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Information for Schools




In the event that the Courts of External Examiners are conducted virtually by MS Teams, it is recommended that External Examiners be provided with access to Blackboard in advance of examination session.


1. What is the role of External Examiners?

  • External Examiners are individuals appointed by the Senior Lecturer (Dean of Undergraduate Studies) or the Dean of Graduate Studies to provide impartial and independent advice on degree awarding standards, on student achievement in relation to those standards and on benchmarking of the Trinity education programmes against those of comparable universities.

  • The role of External Examiners as defined by the External Examiner Policy (April 2018) is to evaluate if academic standards are being maintained, ensure examination regulations are followed, moderate on borderline cases and ensure that individual students are treated fairly.

  • The minimum requirement at Trinity is for external examining of the degree awarding years of programmes. Additional requirements vary across schools and disciplines, and may be subject to the requirements of external accreditation bodies.

  • The scope of external examining differs across Trinity Schools and detail on the role within specific Schools can be found in the Role of External Examiners in Trinity Schools.

  • The term of appointment of external examiners is three years, with the possibility of extension for a further fourth and final year at the discretion of the relevant Dean and will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

2. What are the responsibilities of Schools in the External Examiner Process?

- General responsibilities

  • The responsibilities of Schools are outlined in the External Examiner Policy (April 2018) and the associated Undergraduate and Postgraduate process maps (refer Key Resources page).

  • New Programme/Streams/Modules Approval: Schools are responsible for ensuring that all new academic programmes/streams/modules have budget approval for the appointment of new external examiners (if required), by the relevant Faculty Dean.

  • Continuing Programmes/Streams/Modules: Schools are responsible for ensuring that all continuing programmes/streams/modules have external examiners nominated, appointed and approved in line with College approval processes [see below for more detail].

  • Schools are responsible for documenting their own internal quality assurance practices that support the external examiner process including those that support:
    • drafting of examination questions (summative and supplemental exams), internal quality assurance of draft exam scripts prior to their review by external examiners, and responding to recommendation for change, made by the external examiner;
    • marking of exam scripts, including the drafting of model answers, rubrics/grading scales, checking of marks allocated, annotation of scripts, double and blind marking, internal and external moderation of marks, marking of dissertations or projects including those marked by supervisors external to Trinity;
    • process for provision of standardised feedback to students on continuous assessment;
    • process for provision of access to exam scripts to students under EU-GDPR regulations;
    • checking the accuracy of marks entered into College systems and of summary statistical data provided to Court of Examiners.

  • Schools are required to provide all the information necessary for the external examiner to perform their examining duties in a timely manner and prior to their arrival in College.

  • Schools are encouraged to facilitate opportunities for external examiners to meet with cohorts of students as part of their annual visit.

- Nomination and Appointment of External Examiners

  • Call for External Examiner Nominations: Heads of School in consultation with Course Co-Ordinators and Directors of Teaching and Learning (Undergraduate and Postgraduate) are asked to respond to the Call for External Examiner nominations in Hilary Term (Jan-Mar) every year. The call is conducted by Trinity Teaching & Learning (for Undergraduate programmes) and the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (for Postgraduate Programmes). The process for selection and appointment of External Examiners should follow advice set out in the External Examiners Policy.

  • Required documentation: A completed nomination form and a curricula vitae for each nominated external examiner should be submitted to the relevant Dean, for approval on behalf of Council.

  • Approval Process: A Consolidated List of External Examiners (for Undergraduate Programmes) or the Dean of Graduate Studies Annual Report (for taught postgraduate programmes) is submitted for noting by University Council.

  • Matters that require approval by the relevant Dean:
    • In exceptional circumstances an approved external examiner may require to be replaced during the term of office (temporarily or for the remainder of a term) or be extended for a fourth and final year. In this instance, a nomination form and a curriculum vitae for the temporary /replacement nominee examiner or a request for extension using the approved nomination form should be submitted to the relevant Dean for approval.
    • In exceptional circumstances an approved external examiner may not be able to attend the annual session of the court of examiners and may request to attend remotely (refer 7.6.5 of External Examiner Policy).

- Payment of External Examiners

  • Schools are responsible for payment of External Examiners - All External Examiners when making their first claim for fees and expenses, are required to complete a External Examiner Requisition Payment Form (Excel format). The External Examiner must provide their PPS Number to facilitate payment through HR Payroll. Tax is deducted at source for the fee component of the payment, while expenses continue to be paid tax free. All payments are made in euro's.
  • External Examiners resident outside the Republic of Ireland - under the new regulations Non Irish domiciled External Examiners must apply for a a PPS Number in order to facilitate payment and taxation i.e. . The PPS Number application process must be completed prior to submitting the External Examiner Requisition Payment Form (Excel format) which is used for payment of fees and reimbursement of expenses. Details should be in euro's and hard-copy of receipts should be attached to the form. If the External Examiner does not apply for a PPS Number, they must provide a 'Date of Birth' and 'Home Address' to facilitate the processing of payment, however, they will be subject to a higher level of tax for days worked in Ireland. Information for PPS numbers can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/12e6de-get-a-personal-public-service-pps-number. The application form is entitled 'PPS Number Exceptional Registration Application Form'. Please note that the application form entitled 'PPS Number Third Party consent form' does not apply.

  • Due to the nature of personal sensitive data required for the application for a PPSN number, the Trinity Data Protection Officer has instructed that Schools staff cannot facilitate the application process for PPSN numbers on behalf on External Examiners nor can  they receive PPSN numbers for External Examiners directly from the Department of Social Protection.
  • The External Examiner Requisition Form and any hard-copy receipts of expenses must be returned to the designated contact person in the School for validation prior to forward processing by HR Payroll. HR Payroll do not accept completed forms from External Examiners.

- External Examiners Personal Data and GDPR

  • The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25 May 2018. Under the new regulation, Schools are responsible for the lawful processing of external examiners information in compliance with the EU-GDPR and the College Records Management Policy, this includes personal data obtained through nomination forms, curriculum vitae and payment requisitions forms e.g. Bank details, PPS numbers. The new regulation require that Trinity responds to external examiners on request to inform them what personal data is held by college and how it is used, stored, and disposed.

- Students Assessed Work as Personal Data and GDPR

  • The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect on 25 May 2018 recognises student assessed work as personal data. The impact of this is that Schools and Departments are required to put in place additional protections i.e. encryption and secure data transfer when transferring students assessed work e.g. exam scripts to external examiners. The 'Procedure for electronic transfer to External Examiners of students' exam scripts and coursework' to students assessed work outlines the appropriate platforms to be used. Of note is that Dropbox and Googledocs are not to be used as they are public cloud services.
  • Schools should provide the necessary instructions to external examiner on the storage, security and disposal of downloaded soft copy or printed hard copies of scripts, continuous assessment e.g. essays, projects or dissertations (refer to Terms and Conditions of Data Processing by External Examiners).
  • All Schools are asked to include the 'Terms and Conditions' as part of the induction package for new External Examiners.

- Court of Examiners

  • Court of Examiner Dates: Schools are responsible for providing dates for courts of examiners to Academic Registry on an annual basis. This information is used by Quality Office and the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies to monitor the return of external examiner annual reports within the eight week time-frame of completion of external examiner duties.

  • Attendance at Court of Examiners: External examiners are required to attend at least one meeting per academic year of the Court of Examiners of which they are a member. The revisions to the External Examiner Policy (April 2018) make provision for remote attendance by external examiners at supplemental courts of examiners and under exceptional circumstances with the approval of the relevant Dean, at the annual court of examiners session.

  • Conduct of Undergraduate Courts of Examiners: Guidance on role and composition of Undergraduate Courts of Examiners, refer to the new procedure.

  • School are required to formally record key quality issues discussed at the court of examiner meetings in order to supplement the External Examiners reports (University Council 14 January 2015).

- External Examiners Annual Reports

  • Schools are asked to ensure External Examiners are provided with a copy of the current template for the external examiners annual report. It is available in Word and PDF format in the Key Resources section of this website.

  • Schools are asked to promote the designated email address externreports@tcd.ie to external examiners to submit their annual report and ask them identify the report as UG or PGT in the subject row of the email to facilitate delivery within College and recording by central administrative units- Quality Office and Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

  • In the event that that Schools receive reports directly from the External Examiners, they are asked to email the report to externreports@tcd.ie so they can be processed appropriately by Quality Office and Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

  • Central Quality Folder: External Examiners Annual Reports are stored in the Central Quality Folder administered by the Quality Office. Permissions to access the folder are approved by the Head of School. Staff with access permissions can download and save External Examiner reports to their local directory, but do not have permissions to upload, delete or move the report from the designated folder. If additional or changes to current agreed permissions to access the folder is required, please email amurray@tcd.ie and cc. quality.officer@tcd.ie. A guide to map the access to the central Quality Folder can be found on the Key Resources webpage.

  • Schools are asked to respond in writing to the external examiner addressing any recommendations arising from the report and detailing actions to be taken in response, if any. If the School elects not to action the external examiners recommendation they should provide the reasons for their decision in their response.

  • The Head of School, Director of Teaching & Learning (UG or PGT) or Programme Director upon request of the relevant Dean are requested to meet to discuss recommendations raised by external examiners in the annual reports.

- Monitoring and Reporting on the External Examiner Process

  • Undergraduate External Examiner Reports: The peak time for receipt of External Examiner reports for UG programmes is May-September. In order to encourage earlier return of annual reports, it is proposed to use the date of Publication of Exam Results each year as the trigger to prompt External Examiners to return their annual reports. The first reminder from Schools to External Examiners is two weeks following the Publication of Exam Results. This is to be followed by a second reminder within another two weeks, i.e. one month post the Publication of Exam Results.

  • A second follow-up will be conducted to coincide with the response by Schools to the Annual Faculty Quality Report at the start of Hilary Term (in January of the next academic year). This data can also be used to inform the Senior Lecturer Annual Report.

  • Taught Postgraduate Annual Reports: The peak time for receipt of External Examiner Reports for PG taught programmes is September-December (a small number of PG programmes run over an 18 month timeframe with the Courts of Examiners for these programmes occurring either in September or March). The Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies will run a report on all outstanding reports in January of the same academic year to coincide with response by Schools to the Annual Faculty Quality Report.

  • Athena Swan and External Examiners: Trinity College Dublin at the institutional level is the recipient of the Athena Swan Bronze Award. Trinity Faculties and Schools are engaged in efforts to secure Athena Swan accreditation and the proportion of female External Examiners is information that Schools can collect and monitor to support their application for accreditation.
  • The Quality Office will run a report on all outstanding reports at the start of the next academic year (in September) and provide this information to Schools who are asked to do a third follow-up with the External Examiner to secure submission of outstanding reports via the externreports@tcd.ie mailbox where it can be processed and records updated.
  • A final follow-up will be conducted to coincide with the response by Schools to the Annual Faculty Quality Report at the start of Hilary Term (in January of the next academic year). This data can also be used to inform the Senior Lecturer Annual Report.

3. Information required for New External Examiners

The Information for NEW External Examiners should contain the following documents:

  • Letter of invite for Irish domicile and non-Irish domicile External Examiners.
  • External Examiner Payment Requisition Form for requests for payment of fees and reimbursement of expenses to be filled out after each visit and sent, together with any receipts to the School. Receipted expenses must also be denoted in Euro's with non-domiciled External Examiners using local conversion rates.
  • Please note: 
    • Electronic bank transfer payments are to SEPA compliant accounts only.  Non-SEPA compliant accounts are issued by cheque, and thus Bank A/C details are not required on the External Examiner Payments Requisition Form from non-SEPA-compliant accounts. Both 'Date of Birth' and 'Home Address' must be included, along with details of fees and expenses (in Euro's)
    • HR Payroll - Casual Payroll deadline dates
    • Correctly completed payment request and received on time by Payroll Services are made one month in arrears,

4. Need Help?

    Please refer to the table below for the appropriate person to help you with your query:

    My need relates to:

    The correct contact person is:

    Nomination, Extensions, Replacement of External Examiners for UG Programmes for the Consolidated List for UG external examiners

    Stephanie Reilly TTL, ext. 3399
    Email: reillys8@tcd.ie

    Nomination, Extensions, Replacement of External Examiners for taught Postgraduate programmes

    Catherine Allen,
    Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies, ext.2722
    Email: deanssec@tcd.ie

    Permissions to access to the Central Quality Folder

    Head of School

    Payroll Services for claims and queries

    Email: payrollservice@tcd.ie

    Approved changes to access permissions to Central Quality Folder

    Amy Murray in Quality Office ext. 2618
    Email: amurray@tcd.ie and cc: Quality.Officer@tcd.ie