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Annual Report

Following the board of examiners, external examiners must complete an annual report, using the University’s standard form for this purpose. At the end of their term of office, external examiners are also asked to complete a final overview report.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What should my annual report contain?

The report should:

  • comment on the appropriateness of the standards set for the programme(s) relative to norms within the subject(s) and key reference points such as the University’s qualification descriptors and subject benchmarks;
  • comment on the appropriateness of methods of assessing student achievements;
  • comment on the effectiveness of assessment criteria in describing levels of student attainment in relation to the standards and learning outcomes of the programme;
  • where appropriate, comment on the effectiveness of assessment questions in assessing achievement and enabling discrimination between levels of achievement;
  • comment on the extent to which internal marks were calibrated to standards in the subject(s);
  • comment on the consistency of internal marking;
  • comment on the effectiveness and fairness of the processes of assessment;
  • comment on whether the standards set were achieved by students ;
  • summarise the degree of confidence that can be placed in the standards of the award;
  • make any recommendations for consideration by the Board of Studies.

Please note that you should not name individual students or members of staff in your report, which will be viewed widely within the University.

Can I see an example report?

All new external examiners have the right to see the final report of the previous external examiner for the programme they are examining if desired. This can be requested from the University by sending an email to

How do I submit my report?

The report should be sent to the Curriculum, Learning and Assessment Service via email at If so desired, a separate, confidential report may be submitted directly to the University’s Vice-Chancellor.

When should I submit my report?

We ask that reports are submitted within two weeks of the meeting of the board of examiners.

What happens to my annual report?

Your report will be considered carefully, reflecting its importance within the University’s quality assurance and enhancement processes.

Upon submission, it will be sent to the Chair and Secretary of the relevant Faculty Education Committee, which will note its contents. From there, the report will be sent to the appropriate Board of Studies for the programme, which will discuss the report (including through its Student Staff Consultative Committee). The Board will respond to you and (if appropriate) detail actions to be taken as a result of the report. The Board’s response will be considered by the Faculty Education Committee, which will monitor any actions arising from the report.

If your report raises issues of University policy, you will receive a response from the Chair of the relevant Faculty Education Committee.

The Faculty Education Committee will consider a summary of issues raised in the annual reports of all relevant external examiners. This summary, along with a University-wide overview, is considered by the University’s Quality and Standards Committee.

What should my final overview report contain?

You will be asked to produce a final overview report in your final year of appointment. This is included as a section in the annual report form. You should feel free to make any comment you wish, including observations on teaching, module and programme structure and content, degree schemes and assessment procedures. You should particularly comment on the following issues:

  • the quality and standards of the programme(s) you have examined, including the curriculum; resources; strengths and weaknesses of students; the quality of learning, teaching and students’ overall learning experience; failure / exit from the programme; and the overall standard of student achievement;
  • how we might consider developing teaching, learning and assessment policies and procedures;
  • the way in which the department / school responded to your comments during your appointment, and what could be done to improve this;
  • if you have been involved in discussions with the department / school on curriculum design, modes of teaching, learning and assessment, advising on new programmes and / or modules, and any other general issues;
  • if you are satisfied with the way in which the department / school drew on your expertise.

Where can I find the report form templates?

Templates for the standard annual report and the final overview report can be found here.


Find out more

Information about External Examiners for Taught Degrees

Role and Responsibilities

This page provides brief answers to frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of external examiners.
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How to get to the University

Information on how to get to Durham University, including by car, taxi, train and foot, as well as a link to the campus map.
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Further Information

Additional guidance relevant to the process, including procedures, regulations and external reference points.
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