Friday, 20 June 2014

Durham today, Warrington tomorrow

Just back from another catherdralled city, Durham, and the Earth Science department at the University there where I've spent the last two days as "external examiner" for the Environmental Geoscience BSc.

The great Durham cathedral, almost as wonderful as our own York Minster!
External examining is an important aspect of the UK academic system. Colleagues from other institutes look at a particular degree programme and highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. This generally involves reviewing exam papers before they are set and then, after the exams, sitting in a room full of boxes of paper, looking at exam answers, course work and marks. All told the degrees and students were excellent.

An anonymous room, somewhere in Durham full of geology and earth science exam scripts

It's not all hard work of course. External examining is a great opportunity to meet colleagues and spread good practice between departments. The department took us to an excellent Italian restaurant, Oro, and put us up at the Seven Stars which was very comfy and welcoming and where the externals were able to discuss the important question of whether it was better to sample the Lagavulin before or after the Laphroaig!

External examiners Douglas Paton (Leeds, Uni), myself, Ian Alsop (Aberdeen Uni) and Iain Stuart (Plymouth Uni) considering the merits of Glen Kinchie, Lagavulin, Highland Park and Laphroaig in the bar of the Seven Stars.
Now I'm back at base and preparing for this evenings lecture on earthworms and climate change in Warrington, feel free to pop in if you're passing!

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