Comments from BSc IR External Examiners on the 2012-2013 session:
External Examiner A:
As external examiner for the third year running, I remain consistently impressed by the standard of student performance. This year I assessed IR311 The Middle East and International Relations Theory for the first time, giving me a wider familiarity with the courses available for this degree programme. I believe that the consistently high standard of student performance evinces the strength of the degree programme and the courses on offer, and the quality and appropriateness of the teaching. I thought exam questions were particularly well designed this year. The course materials and readings are comparable to similar institutions and subjects in the UK. The exam scripts that I read demonstrated wide knowledge of relevant academic literature and debates, and students consistently marshalled an impressive amount of evidence to substantiate their arguments.
External Examiner B:
The BSc in International Relations is an excellent course which covers the key elements of the discipline of International Relations with intellectual rigour and critical engagement. I was impressed by the general quality of the learning and teaching as demonstrated in the high quality of the scripts which I read and examined. The methods of formal assessment rely primarily on examinations so I did not have the opportunity to examine course work or other forms of formative assessment. Nevertheless, unseen examinations remain a key test of analytical accomplishment and achievement. The standards of student performance were impressive and I read some truly exceptional scripts. I have been external examiner at a number of the leading UK and I would see this as one of the most challenging and demanding of International Relations courses.
External Examiner C:
Overall, the courses I examined enjoy a number of strengths. The majority of students are clearly able to conduct a rigorous analysis of complex academic issues. Judging by the students’ achievements, which fell into the spectrum one would expect in these types of exams and the dissertation, the methods of teaching are of high quality.
However, as I pointed out in the exam board meeting, the Department might want to consider whether setting 3rd year undergraduate exams on the basis of four questions meets the purpose of the exercise. Particularly, since by comparison a typical MSc exam, with questions of similar quality, consists of 3 questions. As a result, 3rd year BSc students in International Relations are, in effect, being set a higher assessment bar than a typical Master student. I have also pointed out that the Department should use the full range of grades, especially when it comes to distinction and above, more generously.