As noted in the Regulations for Study (section 2.5), examination committees are a key element of the University’s framework for safeguarding the academic standards of its awards. The purpose of examination committees is – on behalf of the Academic Board - to assess students in accordance with the regulations applying to the programme/s under consideration (including any professional requirements), and make recommendations for progression, or the conferment of academic awards on students who have demonstrated they have met the requirements of the award.
Examination Committees are responsible for:
- confirming module marks;
- confirming progression and awards;
- approving recommendations for the award of credit for prior learning (APL) against the requirements of the programme/s;
- confirming the award of any University prizes associated with the programme/s;
- approving allowances to be made for any exceptional circumstances claims that have been accepted for students on the programme/s;
- considering the implications for progression and award where penalties have been imposed in relation to academic conduct investigations;
- deciding on the action to be taken where it has been found that the marking on a module contributing to the programme/s is unreliable or invalid.
There must be an Examination Committee for every approved programme of study leading to an Oxford Brookes award – as appropriate, a single examination committee may be responsible for a group of related programmes of study. Templates for the terms of reference for examination committees can be downloaded from the Academic Board & Sub-Committees Google site. The terms of reference for examination committees overseeing programmes delivered through collaborative arrangement must be set out in the Operations Manual governing the partnership.
Unlike other University committees, examination committees do not have any student representation, and no student may attend an examination committee, or other examiners’, meeting other than as a candidate for assessment. However, internal or external examiners for the programme/s under consideration, who are currently students on a different programme, are not considered as students in this context.
For home provision, the role of the Chair of the examination committee is usually taken by the appropriate Programme Lead or Subject Coordinator; but, for collaborative provision, a suitably senior and experienced member of University staff should be appointed to the role (this may be the Liaison Manager, if they are qualified for the role). The appointments of all examination committee chairs must be approved, on an annual basis, by the relevant Faculty Academic Enhancement & Standards/Quality & Learning Infrastructure Committee, acting through delegated authority from the Academic Board.
The role of Secretary for an examination committee is normally taken by the appropriate Programme Administrator, as agreed with the Faculty Academic Administration Manager. For programmes delivered through collaborative partnerships, the managing Faculty and the partner organisation should agree who will provide administrative support for examination committees, and the responsibilities of the parties involved should be set out in the Operations Manual.
Together, the examination committee Chair and Secretary are responsible for managing proceedings, and ensuring due process is followed. All staff appointed as Chairs and Secretaries must keep themselves up to date with any ongoing changes to the regulations, procedures, or accreditation requirements that apply to the programmes covered by their examination committee.
An external examiner must be present (they may attend remotely) at all examination committees making recommendations for awards, including those convened to consider re-assessments, and no recommendation for the conferment of an award of the University may be made without the written consent (i.e. the signing of the awards list) of an approved external examiner.
Minimum Membership of an Examination Committee
The minimum membership of an Examination Committee is:
- at least one serving external examiner;
- at least two other members of staff responsible for examining on the programme/s being considered; however, the module leaders of all modules being considered by the Examination Committee should be present, if possible;
- for collaborative provision, the appointed University Liaison Manager must be present.
Subsidiary examination committees
The constitution of the committee may include provision for the appointment of subsidiary examination committees. (for example , where a large number of modules contribute to a range of related awards, a subsidiary committee to confirm module marks may be established, which meets prior to the examination committee for the overall awards).
A subsidiary examination committee must include at least one approved external examiner, who must be informed that they have the right to attend the meeting of the main examination committee at which decisions regarding recommendations for awards are made. The rights and duties of such external examiners are the same as those of external examiners on the main committee except that the subsidiary examination committee makes recommendations to the main committee only.
The approved examination committee retains responsibility for judging each student's performance on the programme as a whole and deciding, in the light of the objectives of the programme and its assessment regulations, whether any allowance may be made for failure in elements of the assessment.
The examination committee is authorised to assess students in accordance with the assessment regulations, including any professional standards, applying to the programme/s of study for which it is responsible, and to recommend the conferment of an award of the University upon a student who, in the judgement of the Committee, has fulfilled the objectives of the approved programme of study and achieved the academic and - where relevant, professional - standard required for the award. An Examination Committee is also responsible for the approval of recommendations for the award of credit for prior learning against the requirements of the programme/s for which it is responsible. It may not award academic credit or recommend awards unless it has evidence of the candidate's achievement of the requirements for the award (including for the award of credit for prior certificated or experiential learning).
The approved examination committee, or its formally constituted subsidiary examination committees, must be responsible for all assessments that contribute to the recommendation of an award within its jurisdiction. No other body has authority to recommend conferment of an award, nor to amend the decision of an approved and properly constituted examination committee acting within its terms of reference and in accordance with the regulations applying to the programme of study.
An examination committee may, however, accept a penalty relating to a student's marks or award imposed by a Conduct Officer or University Conduct Committee in accordance with the Academic Conduct procedure. Any remaining consequences of such a penalty for a student's progression and/or award shall then be determined by an examination committee in accordance with the assessment regulations applying to the programme of study.
An examination committee may also be required to review a decision as a result of disagreements with or between internal and external examiners. Any disagreement between internal and external examiners which cannot be resolved by an Examination Committee should be referred to the Chair of the Academic Board for resolution.
An Examination Committee has no power to redress a grievance relating to teaching, supervision or academic guidance, unless recommended to do so as a consequence of a complaint upheld under the Student Complaint procedure, or by the OIA.
Delegation of responsibility
An approved examination committee, including external examiners, is also responsible for the reassessment or deferred assessment of students on the programme/s it covers. The committee may, at the time when it first meets to decide on its recommendations, agree arrangements for delegating that responsibility to a sub-group of itself, which must include at least one external examiner. Such delegation will not be appropriate for all reassessments or deferred assessments; the committee must be satisfied that it is appropriate in the particular circumstances before agreeing to delegate responsibility. Advice may be sought on this from the Deputy Director of Academic & Student Administration (Registry).
Chair’s Action may be taken to correct an administrative error made by an examination committee, but should not be used in other circumstances unless the scope of the delegation to the Chair has been agreed (and minuted) in advance by the committee as a whole.
The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that comprehensive and accurate documentation is prepared for consideration by the Committee, and (in consultation with the Chair) for producing minutes of the meeting which provide a detailed and accurate record of the Committee’s proceedings.
‘Pre-examination committee’ meetings may be held in order to ensure that documentation is accurate and complete prior to the main meeting, but they do not have any formal status - neither do any minutes that may be taken during the pre-meetings - and no decisions relating to the award of credit can be made by them.
Examination committee minutes are the formal record of the University’s deliberations and decisions about student progression and awards, and should therefore provide a clear and accurate account of the decisions that have been made by the committee and the reasons behind those decisions. For clarity, students may be referred to by both their name and their student number. Any prizes awarded to students on the programme/s covered by the Examination committee should also be recorded in the minutes.
Examination committee minutes are confidential. The minutes are not part of the University’s published information, but may be referred to in the case of a student complaint, or an appeal against an examination committee decision. Minutes and associated documentation should be stored by the Faculty in a secure, but accessible, location for a period of ten years, after which they should be archived. The retention of awards lists and Chair’s Action forms is the responsibility of the Registry.
Please visit Student Central for information about Registry support for examination committees.