Academic misconduct (Cheating, plagiarism, collusion, and other such issues)

The University's regulations are not a difficult read, and this page is only here to give you a short overview. Do read the regulations - they're here.

The University Definition:

Academic misconduct is " Any action which could give you, or someone else, an unfair advantage in an assessment, including examinations" .

What are the biggest issues?

  • "Plagiarism" - presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own (for example, not referencing quotes)

  • Allowing "plagiarism" to happen - letting someone else copy your work - do not let any other student see, borrow, or copy your work in case they plagiarise it.

  • "Collusion" - working with another student on an individual assignment and presenting these ideas as your own work (group projects are different - get advice from a tutor if you're not sure)

  • "Contract cheating" - getting someone else to write your assignment for you - the University takes an especially dim view of this sort of thing

  • "Self-plagiarism" - submitting the same piece of work twice for different assignments - if you re-use your own work you must reference it like any other quotation.

The above is not a full list. Click here for complete information.

Why does this matter?

  • UK universities take plagiarism very seriously

  • You can be caught by tutors, by software (like "turnitin"), or even by changes in your writing style

  • The penalties can be very severe

What happens if there's a suspicion?

Your tutor will analyse your assignment and discuss it with your Course Leader.

If they think Academic Misconduct might have happened, they will invite you to a meeting (less formal) or panel (more formal).

They might ask you to do a "viva voce" as well - this is a chance for you to show that your work is your own and involves you answering academic questions about your thinking that went into writing the assessment.

 

What you can do if this happens:

1) Read any documents you're sent.

2) Get advice: we strongly suggest speaking with us and showing us all the documents so we can help you prepare. This is really important if you want to challenge the case against you or want to explain any mitigation.

3) Sometimes, presenting evidence will help your case - we can advise you on this too.

4) You should get at least a week's notice of any meeting or panel: if you want us to go with you, let us know the date, time, and meeting location at once (we're a small team: the more warning we have, the more likely we are to be available for you at the right date and time)

Sometimes, Academic Misconduct is accidental (for example, "I was ill and rushed my work - I forgot to reference properly"). If this is what happened, we'll advise on presenting mitigation.

Sometimes, we will be able to help you argue technicalities either to challenge the case or to reduce a penalty.

What happens at the meeting or panel?

The University will explain what the suspected problem with your work is, and ask for your comments. What you will need to tell them depends on what the issue is - there is no general approach other than to be honest (they're very good at seeing through lies) and to provide evidence of what you're saying if you can.

At any point during the interview, if you feel you need a few minutes on your own, just ask.

After the meeting, the University will decide whether Academic Misconduct happened or not and, if it did, what level of sanction you will be given. You will be informed of the decision within a week (not including days on which the University is closed e.g. bank holidays).

Sanctions

The level of Sanction depends on several factors, such as how much academic experience you have, whether you've had previous academic misconduct, how much of your assessment was affected, whether the University thinks you did it on purpose, and whether you have mitigation.

Appealing the decision

You can appeal the decision within two weeks of it being issued - get urgent advice if you want to make such an appeal.

Where can I get help?

The Student Advice Centre can help you with the following:

  • Advice on the University regulations and procedures
  • Preparing your case and/or a written statement for a meeting/panel
  • Support at meetings or panels

Please contact us at Student Advice Centre to arrange a meeting to discuss your case.