External examining in the humanities

Date: 18 February, 2011
Location: The University of Sheffield, Exhibition Space, Jessop West Building
Event type: Workshop

Location map

Please Note: This event is now fully booked and a waiting list is in operation.

Colleagues are warmly invited to this workshop on external examining, jointly hosted by the English Subject Centre in collaboration with a group of Humanities Subject Centres* and the School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.

The object of this one-day networking event (a recommendation arising from a forum on external examining held by the Subject Centre early in 2010, is to bring together experienced external examiners and colleagues who are undertaking external examining for the first time. We are working on the principle that external examining is an important and highly valued process, but that its importance is by no means fully captured in the contemporary public rhetorics surrounding standards. Rather, external examining (like all assessment) is a form of dialogue, here one carried on between institutions and programmes.

Traditionally, there has been little training for external examiners. Newcomers have relied on a combination of oral tradition, and their own native wit – or in some cases their aptitude to throw their weight around. Institutional training for externals, though sometimes useful, is highly paper and procedure driven. This workshop offers the opportunity to explore – across the Humanities disciplines – the ways in which external examiners can play a constructive role in the dialogue within and between programmes. In the context of the UUK review of external examining the workshop will also be an opportunity to discuss possible future changes in the frameworks which support it. We will concentrate on examining at BA level, though insights may well be gained from taught postgraduate experience. The event will be grounded in the discussion of principles, but with the opportunity to discuss in small groups the operational and pragmatic details of how external examining works. Topics are thus likely to include:

  • Examining in modular programmes
  • The meaning of moderation
  • Understanding different institutions
  • The external examiner as learner
  • How departments and programmes can make best use of their externals


For further information please see the English Subject Centre website.