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Academic misconduct

 

We know that being accused of plagiarism or cheating can be an intimidating situation, but there are ways to strengthen your case if you are accused and, more importantly, prevent yourself from being accused in the first place.

The University takes any academic misconduct extremely seriously. If you are accused, it is likely that you will enter into the University’s formal disciplinary regulations and that your final qualification could be reduced, or you could be asked to leave.

If this is the case, seeking early advice and support is the best way to ensure that you are fully prepared and have the best chance of a positive outcome.

PLAGIARISM

What is plagiarism? [+]

Oscar Wilde might have said, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ but copying someone else’s work without acknowledging it will get you into serious trouble. Plagiarism is the act of submitting work that is not your own without properly acknowledging it. It can include submitting your own work for more than one assessment (multiple submission), as well as unauthorised collusion with another student.

Further definitions and information about plagiarism can be found here.

How can I avoid being accused of plagiarism? [+]

The University uses sophisticated software to detect plagiarism, which means you are likely to be caught whether you plagiarise intentionally or accidentally. But don’t fear: it’s easy to make sure you don’t commit plagiarism by mistake.

The key is knowing how to correctly reference your work. Follow your department’s referencing guidelines and attend their information sessions on plagiarism available at the beginning of the year.

Further support is also available through the various online resources here.

What happens if I am accused of plagiarism? [+]

You will be asked to attend a departmental meeting via Microsoft Teams to decide whether plagiarism has taken place and if so, what outcome should be given.

Outcomes vary depending on the extent of the plagiarism, whether this is your first offence or not, and also if the piece of work counts towards your final grades. In serious cases you may fail a whole module, adversely affecting your final degree qualification, or be referred to the further disciplinary procedures of the University, where more serious sanctions could be applied.

In the departmental meeting (via Microsoft Teams) you will be given chance to explain any circumstances that may have led to your actions, which will be taken into account when outcomes are decided. This means it’s important to prepare.

How can I prepare for the meeting? [+]

Being accused of plagiarism can be intimidating, so it’s important to prepare for the meeting to give yourself the best chance of explaining your actions.

When you attend the meeting you will be asked about the plagiarism, how you normally work and how you usually reference your essays. It is important to try to remember what you did for this piece of work and why.

If there were any special circumstances that may have caused you to act out of character, or fail to use your normal approach to completing work, it is important to raise these. If there is evidence, such as a doctor's note, take it with you to the meeting. You may find it helpful to write up a summary to take with you.

You can be accompanied to the meeting by someone not directly related to the case, which could be a member of the advice team, your department, or your college.

Cheating

Cheating in examinations [+]

It’ll be no surprise that cheating in an examination is usually classed as a ‘major offence’ by the University, and will result in disciplinary action and possible expulsion. Even if you are not expelled, you may be given a zero mark in the module with no chance to resit it, adversely affecting your final degree qualification. However, if you have any mitigating circumstances these may be taken into account.

What happens if I am caught cheating? [+]

If an examination invigilator suspects you of cheating, they will approach you during the examination and confront you about your behaviour. You will usually be able to complete the examination.

You may later be asked to attend a Panel of Inquiry meeting that your department and college will attend, along with a member of the Board of Examiners. You will be questioned at this meeting to decide whether cheating took place.

How can I prepare for this meeting? [+]

Being accused of cheating can be intimidating, so it’s important to prepare for the meeting to give yourself the best chance of explaining your actions.

We advise that you are honest at the meeting and admit to cheating if you did so. You will be asked questions about why and how you cheated, as well as whether you are aware of the University’s rules about cheating in examinations.

If there were any special circumstances that may have caused you to act out of character, or fail to use your normal approach to completing work, it is important that you raise these. If there is evidence, such as a doctor's note, take it with you to the meeting.

If you have experienced any issues that you have not previously reported, then it is important to raise these and explain why you may not have thought to seek support. You may find it helpful to write up a summary to take with you.

What happens if I am found guilty of cheating? [+]

You will be given two weeks’ notice to attend a meeting of the Senate Discipline Committee where your case will be heard. You will be sent the full documents relating to your case so far. This will include any statements you have made, any supporting information you have received, as well summaries of the meetings you have attended to-date.

You will have the right to submit a further statement explaining your actions and any difficult circumstances that were affecting you at the time. You are allowed to have witnesses and be accompanied to the meeting.

What will happen at the Senate Discipline Committee meeting? [+]

When you attend the meeting you will be asked about the cheating, whether you admit that you have cheated and what you understand the consequences of cheating to be.

Make sure you check the documents you have received about your accusation carefully and raise anything you disagree with.

It is important to think about why this happened and whether there were any circumstances that might have affected you and contributed to your actions.

It is important to provide any supporting evidence you can. This might be a doctor’s letter if you have been ill; or a letter of support from your college or other support department, if you have been experiencing problems that you have reported them.

If you have been experiencing any issues but have not yet raised them, you can still do so now. You will need to explain why you did not report them earlier and your case may be substantially weakened as a result.

A member of the advice and help service can assist you with looking through your papers, help you prepare a statement for the panel to consider, and accompany you to the meeting.

What happens next? [+]

You will receive a decision regarding the outcome of the meeting within seven days. You have a further right of appeal to the Council Student Appeals Committee within 21 days of receiving the formal notification. At this stage the original penalty you received can be decreased, increased or stay the same. As a result, if you are considering taking the matter further please seek further support.

A further right of appeal exists outside the University regulations to the Office of Independent Adjudication. Once you’ve exhausted the University’s internal procedures, you have 12 months to submit a complaint.

Page last reviewed: 27/05/2020