Appointment and induction

Information about the appointment process of external examiners at the University of Surrey and its associated and accredited institutions. You can also find guidance for external examiners on how to access and view samples of student work, feedback, grades, programme and module information in SurreyLearn.

If you have any queries, please email

External examiner appointment process

New appointments are made before the start of the academic year. All external examiners for undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes are appointed for four academic years starting on 1 October.

The overall responsibilities for the selection of potential external examiners process lie with the Associate Dean (Education), who should liaise with Heads of Department/School and Programme Directors in identifying suitable candidates.

Academic Quality Services will send regular updates detailing which appointments are due to expire/have expired and need to be replaced. 

Nomination Form for external examiner appointments (docx).

  • Section A of the Nomination Form should be completed and signed by the candidate
  • Section B should be completed by the programme team.

Please include scanned copy of current original passport. 

The completed nomination documentation should be checked and signed off by the Associate Dean (Education). It is extremely important that all appointments are unreciprocated, impartial and made in accordance with the the University of Surrey's Code of practice for external examining: taught programmes.

Paragraphs 13-14 of the Code of practice for external examining: taught programmes give the full criteria for the appointment of external examiners, however please note the following scenarios within which individuals cannot act as external examiners:

  • Former staff or students of the University or its associated and accredited institutions unless a period of five years has elapsed and all students taught by or with the external examiner have completed their programme(s)
  • The succession of an external examiner by a colleague from the examiner's home department and institution
  • A reciprocal arrangement involving cognate programmes at another institution.

After initial approval by the faculty, documentation for all external examiner candidates should be sent electronically to  

The nomination documentation is processed by a relevant Academic Quality Officer in Academic Quality Services (AQS). Nominations are then approved, if they meet the criteria in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Code of practice for external examining: taught programmes, by AQS on behalf of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education.

A bi-annual report on new external examiner appointments is submitted to the Senate Progression and Conferment Executive (SPACE) for subsequent endorsement, and after that the formal approval process is completed.

Academic Quality Services (AQS) will send official letters of appointment to external examiners, which define the terms and period of their employment, including the annual honorarium and any other relevant fee if applicable.

All newly appointed external examiners are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the induction training materials available on this webpage. 

Introduction to your role as external examiner at Surrey

Our Welcome to the University of Surrey (PDF) guide includes a brief overview of the University infrastructure, including senior management team and the academic management structure, semester periods, latest information on our University standings on league tables, etc.

Our Reference points and regulations (PDF) guide provides an overview of the University's Education Strategy, modular structure of taught programmes and key points of the assessment regulations and the Code of practice for assessment and feedback.   

Our Key roles and responsibilities (PDF) guide provides a brief description of University expectations of the external examiner’s role and duties, with a reference to the Code of practice for external examining.

View the Timeline overview (PDF) to see an overview of the timeline for external examiners.

Download the Communication with external examiners as part of the assessment process (PDF) to see sample of student work for external verification, Board of Examiners’ agenda and documentation (including BoE “live” reports), exams periods and time schedules, including availability of marked student work (samples) in SurreyLearn for external examiners.

How to use SurreyLearn

What is SurreyLearn?

SurreyLearn is the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE). It is a secure online environment which can be used in a wide variety of ways to enhance learning and teaching. Typically it is used to provide easy access to up to date and relevant learning materials, module and programme information and guidance, supplemented by activities such as discussion forums, quizzes or tests, and online assignments.

To improve the external examining process, external examiners are able to access all applicable assessments (coursework, exams, class tests, etc) and their feedback/grades via SurreyLearn.

To access SurreyLearn you will need an internet connection and a PC / Mac. SurreyLearn is also fully mobile friendly and can be used across devices such as iPads, Android phones and iPhones. SurreyLearn should work on all up to date versions of operating systems and browsers.

Please be aware that external examiner access to the online submissions in SurreyLearn is not 100% read-only. There is a small risk of changing the grades, so please take care not to adjust any scores.

In order to access external examiner’s materials in SurreyLearn, including samples of student work, feedback and grades, you need to activate your SurreyLearn account. If you have not yet done so, please follow these steps below:

  1. Activating your Surrey Account to access SurreyLearn:
  1. Creating a password and a username:
  • From the next screen you will see your Username – you will need to take a note of your Username at this point.
  • You will now need to create your password (please see the rules below for acceptable passwords).
  • Please keep a note of your password and a username and keep this information safe.
  • Tick and agree to the University IT Acceptable Use Policy.

Please be aware that after account activation it may take up to 24 hours before you are able to log into SurreyLearn. If you require any further assistance, please contact the University of Surrey IT Service Desk at:

If you need further help with setting up your username, or of you forgot your password or username, please contact the Surrey IT Service Desk - 01483 689898.

After successfully logging into SurreyLearn you should be able to find your faculty/school/department external examiners' site that will contain general information plus the handbooks, module and grade descriptors, etc for your modules. Where applicable it may also contain exam/class test scripts and associated moderation documents. It may also contain samples of coursework submissions and their feedback/grades where relevant.

NOTE: if you do not see your departmental external examiners area please contact your link Assessments Administrator.

Alongside the departmental external Examiners area you will also have access to areas for each of your modules for which you are responsible. These will contain all the online coursework submissions (and SurreyLearn based test attempts where applicable) for this module plus also the allocated feedback and grades. You will also be able to view and access all the learning and teaching course materials used for these modules.

You may also still be able to see the module areas that you reviewed in previous years - please review the navigation guide to ensure that you select the correct version of the correct module.

NB: if you do not see your allocated module areas, please contact your link Assessments Administrator. The external examiner’s module registration in SurreyLearn is a manual process and is managed by your assessment admin team.

Within each module area you'll have access to all the assessment submissions. However the sample you need to review will have been indicated (i.e. 'flagged') so to make them easier for you to find. Follow the guidance in the video tutorial on how to access your flagged samples, or follow the steps below:

  1. Within the relevant module area in SurreyLearn, select 'Assessment' from the toolbar
  2. Choose 'Assignments' from the menu
  3. Choose the relevant submission folder from the list
  4. Select the 'Submissions' tab
  5. If submissions are not already displayed, select 'Show Search Options' to show the search options
  6. In the 'Flag Status' drop-down menu, choose 'Files with flags' and then select the search/magnifying glass to initiate the search
  7. The flagged submissions (i.e. the sample) will then be displayed.

If you require further help with accessing your selected sample for external verification, please login to SurreyLearn and then go to the TEL hub support and guidance website, where you can find screenshots and video tutorials. For additional help and support, please contact your link assessment administrator. 

Please note that module leaders might leave feedback on student work directly in SurreyLearn or they may choose to use Turnitin Feedback Studio, or a combination of both, depending on their preference and the specific piece of assessment.

View the video tutorial about how to access this feedback, or follow the steps below:

I. Accessing feedback via SurreyLearn

  1. After filtering the submissions to just show the sample for that module, select the relevant student's file name to access their submitted coursework. If the student has submitted more than one document, you may need to review them all.
  2. The left-side of the screen will show the content of that student's submitted coursework document, where applicable (some file types do not open natively within SurreyLearn - you may need to download the file to open it instead).
  3. The grade and SurreyLearn feedback (where applicable) will be shown on the right-side of the screen. This feedback may consist of:
    1. a marking rubric - select the link to open it in a resizeable and moveable pop-up window
    2. the grade for the piece of work
    3. general text-based feedback
    4. any uploaded feedback document(s) - select the document's filename to open / download them.

II. Accessing feedback via Turnitin Feedback Studio

1. In addition to any SurreyLearn based feedback, the module tutor(s) may have chosen to provide feedback via Turnitin Feedback Studio. If this is the case, select 'Markup Document' (e) to access this feedback.

2. The feedback in Turnitin Feedback Studio (where applicable) may be left in a number of ways:

    1. annotations/comments - select one of the floating boxes to view the annotation/comment
    2. feedback summary - this may consist of a voice audio comment or general text comment
    3. grading form / rubric - module tutor(s) can design their own marking criteria and use this form / rubric to provide feedback.

3. After reviewing this student's submission, close the Feedback Studio browser tab/window and you'll be taken back to SurreyLearn.

4. Select the 'Back to Folder Submissions' button to return to the list of students. NOTE - you will need to repeat the filter by flag process to only show the flagged submissions, and move onto the next student.

If you require further help with accessing your selected sample for external verification, please login to SurreyLearn and then go to the TEL hub support and guidance website, where you can find screenshots and video tutorials. For additional help and support, please contact your link assessment administrator. 

In addition to being able to access the coursework submissions and the feedback to students and grades, external examiners can also access online class-test and exam submissions where these have been uploaded/facilitated via SurreyLearn.

View a video tutorial, or follow the steps below:

  1. Within the relevant module area in SurreyLearn, select 'Assessment' from the toolbar
  2. Choose 'Tests' from the menu
  3. Alongside the relevant test in the list, select the corresponding black arrow
  4. Choose 'Grade' from the menu
  5. The list of student attempts will appear. You should have previously been provided with a list of the students within the sample - type a student's name into the search box and click on the magnifying glass to find their graded script.
  6. For the relevant student, select 'attempt 1' (or the most recent attempt where applicable) beneath their name
  7. The marked script will then be displayed. This shows you:
    • the name of the student
    • the date that student took the test, the duration of the test and the time that student took to complete the test
    • the grade the student achieved for that test
    • any feedback provided by the tutor
    • the class test/exam may consist of various question types. For multiple choice questions, each question with possible answers are shown and the following marking key:
      • 'Tick' = indicates the answer the student chose  was correct
      • 'Cross' = indicates the answer the student chose was incorrect
      • 'Arrow' = indicates the correct answer if the student chose an incorrect answer
    • each question's individual score, including whether the marker subsequently adjusted the score
  8. After reviewing the student's graded attempt, select 'Cancel' at the bottom of the screen and search for the next student.

If you require further help with accessing your selected sample for external verification, please login to SurreyLearn and then go to the TEL hub support and guidance website, where you can find screenshots and video tutorials. For additional help and support, please contact your link assessment administrator. 

Depending on the specific assessment, there are occasions when a module tutor may provide grades and feedback to the students via SurreyLearn even when the students don't actually submit their coursework online. An example situation may be where the students perform a live presentation and the tutor provides feedback via SurreyLearn. The process by which external examiners access this feedback (and potentially the piece of assessment) differs from the standard process.

View a video tutorial, or follow the steps below:

  1. Within the relevant module area in SurreyLearn, select 'Progress' from the toolbar
  2. Based on the student sample list you should have previously received, select a student from the class list or search for a particular student via the Search box (click on the magnifying glass icon to initiate the search).
  3. Select 'Assignments' from the list of tools on the left-hand side.
  4. Under the relevant coursework title, choose 'Details'.
  5. The grade and feedback provided for that student will be shown. Click on any attached documents to open / download them.