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About the role

External Examiners for undergraduate and taught postgraduate degrees are appointed as members of the Board of Examiners and play an essential part in ensuring that formal procedures are adhered to, that the standards of awards in Cambridge are comparable to those elsewhere, and in suggesting improvements to the examination process.

They are engaged principally to ensure that:

  • the standards set for an award are appropriate for the qualification;
  • the standards of student performance are comparable with similar programmes or subjects in other UK institutions with which they are familiar;
  • the processes for assessment, examination and the determination of awards were sound and fairly conducted.

The General Board already issue guidance on the role of External Examiners both to the External Examiners themselves on appointment, and to faculties and departments. Importantly, External Examiners are not normally expected to carry out marking of assessed work. Assessors should be appointed to mark components of the examination. External Examiners are involved in reviewing a sample of scripts and assessing whether internal marking has been appropriately and consistently applied.

The Chair of Examiners is expected to supply the External Examiner with appropriate course specific material as set out in the General Board Guidance on the arrangements for External Examiners. Faculties or departments or Degree Committees may wish to produce their own guidelines for External Examiners to supplement the information provided by the General Board. In drawing up any guidelines, faculties and departments will want to ensure that their guidance aligns with the General Board's guidance.

External Examiners are required to write a report on the procedure, conduct and outcomes of the examination. Information on procedures for considering and responding to External Examiners' reports can be found under Examiners' Reports.

University guidance and report form

External guidance