Academic Services

Section A: roles and responsibilities

Regulations 1 - 10: Boards of Examiners, markers, External Examiners and avoiding conflict of interest

Regulation 1 Board of Examiners: responsibility for courses and programmes

Every course and degree programme is the responsibility of a Board of Examiners.

Application of the regulation


1.1     Schools assign each course and degree programme to a Board of Examiners.  This is done via a Board of Studies or equivalent committee.

1.2 Guidance on Boards of Examiners

1.3 In the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the College of Science and Engineering, Schools are responsible for the award of their General/Ordinary Degrees.

Regulation 2 Examiners: appointment

Examiners are appointed to the Board of Examiners by the relevant College. There are internal examiners, who are staff of the University nominated by the relevant Head of School, and External Examiners.

Application of the regulation

2.1 Policy, principle and operational guidance for Boards of Examiners

2.2 The list of examiners making up each Board is certified by the Head of the College, or their nominee, and is definitive unless an appeal to the relevant College committee is made by an interested party challenging the composition of the Board.

2.3 Heads of Schools inform the College Office of the names of those internal and External Examiners who it is proposed will constitute the Board. For the December diet of examinations this is by 1 November and for later diets it is by 15 January.  Names are made available by the College Office on request. Where there is more than one diet of examination in an academic year the Board need not comprise the same examiners for each diet. Any objection to the proposed examiners must be made to the Head of College or their nominee in good time before the relevant exam diet. Complete final lists of examiners are maintained by the relevant College Office and are available for inspection by members of staff.

2.4 Internal examiners are teaching and/or honorary staff of the University who teach SCQF level 7 to 12 courses which are awarded for credit and are listed in the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study.

Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study

​​​​​2.5 Honorary staff in this context include:

  • Teachers and senior staff from partner schools to the Moray House School of Education and Sport;
  • Academic staff from research pooling partners who are appointed as an internal examiner by APRC on the basis of a recommendation from the relevant College;
  • and NHS staff.

2.6 External examiners are appointed by Colleges. Their roles, powers and responsibilities are set out in the External Examiners for Taught Programmes Policy.

Regulation 3 Markers: appointment

The Head of School has responsibility for appointing markers who contribute to the marking process. Markers are not members of the Board of Examiners.

Application of the regulation

3.1 Markers can be people who are not covered in taught assessment regulation 2.  They can also be members of staff who have a very limited input to the teaching of a course or programme who are not members of the Board of Examiners.  Examples of markers are graduate tutors marking tutorial, laboratory or examination work, or members of professions or guest speakers who may contribute to student assessment.

3.2 Information regarding the role of Conveners of Boards of Examiners is available in the Handbook for Boards of Examiners for Taught Courses and Programmes.

Regulation 4 Convener of the Board of Examiners: appointment

The Head of School that owns the programme or course has responsibility for appointing the Convener of the Board of Examiners, the Convener of the Progression Board and the Convener of the Special Circumstances Committee.

Application of the regulation

4.1 The Head of School informs the College Office about the appointment of the Convener by the beginning of the relevant Semester for the Board of Examiners responsible for courses assessed in each Semester, and by the beginning of Semester 2 for the Board responsible for programme decisions for each programme.       

4.2 For combined (formerly joint) degrees the “owning” Head of School liaises with other relevant Heads of School. In the case of any disagreement on the appointment of a Convener of a combined Board of Examiners, the Convener is nominated by the relevant Heads of College or their nominee.

4.3 Programme Directors, Cohort Leads and Course Organisers are not the Convener of the Board of Examiners for their programmes or courses. This is to ensure appropriate separation of roles. If the Convener is also a Course Organiser, formal chairing of the Board of Examiners is delegated to another member of the Board for discussion of that course.

4.4 Undergraduate Progression Boards Policy and Special Circumstances Policy:

Regulation 5 Number of External Examiners

At least one External Examiner is appointed for all undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses and programmes.

Application of the regulation

5.1 The number of External Examiners is determined by the volume and diversity of the academic work contributing to the course or programme or the award of the degree. More than one External Examiner may be needed where there are a large number of students, the course or programme covers a wide range of studies and/or a large volume of academic work contributing to the course or programme.


5.2 It is the responsibility of the Head of the College or relevant College Committee to ensure that all elements which contribute to the award of a degree from the University are represented by the appropriate number of External Examiners.

Regulation 6 External Examiners: responsibilities

External Examiners must be competent and have the requisite experience to examine the course or programme at the level at which it is taught. They must meet the requirements, roles and responsibilities that are set out in the External Examiners for Taught Programmes Policy:

Application of the regulation

6.1 The University’s External Examiners for Taught Programmes Policy outlines the purposes and functions of External Examiners; their selection, qualification, appointment and period of service; their participation in assessment and examination procedures; and their discussion of course structure, assessment process and degree schemes.


6.2 External Examiners need to be given sufficient information and samples of different forms of assessments as evidence on which to base their advice.

6.3 The Handbook for Boards of Examiners for Taught Courses and Programmes sets out the responsibilities of Conveners of Boards of Examiners in ensuring External Examiners’ contributions to the assessment process. For example, as part of the formal proceedings of the Board, External Examiners are invited to comment on the structure, content, teaching and examinations of the courses they examine.

Regulation 7 Examiners and markers: responsibilities 

Examiners and markers need to meet the responsibilities set out in the assessment and degree regulations and comply with quality and standards requirements.

Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study

Application of the regulation

7.1 The Convener of the Board of Examiners will specify responsibilities and requirements to examiners and markers (see taught assessment regulation 6). In particular, examiners and markers need to meet deadlines, attend relevant meetings and participate in standard-setting discussions when required.

Regulation 8 Convener of the Board of Examiners: responsibilities

The Convener of the Board of Examiners has responsibility for the assessment process for courses and programmes covered by the Board and for ensuring that the Board operates within university regulations.

Application of the regulation

8.1 The responsibilities of the Convener of the Board of Examiners are outlined in the Handbook for Boards of Examiners for Taught Courses and Programmes:


These include:

          (a)          approving the content of examination papers, taking account of the comments of External Examiners;

          (b)          the security of and arrangements for setting papers and assessments, including the robustness of and resources for electronic assessment; examining and marking assessed work; and processing and storing marks and grades;

          (c)          the quality and standards of marking;

          (d)          ensuring all examiners and markers are aware of their responsibilities;

          (e)          effective operation of the meeting of the Board and the Special Circumstances Committee;

          (f)           participation of the External Examiners;

          (g)          accurate recording, minuting and reporting of decisions of the Board; and

          (h)      meeting relevant deadlines.

8.2 Conveners must act in accordance with these Taught Assessment Regulations; the Degree Regulations and Programme of Study; and the External Examiners for Taught Programmes Policy.

Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study


8.3 In practice, Conveners may delegate operation of some responsibilities to Course Organisers, Programme Directors and School Teaching Organisations. They are supported by the Regulations Expert. See taught assessment regulation 9.

Boards of Examiners policies and guidance

8.4  Definitions of some of the main terms used in assessment are given in the Glossary of Terms:

Glossary of Terms (pdf)

Regulation 9 Regulations Experts on Board of Examiners: responsibilities

Schools appoint one or more Regulations Expert whose remit is to be an immediate source of knowledge and advice about the relevant university regulations and guidance and their academic application.

Application of the regulation

9.1 The responsibilities of the Regulations Expert are outlined in the Handbook for Boards of Examiners for Taught Courses and Programmes:


9.2 A Regulations Expert either attends or is available to all meetings of the Board of Examiners and ensures that the relevant regulations and guidance are available for reference at all meetings.

9.3 The Regulations Expert does not need to be a member of the Board of Examiners.  Schools may appoint a Regulations Expert to operate across the School or across a number of Boards of Examiners.

Regulation 10 Avoiding potential conflicts of interest

No member of University of Edinburgh staff, internal examiner, External Examiner, or marker shall be involved in any assessment or examination in which they have a personal interest, for example a current or previous personal, family or legal relationship with a student being assessed.

Application of the regulation

10.1 If in doubt as to whether there is a potential conflict of interest, the Convener of the Board of Examiners and the Head of School will be consulted. The Head of School may seek advice from the Head of College.


10.2 The External Examiners for Taught Programmes Policy is relevant: 


10.3 The University’s Policy on Conflict of Interest is also relevant​​​​​​​: