The purpose of this procedure is: 

•      to ensure that the degrees awarded by the College are comparable in standard to those awarded by other University of London colleges and by other UK veterinary schools;  

•      to ensure fairness and consistency in assessment procedures and student classification;  

•      to scrutinise the effectiveness and appropriateness of the assessment system;  

•      to assure the wider community of the standard of the College's degrees, and of the fairness of its assessment procedures.

This procedure covers the appointment of External Examiners for all taught programmes of study, both undergraduate and postgraduate. It does not cover research degrees or non-award-bearing continuing education.


Although External Examiners are nominated initially by Examining Boards via the relevant Course Director, and work closely with departmental staff, they are accountable to the Academic Board.


Duties of External Examiners are listed under item 1.3 within the ‘Constitution and Function of Boards of Examiners’.  


External Examiners Nomination Form

External Examiners Report Form

Constitution and Function of Boards of Examiners


Potential External Examiners are approached by Course Directors/Year Leaders and given a full verbal/written briefing, including the details of arrangements to carry out his/her duties (e.g. information about the extent and timing of obligations). They are encouraged to ask for additional information at this stage and are requested to provide a copy of their current Curriculum Vitae. Full information, including course and assessment regulations is available on RVC Learn. Previous external examiner reports are available on the external examiner pages of the College website. Nominations of External Examiners will be submitted by Course Directors/Year Leaders to Academic Quality Officer ‘Standards’. The Academic Quality Officer ‘Standards’ will forward nominations for approval to the Chair of the relevant Board of Examiners and Teaching Quality Committee.  The Teaching Quality Committee will scrutinise nominations and CVs against the criteria for eligibility laid down in section 4.8. Nominations supported by the Teaching Quality Committee will be forwarded to the Academic Board for endorsement. For the FdSc/BSc Veterinary Nursing, the nominee’s CV & CPD is initially put forward to the RCVS for approval before the nomination is considered by the College. For the MSc LHP and MSc VEPH (Distance Learning) the RVC approves the nomination of external examiners and University of London  Worldwide (former International Academy) gives final approval and sends out contracts.  For Undergraduate Courses, the Academic Quality Officer ‘Standards’ will write annually to Course Directors/Year Leaders in the Spring term (with a copy to the relevant Chair of the Boards of Examiners and Programme Support Co-ordinator) to notify them of External Examiner appointments for the next academic year.  For MSc courses this process will normally take place in the Summer Term.   External Examiners will be asked to provide original copies of documentation that provides evidence of their right to work in the UK.   

Appointments – special circumstances  

If the Chair of an Exam Board considers there is cause for concern about the integrity of an imminent examination process, (or an external examiner is unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, which may compromise the outcome of an exam board), then a temporary external examiner may be appointed as a one off. The replacement should be identified and agreed by the Chair of the Teaching Quality Committee (verbally or in writing) as soon as possible. The proposed external examiner, in exceptional circumstances, may be a recent employee of the college or recent external examiner of the course to be examined.   

Period of Appointment  

The period of appointment of External Examiners shall normally be from 1st October to 31st December, four years later. The period of appointment will defer for courses that commence outside of the normal academic year. This will enable the External Examiner to be involved in assessments from the start of the academic year and to continue in office to deal with reviews, re-sits etc. External Examiners are normally appointed for one year in the first instance, with the option of extending this for a further three years.  Either party may conclude after the end of the first year that the External Examinership should not be extended.   If an External Examiner resigns before the expiry of his / her normal period of office, he or she should write formally to the Principal, giving sufficient notice for the appointment of a replacement.  The Academic Quality Officer ‘Standards’ will write to the External Examiner inviting them to provide feedback on the reason for their resignation.   If an Examining Board wishes to terminate an External Examiner’s appointment, this must be done through a formal proposal to the Teaching Quality Committee, and only with the approval of the Principal as Chair of the Academic Board.  

Defined, in the case of the BVetMed, as the course of study leading to a specified examination 

Appointment Criteria

External Examiners are appointed by, and are accountable to, the Academic Board and report to the Principal, as Chairman of the Board.    

External Examiners should normally satisfy the following criteria:  

a.      They should have competence and experience in the field covered by the course. They should be recognised authorities in their subject. This may be demonstrated through experience, seniority, or both Academic External Examiners should normally be of the rank of at least Senior Lecturer or Reader, or equivalent.  

b.      They should have expertise and experience in assessment at the appropriate level. If the proposed External Examiner has no previous external examining experience, he or she should normally have demonstrable equivalent experience or extensive internal examining experience, or have other recent experience relevant to external examining. They should agree to attend appropriate induction and, where appropriate, training.

c..      They should be fluent in English, normally demonstrated through experience of teaching on courses taught in English.  

d.      They should meet any criteria set out by professional and accrediting bodies.   

e.      They should have an appreciation of good practice in the design and delivery of teaching and assessment.  

f.      In order to ensure impartiality, they should normally not have had close involvement with the College in the last three years, e.g. as a member of staff; a member of the Council; a student of the College; a near relative of an Internal Examiner. They should not be personally associated with the sponsorship of students; or involved closely with student placements.  They should have no close personal connection with any candidate being examined.    

g.      They should not be required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students to the programme of study.  

h.       They should not be in a position to influence significantly the future of students on the programme of study.  

i.      After completion of a term of office, a period of three years must normally elapse before an External Examiner is eligible for re-appointment to a Board of Examiners. An external examiner may have his or her term of office extended or may be reappointed to the same Board of Examiners immediately after completion of a term of office only in exceptional circumstances.  

j.      A new External Examiner should not, where possible, be from the same institution as the retiring External Examiner.  

k       Where possible, there should not be reciprocal external examining arrangements in individual subjects. They should normally hold no more than two external examiner appointments at any point in time, including the one at The Royal Veterinary College. It is acceptable for an individual to hold two External Examinerships at the RVC, provided the courses are not closely related.  

l.       Staff recently retired may be appointed where appropriate; normally they should have retired not more than three years prior to appointment as an examiner. Retired persons should normally have evidence of continued activity in the academic area in question and may be appointed in order to balance the appointment of a relatively junior external examiner with limited experience.  

m.      When External Examiners are appointed from practice, research institutes and other non-academic institutions, they should normally be part of a team which includes External Examiners with experience in Higher Education. 

n.       The period of appointment of External Examiners shall be from 1st October to   31st December, one year later, with the possibility of re-appointment for three further years.   

Teams of External Examiners  

All External Examiners should have responsibility for the whole programme * although they may examine only part of it in detail. The team of External Examiners should satisfy the criteria.  Boards of Examiners must include an External Examiner from outside the University of London. 

A team of External Examiners should between them satisfy the following criteria:  

a.      All External Examiners who are members of a Board of Examiners have shared responsibility for the whole Examination, even though each one may examine only part of it in detail.  

b.      External Examiners with limited experience or who are relatively junior may be appointed if their presence is balanced by External Examiners of seniority and experience.  

c.       Appointments of External Examiners to a Board of Examiners should be staggered, to ensure continuity.  

d.      There should, wherever possible, be no more than one External Examiner from any particular institution on a Board of Examiners. 

Each Board of Examiners must include:  

a.         at least one examiner external to the University of London.

b.         at least one examiner with academic qualifications to at least the FHEQ level of the qualification being externally examined.

c.         at least one examiner with current experience working in Higher Education


Please note that the Inset Day on Assessment is now organised by Learning and Wellbeing. For further information, please contact Head of Educational Development (email address to follow)

The documentation provided to External Examiners at the beginning of the Academic Year should include:   from the Academic Quality Manager:   •             A formal initial appointment letter •             A continuation letter (at the end of first year of appointment) •              Invitation to attend the INSET Day on Assessment   Further documentation available in the External Examiners section of the College website and the RVC’s VLE ‘Learn’ for which the login details are arranged by the Academic Quality Officer ‘Standards’ and communicated to External Examiners prior to their visit to the College: 

•          Expense and fee claim forms; •           Details of how to submit your Annual External Examiners Report; •          Exam Timetables (including the dates of Board of Examiners Meetings); •          List of Examiners (including Course Directors, Year Leaders, Chairs and Deputy Chairs of Exam Boards); •          External Examiner reports for the previous year, and the College’s responses;   External Examiners will be provided with a username and password for logging into the College’s Virtual Learning Environment (RVC LEARN).   Course Handbooks are available on RVC LEARN and these include links to learning objectives, programme specification, assessment and award regulations (marking schemes) etc.   The Academic Quality, Regulations and Procedures section of the College website includes all of the College’s regulations on examining and assessment, and the College’s Academic Quality Assurance and Enhancement Procedures.   The External Examiner section of the website also includes other useful links and Contacts, such as:   ·        The current prospectus (Undergraduate or Postgraduate as appropriate); ·        Exams Office Team; ·        Equality Scheme; ·        National Subject Benchmarks (where available); ·        Learning, Teaching and Assessment Enhancement Strategy 2014-2019; ·        Framework for higher education qualifications (FHEQ); ·        Links  to  QAA  Guidance  for  External  Examiners HEFCE’s Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme   External Examiners will be notified of any up-dates to the above which will be placed on the external examiners’ section of the College website.

Payments of Fees and Expenses

External Examiner   Fee Claim Form

External Examiner   Expense Claim Form

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