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The traditional closed book examination is commonly used within engineering education, yet this approach lacks critical evaluation of achieving the broader purposes of the assessment, supporting wider student learning or promoting diversity within the engineering community.


This QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project, led by Northumbria University in partnership with Warwick University, University of York and Newcastle University, seeks to:


  • challenge and demystify the current reliance on examinations
  • explore the impact of examinations on student behaviour and the effectiveness of learning
  • seek authenticity in examination methods
  • bring awareness of good practice to a wider audience
  • align learning and teaching approaches with assessment methods necessary to maintain standards and quality within outcomes-based programmes through sharing experiences between students, HEIs and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs). 

To conduct their research, the project team are coordinating a series of surveys and workshops involving students, staff, professional body representatives and organisations supporting opportunities for under-represented groups.



  • student views of assessment and feedback; how their approach to examinations links with their confidence in learning
  • staff experiences of assessment by examination which extends beyond knowledge recall, evaluates authentic professional competencies and is seen as offering opportunities for all students to perform to their best ability
  • evaluation of PSRB academic integrity concerns, particularly in the context of individual competency assessment. 

The outcomes of the project will be directly applicable to all UK HEIs teaching all the sub-disciplines of engineering, as well as other applied technical disciplines that use examinations for assessment. The outcomes are anticipated to include advisory material on good practice and supporting training for both PSRBs and HEIs.




Project lead:

Northumbria University


Project partners:

Warwick University, University of York and Newcastle University

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.