6.1 Boards of Examiners
18.104.22.168 The overarching remit of boards of examiners is to oversee and conduct the assessment process according to the University’s Undergraduate (Sections 68-167) and Taught Postgraduate Regulations (Sections 45-104) and the guidance given below. This is informed by statutory external requirements as laid down in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
22.214.171.124 Boards of examiners are required to: make decisions on student module marks; make recommendations to Academic Council for degree awards and honours classifications; and review and evaluate the soundness and fairness of the assessment process.
126.96.36.199 Extenuating circumstances sub-boards; module boards; awards boards; and faculty boards operate collectively in a sequential manner to ensure that the outcomes of student assessments and awards are appropriately considered and concluded. Collectively they make up the boards of examiners and each has a specific membership, remit and responsibility. This process represents an essential element of the University’s quality assurance arrangements.
6.1.2 Boards of Examiners Key Principles
188.8.131.52 Decisions made by the boards of examiners are made under authority delegated by Academic Council.
184.108.40.206 All final module marks attained by students must be considered and confirmed by the relevant board prior to their being notified to students. Where it is necessary, as part of the commitment to provide feedback within 3 weeks of the assessment, to provide a module mark to students prior to the consideration of the relevant board it must be clearly stated that these are provisional.
220.127.116.11 The relevant part of the boards of examiners process must be actioned and carried out:
- where a student or group of students has completed the assessments associated with the module;
- and the mark for the student(s) for that module can be determined;
- in line with the principles and process set out in this document;
- in line with specified timelines;
- sequentially, as exemplified in Table 1 (see 18.104.22.168).
Autumn Main Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments
Consideration of Autumn Assessments
- Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*
- Module Board~
Spring Main Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments
Autumn Resit Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments
Consideration of Spring and Autumn Resit Assessments
- Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*
- Module Board~
Consideration of Spring resit /Autumn 3rd Examination Diet
- Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*
- Module Board~
Spring 3rd Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments
- Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*
- Module Board~
Postgraduate Taught Dissertation Submissions/Conclusion of coursework assignments
- Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*
- Postgraduate Taught Module/Awards Board^
*Extenuating Circumstance sub-Boards must be held where students have submitted a request.
~Module Boards must be held where there are marks to consider.
^ Postgraduate Taught Module/Awards can be held as one meeting.
22.214.171.124 Table 1 provides an example of the order of the boards where a faculty teaches undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in the ‘traditional’ pattern. Where a faculty delivers programme(s) in another pattern, the timing of boards of examiners meetings should be adjusted in line with this, but the sequence of meetings must remain the same.
126.96.36.199 Boards of examiners must be scheduled in line with the annual planning for the conferment of awards. Dates must be scheduled in line with guidance from Academic Registry and must be published at the start of the academic year.
188.8.131.52 Comprehensive records of business and decisions must be prepared at each meeting of a board in line with University templates and requirements and retained appropriately. Section 6.1.11 provides guidance on record keeping.
184.108.40.206 Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate students can be considered at the same board, there is no requirement to consider these marks separately. Likewise, there is no requirement to consider main and resit module marks at separate boards, where timing allows these can be considered together.
220.127.116.11 Extenuating Circumstances sub-boards can be considered immediately prior to the relevant board if this facilitates planning and attendance.
6.1.3 Summary of Boards of Examiners Process
6.1.4 The Role of External Examiners
18.104.22.168 The role of external examiners is to ensure that the standards of awards from the University of Stirling are comparable with similar programmes in other UK higher education institutions, are appropriate in relation to the SCQF and national subject benchmark statements, and that the processes for assessment, examination and awards are sound and fair. External examiners are also asked to comment on the standard of student attainment. External examiners will attend the relevant board meetings as set out below, and contribute to the decision-making at both module and programme level by providing feedback on whether:
- The module(s) and programme(s) are coherent, with outcomes aligned to the relevant module/programme outline and/or benchmark statements;
- Assessments in modules of the same level are of a comparable standard and that the curriculum remains current;
- Assessment criteria, marking schemes and arrangements for classification are set at an appropriate level;
- The programme reflects any additional Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements.
22.214.171.124 The final decisions on awards are the responsibility of the relevant board. External examiners may be asked to provide guidance on individual cases, in such circumstances the final decision would still be made by the award board with the views of the external examiners made known to the board.
126.96.36.199 Further information can be accessed from Section 6.4.3 of the Assessment Policy and the External Examiners Handbook sections 6-11 for more information on the role of External Examiners.
6.1.5 Extenuating Circumstances
The University recognises that during the course of their studies, a student may encounter personal difficulties that are out with their control and which affect their ability to study and/or complete assessments. In order to ensure appropriate support for students in such circumstances, the University provides a number of potential routes to assist the student in terms of their studies, in addition to the pastoral and academic advice and support that is routinely available. The most appropriate route will depend on the circumstances.
The Extenuating Circumstances policy sets out the provisions the University makes for a student’s ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ to be taken into account within the assessment process, as one potential route to assist the student where personal difficulties are experienced. The policy operates in conjunction with the Extenuating Circumstances Procedure that accompanies it and both can be accessed here.
6.1.6 Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board
188.8.131.52 The Chair of the faculty board should constitute an extenuating circumstances sub-board, virtually or in person, to make decisions in relation to extenuating circumstances cases that have been submitted. It is recommended that the sub-boards be held at faculty level, however, where necessary sub-boards can be held at divisional or subject level. The sub-board is the first step in the boards of examiners process, and is therefore held prior to each subsequent relevant board as required. (See 184.108.40.206).
220.127.116.11 Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Boards may be held, as required, throughout semester to consider requests for extensions beyond standard extensions, removal/reduction of late penalties or other application where a complete set of grades are not required in order for the Sub-Board to reach a decision. The Chair of the Sub-Board has delegated authority to consider requests for extensions, beyond standard extensions. A final Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board will take place each semester, as required, after the relevant examination diet and prior to each relevant Module and/or Award Board as required. This Sub-Board will note the decisions of all Sub-Boards held during semester and deal with outstanding applications submitted within the time limit specified in the Extenuating Circumstances Procedure.
An extenuating circumstances sub-board must include at least the following staff:
- Faculty or Divisional or Subject Chief Examiner as Chair;
- At least two Subject Examiners from the Faculty/Division or Subject;
- Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty.
Other staff members from either academic or professional services areas may be invited to contribute to the discussion of the sub-board as relevant, at the discretion of the Chair.
All members of the sub-board should have access to the information necessary to make the decisions specified below. This information must include all module learning outcomes and module marks achieved by students whose extenuating circumstance is to be considered by the sub-board.
18.104.22.168 Remit and Responsibilities
a) Decisions of Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Boards, subject to the provisions of paragraph 20b of the Extenuating Circumstances Procedure, are made on the basis of a majority decision of the Sub-Board considering the request.
b) The Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board must ensure that all Extenuating Circumstances Requests submitted by students are considered in line with this procedure, and therefore in a manner that is consistent across faculties and supports the overall assessment process. Specifically the Sub-Board should ensure that students who consider their performance to have been affected by extenuating circumstances have their requests considered fairly.
c) Extenuating circumstances requests will be judged at the discretion of the Sub-Board, which will seek to determine whether, and to what extent, they have affected academic performance, and what action, if any, might be taken in response. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances the Sub-Board will normally take into account;
- the severity of the issue and the length of time involved;
- any supporting documentary evidence;
- whether it is possible to gauge the effect of extenuating circumstances upon academic performance.
d) The Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board may decide on the following outcomes:
- Provide an extension longer than the standard extension, or as provided under an ARUAA. However, the new submission date should provide sufficient time for marking and grade upload, before the upload deadline immediately prior to the next progression date. For example, for a spring assessment, the assessment grade should be uploaded, before the July upload deadline.
- Remove or reduce late penalties incurred as a result of an extenuating circumstance where there was good reason that appropriate extension requests were not made.
- Where a student has not yet met all the learning outcomes nor completed all the assessment elements the Sub-Board may recommend an alternative assessment, to enable the student to do so, in agreement with the module-coordinator.
- Allow the student to take a resit, with an uncapped grade, where the original assessment was impacted by an extenuating circumstance.
- Remove a grade cap incurred as a result of an extenuating circumstance.
- In exceptional circumstances, allow the student to have a further assessment opportunity, where the current assessment opportunity was impacted by an extenuating circumstance and they have exhausted their assessment opportunities under the assessment policy. However, the additional assessment must be taken, and grade uploaded, before the upload deadline immediately prior to the next progression date. For example, for a spring resit, the additional assessment must be taken and grade uploaded before the July upload deadline.
- Reduce the relative weighting of an assessment that was impacted by an extenuating circumstance, taking into account the need for the student to assure that they have met the learning outcomes of the module.
- In exceptional circumstances which affect a cohort of students but which are out with their control, other outcomes as are reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.
- If a number of assessments are affected by extenuating circumstances then different outcomes may be appropriate for each, depending on the nature of the assessment.
Where the circumstances affecting the student are not within the parameters of extenuating circumstances, or where the Sub-Board deems it appropriate in addition to offering an outcome, Sub-Boards may refer students to relevant support services such as Accessibility & Inclusion for assessment for an ARUAA; the personal tutor or recommend a leave of absence be taken or where it is felt the student may not be fit to continue with their studies at the present time, make a referral of the student’s case to Academic Registry for consideration in line with the University’s Fitness to Study policy and procedure.
6.1.7 Module Board
22.214.171.124 Where a student completes the assessments associated with a module, the mark to be awarded to the student for the module must be approved through the boards of examiners process, prior to the mark being notified to the student. (See 126.96.36.199 for guidance regarding release of marks prior to a board meeting.) The first stage of approval is the module board which is expected to meet after each examination diet. (See 188.8.131.52 for more guidance on scheduling.)
184.108.40.206 Module boards should be convened at a divisional level, and normally each division should operate one module board, convened by the subject chief examiner. Where the size of division renders one meeting impracticable it is permissible for the faculty to hold subject level module boards.
220.127.116.11 Where a faculty considers that subject-level module boards are required, this should be notified to Academic Registry when submitting the annual meeting schedule (See 18.104.22.168.)
A module board will include the following staff:
(i) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) as Chair
(ii) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) if not included as (i) above
(iii) The Module Co-ordinator(s)3
(iv) The External Examiner(s) for the module(s) on which the Board is taking decisions (see c) )
(v) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty
(vi) Members of teaching staff involved in the assessment of the module, as considered appropriate to inform discussion by the relevant Module Co-ordinator or Programme Director
(vii) Programme Directors are invited to attend modules boards.
 Where modules are taught overseas an appropriate Stirling based representative should be nominated by the Programme Director to attend in the place of the overseas Module Coordinator.
a) The Subject Chief Examiner will act as chair of the module board. Where there is more than one subject chief examiner in a division it should be agreed by the Dean of Faculty who will chair the meeting. It is recommended that the chair remains consistent over the course of an academic year where possible.
b) A module board will be judged to be quorate if attended by the Chair, Secretary and External Examiner(s) (See c) and 2/3’s of all other members. Programme Directors are invited to attend and therefore a not included in the quoracy count.
c) External Examiners can attend module boards either in person or remotely via Video or Telephone conference or through the submission of written comments which must be submitted to the Chair prior to the meeting for consideration and discussion by the module board.
d) All members of the board should have access to the information necessary to make the decisions specified below. This information must include all module marks achieved by students whose module performance is to be determined by the module board.
22.214.171.124 Remit and Responsibilities
a) The module board is responsible for making decisions on and approving all module marks and uploading all approved module marks to the student record for all modules owned by the division. The board will:
(i) consider the marks achieved;
(ii) consider internal moderators reports and comments on the fairness and consistency of marking (See Quality Handbook Section 6.2.5);
(iii) consider external examiners’ reports on the fairness and consistency of marking (based on sampling) and adjust cohort marks as appropriate;
(iv) note the decisions and recommendations of the extenuating circumstances sub-board and adjust module marks as appropriate;
(v) note the outcome of any Academic Misconduct meetings the adjustment of marks as appropriate;
(vi) make recommendations regarding the assessments set in each module;
(vii) agree and approve final module marks and the nature of any re-assessment offered, where applicable.
b) Following resit examinations and coursework reassessments, the module board should ensure a similarly robust process is followed in respect to all marks.
c) Where it is not possible for the board to meet the approval of these marks should be undertaken by the Chair, in appropriate consultation with colleagues and following the underlying process and principles of this guidance. These decisions should be reported to the next available board.
d) Once approved, the faculty’s exams officer or other designated member of staff is required to upload the marks to the University’s4 student record system, via the portal. The Chair of the module board is required to confirm the accuracy of the marks at the point of upload and confirm that all decisions by the board have been reflected correctly within the upload by verifying these details on Portal, by the date specified by Academic Registry. See dates for the current academic year.
 In the case of INTO UoS student this is recorded on the Joint Venture system, although the principles of the management of marks is identical.
6.1.8 Awards Board
126.96.36.199 Faculties should operate one awards board for undergraduate programmes and one for taught postgraduate programmes, per division, convened by the Subject Chief Examiner(s). Where the size of Division renders one meeting impracticable it is permissible for the faculty to hold subject level awards boards.
188.8.131.52 Where a faculty considers that subject-level awards boards are required, this should be notified to Academic Registry in advance of any meetings of such boards taking place.
184.108.40.206 Awards boards should meet once per year in advance of the appropriate Undergraduate or Taught Postgraduate graduation ceremony and: after the relevant module boards are completed and awards algorithms have been run; and in time to meet the deadline specified by Academic Registry for the return of award recommendations. See dates for the current academic year.
An awards board should include the following staff:
(i) A Subject Chief Examiner as Chair
(ii) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) not included as (i) above
(iii) The Programme Director(s) for the programme(s) on which the Board is taking decisions
(iv) For awards boards taking decisions on combined awards, a representative from each relevant Division is required
(v) The External Examiner(s) for the programme(s) on which the board is taking decisions.
(vi) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty
(vii) In addition, the Chair of the Board may at his or her discretion invite any person who has been involved in the teaching or assessment of the work under consideration by the Board to be present ‘in attendance’.
a) The Subject Chief Examiner will act as chair of the awards board. Where there is more than one subject chief examiner in a division it should be agreed by the Dean of Faculty who will chair the meeting. It is recommended that the chair remains consistent over the course of an academic year where possible
b) An awards board will be judged to be quorate if attended by the Chair, Secretary, External Examiners (See c) ) and divisional representatives as required for the relevant items of business and 2/3’s for all other members.
c) In exceptional circumstances, and where it is essential in terms of progressing board of examiner business, a member may attend the meeting via video or telephone conference or provide written comments prior to the meeting.
d) All members of the awards board should have access to such information as is necessary to make the judgments specified below. This information must include all module marks achieved by those students whose overall performance or degree classification is to be determined by the board.
220.127.116.11 Remit and Responsibilities
a) The awards board is responsible for all programmes owned by the division. The undergraduate board considers discussable cases for Honours classification, the postgraduate board considers discussable cases for merit and distinction. Both determine the final award outcomes for all students.
b) A “discussable case” is defined as one where the mean mark is up to 2 marks below the classification boundary. The classification boundaries are:
First class 70
Second Class, Upper Division (2:1) 60
Second Class, Lower Division (2:2) 50
c) The awards board is responsible for recording all decisions and notifying final award classifications to Academic Registry by the advised date.
d) During a meeting of an awards board, members will:
(i) decide on award classifications
(ii) discuss and take decisions on any discussable cases based on the criteria set out in Section 18.104.22.168 b)
(iii) consider comments from the external examiner(s) on the assessment process and standards of student attainment;
(iv) consider comments on the programme(s) and recommendations to the programme director(s) for the future shape of the programme(s)
(v) delegate authority to the Chair to take decisions on particular cases where all the information is not available at the time of the meeting.
e) Discussable cases should be considered by an awards board as follows:
(i) In advance of the meeting of the board the divisions will run the relevant University awards algorithm which will enable the identification of discussable cases.
(ii) The judgement of whether to award the higher classification or whether the student should remain with the existing classification requires to be made by the awards board. Criteria which may be used in determining the outcome of discussable cases are set out below. Decisions to award a higher classification may be based on one or more of the criteria. The list does not imply any ranking of importance or order in which the criteria should be applied.
- outstanding performance in the extended individual study
- outstanding performance in compulsory modules
- outstanding performance in professional practice modules
- exit velocity that demonstrates sustained improvement
- outstanding performance in viva voce examination where relevant
- predominance of the weighted module marks is in the higher classification
The board may consider other relevant criteria, where this is the case the criteria should be clearly documented in the minutes of the meeting.
“Outstanding” is defined as performance graded in any award classification above that in which the student is currently positioned.
(iii) Except in exceptional circumstances, such as a student in their final year of studies making the University aware of circumstances that impacted them in their final semester and after their last module board sat, extenuating circumstances are taken into account when awarding module marks and therefore will not be considered as criteria for determining discussable cases at the awards board (see 22.214.171.124 b)).
(iv) All decisions made relating to discussable cases, and the criteria used, must be clearly documented in the minutes of the meeting and reported to Academic Registry along with the award recommendations.
(v) At postgraduate level the awards are defined by the University’s regulations for taught postgraduate programmes (sections 80-104.) In borderline cases for the award of distinction or merit, discussion will be based on the relevant criteria set out in (ii) above.
f) An awards board can recommend to Academic Council that an aegrotat or posthumous award be conferred in respect to an undergraduate or taught postgraduate programme.
- Aegrotat awards may be considered where no degree award may be made within the regulations, and the student is close to completing the award but is prevented from doing so because of illness. In recommending an aegrotat award, the award board should be satisfied that: the student's prior performance clearly demonstrates that he/she would have satisfied the requirements for the award, but for the illness experienced; and the student is unlikely to be able to return to complete his/her studies at a later date.
- A posthumous award can be considered where a student has died and has either; completed the programme of study, including the required assessments, and has satisfied the requirements of the award; or has not completed the programme of study but the award board is satisfied that the student would have been able to complete or satisfy the requirements for the award. In making a recommendation for a posthumous award the award board shall consider the evidence of the student’s academic performance overall and in respect to any coursework submitted or assessments completed.
6.1.9 Faculty Board
126.96.36.199 The faculty boards provides quality assurance at the faculty level by undertaking detailed scrutiny of the outcomes and outputs of the faculty’s assessment arrangements ensuring consistency of practice and taking steps to revise or develop assessment arrangements or practice in response to any outcomes of the scrutiny. Faculty boards do not make decisions on marks or awards and do not replicate the business of either module or awards boards. Faculties are required to convene a meeting of the faculty board at least once per year.
The faculty board should include the following staff:
(i) The Dean of Faculty or Faculty Chief Examiner as chair
(ii) The Faculty Chief Examiner if not included as (i) above
(iii) All Subject Chief Examiners for the Faculty
(iv) The Faculty Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching
(v) The Faculty Manager
(vi) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty
All members of the board should have access to the information necessary to fulfil the remit specified below. This information may include, but not be limited to, extenuating circumstances, assessment and award trend data, analysis of input and output profiles.
188.8.131.52 Remit and Responsibility
a) Faculty board will:
- review and evaluate the decisions of the faculty’s extenuating circumstances sub-board, module and awards boards to consider consistency in assessment and award and the impact of the University’s assessment and policy regulations.
- consider the external examiners’ reports, and responses, in order to identify patterns or points of recommendation.
- agree arrangements to share best practice across divisions/subject areas.
- consider factors external to the institution that may impact on the business of the Boards of Examiners.
- An annual report on the assessment process and practice within the faculty should be submitted by the faculty board to the University faculty chief examiners committee for consideration. This report may also be presented to the faculty learning and teaching committee and faculty executive group as deemed appropriate by the chairs of these groups.
b) The faculty board will work with the relevant faculty learning and teaching committee to ensure information identified in sections (i) to (iv) can support the enhancement of learning and teaching.
6.1.10 Conduct of Boards of Examiners
184.108.40.206 Boards of examiners members and others due to attend a meeting of the board of examiners are obliged to declare any personal interest, involvement or relationship with a student being assessed. In such cases the Chair of the relevant board will ensure that the relevant individual withdraws and a suitable alternate attends as appropriate.
220.127.116.11 The assessment process should proceed on an anonymous basis until final award decisions have been confirmed. Therefore, student registration numbers, and not student names, should be used throughout the boards of examiners process.
18.104.22.168 A board makes decisions collectively, with no individual member having primacy. However, in cases of disagreement, the Chair’s decision will prevail.
22.214.171.124 Professional service staff may be in attendance at boards of examiners meetings in order to provide advice and guidance as required. However, only academic members of the board take part in decision making.
126.96.36.199 Minutes and papers from board meetings are lodged with the appropriate Faculty Office and a copy forwarded to Academic Registry. (See 6.1.11)
188.8.131.52 Students shall be formally notified of award decisions only on the formal award date.
184.108.40.206 The formal award date is set annually by the Graduation Team and the University Faculty Chief Examiners Committee.
220.127.116.11 Boards of examiners shall not reopen decisions which have been made and published unless a procedural irregularity is confirmed upon appeal.
6.1.11 Boards of Examiners Records
18.104.22.168 The Dean of Faculty should appoint a secretary(s) to the Boards of Examiners who will be responsible for preparing the agenda, minutes and records of meetings in line with University requirements.
22.214.171.124 The agenda and minutes of the Board of Examiners should follow the University template and record the following as a minimum:
- attendance and quoracy of the meeting;
- any declaration of personal interest by a member of the Board of Examiners, together with any action arising from the declaration;
- decisions on all students, including noting if students have withdrawn or transferred;
- decisions on, and the criteria used in respect to all ‘discussable cases’ (See 126.96.36.199 b))
- any candidates selected for viva voce examination, with a note of the criteria for selection;
- any candidates noted for re-assessment;
- any further action required by the Boards of Examiners or the Faculty;
- any general comments from internal and external examiners on the assessment process;
The agenda template (form ARO 032a) and minute template (form ARO 032b) are available here.
188.8.131.52 It is the responsibility of the Chair(s) of a board of examiners to ensure that a comprehensive and appropriate minute is prepared as a complete record of the decisions made at each board of examiners meeting. The minute of each meeting should be approved by the Chair prior to any actions to be taken in respect to the decisions made, and the minute should be provided to the next formal meeting of the relevant Board.
184.108.40.206 Decisions on all discussable cases should be recorded, appropriate extracts from the records should accompany the award recommendations to Academic Registry so that examiners’ use of these discretionary powers can be monitored.
220.127.116.11 Boards of examiners meetings should be scheduled to ensure that the Faculty can submit results to and by the deadlines specified by Academic Registry. All necessary deadlines for the current academic year can be found here.
18.104.22.168 Except in exceptional circumstances, the signature of the Chair of the awards board of examiners and at least one external examiner must be included on the final list of degree awards/honours degree classifications before records of the meeting are submitted to Academic Registry.
22.214.171.124 These signatures are regarded as an endorsement that assessment processes have been carried out in accordance with the policies and regulations of the University. If an external examiner is unwilling to endorse the outcomes of the assessment process, a written statement from the external examiner citing his/her reasons for the decision should be sent to Academic Registry in the first instance, and reported through the Principal to Academic Council (126.96.36.199).
188.8.131.52 Records from boards of examiners should be stored confidentially in the Faculty office in accordance with the University’s records retention policy and are strictly confidential and non disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act.
184.108.40.206 Immediately on completion of the awards board meeting the award recommendations, examiners report forms and the minutes of the discussable cases should be sent to Student Programmes.
220.127.116.11 Within one month of the meeting a full set of minutes should be sent to Academic Quality and Governance.
18.104.22.168 All records submitted to Academic Registry will be stored confidentially and will be stored in accordance with the University’s records retention policy.
Section 6.3 Updated and Approved April 2017 University Academic Quality and Standards Committee.