Skip to main content

External Examiners

As the awarding body, Durham University has the power to grant degrees. As such, it is responsible for the standards of awards made in its name. To assist us to discharge that responsibility, we appoint External Examiners (in consultation with TEIs). External examiners have professional expertise and experience in designated areas of study, and they are able to offer informed, independent, and impartial judgements about the appropriateness and comparability of the standards of awards.  

Each Common Awards External Examiner has responsibility for two TEIs. This cross-TEI examining structure is one of several important mechanisms by which the comparability of the programmes across TEIs is ensured.  

Durham uses two types of Examiner Examiners to assure the standards of Common Awards programmes and to ensure comparability between these programmes and those offered at Durham University: 

External Examiners: who assure the standards of the individual Common Awards programmes in terms of the learning outcomes of the students in the light of the objectives of the programme(s) concerned and in comparison with programmes in the same subject area elsewhere in the UK. External examiners review and evaluate assessment processes, attend TEI Boards of Examiners, and write an annual report. 

External Moderator: who assures comparability of the standards of the students' learning outcomes across the Common Awards Scheme and its programmes.  The External Moderator is appointed to sit on the Durham Overarching Board of Examiners and as such contributes to the classification and awards decisions, and helps facilitate the sharing of good practice between TEIs. The external moderator also writes an annual report 

Purpose of External Examiners  

The purpose of the University’s External Examiner system is to ensure that: 

  1. degrees awarded by the University meet or exceed the academic standards specified in external points of reference such as the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, subject benchmark statements, the QAA Quality Code, and (where appropriate) the requirements of professional bodies; 
  2. the academic standards of the University's awards are consistent with those in comparable Higher Education Institutions; 
  3. the assessment system is fair and fairly operated in the consideration of degrees. The External Examiner may be consulted in the course of any investigation into any suspected irregularity in examination performance of the production of assessed work. 

A TEI's External Examiner will be expected to attend a TEI's Board of Examiners meetings in order to report on the structure, content, academic standards and teaching of the programmes being examined, review and comment on the assessment and examination processes (including their consistency and the use of the assessment criteria), moderation and marking processes, and to contribute to the confirmation of module marks and consideration of candidates’ progression.  

An External Examiner is a full member of a TEI’s Board of Examiners and is normally required to attend meetings where marks and progression decisions are confirmed. TEIs will need to liaise with their External Examiner regarding arrangements for the meetings and should contact the Common Awards Team if an External Examiner in unable to attend a scheduled meeting of the Board of Examiners.  

External Examiners should comment on draft examination papers, where applicable. The External Examiner will see an agreed sample of assessed work for any programme which they examine, and retains the right to see any assessed work contributing to the marks for award/classification should they wish to see work not included in the original sample. External Examiners do not act as second markers of scripts/assessed work but as moderators. It will only be in the exceptional cases where TEIs mechanisms for resolving disagreements between markers that an External Examiner might be asked to adjudicate on the disagreement (and may request additional remarking). 

External Examiners may only change the marks for individual pieces of assessment where they have moderated the full run of that assessment task. Where External Examiners have moderated a sample of work for an assessment task and are not content with the marks awarded (for example they feel that marks are over-harsh, over-generous or inconsistent), they should make recommendations on the systematic steps to be taken to address their concerns (this might include for example recommending that work be double marked in full, that work be re-marked, or increasing or reducing the marks awarded to all the candidates concerned in a systematic fashion whose rationale and procedure are recorded). 

External Examiners are required to provide an annual written report to the University within two weeks of the final meeting of the relevant TEI's Board of Examiners. External Examiners may also be able to give valuable advice to internal examiners, either direct at the meeting of the Board of Examiners or through the Chair of a Board of Examiners or Principal (or equivalent) of a TEI. External Examiners should use the opportunity of their visits to discuss the design, structure and content of modules and the degree programme(s); the modes of learning, teaching and assessment employed; and the assessment procedures. 

External Examiner may be asked to comment, if invited to do so by the University, on alleged cases of assessment irregularities.  

The roles and responsibilities of External Examiners are detailed in full in the University’s Code of Practiceon External Examining/Moderation. 

External Examiner appointment process  

In order to identify suitable Common Awards External Examiner candidates, TEIs are asked to nominate potential candidates who might be eligible. After receiving the nominations, we review each nomination against our appointment criteria and seek in-principle approval from the ‘paired’ TEIs. We then contact eligible candidates to request any further information necessary and invite formal applications to the role. Once we receive the formal applications, the Chair of the Common Awards Management Board assesses the information against our appointment criteria and structure for external examining and seek formal approval for the applicants from the University's Quality and Standards Committee. Once all appointments have been confirmed, we publish the details of appointed External Examiners on the Common Awards website.  

Appointed External Examiners   

External Moderator 

Term of appointment  

Professor Susannah Cornwell

University of Exeter 

4 years  

(2023/24-2026/27 inclusive) 


External Examiner 


Term of appointment 

Dr Andrew Boakye

University of Manchester

Scottish Episcopal Institute 

Yorkshire Theological Education Partnership

4 years 

(2022/23-2025/26 inclusive)

Revd Stephen John Wright

Nazarene Theological College

Queen’s Foundation 

4 years 

(2021/22-2024/25 inclusive)


Professor Charlotte Methuen

University of Glasgow

South Central TEI 

4 years 

(2022/23-2025/26 inclusive)

Ripon College, Cuddesdon 

Dr Joanna Leidenhag

University of Leeds

Cambridge Theological Federation 

4 years 

(2020/21-2023/24 inclusive)

Lincoln School of Theology 

Dr Andrew Torrance

University of St Andrew's 

Luther King Centre

4 years 

(2023/24-2026/27 inclusive)

St Mellitus College 

Dr Alexander Chow

University of Edinburgh

Cranmer Hall 

4 years

(2023/24-2026/27 inclusive) 

Lindisfarne College of Theology  

Professor Alison Jack

University of Edinburgh

Eastern Region Ministry Course 

4 years 

(2022/23-2025/26 inclusive)

St Stephen’s House

Rev Dr Seidel Abel Boanerges

Spurgeon's College

St Augustine's College of Theology  


4 years 

(2021/22-2024/25 inclusive)


Trinity College with Bristol Baptist College

Dr Suzanna Millar

University of Edinburgh


St Padarn's Institute

4 years 

(2021/22-2024/25 inclusive)

Emmanuel Theological College