3.5 Fairness in assessment

In order to ensure that student achievement meets national expectations with respect to the standard of the University’s awards, assessment is carried out by competent and impartial examiners, by methods which enable them to assess students fairly. For example:

  • Teaching staff employed at Brookes on substantive contracts hold an appropriate teaching qualification or teaching recognition award from Advance HE, or are supported to achieve this within their first three years of joining the university.
  • Teaching staff employed by partner organisations delivering programmes leading to Oxford Brookes awards must be able to demonstrate experience of teaching and assessing at the appropriate level.
  • Supervisors for research degrees are assigned according to their expertise and reputation within the relevant field, and their supervisory experience; and are required to complete the Graduate College Supervisor training programme.
  • End Point Assessments for Apprenticeship programmes are carried out by assessors who are independent of the team responsible for delivery of the main academic programme.

An auditable system of internal moderation is in place to ensure examiners apply the published marking criteria consistently on taught programmes. To minimise the potential for bias in assessment, assignments and examinations are marked anonymously (unless this is impossible, due to the nature of the assessment method) and the student’s identity only revealed, for the purposes of providing feedback, once the mark/grade has been agreed.

To ensure consistency and impartial assessment of research students, the activities of supervisory teams are overseen by the Faculty Postgraduate Research Tutors. In addition, the key progression stages such as registration, transfer and annual progress monitoring are all reviewed by an independent assessor, and, at interview, each student is able to discuss their work with the assessor. Overall responsibility for ensuring consistency and academic rigor lies with the Research Degree Committee’s Subject Sub-committees, which have the authority to approve or reject applications for progression, and to review and, where appropriate, approve examiners’ recommendations following viva.

To provide external assurance that the assessment process is carried out fairly and the academic standards of the University's awards maintained, the University appoints external examiners to all programmes which lead to a University qualification. 

  • For taught programmes, external examiners are involved in the approval of draft assignment briefs and examination papers prior to being taken by students, they review samples from the full range of assessed student work which contributes to the calculation of a University award, and they are full members of examination committees. 
  • The examination team for research degrees must comprise one or two external examiners who are independent of the University and of any collaborating institution, and have not been involved in the student’s work. External examiners for research degrees review the submitted thesis and are full members of the panel carrying out the oral examination (viva voce) of a doctoral candidate. They must have substantial experience of examining and the necessary subject expertise in the field of the proposed research degree. Where it is felt to be necessary, an independent Chair may be appointed for the viva examination.

Through these mechanisms, the University is confident that fair and transparent assessment procedures are in place. Assessed student work will therefore not be re-marked unless a systemic issue is identified through the assessment and moderation process. Students who fail to pass sufficient credit for their target award may qualify for an exit award, in line with the requirements set out in the approved programme specification (see section 2.2.4).