Information, advice and representation on university procedures including appeals, cheating and resits.
- What happens if an accusation is made against me?
- Cheating Procedure
- Plagiarism, Fraudulent or Fabricated Coursework and Malpractice Procedure
- What happens after the initial stages?
- What penalties can be considered?
- Can I appeal?
- Frequently Asked Questions
The University's Cheating, Plagiarism, Fraudulent or Fabricated Coursework and Malpractice Procedure is used in cases where any of those offences are suspected.
We strongly recommend that you refer to the Taught Student Guide to make sure you understand the rules and regulations and avoid being accused of any of these offences (see section 11 of the Guide).
If you want advice on how best to structure your response to an allegation, contact the Student Advice Centre for an appointment.
If it is found that you have cheated, plagiarised, presented fabricated/fraudulent coursework or committed academic malpractice in a University assessment then there are a number of penalties that can be imposed against you, the most severe of these is that you could be forced to permanently withdraw from the University.
What is cheating?
If you attempt to gain unfair advantage during an exam, or break any of the University's Exam conduct rules this is classed as cheating. There is a list of offences in the Taught Student Guide page on Cheating in Exams.
The University takes cheating very seriously as they consider it as a type of 'academic fraud' and an attempt to deceive the examiners into giving you higher marks than you may have achieved otherwise.
If you are found guilty of cheating the penalties are very severe and the expected penalty would be exclusion from the University.
What is plagiarism?
The University views plagiarism as "presenting someone else's work as your own. Work means any intellectual output, and typically includes text, data, images, sound or performance."
The Taught Student Guide page on Plagiarism explains more about Plagiarism.
Skills@Library's Guide to Plagiarism is also useful to explain what Plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
Most written work will need to include sections or ideas from other people's work. This is standard academic practice.
However, it is important that where you do this you show which words or ideas are your own and which came from someone else. This is done by clearly referencing other people's ideas, text, or diagrams in an assignment.
The idea of intention is not included in the definition of Plagiarism. Failing to reference correctly, even by accident, will be treated as plagiarism. This means that if you have used someone else's work and not properly referenced that person/source, even without deliberately intending to, you will still be likely to be found guilty of plagiarism.
As a general guide, be aware that in all the following circumstances you must include a correct reference:
- quoting sections from a book
- including text that you have cut and pasted from the internet
- paraphrasing or summarising someone else's argument
- using another student's notes (even in group work projects)
- including points from lecture notes.
You should check your department's specific requirements in the above areas to make sure you understand what is expected of you.
What is fabricated/fraudulent coursework?
This is where someone attempts to gain credit for work that does not exist or that has been made up. It usually refers to results of practical work or experiments.
It is similar in concept to plagiarism as it is attempt to take credit for work that is not your own, for example by creating false results or observations.
What is malpractice in University Assessments?
The University's definition is when a candidate attempts to mislead or deceive the examiners concerning the work submitted.
'Malpractice' is used to cover all types of attempts of academic fraud or deception that are not covered by the other three offences listed above. The types of acts that would fall into this definition range from stealing another student's work to collusion with other students. The procedure includes a list of acts that can be considered as Malpractice.
The same procedure is used for Cheating, Plagiarism, Fraudulent or Fabricated Coursework and Malpractice.
There are a number of stages to the procedure. This allows you several opportunities to explain your situation. Each case is treated individually.
However, if you are accused of Cheating, there is an additional stage at the beginning of the process.
The procedure used in cases of suspected Cheating is set out in this flowchart, and explained further below:
1. Examinations Officer's report
If you are suspected of cheating in an Exam, within 14 days the University Examinations Officer will prepare the relevant documentation and evidence. This will include:
- the Examination Officer's report which will include the result of the departmental consultation and which may include a recommended penalty
- a copy of the evidence (i.e. exam script, source of alleged cheating where practical)
- a copy of the exam question paper (unless the original was printed on pink paper)
- a copy of the Cheating procedure.
The report is sent to: Student Complaints and Appeals, the Head of your parent department and teaching department, and you, the student.
2. Your response
You will be asked to submit a statement to Student Complaints and Appeals in response to the allegation within 14 days of the date of the covering letter that is sent with the documentation above. Your statement should:
- Accept/deny the allegation
- If accepting, explain any mitigation
- If denying, explain your defence
- Include any relevant evidence (e.g. of Mitigating Circumstances) that you wish to include
The Advice Centre can assist with writing your statement.
Your statement is sent to the University's Investigating Officer. From this point the procedure is the same as for Plagiarism, Fabricated/Fradulent Coursework and Malpractice cases that have been referred to the University - see 'What happens after the initial stages?' below.
The procedure used in cases of suspected Plagiarism, Fraudulent or Fabricated Coursework and Malpractice is set out in this flowchart, and explained in more detail below:
1. Departmental letter
If you are suspected of committing Plagiarism, submitting Fraudulent or Fabricated Coursework, or committing Malpractice, you will be sent a letter from your department asking you to attend a departmental meeting. The letter will tell you which procedure is being followed and will include:
- the date of your meeting (you should be given 3 days' notice)
- what the allegation is
- which piece(s) of work the allegation relates to
- a copy of the work fully marked-up (i.e. the sections that are believed to be plagiarised will be highlighted, underlined or clearly indicated in another way)
- a copy of the evidence related to the allegation (i.e. the book/website/other essay etc that they think that you have plagiarised).
2. Departmental meeting
The meeting is your chance to discuss the work on which the allegation(s) is/are based, and to put forward your version of events. If there are any special circumstances that are relevant to the situation it is important to make this clear at the meeting.
You are entitled to take a Supporter with you to the meeting who can be a friend, family member or colleague so long as they are not directly linked to the case.
The Student Advice Centre can help you prepare for what to expect. It is unlikely we will be able to be your Supporter at the department meeting, but we can try to provide support in extreme cases where an alternative supporter can't be found and the case is complex. We will always try to prepare you for what to expect and to help you present your case via an appointment with us before the date of the meeting.
Before you attend the meeting it is important to decide whether or not you accept the allegation.
- Remember: even if you did it accidentally, you should admit it if you think you have committed an offence.
- If you have included other people's work in an assessment without referencing it adequately, or submitted fabricated results, you will need to remember how this happened and explain why you did this.
- If there were any special circumstances that may have caused you to act out of character or fail to use your normal approach to completing work it is important that you tell your department about these. If there is evidence, such as a Doctor's note, take it with you to the meeting.
- You may find it helpful to write up a summary of your response to the allegation to take with you to the departmental meeting.
The Head of department or a senior member of staff acting on their behalf will normally chair the meeting. Your personal tutor, module leader and other members of the department that have been involved in the module may also be present at the meeting. There may also be a member of staff present to take minutes.
There are three things that can happen after this meeting:
- The School can decide that you are innocent of the allegation. They should inform you within 14 days. The procedure would be at an end for you.
- If you have admitted the offence and it is a first offence, the case may be settled at School level. The School will write to you within 14 days detailing the penalty (see 'What penalties will be considered' below). A copy of this letter will be sent to the Office of Academic Appeals and Regulation to be put on your file but you will not have to attend any further meetings in relation to the allegation. Once the penalty has been completed, the procedure is at an end for you.
- If you have denied the allegation but the School believe that there is a case to answer, or if the allegation relates to a serious offence (whether or not you have admitted to it), or if it is a second or subsequent offence they will refer your case to University Committee. They may recommend a penalty. If your case is referred you will receive a letter to inform you within 14 days of the meeting.
If you fail to attend your departmental meeting without good cause the School can assume that you admit the allegation. They can then award a penalty and/or forward the case to the University.
3. Forwarding to University Committee: Your Response
Once you have received a letter informing you your case is being forwarded to the University you have 14 days (from the date on the letter) to submit a statement to put across your side of the situation. This should be addressed to Dr Brooks (see below).
You should be aware that you may be asked to appear in front of the Committee on Applications.
The Student Advice Centre can help you prepare your response, but you must get intouch with us as soon as you hear from your department so we have plenty of time to help you.
If you are admitting to all of the allegation or part of it, we recommend that you include in your statement:
- which parts of the allegation you admit to
- clarify any inaccuracies in the departmental minutes
- your explanation of what happened
- whether you knew that this was wrong at the time that you did it
- details of why you think this may have happened - i.e. what your motivation for doing this was
- an explanation of why you believe that you acted this way - if you were experiencing difficult circumstances that may have affected you it is important to explain this. There is more advice on this in Mitigating Circumstances.
- If you have experienced difficulties, you should try to provide evidence with your statement.
- an argument for why you believe a particular penalty is more reasonable than others i.e. why you should be allowed to continue on the course.
If you are denying the allegation you should explain, in detail, how you prepared the piece of work and, if possible how you think the allegation has arisen. It is a good idea to submit any evidence that you have of your original working such as draft versions, notes from reading etc.
The rest of the procedure is the same for all four types of allegation. This section applies where the case is not concluded at the departmental stage and is forwarded to the University for consideration.
The Committee on Applications
The Committee on Applications is made up of senior academics of the University. Your case will usually be heard by 5-12 members of the Committee. No member of staff who has a conflict of interest with your case or who is from your department will be on the committee.
You are entitled to take a supporter with you to the Committee - this can be anyone who is not directly involved in the case and can be an Advisor from the Student Advice Centre.
At the start of the Committee meeting you can make an oral statement or read from a written statement. If you decide to read from a pre-written statement you need to bring 15 copies with you for the members of the Committee to have.
The Committee members may then ask you questions to help them understand more about the case or to clarify any of the details.
If an Advisor is acting as your supporter we will be happy to attend with you and to help you to prepare a statement and anticipate the questions that you might be asked. We will not usually be able to represent you or speak on your behalf - the Committee want to hear from you directly.
The final decision
Once the Committee have finished asking their questions they will then decide if you are guilty or innocent of the alleged offence.
If you are innocent then there will be no further action.
If you are found guilty of the offence the Committee will then consider how deliberate the act of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication or malpractice appears to have been and whether you were consciously trying to gain credit from your actions.
The Committee will consider the penalty recommendation made by the department, however the Committee does not need to follow this and has the power to decide on any course of action that it thinks appropriate.
The Committee will write to inform you of the result within 7 working days of the meeting.
Cheating is taken very seriously. There are usually two types of penalty that will apply:
- Exclusion from the University.
- a) repeat the exam to pass standard as an external student for a mark of 0;
- b) repeat all the exams in the semester/year as an external student for a mark of 0.
The Committee has the discretion to take other action in exceptional cases.
Plagiarism and Fabricated/Fraudulent Coursework
For details of the University guidelines for penalties see the Student complaints and Appeals' Notes on Penalties.
The guide provides a table showing the quantity of coursework affected, the penalty applied, and mark and resit implications.
If the penalty states that there is a 'requirement to pass' this means that even if the piece of work is only worth a small part of a non-compulsory module, you will not be allowed to progress with or complete the course unless you have retaken and passed a replacement assignment.
You will usually be given a new title to complete - it is not enough just to go back to the original piece(s) of work and insert the correct referencing.
If the penalty that you are awarded means that a 0 is recorded for the whole year or semester the committee will decide which assessments, if any, you will be allowed to resit and what marks will be allowed to count towards your classification.
There are a range of penalties available for this offence. Guidelines for calculating penalties can be found in a list of acts that can be considered as Malpractice.
The guide breaks down offences into four groups. Each group is defined and a recommended penalty for each group is offered.
Appeals against decisions made at School level
If you are unhappy with either the decision to find you guilty and/or the penalty awarded at School level you can appeal. You must do this within 14 days of the date of the letter telling you the decision.
This appeal should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Committee on Applications, and sent to Dr Brooks at the Student Complaints and Appeals. You will not be asked to appear before the Committee. This is your last appeal within the University and you do not have the right to pursue any appeal to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor. This only applies to cases which are not referred to University level.
If you are considering this we recommend that you seek advice from the Student Advice Centre to help you make this decision and write the appeal if necessary.
Appeals against decisions made by University Committee
If you are unhappy with either the decision to find you guilty and/or the penalty that has been applied to you following a case that was heard by the Committee on Applications, you can appeal to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
You must do this within 28 days of receiving the letter telling you the decision. All appeals should be sent to the Student Complaints and Appeals.
If you are considering an appeal or want help writing an appeal you should contact the Student Advice Centre
The decisions that can be made at appeal (whether to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or the Committee in the case of cases settled at School level) are:
- to agree with the original decision and/or penalty
- to reduce or vary the penalty
- to increase the penalty
- to uphold the appeal, remove the penalty and overturn the findings of the Committee on Applications or the School.
If you are still unhappy with the decision and/or penalty after a Pro-Vice Chancellor's appeal you can appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (the OIA). If you would like advice or support on appealing to the OIA you should make an appointment with an Advisor at the Student Advice Centre.
Can I attend my degree ceremony?
You cannot graduate or qualify whilst your case is pending. You may therefore miss graduating with your year group. If appropriate, you will be able to attend a later graduation ceremony once your case has been heard and you have completed the requirements of the committee.
Where can I get advice about the procedure?
If you would like advice about how the procedure works, you can contact Dr Brooks, Head of Student Complaints and Appeals. He can advise you on the procedures but will not comment specifically on the content of your case.
If you would like to obtain specific advice on your case, please contact the Student Advice Centre as soon as possible.
What advice and help can I expect to receive from The Student Advice Centre?
We are able to assist with the following:
- explain how the process works
- helping you to structure a statement of defence / mitigation
- accompany you to the committee meeting as your supporter if appropriate.
We make every effort to ensure information on these pages is accurate and up to date, however policies, procedures and regulations are subject to change. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience suffered as a result of using our pages. Read the full disclaimer.
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