BSc IR External Examiners' comments

Comments from BSc IR External Examiners on the 2014-2015 session:

External Examiner A

Below are the main points having served three years as the external examiners of the Department of International Relations:

  1. The standard of the courses is excellent and choice is varied.
  2. The marking process is sound and rigorous.
  3. Staff could still improve use of the whole spectrum of marking, especially at the upper end of the scale.
  4. I have supported the decision by the Department to move to moderating marks rather than double marking.

External Examiner B

Overall, the standard of undergraduate programmes in the IR Department is very high, in respect to the architecture of the degree, the variety of courses, and the quality and relevance of topics debated. There are no major weaknesses to report in respect to these areas. Based upon the selection of scripts received, the quality and appropriateness of teaching remains sound. The method of assessment is also appropriate for testing student ability. Overall, student performance was highly commendable from the evidence seen.

External Examiner C

I attended the Examination Committee meeting and I was well satisfied that students are treated fairly and equitably. I was also happy with the discussions within the Committee overall. The abilities of the students are truly impressive and the academic maturity they demonstrate in exam scripts and dissertations suggest that they are benefiting from high quality teaching in the School.

I am glad to learn that the examiner’s suggestion last year of a dissertation prize has been taken on board and look forward to further developments in the provision of feedback to students on the dissertation. Of course, feedback is widely identified as one of the most important factors in effective learning. The dissertation is a significant piece of work on the part of the students and for the department it is important in assisting the delivery of certain aims of the degree program.

I was concerned in my first year of examining by the low number of firsts, 11%, because like institutions have percentages that are around the 20% mark. So my first question to MH was to ask about the percentage of firsts this year. The answer was 21%. Wonderful! However, I would urge that this be monitored and an assessment be performed as to the ‘whys’ of these numbers year to year. I understand from Mark that this is on the radar.

Finally, I must comment on the evolution of IR100 under Iver Neumann. This is so much more than a survey of IR course! It is truly masterful in what it does. I have never read a better exam paper and the work it generated in the exam scripts was ever so sophisticated for IR at this level.