You might think you will never need to worry about academic misconduct because you would never cheat - but there are a number of different forms of academic misconduct, and many students commit an offence without even realising it!
Penalties will vary depending on the type of misconduct but in the most serious cases you could be withdrawn so it's really important you take the time to read the Code of Practice to make sure you don't make any mistakes.
Here are some common scenarios where students can commit an offence, either accidentally or deliberately.
Working too much with other students
You can discuss your course with your friends but make sure you don't talk too much about assessments - if your work ends up too similar, you could be accused of collusion. Similarities the university looks for include using the exact same sources, structuring your essay in the same way, using the same words, or even making the same mistakes.
Showing your work to someone else
We understand why it feels ok to do this - often students are helping a friend that they know is having difficulties, or they just wanted to show a friend how to structure the work or give them ideas.
Unfortunately, sharing your work is academic misconduct even if you have good intentions. The first time you do this you will get a warning but if it happens again it is a major offence and you will get a zero for the work. If your friend is struggling, you could suggest they submit Exceptional Circumstances.
Using someone else's work
If you copy another student's work, with or without their permission, it will be caught by Turnitin - you will be given a misconduct offence and your friend will also be in trouble.
If you're having difficulties with the assignment, you can talk to your tutor about the module material and you can go to Write Direction for help with study skills. If you're unwell or having personal problems that have affected your studies, make an Exceptional Circumstances claim to ask for more time or for another assessment opportunity.
Using the same words as the source, even if you've referenced
Anything you take from sources needs to be either completely rewritten into your own words or put in quotation marks, in addition to the reference, otherwise you would be claiming those words as your own. When you include just a reference you're saying you got the information or idea from that source but you're claiming the words are your own.
Avoid copying and pasting as you may forget which sections were copied and which were in your own words. Try not to look at the source as you make notes - it's difficult to find your own words when you're looking at an expert's!
Submitting the wrong version
Your School has to mark what you submit, so if you accidentally submit a draft that's not in your own words, or doesn't have references, this will be a misconduct offence. Make sure you label your drafts carefully, to make sure you submit the right version. You may also want to move drafts and notes to a separate folder while you're submitting your final version, so you don't accidentally click on the wrong file.
Reusing your own work
This one is really surprising to a lot of students! If you put parts of a previous assessment into another assessment it is called 'self-plagiarism' and is a misconduct offence. This is because the university considers it would be unfair to benefit twice from one piece of work.
Using Artifical Intelligence
Submitting an assessment containing words generated by a software tool, such as ChatGPT, is a serious academic misconduct offence. This is because content produced by these platforms does not represent your own original work and you should not be using them to generate content to pass off as your own.
Using paraphrasing software to help you rewrite an assignment, or translating your work into English by using translations software, are also academic misconduct offences.
AI tools can make mistakes (there have been instances of an AI claiming 1+1 does not equal 2!), use misinformation, or provide biased information as you don't know the sources they are using. These tools also often lack the depth needed for a good essay and are poor at referencing - they can fail to provide any at all or, if pushed, may direct you to generic websites and even make up references!
Getting an essay online or asking someone else to write it
This is known as commissioning, or contract cheating, and is a very serious form of academic misconduct.
The most common cases we see are when a student has bought an essay or paid someone to write it for them. However, you can also commission work if you haven't paid for it. For example, if you get a family member or friend to write the assignment for you it would also be classed as a commissioning offence.
The standard penalty for commissioning is withdrawal from the University and the risk of being caught is high - if you're having problems in your personal life or work, please seek support from us or your School instead. You could submit Exceptional Circumstances for an extension or further attempt, or you might want to consider taking a Leave of Absence.
Cheating in exams or bringing in unauthorised material
If you are really worried about how you will perform in exams, or if you have a lot of pressure to perform from your sponsors, your family or others, cheating isn't the best way to cope with this. Consider submitting Exceptional Circumstances instead to ask for another assessment attempt.
Your behaviour in exams is closely monitored - you might be accused of cheating when all you did was forget some revision notes that were in your pocket, so take care that you haven't brought anything into the exam that's not allowed. You can view the exam policies here.