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Selection and Nomination of External Examiners:​ Criteria and Forms


How do I find a new external examiner?

  • You can advertise your vacancy through the UK sector-wide JISC mail-list for past and current examiners and those interested in becoming external examiners.  Your School Quality contact can provides you with advice and guidance on doig this. 
  • External examiners can also be found through connections generated through academic networks, and programme and module teams may be able to suggest a number of potential external examiners to approach, subject to them meeting the appropriate criteria​ 


How do I appoint a new external examiner?

External examiners have an important role in offering an independent evaluation on the standards and quality of the provision offered at Edinburgh Napier University.  The QAA External Examining Principles provides guidance on the criteria for appointing external examiners and this can be found below.

Once you and your School Quality SAL are satisfied that the potential external examiner meets the criteria and once they have agreed to be nominated, you should complete the External Examiner Application Form and send it to Quality & Standards, quality@napier.ac.uk . Once Quality & Standards are satisfied that the candidate meets the criteria they will confirm this to you which then allows the School to start the HR and University appointment process via SITS and HR Connect. 

Criteria for the appointment of new external examiners

Principles (from QAA External Examining Principles)

Institutions should aim to have a suitably diverse external examiner pool, with that diversity contributing to the inclusiveness of their teaching, learning and assessment processes for students.

Person Specification

External examiners should have: 


  1. ​​Expertise, credibility and breadth of experience within the discipline to be able to command the respect of academic peers, and where appropriate, professional peers. 
  2. Relevant academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the qualification being externally examined, and/or extensive and equivalent practitioner experience where appropriate. 
  3. ​​K​nowledge and understanding of UK reference points as outlined in the threshold academic standards in The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, Subject Benchmark Statements, the Quality Code for Higher Education, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, regulatory requirements and the programme learning outcomes that students need to meet in order to achieve the award.  For new External Examiners, a commitment to undertake learning on this is required. 
  4. ​Competence and experience relating to designing and delivering a variety of assessment tasks appropriate to the subject 
  5. ​Awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of provision, demonstrated through involvement in approval and review events as an external panel member, fellowship of Advance HE etc. 
  6. ​Fluency in English 
  7. Experien​ce in the broad subject area of leading curriculum development, design and assessment, for an equivalent or higher level of award. 
  8. ​No more​ than two external examiner appointments for taught courses (or equivalent) at any point in time. ​


External Examiners must be impartial in making their judgements and should have no previous close involvement with the University which might compromise their objectivity. In particular an External Examiner should not have been, during the past five years:

  • A member of staff, a court member, a student, or a near relative of a member of staff i​nvolved with the programme of study

  • An examiner on a cognate programme of study in the University

  • A consultant to a programme of study team on programme of study design

A proposed External Examiner must not be or have been, during the last five years:

  • Personally associated with the sponsorship of students

  • Required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students to the programme of study

  • In a position to influence significantly the future of students on the programme of study

There should not be any other proposal in progress within Napier University that would affect the External Examiner's eligibility for the proposed period of appointment, e.g. a visiting or honorary appointment.

When considering an examiners duty for collaborative provision the programme team should ensure that the same examiner examines both the home and partner provision. This will ensure that equivalence of standards is monitored.

Eligibility to work in the UK

In addition to the criteria above, as the external examiner will receive a contract of employment from the University for undertaking their role, they must be eligible to work within the UK. ​A right to work in the UK check must be completed in advance of undertaking any work and successful applicants must complete a right ot work check with the Univerisyt’s People Team and submit evidence to confirm their eligibility to work in the UKChecks will either be in person or via video call depending on the documents providedMore information can be found at  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist. 

How many programmes and/or modules can we ask an external examiner to be responsible for?

Module External Examiners should not be considered for duties of less than three modules (unless this is unavoidable in view of the specialist nature of a specific module). Equally External Examiners' workloads should be reasonable in terms of the volume of work and the timescales and deadlines associated with their duties.


How long are external examiners appointed for?

External Examiners normal term of office should be for 4 academic sessions. In exceptional cases, this can be extended by 12 months to make the maximum period of appointment 5 years.


What is the criteria for mentoring an external examiner?

If an external examiner is exceptionally appointed, for example they have no recent experience in external examining, then they must be supported by a mentor for the first 12 months of their appointment. The following criteria should be used to appoint a mentor:


a) a mentor must be an experienced external examiner;

b) any experienced external examiner appointed within the School may act as a mentor as long as they are willing to do so, and that it does not detract from the main task of external examining;

c) The mentor must not be connected to the programme and modules the external examiner is expected to examine;

d) a​ mentor may look after any number of inexperienced colleagues (subject to point c) above) but should be aware that there is no additional payment allotted to the mentoring role.