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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

6.3.12: Chair's Action

Guidelines for exercising Chair’s Action on behalf of a Board of Examiners

1. Student marks and awards will normally be considered at a quorate Board of Examiners and the University discourages the use of Chair’s action as a routine method of making awards. This is particularly relevant in the context of the discretion conferred by the Core Regulations to Boards to award a higher classification through the exercise of its corporate academic judgement. However it is recognised that in particular limited circumstances it might be necessary from time to time to confirm marks or progression or award students outside these meetings (e.g. to avoid delays that prevent a student progressing to the next year).

2. These guidelines indicate the scope and normal limits to the exercise of Chair’s action on behalf of the Board of Examiners. There may be individual instances of exceptions to these guidelines. Departments should consult with the Academic Support Office on such cases. Authorisation to exercise Chair’s action pertaining to student marks, progression or award not covered by these guidelines is required from the Chair of the Faculty Education Committee (via the Academic Support Office).

3. Chairs' Actions should normally only be used if the next Board of Examiners is more than 6 weeks away, to:

  • approve changes/corrections made to examination papers where these have been agreed by the Board of Examiners (see Learning and Teaching Handbook 6.3.5);
  • fulfil an explicit and minuted Board decision, following completion of an action in respect an individual student (e.g. outcome of a plagiarism panel, completion of an externally assessed test; acceptance of SACs, or awaited evidence of SACs),
  • following resolution of an internal review or appeal;
  • confirm an individual student’s marks for an assessment or module (e.g. for a student returning from a study placement outside the normal Board cycle);
  • correct an error or delay caused by administration processes;
  • to make an exit award following a withdrawal from a course for medical or other serious adverse circumstances outside the control of the student (except where the student falls or, as a result of SACs may fall, within the discretionary zone requiring consideration of discretion by the Board).

 Of the above, an external examiner's approval and signature would usually only be required if circumstances have changed since the last Board the external examiner attended.

 4. Chairs' Action should not normally be taken:

  • to make changes to marks or progression or award decisions for a cohort of students; this includes consideration of resit examinations;
  • to exercise, on behalf of the Board of Examiners, its discretion to award a higher class as defined within the Core Regulations.


The proforma and signed mark sheet produced within Banner should be completed by the Chair of the Board of Examiners, or their representative and forwarded to the Exams team in the Student Registry. Failure to provide all necessary documentation may result in a delay in processing. 

The minutes of the Board of Examiners should record where it has granted authority to the Chair to act on its behalf. Actions taken by the Chair must be reported to the next meeting of the Board of Examiners and the student ID, reason for Chair’s action and outcome minuted.

When considering the input of the External Examiner, the following should be noted:

  • If an External Examiner attended a Board where a student was considered, and Chair’s Action was agreed for a later date, the view of the External Examiner need not be sought again unless the decision has changed radically.
  • Appropriate email correspondence from the External Examiner will be accepted as supporting evidence.
  • the student’s mark profile should be provided to the external examiner(s) where he/she has been asked to confirm an award.