As a number of postgraduates on the taught M.A. programmes come from different educational backgrounds it is worth explaining how the marking procedure in English at Queen’s operates.
All assessed work is ‘blind’ double marked: two internal examiners read the work independently and each assigns it a provisional mark; they then meet and discuss the assessed work and agree a mark for it. The assessed work, the internal examiners’ comments on it, and their marks are then sent to the external examiner who is an expert in the subject from another university. Depending on the size of a module we might send all assessed work from the module, or a representative sample; the external examiner also sees the documentation related to the module and to the M.A. pathway as a whole. The external examiner’s primary responsibility is to ensure that our assessment is in line with assessment elsewhere, and to do that they have to monitor the marks we assign and to comment on broader issues related to individual modules, M.A. pathways and more general procedures and practices within the School and within the university.
If you are used to another system it can seem that it takes a long time for results to be published. The procedure outlined here, however, ensures both that the marks we assign are fair and accurate, and that the programmes we teach are of an appropriate standard. The extra time involved is therefore worthwhile.