External examining

External examining provides one of the principal means for the maintenance of nationally comparable standards within autonomous higher education institutions. External examiners act as independent and impartial advisors, providing informed comment on the standards set and student achievement in relation to those standards. External examining is therefore an integral and very important part of institutional quality assurance.

No postgraduate award, degree or intermediate award of De Montfort University (DMU) shall be awarded without at least one external examiner participating in the assessment process. External examiners are appointed to serve on assessment boards with responsibility for programmes, covering the full range of duties for which the board is responsible. External examiners are also appointed to cover provision validated by the university but arranged and offered by collaborative partners.

This section is concerned with the role the Department of Academic Quality (DAQ) undertakes in the central management of external examining at DMU – it is not intended to cover the role at other HEIs. The information provided relates to all taught provision, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and Pearson. Separate guidance for external examiners of research provision is available from the Doctoral College.

The guide to external examining at DMU is the primary tool for both DMU staff and external examiners of the university. Key information from this guide is presented in this section. There is also a quick start guide to external examining available for reference.

  1. Nominating, appointing and extending external examiners

    Following successful nomination, external examiners are appointed for a four year period of office. This is not normally exceeded, but may be extended exceptionally for a further year. Consideration may also be given to reallocating external examiner's duties. Occasionally, examiner appointments may be terminated if it is judged that the responsibilities of the appointment had not been met, or cannot be fulfilled in the manner or to the standard to which the university requires.

    Please refer to the guide to external examining at DMU for full details on the process for appointing an external examiner, as well as guidance for identifying potential examiners and the appointment criteria.

    Nominating and appointing

    The authority for appointing external examiners rests solely with the Academic Board, which may, however, delegate this responsibility to the Academic Quality Committee (AQC). This in turn is delegated to the External Examiner and Reviewer Appointments Committee (EERAC).

    Selection and appointment criteria

    In appointing external examiners, the AQC shall have regard to: academic standing and examining experience; volume of work; independence and impartiality; members and former members of De Montfort University staff; and period of office. Please see the guide for full details of the appointment criteria – programme teams and faculties need to ensure that this criteria has been met when nominating external examiners.

    Eligibility to work in the UK

    In order for the university to comply with its legal duties under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act (2006) checks that all external examiners are eligible to work in the UK must be conducted. To avoid any possibility of racial discrimination this documentation is required from everyone, even if they are a UK or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen.

    Once their appointment has been approved and before any work is commenced, examiners must provide the university with documentation which evidences their right to work in the UK (see the guide for details). It is strongly advised that when staff members approach suitable candidates, they should also mention to the candidate that they will be required to provide evidence of their eligibility to work in the UK.


    It is imperative that the selection and appointment criteria is read prior to the faculty completing the necessary nomination form – colleagues should also be aware of the checks undertaken to ensure external examiners are eligible to work in the UK. Failure to fully consider this information may result in nominations not being approved by the appointments committee – this will invariably slow the process up.

    Extension/reallocation of duties

    In exceptional circumstances, applications for extensions of appointment length for one year only will be considered by the appointments committee e.g., during a transitional phase or to ensure continuity within the examining team. A reallocation of duties i.e., to include further or new modules/programmes will also be considered.

    Terminating appointments

    The appointment of an external examiner may be terminated by the Academic Board if it judges that the responsibilities of the appointment have not been, or cannot be, fulfilled in the manner or to the standard to which the university requires.

  2. Roles and responsibilities

    External examiners act as independent and impartial advisers, providing informed comment on the standards set and student achievement in relation to those standards. They ensure that awards granted by the university are comparable in standard to those of other higher education institutions, that national subject threshold standards are complied with, and that the treatment of students is equitable and fair.

    External examiners are specifically required to scrutinise and advise on the following:

    • Curriculum development and design: the currency, relevance and coherence of curricular material
    • Standards: that learning materials and learning outcomes are appropriate to curricula and that students are able to achieve standards comparable with those elsewhere and comparable to subject and level threshold requirements
    • Assessment: that assessment aims and objectives are appropriate, the purposes and philosophy of assessment are clearly articulated and understood, that the load of assessment is appropriate and assessment is properly and impartially conducted

    Please see the guide to external examining at DMU for detailed information on the role and responsibilities of external examiners in relation to: participation in assessment; scheme and regulations; specific functions; meeting with students; and submitting written reports.

  3. Training and support

    Newly appointed external examiners are provided with extensive guidance and support to assist them in undertaking their role. In addition to briefing sessions which aim to cover the role of external examiner at DMU, a considerable amount of information is sent outlining specific local requirements as well as generic university regulations.

    External examiners may also be asked to act as a mentor to newly appointed examiners. Guidance on this, alongside full details on the information sent by the university upon confirmation of appointment can be found in the guide to external examining at DMU.

    External examiner briefing

    Before the start of their duties, external examiners are briefed by the faculty on the role and responsibilities and provided with information as set out in the documentation checklist.

    External examiners may need to access Blackboard which is DMU’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard can be used to view learning materials and also in some cases students’ work. Usernames and passwords are sent to external examiners by email from the Department of Academic Quality at the start of the appointment. If external examiners are unable to gain access, please contact the ITMS Service Desk by email at itmsservicedesk@dmu.ac.uk, or by phone between 9am - 5pm on 0116 250 6050.

    Briefing sessions

    The university holds briefing days in the spring term for external examiners who have recently been appointed. Invitations are issued in the autumn term. The aim of these sessions is to receive information on the role of the external examiner at DMU, as well as looking at the undergraduate and postgraduate scheme and associated regulations, the board structure and faculty operations.

    The presentation from the 2021/22 briefing day is available online.

  4. Submitting written reports

    The key role for an external examiner is completion of a written report which should not only celebrate the positive aspects of programmes, but also give specific recommendations for actions. It is essential that reports contain clear information on academic standards and advise on good practice, innovation and areas for enhancement.

    These written reports should be submitted annually at the end of the academic year and at the end of their period of office, within one month after the main assessment board (usually in the summer). Fees are paid on receipt of a report when accompanied by a claim form which must be completed even if examiners have not incurred any expenses.

    Please refer to the guide to external examining at DMU and the guidance for external examiners on good practice for further details on producing and submitting written reports, along with additional information about how reports are processed and action that arises from their receipt, as well as what happens to reports of a serious nature.

    Key points to note when submitting written reports

    External examiners are required to submit written reports to qaenquiries@dmu.ac.uk annually and at the end of their periods of office, using the correct annual report proforma, for Asia Pacific University (APU), please use the APU report proforma. Each report should be emailed directly to qaenquiries@dmu.ac.uk.

    Please refer to the opening section of the report proforma for the key points to note when completing the written report.

    How reports are processed

    On behalf of the Director of Student and Academic Services receipt of each report is logged by the Quality Officer (External Examiners/Awarding Bodies) who is responsible for the administration of external examiner records within DAQ.

    Most reports will be circulated within five working days of receipt of the report. Reports linked to collaborative partners will be circulated to the Principal, quality contact, and HE co-ordinator.

    Reports of a serious nature

    When an issue of serious concern is noted in an external examiner report the Pro Vice-Chancellor Education and Head of Academic Quality will ensure that an appropriate response is received from the faculty.

    If an external examiner has serious concerns about issues related to standards within the institution, and has exhausted all internal procedures including a confidential report to the Vice-Chancellor, they should access the independent mechanism for addressing concerns about standards and quality in higher education managed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

    Action arising from external examiner reports

    The above guide includes details on how external examiners reports are dealt with. An optional template has been devised to aid consistency and improve the quality of the detailed responses to external examiners’ reports.

    Findings from external examiner reports

    The Quality Officer (External Examiners/Awarding Bodies) provides the Academic Quality Committee (AQC) with an overview report which highlights areas for improvement and strengths across all faculties and subject areas to enable key issues to be monitored at university level from year to year. Copies of this report can be obtained from DAQ.

  5. Fees and expenses

    External examiners are paid an annual fee plus visit fees and reimbursement of expenses, as appropriate. Payment is made upon receipt of a written report. A claim form must be completed, even if examiners have not incurred any expenses. The payment of all fees and expenses are managed by the relevant faculty office.

    This information covers taught programmes only. For information on research external examiner fees, please contact the Doctoral College. The relevant faculty office should be contacted with any queries about fee or expenses payments.

    Fee and expenses payment

    Fee information is available, which details the current rates of payment for work carried-out by external examiners, including visits. The annual fee is paid on receipt of an external examiners report and also on submission of the claim form even if examiners have not incurred any expenses. If examiners have incurred expenses, one form will suffice. However, if multiple visits have been made to the university, claim forms can be submitted with receipts throughout the year. All claim forms should be received within three months of the visit/report submission. The fees are taxed in the normal way through PAYE. To claim back expenses, an itemized receipt must be provided. If itemized receipts or travel tickets are not provided, under HMRC rules, expenses will be taxed.

    Completing the claim form

    Examiners are required to use their home address and personal email address on the claim form, the programme title (not just the programme code), the purpose of their visit along with dates and their signature on the second page. If examiners are claiming for a fee only and have not made any visits to the university or partners, not applicable should be added in this box. Missing information on the form may result in a delay in payment. Examiners are advised to keep a copy of their claim form and receipts.

    What happens next?

    Once completed, the form should be sent to the faculty finance administrator in the first instance. Payments are made on the 25th of each month (or the closest working day). In order for these to be processed in time, the form will need to be submitted to the faculty finance administrator by the end of the previous month. Forms received after this date will be paid the following month. All completed forms must be submitted within three months of the claim date. Once the payment has been made, external examiners can access DMUhub to view payslips.

  6. Faculty finance administrators

    The faculty Finance Administrator is responsible for processing external examiner claim forms.

    Claim forms and receipts should be emailed to the appropriate contact below.

    If you experience any difficulties completing the claim form in Microsoft Edge, we recommend using a different web browser (e.g. Chrome or Internet Explorer), or open the claim form directly in Adobe Acrobat or another compatible program.

    Faculty School Contact
    Art, Design and Humanities Arts, Design and Architecture (ADA) adhadmin-ada@dmu.ac.uk
    Fashion and Textiles (FT) adhadmin-ft@dmu.ac.uk
    Humanities and Performing Arts (HPA) adhadmin-hpa@dmu.ac.uk
    Business and Law All schools Sophia Welton
    (0116) 207 8389
    Computing, Engineering and Media Computer Science and Informatics (CSI) (undergraduate) Kathryn Harris
    (0116) 207 8160
    Engineering and Sustainable Development (ESD) (undergraduate) and Leicester Media School (LMS) (undergraduate) Chris Voss
    (0116) 207 8936
    All schools (postgraduate) Marisa Haynes
    (0116) 207 8770
    Health and Life Sciences All schools hlsquality@dmu.ac.uk
    Educational Partnerships ep@dmu.ac.uk
  7. Guidance and forms

    All guidance material and forms relating to external examining are presented together here, in process order.

    For further information or for queries, please contact Louise Newell.

    General guidance

    • Quick start guide: Provides an overview to the external examining process and includes some useful resources
    • Guide to external examining at DMU: This guide offers information on the appointment of external examiners, report completion, and roles and responsibilities

    Nomination, extension and reallocation

    Please complete the forms electronically and email to key members of the faculty executive for internal approval, prior to formal consideration by the External Examiner and Reviewer Appointments Committee.

    Nominating external examiners

    Extending and reallocating external examiner duties

    Training and support

    Confirmation of decisions

    Submitting written reports

    Please submit completed reports electronically to qaenquiries@dmu.ac.uk. Once submitted, examiners should complete the claim form under the fees and expenses section below.


For further information regarding external examining at DMU, please contact Louise Newell.