chapter  12
Pages 7

Each institution has its own assessment scheme, but the procedures for marking dissertations are pretty much standard throughout the system. In a typical scheme your project will initially be read and graded by a ‘first marker’ who will often be the project supervisor. The project is then read and graded independently by a ‘second marker’ who does not know what the first marker thought of the work. The second marker is usually someone in the department who has some specialist knowledge of the research area, but who may be less familiar with the material than the first marker. The marks assigned by the two markers are compared, and if they are similar a compromise mark, sometimes an arithmetic average of the two individual marks, will be agreed. If the two markers reach substantially different conclusions about the dissertation, and a compromise cannot be achieved, the dissertation will be sent to a ‘third marker’. The third marker studies not only the dissertation but also the comments of the first two markers, and reaches a final decision about the work. The third marker is often an examiner from outside your own institution, and might decide that the only way to adjudicate your work is to interview you. In that case you will be called for a viva. We’ll discuss vivas later in this chapter. Some institutions use an internal third marker, and only use the external examiner to adjudicate in exceptional cases. Other institutions routinely send many dissertations for external assessment.