Part L of the University General Regulations sets out what will happen if you are accused of an Academic Offence and the possible penalties that may be applied to you if you are found guilty.
Examples of academic offence include:
- Plagiarism: you have tried to pass someone else’s work off as your own, without referencing or citing its owner.
- Cheating: taking notes into exams, copying off your neighbour, using equipment not permitted in the exam, getting hold of an exam paper before the exam.
- Collusion: you work with another student on an assignment and then hand it in as your own/ the other student hands it in as their own work (doesn’t apply to assessments set as group work) – if proven both students will be penalised.
- Misleading material: using data which has been invented or unfairly obtained or using work which you have had assessed previously without referencing it, paying or asking another person to write or assist with the work.
- Misconduct in research: inventing data, misrepresenting data or interests or involvement (or all of them), or not following procedures set out for you. Allowing unreasonable risk or harm to research subjects or participants or the environment e.g., improper handling of personal information collected during your research.
As of 28 April 2022, it became a criminal offence to provide, or arrange (including via any advertisement) for another person to provide, contract cheating services (i.e., essay mills) for financial gain. These companies are now illegal. It is vital that students seek appropriate support from within the University (i.e., Personal Tutor, Student Support Centre) if they are struggling with assessments.
How to avoid committing an academic offence
Any assignments not assigned as group work should be your work and yours alone.
Make sure all books, journals and internet sources are referenced and properly cited in the text. Neglecting to reference properly may result in you being penalised. If you are not sure about how to reference properly, the library website contains handbooks on how to reference in various styles and you can make an appointment with or email your subject librarian to discuss questions about these.
Extenuating circumstances cannot be used to excuse committing an academic offence. If something has happened which is affecting your ability to do your work then you can go to your tutor and negotiate an extension or hand in the work you have done, then apply to redo the work through extenuating circumstances.
What happens when an academic offence is found to be proven?
The University Academic Offences Committee will recommend to the Board of Examiners whether to restore the right to reassessment and you will receive one of 8 possible penalties:
- No action is taken
- You receive a warning
- A mark of zero is received for a) the piece of work or exam for which the offence was committed, b) every assessed piece of work in the unit/module (the most common penalty for a 3rd year undergraduate), c) all work in all units/modules in the semester concerned, d) all work for the academic year concerned, e) all work for the academic year concerned and you have no opportunity to re-enrol or be re-assessed
- For undergraduate students, to allow an original pass mark given for the piece of assessed work or examination (“merit mark”) to stand, and to reduce by a single class the final award to be conferred at the conclusion of the programme of study
You will receive a stronger penalty if:
- You planned your offence
- It isn’t your first academic offence
- The offence is major (for example, if your offence is plagiarism, the entire essay is stolen from other author(s) as opposed to a small piece)
- You have stolen another student’s assessed work
- Your offence has had a negative impact on other students
The penalty will also depend on what year of your course/type of course (e.g., undergraduate/postgraduate) you are on. Penalties for third year undergraduate students and postgraduates are more severe.
In the majority of cases: If you are found guilty of an academic offence in the third year of your undergraduate programme, then you will not be able to graduate with an honours degree. Postgraduates will not receive the full postgraduate award.
As with the law, ignorance of these regulations is no defence. Therefore, it is in your interests to familiarise yourself with their contents.