Guidance for Students


This good practice guideline was prepared by the plagiarism working group in 2007, and approved by UTLC in May 2007.  It will be subject to periodic review.


  • it's vital that students are made fully aware of what constitutes good academic practice
  • it's better that the message focuses on good practice than on punishment for bad practice, although students do need to be made aware of the consequences if they are found guilty of an assessment irregularity
  • plagiarism may be a new aspect of academic culture for many students which will not be easily absorbed; the message therefore needs to be repeated and reinforced over time in a variety of formats. This may be especially true for some international students, who come from very different educational cultures
  • telling students is not enough; they need to understand why we have rules and need to have the opportunity to work through examples
  • an early piece of formative assessment requiring referencing is advised, with staff required to provide clear feedback on referencing issues with reference to a school or subject area referencing guide
  • in some subjects advice on the correct referencing of text will not alone be enough as other issues arise (eg computer programming; designs; music) and students will need to be briefed about these


It would be good practice for:

  • degree programme handbooks to contain clear material on good academic practice in referencing, collusion, cheating in examinations etc. and assessment irregularities with appropriate weblinks. In some schools this may need also to refer explicitly to issues other than referencing in the context of writing essays and reports, as there may be subject specific issues. (Suggested generic text is provided (Word doc: 786KB). This also covers collusion and other assessment irregularities and links to other relevant websites are provided.)
  • the Student Guide to contain appropriate material which is in line with University policies and the recommended degree programme handbook text
  • students to have a clear subject-specific referencing guide which may be included in degree programme handbooks or provided separately. There is a strong case for providing a hard copy of the referencing guide rather than just access to a soft copy, although it is advisable to have the guide accessible also via the website. Links to other useful materials should also be provided. In some subjects (eg computing, architecture, music) other guidance on good practice may also be needed to cover other subject-specific aspects of good academic practice
  • module documentation to reinforce the message, remind students of the rules and refer students to the school/subject referencing guide (or other appropriate guidance on good academic practice)
  • assignment sheets to remind students of the rules which apply to that submission and to be clear about the terms of engagement, especially where there are elements of group and individual work; if no proof reading is to be allowed
  • hand-in sheets to require a signature to confirm that the work submitted is the student’s own work and that the work of others has been properly attributed;  standard wording is provided by the University for this purpose
  • documentation for later stages of the degree (or semester 3 for PGT students) to reinforce the message and, where relevant upgrade it e.g. a final stage dissertation may raise some new issues and may well be the first time a literature review has been required
  • students to be made aware of the support the writing centre could offer in this area

Oral and Other Guidance

It would be good practice for:

  • induction sessions in induction week of stage 1 to include some brief explanation of the principles and the requirements
  • the message to be reinforced at the earliest practical point in relevant stage 1 modules where an opportunity should be provided for students, either in class or in private study, to work through examples which illustrate good and unacceptable practice. This might be done through the on-line tutorial or through other materials. Boards of Studies need to identify where this can take place in their programmes
  • students to be required to confirm in writing that they have read and will comply with the University’s and the School’s guidance. Suggested wording for this is supplied
  • students to submit a written piece of work requiring referencing fairly early in the autumn term, which would be returned to them with feedback, so that they could get early warning of any problem issues. The feedback needs to deal explicitly with referencing issues and refer students to the School or subject area’s referencing guide. This could be a purely formative piece of work, or part of the assessment on a compulsory module
  • later (stage) modules (eg research skills, literature reviews, dissertations) to revise the initial guidance and build on it where necessary
  • demonstrations of Turnitin software to be provided (with Powerpoint slides to be provided by the University to facilitate this)