you examine will be able to provide you with further details of when it meets and how it operates. See also the Useful Links section (10) below for links to the University Regulations relating to examination committees.
For courses within the Undergraduate Modular Programme (UMP), there is a two-tier structure with Subject Examination Committees (SEC) operating at Faculty level and making recommendations for awards which are checked and verified by a university-wide committee: the Undergraduate Confirmation Forum (UCF – previously knowns as the MEC).
The SECs, which include subject external examiners, meet at the end of each semester (see Useful Links below). They are responsible for the assessment of a defined set of modules and programmes and for making recommendations on progression and awards to students within their subject fields.
The Undergraduate Confirmation Forum also meets after the end of each semester and receives the recommendations from the SECs. It meets in two sessions: firstly, to consider recommendations for the progression of continuing students, and secondly to consider and confirm awards for graduating students.
The Regulations provide a framework for teaching and assessment at Oxford Brookes. It is a comprehensive publication covering the academic regulations, policies and procedures governing all the University’s provision, aimed at staff and students, and can be found on our University Regulations page
All about your appointment at the University, including information on the fee structure for payments, expenses and other information to fulfil your role during your tenure.
It is a UKVI requirement that we confirm the eligibility to work in the UK of all nominated external examiners (regardless of nationality) before we are able to issue you with a letter of appointment. Checking passports is the usual means by which we establish eligibility, and we usually ask nominees to send or bring in their passports so that we can carry out a face to face check (either virtually or in person). However, other documents may be accepted, and the Home Office guidance on acceptable right to work documents (pp. 24-25 in particular) is a useful reference document.
Your letter of appointment sets out the terms of your contract with the University, and provides contact information for the Faculty staff with whom you will liaise in carrying out your duties as an external examiner. They should contact you soon after your appointment to provide you with full details about the programme/s you will be examining, but please let us know if you encounter any difficulty with communications.
Along with your appointment letter, you will also be sent two other forms which you are asked to complete and return to us as soon as possible:
We ask you to return the acceptance form to indicate your acceptance of the appointment offered, and also to provide the bank details you wish us to use when paying your fees and expenses. We will hold this information only for as long as you are appointed as an external examiner for Brookes, and will ask you to confirm these details from time to time, but please let us know as soon as possible if your payment details change; for example, if you change banks.
On receipt of your completed acceptance form, we will send you a Brookes staff number and password, which will enable you to access any online programme information which is only available to Brookes staff and students.
External examiners are appointed for a maximum period of four years, although this may in practice be slightly longer to allow for the production of annual reports to cover four successive cohorts of students (taking into account the dates of examination committee meetings).
An extension, of a maximum of one year, to an examiner’s period of office will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, for example, if a programme is due to terminate within the next year or so, and the existing examiner has agreed to see out the final cohort of students, for continuity.
If you should wish to resign your post, for any reason, before the end of your term of office, we would be very grateful if you would notify the External Examiners Administrator in writing (by email to firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible, so we can ask the programme team to secure a new examiner prior to the next assessment period. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we would ask you to give notice before the start of the semester in which your annual report for that year is due.
Because of the importance of the external examiner system in enabling the University to assure the academic standards of its awards, Oxford Brookes reserves the right to terminate your contract if you are unable to fulfil the minimum duties of your role (as set out in section 5 below).
We collect a certain amount of personal information in order to process nominations and fees/expenses payments. The University processes all personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act, and will not use this information for any other than the stated purposes. You can download the University’s privacy notice for affiliate staff
You will be paid a fee on receipt of your annual report, and reasonable expenses incurred in the course of carrying out your duties as an external examiner for Brookes will be reimbursed.
The Academic Policy & Quality Office will arrange for payment of your fees on receipt of your annual report (for details about submission of reports, see section 8) - you do not need to make a separate claim for your fee.
Fees are processed in the pay run for the month following submission of the report, and the funds deposited in bank accounts on the last day of the month. The APQO will make arrangements to pay your fee using the bank account details you provided at the time you accepted your appointment as external examiner (or at the time of the most recent update request). Please notify us as soon as possible if these details change.
Fees for examiners who produced reports before 31st July 2018, under the previous fee structure (which used a multiplier of £10 per fte student, rounded up to a minimum of £250, or down to a maximum of £800, as appropriate) are now calculated on the basis of whichever works out the higher of the two fee systems.
External Examiner Fees are paid in accordance with HM Revenue & Customs’ ‘Particular Occupations’ legislation.
Under this legislation, External Examiners for postgraduate programmes are treated as self-employed workers, and all fees and expenses are paid gross, i.e. with no deduction of income tax/National Insurance Contributions. Examiners for these programmes are therefore advised to declare these fees on their Self-Assessment return. However, you may elect to have income tax deducted before payment of your fee, and if you would like to do this, please inform the APQO on acceptance of your appointment so that we can ensure this is set up correctly on our Payroll system.
Under these HMRC rules, External Examiners on undergraduate programmes are treated as employees for tax purposes, and self-employed for National Insurance purposes; therefore fees are subject to the deduction of basic rate income tax.
The University will not pay VAT in excess of the total annual fee. If fees are to be paid to a company or organisation you should inform the APQO on acceptance of your appointment so that the relevant details are available to our Finance service when the account is initiated.
The University will reimburse expenses incurred in the course of carrying out your duties as external examiner for Brookes, in accordance with the rates specified in the allowances section below. Expenses payments are governed by the University’s Expenses Policy, within the Financial Regulations, which can be found on the Expenses Policy webpage (you will need your Brookes staff number and password to log into this area) Both postgraduate and undergraduate external examiners’ expenses are paid gross, i.e. with no deduction of income tax/National Insurance contributions.
Expenses claims will only be reimbursed on production of receipts giving details of the expenses incurred. With the exception of car mileage claims, specific receipts for all goods or services being claimed for must be supplied (VAT receipts where this applies). All expenses claims are subject to the University's normal audit procedures, in accordance with its Financial Regulations.
All claims must be submitted via the University’s Online Expenses Management System. A video showing how to use the system is provided on this page. Once appointed, you will be sent an invitation to join the systems, through an email from Access Workspace. You will be registered for the service using the email address you supplied us with for correspondence purposes.
If you have any queries about using the expenses system, please email us at email@example.com.
A short instructional video on creating and submitting an expense claim on the online expenses management system (OEMS)
The APQO is responsible for the overall administration of the University’s external examiner system. We process nominations and issue letters of appointment, receive annual reports, and process fees and expenses payments. Your key contacts here are:
You can also contact these members of the APQO through the
email address. Please notify us as soon as possible if any of your personal details change, for example, changes of contact information or payment details, etc.
About the role of the External Examiner.
The University’s external examining policy - which is based on the expectations of the 2013 UK Quality Code for Higher Education – outlines the role of the external examiner as being to comment and advise on:
The minimum duties associated with your role are therefore:
Other duties, as appropriate to provision being examined, may include:
In respect of your moderation duties, any significant differences between first and second markers should have been resolved through the internal moderation process before submission to the external examiner. However, in exceptional circumstances, external examiners may also be asked to:
You are not required to meet with students, but many examiners find this very useful - if you wish to do so, please ask the Programme Lead to arrange this for you.
The University and its partners should ensure that you receive the documentation you require in sufficient time to enable you to carry out your duties, and you should be provided with a schedule at the start of the academic year giving key dates so that you know when to expect to receive draft papers for approval, assessed work, for moderation, dates of examination committees, etc – please contact your Programme Lead if you do not receive this information.
In carrying out your role, you also have the right to:
External examiners also play a valuable role in the continued improvement of Brookes’ provision through the processes for modification of provision, and you may therefore on occasion also be asked to comment and advise on proposed changes to (in particular) the assessment strategies for the modules/programmes you examine.
Your Programme Lead or Subject Coordinator should provide you with an introduction to the programme you are examining, and contextual information about the Department/School, or partner organisation, in which it is being delivered. They should also provide you with information about the management of the programme, and ensure that you have all the information you require to enable you to carry out your duties.
If your appointment at Brookes is your first one as an external examiner, the department will have put in place some arrangements to ensure that you are mentored by a more experienced member of the external examining team for the programme. Please ensure that you ask your Programme Lead for details of who has been assigned as your mentor.
All new examiners are invited to attend a briefing day at Brookes; and current examiners are also welcome to attend if they wish. The day includes opportunities for discussion and debate, providing an introduction to the University and its approach to assessment, including key recent changes and innovations, and an opportunity to meet with members of individual programme teams. We will let you know about upcoming briefing days by email, and you can also look out for details and how to book on the APQO web pages
In respect of information about the award you are examining; as a minimum you should be provided, by the programme leader, with the following contextual information to enable you to familiarise yourself with the programme/s (updated each year):
Much of this information can be accessed via the Personal Information Portal (PIP), Moodle, or the University web pages, including the reports of previous external examiners (see section 8 below), and your Programme Lead should ensure that you know how to locate the appropriate information.
At times agreed at the start of the academic year, you should also be provided with the following information about the assessment of the programme:
Please return your comments on draft assessments and samples of student work to the programme team within the agreed timescale. There is a tight timescale in which marking and moderation needs to be completed, so that examination committees can be held, awards confirmed and certificates printed in time for the main graduation ceremonies held in June.
Many samples of assessed work can be provided electronically, through the VLE, but postage for returning any assignments provided in hard copy will be reimbursed through your expenses claims. Some forms of assessment are more difficult than others to sample (e.g. presentations, performances, etc) and, if appropriate, you should discuss how the sampling process should work with the Programme Lead or relevant module leader. You may agree with the Programme Lead that you will receive assessed work at appropriate times throughout the year, other than at the time of the final examination committee – you should also agree on when your formal annual report will be due, and this will be the point at which your fee will be paid.
The main purpose of external examiners’ reports is to provide evidence of:
External examiners’ annual reports are key documents in assuring the academic standards of the University’s awards, so it is essential that they are comprehensive and cite the evidence upon which their judgements and comments are based. All external examiners are asked to submit their reports on the University’s template, which has been designed to meet national expectations for such reports and is available on the APQO website.
Reports for collaborative programmes should, where appropriate, distinguish between issues that relate to the home programme and those that relate to the provision delivered by different partners.
Staff and students’ names should not be used in reports – they will be removed before publication of the report on PIP.
You are asked to submit your annual report to the APQO (via the firstname.lastname@example.org email account) within one month of the examination committee for the provision you examine. Failure to submit reports in a timely fashion or to provide them to an adequate standard in the required format, will be regarded as grounds upon which to terminate an external examiner’s contract. The APQO will send out reminders when reports become due (or overdue), but the University reserves the right to withhold payment of fees if the report is so late as to be of no use (see Use of reports below).
Annual reports should be submitted – in Word format - by email on the electronic template to a dedicated external examiners’ email address managed by the APQO: email@example.com. Receipt will be acknowledged by the Academic Policy and Quality Office, who will then make arrangements for payment of your annual fee.
Once received, the APQO sends the report to the Subject Coordinator/Programme Lead or Liaison Manager (LMs are responsible for ensuring reports on collaborative provision are copied to programme managers at partner organisations) and other staff responsible for academic quality and standards of provision in the Faculty: namely, the Associate Dean (Student Experience), the Principal Lecturer for QA within the Faculty, and the Faculty Quality Officer.
Responses are prepared by the subject or programme lead, liaising as necessary with the Associate Dean Student Experience (ADSE) and support Directorates, to incorporate responses to any institutional issues that have been raised. Responses should be approved by the ADSE and sent out to the external examiner within six weeks of the report. If you have made negative answers to any of the yes/no standards questions on the report template, the Associate Dean will meet with the programme leader and other colleagues to address the issues immediately, and draw up an action plan for monitoring by the Faculty quality committee.
Your annual report is a key source of evidence in the annual programme review process. Any issues identified for action by the external examiner must be included in the annual review action plan, which should be shared with you. If it is not sent to you as a matter of course, please ask the Programme Lead or Programme Administrator.
An annual analysis of the institutional issues, identified good practice, and any areas of concern (that are serious, or common across a number of reports) raised in external examiners’ reports forms part of the Annual Quality Review prepared by the Head of the Academic Policy & Quality Office for consideration by the University’s Quality & Learning Infrastructure Committee. External examiners’ reports, together with responses from programme teams, also provide direct evidence on the quality and standards of provision for periodic review and re-validation panels.
External examiners’ reports are made available to University staff and students through publication on the VLE. The University does not place the full reports received from external examiners in the public domain, but under the Freedom of Information Act it may be asked to release them on request. The information released in response to requests for the personal details of external examiners will be limited to name, job title and the name and address of the examiner’s employer as this concerns an examiner’s professional and working life and such information is considered to be already in the public domain. If an examiner is retired, they will be described as ‘independent’.
You have the right to report directly to the Vice Chancellor on matters which you consider to pose a serious risk to the standards of an Oxford Brookes award. In this case, you may make a confidential report to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Alistair Fitt, at:
Oxford Brookes University Clerici 2.04 Headington campus Oxford OX3 0BP firstname.lastname@example.org
If you consider that the matters you have raised relate to particularly serious, University-wide problems which have not been properly addressed through the University’s internal procedures, you may wish to make use of the Quality Assurance Agency’s concerns procedure. The QAA will investigate concerns about UK higher education providers which indicate serious systemic or procedural problems - details of how to submit a concern can be found on the QAA website.
Your key contacts within the Department or School are likely to be:
Other staff in the Department/Faculty with responsibilities for ensuring your appointment runs smoothly, and with whom you may have contact, include:
Updated July 2019