Unfair means, cheating and plagiarism

Information about cheating and plagiarism in University assessments and exams.


What is unfair means?

In short, unfair means refers to cheating. It involves any attempt by a student to

  • gain unfair advantage over another student in the completion of an assessment or exam, or
  • assist someone else in gaining an unfair advantage


If we find you using unfair means, you will face action by your academic department or formal disciplinary action.

You can find the Regulations relating to the Discipline of Students in the University Calendar

How we detect it

We use a range of strategies to detect unfair means, including Turnitin, which helps detect plagiarism. 

You're required to declare that all work submitted is entirely your own. Your department may require you to attach a declaration form to work that you submit.

Unfair means and online assessment (COVID-19)

COVID-19 may mean that your assessments are taking place online, but the rules around unfair means have not changed. Make sure you understand what is expected of you.

Types of unfair means


Plagiarism occurs when you submit someone else's work or ideas as your own – eg the work of an expert, lecturer or fellow/former student – without making it clear that it is not your own work. Plagiarism can be committed knowingly or accidentally.

You can also self-plagiarise if you submit your own previously assessed work as part of a new assignment, without proper acknowledgement.

Essay buying

When you buy or commission part of, or the whole of, a piece of work from another student or an essay-writing website and submit it as your own. This is an extremely serious form of plagiarism.

Coursework sites encourage students to share course materials such as lecture notes, essays, lab reports and exam questions. The University does not support the use of these sites and may take disciplinary action in line with the Student Discipline Regulations.


When you work with someone else, or a group of others, on a piece of assessed work that you are supposed to be completing by yourself.


When you submit made-up information (such as quotes, lab results or survey findings that are untrue).

What happens when unfair means are detected

If the University suspects unfair means, they will investigate and take action where appropriate. 

Guidance for students where concerns are raised about their use of unfair means (PDF, 116kB)

How you can prevent unfair means

Referencing is a key skill that can help you to prevent the use of unfair means. Whenever you take notes, you should note down referencing details at the same time, otherwise you may find it difficult to credit other scholars properly in assessed work later on.

Whether you're a home or an international student, you can book a one-to-one session with the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC)'s Writing Advisory Service to help with your writing, including referencing skills.

The Library also offers information on plagiarism and tutorials on how to adhere to University referencing standards.

How to appeal

If you feel an unfair means decision was made incorrectly against you, refer to our complaints and appeals procedures.

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