Comments from External Examiners on the 2013-2014 session:
External Examiner A:
I think the number of distinctions on the programme was slightly higher than last year. This seems appropriate since you admit very gifted students onto your programme, and you teach them extremely well. Overall the programme continues to be well administered, well examined, and diligently marked.
Overall the spread of marks on the courses was appropriate. The best work was really excellent, and is testimony to a well taught programme and many excellent students enrolled on it. The double marking processes are robust and work very well indeed. The marking criteria are being consistently applied, and the marking is diligently executed.
Markers’ comments were more consistently legible this year – so I would like to thank markers for their efforts on that front. Issues which arose last year in relation to markers comments around the legibility of handwriting did not manifest themselves this year. I continue to believe having electronic / typed comments as standard – if that is not the current practice – is worth considering.
There was very good practice in evidence from some markers in providing exemplary and very helpful comments. These were instructive in setting the markers’ train of thought and rationale behind the mark given, as mapped onto the marking criteria. Most importantly, however, these comments did a decent job of providing students with feedback as to how they might improve in the future.
Some of the failures on dissertation arose from potentially interesting topics being addressed in delivered in purely descriptive ways. I do not recall that being an issue last year. It may well just have been seeing isolated examples, but it made me wonder about the timing and nature of dissertation advice/supervision. What level of support / advice / supervision is offered to dissertation students to help them avoid getting off on the wrong track? It may be that sensible advice was offered which the failing students neglected to follow.
External Examiner B:
This is a very strong programme. The quality of the essays was really high and assessment was appropriate.
External Examiner C:
This programme continues to be successful in terms of recruitment, student progression and achievement. There are many examples of outstanding student performance, particular with the MSc International Political Economy (LSE & Sciences Po).
I think the role of the external examiner could be more useful if I was provided with more data on student performance across the programme. It is usual in the sector now for examiners to be given data such as the spread of marks, median and standard deviation for each module to allow detailed analysis of student performance in each module as well as comparative analysis across modules for the programme as a whole. I would encourage the Department to provide this detail in future.