Comments from External Examiners on the 2013-2014 session:
External Examiner A:
The MSc International Relations provides students with a solid knowledge of the theoretical core of the subject and a wide range of optional modules that enables specialisation and choice. Students develop a systematic knowledge of the subject area and acquire the necessary analytical and conceptual resources through which to think about international relations in a sophisticated and erudite way.
A particularly strong feature of the work I have seen is the ability of students to apply (often leading-edge) theoretical work to a range of contemporary international political issues. Students frequently produced excellent work that conveys a depth of knowledge and analysis and (through the dissertation in particular) the capacity for further research.
Students taking this degree can be confident that they are registered on a world-class programme of study and that they have the opportunity to gain a first rate education in the subject.
External Examiner B:
Overall, all the examination materials and processes I have assessed as external have been of a very high quality. I would raise the following issue I encountered, consideration of which might have value for both students and faculty. One set of markers’ comments for an examination paper I looked at criticised a student for significant overlap between answers. This was a fair criticism, but the student’s mistake to some extent reflected potential overlaps between the topics covered by the exam questions. Thus:
• While some overlap is inevitable, particularly in specialised elective course, faculty should try to combine exam questions in ways that avoid it as much as possible and maximise students’ opportunity to provide clear, separate answers.
• Students should be aware of the danger of losing marks because of overlap between answers. In revision and selecting which questions to address on exam day, they should plan to avoid repetition and demonstrate their breadth of reading and understanding.