2. Nomination of Examiners and Assessors

2.1. Summary of relevant regulations

Supervisory bodies must have standing orders governing the number of examiners, period of office, and appointment of chair, on all University examinations for which they are responsible, and for the composition and constitution of any nominating committee(s) operating on their behalf. The standing orders should be submitted to the Head of Examinations and Assessments before the beginning of each academic year [Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 4, cl. 4.1, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p4enomiandvaca].

Nomination of examiners and assessors is undertaken by the supervisory bodies according to their standing orders. Supervisory bodies may appoint nominating committees and delegate power to them but need not do so other than in the case of an examination for a course which is the responsibility of more than one board or other body, where the responsibility must be delegated to a jointly-appointed nominating committee1 [ibid., Part 4, cll.4.4-4.5,  www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p4enomiandvaca].

Nominating committees must have at least three members and their composition must be reported annually to the Proctors and the Head of Examinations and Assessment [ibid., Part 4, cll. 4.5-4.6, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p4enomiandvaca].

Nominations must be submitted to the PVC (Education) and the Proctors [ibid., Part 4, cll. 4.9-4.13, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p4enomiandvaca] in advance of the commencement of the examination. (Ideally, nominations should take place as far in advance of the examinations as possible.)

The supervisory body should nominate for approval by the PVC (Education) and the Proctors a chair of examiners who shall have responsibility for the proper conduct of the business of the board of examiners, including taking proper account of relevant University guidance [ibid., Part 6, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p6chaiofexam].

Sufficient examiners must be appointed for each candidate (other than in Mods or Prelims) to be examined by at least two examiners, or one examiner and one assessor, [ibid., Part 2, cl. 2.2, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p2numbofexam] and in UG examinations (other than in specified cases) no more than two members of the same college may examine in the same examination [ibid., Part 3, cl. 3.2-3.4, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p3qualofexam].

The appointment of any assessor must be approved by the PVC (Education) and the Proctors and shall not be effective until approval is given. [ibid., Part 7, cl. 7.4, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2015-16/rftcoue-part7asse].

Where assessors are to be nominated who are not members of a Faculty or a department, the nomination(s) must include sufficient information to allow the PVC (Education) and the Proctors to assess their suitability for the examining task involved (i.e. qualifications, experience of teaching and examining, technical expertise) [ibid, Part 3, cl. 3.1, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p3qualofexam, ibid., Part 7, cl. 7.2(2), www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-part7asse].

The examination conventions to be used by the examiners in any examination shall be approved annually by the supervisory body responsible for the course and the examination [ibid., Part 8, cl. 8.1, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p8aocasopapetoexam] subject to the right of a board of examiners to make minor adjustments to the examination conventions during any particular examination, without reference to the supervisory body, if there are exceptional circumstances which so require. In cases of doubt or difficulty, the examiners should consult the Proctors. Nothing in this provision shall affect the authority of the examiners in the making of academic judgements on the performance of each candidate. [ibid., Part 16, cl. 16.2, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p16markandasse].


[This summary is not intended to be exhaustive. The full regulations relating to the conduct of University Examinations are grouped together in the Examination Regulations (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcofunivexam).]

1 In a small number of subjects, Education Committee has approved a dispensation to allow the continuation of pre-existing arrangements.

2.2. Composition of boards of examiners

Apart from a small number of specialist examinations, the number of examiners and assessors appointed is a matter for the supervisory body according to their standing orders. However, the University requires large final honour schools to have more than one external examiner to cover the full breadth of the examination; it also requires that in joint schools each panel of examiners, drawn from the parent schools, should include at least one external examiner.

Wherever possible, individuals who have been course directors or their equivalent in the year of the examination concerned should not be appointed as the chair of the board of examiners.

2.3 Role of supervisory bodies in nominations

Supervisory bodies are asked to keep under review the mechanisms for their part in the nomination and appointment of examiners, including the chair and external examiner(s), and for ensuring the competence (this includes ensuring that nominees have relevant experience and qualifications, and ensuring that appropriate support is provided to inexperienced examiners) and avoidance of conflicts of interest in relation to all examiners, including external examiners (see especially Annex J: UK-wide criteria for appointing external examiners).

In exercising their overall responsibility for the membership, powers, procedures and accountability of examiners, supervisory bodies should take care to ensure that boards of examiners are aware of:

•    requirements relating to declarations of personal interest;

•    the minimum numbers of internal and external examiners who must be present for  decisions to be valid;

•    the keeping of appropriate records of examiners’ meetings and the reasons for any specific decisions in relation to individual cases.

2.4 Nomination of chair and secretary

For each examination, a chair of examiners must be nominated by the course supervisory body in the Trinity Term preceding the academic year of the examination and approved by the PVC (Education) and the Proctors.

The examiners should identify one of their number, or an academic administrator, to act as secretary, who will record the names of those present at meetings and the decisions which were taken.  Other roles (e.g. of communication with candidates) may be delegated to the secretary by the chair.

Chairs should be aware that they are required to be in Oxford during the examinations for which they are responsible. It will assist the Proctors if chairs ensure, in addition, that an appropriate person is available to respond during investigation of examination complaints over the Long Vacation:  this may be the chair, or a deputy (notified to the Proctors) if the chair will be away from Oxford for a long period. A timetable for the board of examiners should be drawn up as early as possible so that the examiners can plan to be in Oxford for critical meetings. Student administration should be notified of examination board meeting dates as soon as they are set.

2.5 Appointment of assessors

Assessors are appointed to complement the examiners and to assist in the setting and marking of papers. Before a list of assessors is submitted, the chair is encouraged to consult the Senior Nominator for the subject. The nominators keep a tally of how frequently individuals have acted as examiner and assessor and may recommend that someone should not act in a particular examination.

The prime criterion for appointment is that assessors be members of a faculty or department of the University. When nominating a postgraduate research (PGR) student to act as an assessor, the Nominating Committee must state how the criteria set out in Annex H: Appointment of postgraduate students as assessors in taught-course examinations) will be met. Such nominations will be considered particularly carefully by the PVC (Education) and the Proctors. It should also be noted that postgraduate students should not be responsible for the setting of questions/papers.

Particular importance is attached to the timely nomination of assessors, and approval for the appointment of assessors should be sought before they act in this capacity (forms for this purpose are available on WebLearn in the Examiner Appointments area (weblearn.ox.ac.uk/portal/site/:central:aad:ea:exapp1617). Please note that there is now a specific form to provide supporting information for the appointment of PGR students as assessors, separate from the similar form required for the appointment of other non-Faculty members. Notes on completion of the forms are supplied in Annex K: Appointment of assessors – notes. The forms should be signed by the chair and sent to the Examinations and Assessments team for processing and forwarding for the approval of the PVC (Education) and Proctors. Before seeking approval, chairs should check that these persons are qualified to act under the provisions of Part 7 of the Examination Regulations, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-part7asse.   

This procedure applies also to the appointment of any supplementary assessors required at a later stage (e.g. after candidates’ essay titles have been approved). Appointments must always be approved before any person acts in this capacity. Chairs should ensure that assessors are aware of the level of remuneration (the current fee schedule is available on the Examiner Appointments area on WebLearn).