Study Skills

In order to help students avoid the use of unfair means, departments must provide study skills sessions which should take place at an early stage. The OIA state that students receive a lot of information when they begin their higher education studies and it is good practice for providers to repeat unfair means education, and to reinforce messages about academic integrity, at appropriate points throughout their programmes.

Study skill sessions should:

  • be provided for all new students (UG, PGT and PGR), including direct entrants and distance learning students;
  • recognise that international students may come from different academic traditions;
  • take place before the student’s first assignment and be presented as an integral part of the programme of study;
  • aim to ensure that students acquire an understanding of what constitutes unfair means e.g. by obtaining feedback from them on what they have learnt;
  • cover the following topics:
    • academic sources;
    • how to reference text correctly and other aspects of good academic practice;
    • how to indicate that text is quoted, for example, whether students need to use inverted commas and/or indented text;
    • that unintentional copying can amount to plagiarism;
    • whether (and when) extensive paraphrasing might amount to plagiarism;
    • that video and audio clips, pictures and tables can be plagiarised;
    • when self-plagiarism is and is not permitted;
    • that buying essays or text for essays constitutes unfair means;
    • how detection software is used and interpreted;
    • the consequences for students if they are found to have plagiarised work.
  • provide students with examples of acceptable and unacceptable practice. Anonymized ‘real cases’ may be used to emphasise the seriousness of the offence, with tutors providing opportunities for discussion, practice and feedback;
  • encourage students to access available resources, for example the University Library's Information and Digital Literacy Tutorials.

To embed good academic practice, departments should provide at least one face-to-face taught session for all students which should be supplemented by further taught sessions, electronic tutorials and regular reminders. Arrangements should be made to repeat the session for students arriving at the University late (because of visa or travel delays for example).

Students who require further advice or guidance relating to study skills should be directed to the 301 Academic Skills Centre. 301 offers a programme of academic skills workshops as well as 1:1 study skills sessions where students can seek advice from a tutor.

The Library also offer a programme of Information and Digital Literacy Workshops, including sessions dedicated to plagiarism and referencing.

For programmes lasting more than a year, there should be refresher or additional sessions in subsequent years. Departments should ensure that a record of students' attendance at study skills sessions is kept, for example by circulating an attendance sheet or making attendance one of the designated UKVI points of contact. Some departments require students to undertake some form of assessment of topics covered in the sessions (prior to the first assignment) with resit assessments provided for those who fail. Timely feedback on this type of assessment is essential.

Postgraduate research methods modules should include information about good practice in referencing and the avoidance of plagiarism, as well as including a discussion on the ethics of resorting to unfair means such as plagiarism or the fabrication of data. 

It can be challenging to deliver the required training in study skills to distance learning students. If they cannot be offered face-to-face study skills sessions, an equivalent study skills distance learning package should be devised or use made of existing resources. Staff should also ensure that distance learning students receive all relevant information from sources such as the departmental student handbook. Please be aware that the Library also deliver plagiarism and referencing workshops via webinar

Consideration might be given to providing students with opportunities for doing some formative assessments at an early stage in their degree programme, particularly in subjects where they are not normally required to do any written coursework until relatively late on in their studies.