Plagiarism, Cheating & Collusion

Exams and assessments are integral to University education. They are designed to test academic ability and progress. Exam and assessment grades are important for you to be able to continue on your course, your final qualification and career prospects as a graduate. Therefore cheating in exams and plagiarism are offences which the University takes very seriously.

cheatingIf cheating or plagiarism is suspected, the allegation will be investigated by an Academic Conduct Officer who will ask you to attend a meeting. You have the right to be accompanied by an ENSA Adviser or a friend to all conduct meetings. Call 0131 229 8791 or e-mail for an appointment with an ENSA Adviser who can help you prepare properly for the meeting.

Here’s a summary of what plagiarism, collusion and cheating are…


  1. Not properly crediting the ideas and work of others in your references.
  2. Passing other peoples’ ideas, words and research off as your own.

As well as deliberate acts of plagiarism, charges of plagiarism may also be down to poor referencing. This is where 1st years and non-UK based students might need to get themselves up to speed quickly. How you credit and reference your sources for a piece of work is very important. Seek guidance on this from your Programme Handbook and your Programme Leader from the outset. Check any useful information on Moodle, and there may also be special classes put on by your course tutors.


"Conspiring or working together with (an)other(s) on a piece of work that you are expected to produce independently."

If an assessor gets essays or assignments that are remarkably similar in argument and content, or suspects that you have worked with others when you should not have, s/he will ask you in to answer questions about suspected collusion. Often the issue comes down to “when does discussion of work with a colleague constitute collusion with regard to the final piece of work”? You and your colleague(s) will be asked to explain yourselves. So, even in group work, be clear about guidelines and ask your Programme Leader what is and what is not acceptable beforehand.


  1. Taking unauthorised materials into the exam room.
  2. Using unauthorised materials in an exam.
  3. Impersonating someone or allowing yourself to be impersonated in an exam.

If you take the materials into the exam room, it is assumed that it is your intention to use them, even if you personally know you didn’t intend to do so, or you are not actually caught using them. So, if you’re in the habit of reading crib notes just before an exam, don’t just fold them up and stick them in your pocket and go into the exam room with them. Make sure you clearly don’t have access to them for the duration of the exam. Put them in a bag or folder at the door or well away from yourself and other students for the duration of the exam.

Referring to crib notes, information stored in calculators, mobiles, personal organisers on paper, your hand, on equipment, in the toilet cistern, or in electronic formats: it’s all cheating, in the same way as looking at the paper of the person next to you, or communicating about the exam answers with anyone inside or outside of the exam room during the exam.

If you sit an exam for someone else, or allow (or pay for) someone to sit an exam for you, this will be taken very seriously by the University.