Intellectual Property

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) in universities refers to creative ideas that result in academic work, for example, inventions and literary and artistic works. IP law assigns four main rights to the creators of intellectual property: patents, trade marks, designs and copyright. Some of these rights are automatic and others need to be registered. For further information refer to the right hand links.

IP Rights

IP law gives the creator of the work rights to control how the work is used so that they are not deprived of reward or incentive.

How IP affects the University

A substantial amount of intellectual property is generated and used within the University so we need to remain compliant with the law when using IP generated by others. As we are expected to share IP creations with other universities and organisations to raise our profile and revenue it is important to ensure that IP agreements and licences allow this to happen in a useful way.

The General Regulations relating to Intellectual Property state that taught students own any IP which they create in the course of their study or research. This is to encourage enterprise amongst students and to remain legally compliant. However, in order to recognise the significant contribution of other organisations or individuals to the creation of student IP, there will be some exceptions to the sole ownership by taught students of their IP. Such exceptions may include:

a) students employed or sponsored by another institution or organisation;
b) students undertaking a sponsored project or placement;
c) where the Intellectual Property is generated as a result of collaborative work, for example with other students or with members of staff (or where the work being undertaken derives from the Intellectual Property of staff);
d) units which have as a primary or substantial purpose, the creation of Intellectual Property;
e) other exceptional circumstances.

Under the General Regulations a register of modules exempt under (d) must be kept. If you think your module may be exempt please contact Karen Anderson to arrange for it to be added to the register and for further guidance.

Where a module is exempt there should be contractual arrangements in place to illustrate how the IP will be shared. Further guidance on this will be added to the website. For support on producing the contract and guidance on authorised signatories contact Karen Anderson

Further Information

All questions relating to copyright should be directed to the Copyright Hub at or visit their webpages at

For information relating to standard contracts for research students visit

The right hand links refer to extra resources available.