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How to avoid academic offences

Academic offences are any attempts to gain an unfair advantage in assessed work (including practice assessments) by deception or fraudulent means. Helping another student to commit an academic offence is an academic offence in itself. There are lots of different types of academic offences and you can find examples of them below.

If you commit a minor offences you may be required to resubmit work, with your mark being capped at the pass mark. For major offences you may have to repeat the year or even be withdrawn from the course.

It is your responsibility to be aware of academic offences and avoid committing them. The BU definitions of academic offences and the penalties for them are listed in Academic Offences: Policy and Procedure for Taught Awards

We have listed common examples below to help you to understand academic offences.

Common academic offences

Plagiarism

"The practice of using someone else's idea or work and pretending that you thought of it or created it." (Collins English Dictionary)

Plagiarism is the most common academic offence committed by university students. Often students plagiarise by accident because they don't understand how to reference properly. You will be penalised for plagiarism regardless of whether or not you did it deliberately, so you must make sure you understand how to reference correctly. You can find out more about plagiarism and referencing in the guide to avoiding plagiarism.

Activity: Understanding plagiarism

Self-Plagiarism or Duplication

You are not allowed to submit the same or substantially similar work for more than one assessment (this does not include resubmission of work for the same assignment).

Example: You are not allowed to cut and paste a section of a previous essay into an essay you are writing on a similar topic.

Activity: Self plagiarism webcast

Collusion

'Collusion' means working with other students to complete assessments when you are supposed to do the work alone. You are not allowed to work with other students on individual assignments.

Example: you are not allowed to work with a friend to select quotes for an essay you are both working on and both use those quotes in your essays.

Activity: Avoiding plagiarism while working with other students

Commissioning

You are not allowed to pay another person to complete an assignment which you then submit as your own work.

Example: You are not allowed to purchase an essay form an online "essay bank" and submit it as your own work.

Example: You are not allowed to pay an essay writing company to produce an assignment for you. Beware of companies posting adverts to BU Facebook and social media channels.

Cheating in exams or tests

Any behaviour aimed at gaining an unfair advantage in an exam or test may be considered cheating, such as trying to communicate with another student, copy another student or access unauthorised materials.

Examples: You are not allowed to copy from another student, consult hidden notes or take unauthorised material into the exam.

Forgery

You are not allowed to forge signatures or documents related to certification or assessment.

Example: You are not allowed to forge a practice supervisor's signature on a timesheet for a clinical placement.

Impersonation

Arranging for another person to take your place in an exam or test or taking the place of someone else.

Example: You are not allowed to borrow your friend's student id and attempt to sit an exam for them.

Aiding and abetting

Helping a student in any form of dishonest practice.

Example: You are not allowed to steal a student's work for your friend to copy.

Example: You are not allowed to sign a placement completion form for a friend who has not completed their placement, instead of the placement company director.

Bribery

Paying or offering inducements to another person to obtain or to attempt to obtain an unfair advantage.

Example: Offering your lecturer money to alter the grade of your assignment.

Example: You are not allowed to offer a friend money to write or help you write an assignment.

False declaration

Making a false declaration to receive special consideration by an assessment board or to obtain extensions to deadlines or exemption from work.

Example: You are not allowed to falsify a doctor's certificate to gain an extension for an essay deadline.

Example: You are not allowed to suggest to your tutor that there has been a bereavement in your family when there has not been, to get you out of sitting an exam.

Falsification of data

You are not allowed to create false research data.

Example: You are not allowed to pretend to carry out a survey by filling in all of the responses yourself.

Example: You are not allowed to make up statistical data and produce false charts and graphs.

Using an editor/proofreader

Asking another person, such as an editor or proofreader, to help you to substantially change the content, meaning or significance of what you have written.

Example: You are not allowed to ask a friend to re-write substantial sections of your assignment.

Making unacknowledged use of processes such as computer routines created by others

Example: You are not allowed to use computer code created by a friend.

Borrowing

Looking at another person's assignment or notes and using the information to your advantage.

Example: You are not allowed to take a friend's assignment, or assignment notes, and use the information within it to write your own, even with their knowledge and permission.

Stealing

Taking another person's work without their consent, and using the information to your advantage.

Example: You are not allowed to take a friend's assignment, or assignment notes, and use the information within it to write your own.