This paper is based on an analysis of the role of external examiners and a discussion of the various aspects of the role Fifteen facets of the role have been identified and each facet is discussed with reference to the relevant literature Among the issues discussed are the powers of external examiners in the decision making process, their role as the custodians of standards, and the significance of then- reports The discussion spans four levels of academic awards including diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctoral degree and deals with matters of principle as well as the mass of written and other material which external examiners are faced with Some strengths and weaknesses of the external examining system have been identified and finally a question is raised about its future