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Good Academic Practice

What Are Academic Offences?

Academic offences are governed by the College's Academic Malpractice Policy as well as the regulations of our validating partners

This guide brings together information and resources to help you develop good practice in your academic work, and to avoid the risk of committing academic offences.


Plagiarism is when you present someone else’s work, words, images, ideas, opinions or discoveries, whether published or not, as your own. It is also when you take the artwork, images, creative practice or computer-generated work of others, without properly acknowledging where this is from or you do this without their permission.

You can commit plagiarism in examination but is most likely to happen in coursework, assignments, portfolios, essays, dissertations and so on.

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • Directly copying from written work, physical work, performances, recorded work or images, without saying where this is from
  • Using information from the internet or electronic media (such as DVDs and CDs) which belongs to someone else, and presenting it as your own;
  • Re-wording someone else’s work, without referencing them; and
  • Handing in something for assessment which has been produced by another student or person.

It is important that you do not plagiarise – intentionally or unintentionally – because the work of others and their ideas are their own. There are benefits to producing original ideas in terms of awards, prizes, qualifications, reputation and so on. To use someone else’s work, words, images, ideas or discoveries is a form of theft.

Plagiarism is something that is taken seriously not only at university but also in the wider world; politicians, writers and academics have had their careers ruined when plagiarism was discovered in their past.

See How to Avoid Plagiarism for advice on how to avoid committing this academic offence


Collusion occurs when two or more individuals collaborate to produce a piece of work to be submitted (in whole or in part) for assessment and the work is presented as the work of one student alone.

If students in a class are instructed or encouraged to work together in the pursuit of an assignment, such group activity is regarded as approved collaboration.

However, if there is a requirement for the submitted work to be solely that of the individual, joint authorship is not permitted. Students who, improperly, work together in these circumstances, are guilty of collusion.

Examples of collusion include:

  • Agreeing with others to cheat;
  • Copying the work of another person (with their permission);
  • Allowing another student to copy your own work.


Cheating is when someone aims to get unfair advantage over others.

Examples of cheating include:

  • Taking unauthorised material into the examination room;
  • Inventing results (including experiments, research, interviews and observations);
  • Handing your own previously graded work back in;
  • Getting an examination paper before it is released;
  • Behaving in a way that means other students perform poorly;
  • Trying to bribe members of staff or examiners.


Fraud occurs when someone has deliberately and knowingly allowed or paid another person to do their work, or sit an examination for them.

Examples of fraud include:

  • Getting someone else to produce part or all of your work;
  • Submitting essays from essay banks and essay writing services;
  • Paying someone to produce work for you;
  • Submitting computer programs from a computer program writing service;
  • Allowing someone to sit an examination for you; and
  • Pretending to be another student.

Full details of assessment offences and penalties are available in the Academic Regulations.


In exceptional circumstances, where assistive technology is not a viable option, proofreading may be recommended.

There is a significant difference between proofreading and editing. 

If a student receives proofreading support they must follow these principles:

A proofreading service may:

  • Identify spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors
  • Highlight problems with layout, font, number style, etc.
  • Identify errors in labelling of diagrams, charts, or figures
  • Highlight areas where the intended meaning is not clear
  • Identify repeated phrases or omitted words
  • Highlight inconsistencies with referencing

A proofreading service must not:

  • Change the writing style of the student
  • Rewrite passages of text to clarify the meaning or correct errors in logic
  • Change any words, except to correct spelling
  • Amend any errors in factual data (facts, numbers, etc.)
  • Check or rewrite calculations, formulae, equations, or computer code
  • Rearrange or reformat passages of text
  • Contribute any additional material to the original text
  • Re-label diagrams, charts or figures
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