Plagiarism and Collusion

Assessment, whatever form it takes, is the means by which the University tests whether a student has achieved the objectives of a course and the standards of an award. It is fundamentally important that students are assessed fairly, and on equal terms with each other for the same award. Any attempt by a student to use unfair means to gain advantage over another student in the completion of an assessment, or to assist someone else to gain an unfair advantage, is cheating. Cheating undermines the standards of the University's awards and disadvantages those students who have attempted to complete assessments honestly and fairly. It is an offence against the values of the academic community of which students and staff are both part.

Full details are available at the end of the General Regulations as to Examinations.

SEAS Procedures on Plagiarism

Both plagiarism and collusion are forbidden. Students are warned that the piece of work affected may be given a grade of zero, which in some cases will entail failure in the relevant module. The student may also be referred to the Discipline Committee.

All incidences of plagiarism will be penalised. The penalties will depend on the extent of plagiarised material detected and the use that is made of it. If a marker suspects plagiarism, s/he will notify the Examinations Officer and make a thorough investigation of the affected work against the sources. More precisely:

  • Any assignment that is taken as a whole from another source will be treated as a disciplinary offence. The student will be asked to meet the Examinations Officer to explain their submission; reasonable notice (one week) will be given. A record will be made of the meeting and a copy of this record will be sent to the student.

  • Assignments that contain plagiarised sections may – after discussion between the Examinations Officer and the marker – be dealt with through the marking process. Marks awarded will reflect the extent to which the assignment meets or does not meet any of the School’s standard assessment criteria. Thus the inclusion of plagiarised material in an assignment in all cases represents a very serious failure in the referencing of sources. The markers may also consider that the student has offered inadequate evidence of their independent ability to select evidence from a range of sources; to analyse their material; to structure and organise an essay; to write in clear academic English. It is therefore open to the markers to reduce the marks awarded in respect of any or all of these assessment criteria. Markers will comment in detail on the essay, explaining clearly how the mark has been affected by the plagiarised material. All such essays will be second-marked and reviewed by the external examiner. Copies of the assignment, plagiarised sources and markers’ feedback will be kept on file, and other work submitted by the student may be re-examined. Any student wanting clarification of the mark awarded may address the marker (usually the module organiser) or the Examinations Officer. However, the decision reached by the internal markers and the external examiner is to be considered final. Students will not be permitted to resubmit the affected essay to improve their grade or as an alternative to resitting the module.

    Although a first lapse of this kind may be treated as an academic matter, and resolved through the marking procedure, a repeated offence may be dealt with through the University’s disciplinary procedures.

In all cases of suspected or proven plagiarism, the student number and brief details of the problem will be kept on file by the Examinations Officer. Other module organisers will not be notified unless plagiarism is proven or suspicions are voiced in relation to several modules.