Academic integrity

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If you have any queries around bad academic practice or academic offences, contact your personal tutor or module leader.

Bad academic practice

Bad academic practice (BAP) includes lack of referencing, poor referencing or the passing off of somebody else's ideas as if originally discovered by the student.

The university takes academic offences very seriously and they can lead to expulsion from the university. We make every effort to ensure that students understand how to avoid committing such offences. This page describes how we deal with first offences, which are usually made through carelessness or misunderstanding.

Bad academic practice includes:

  • Low level duplication without citation, for example errors made through carelessness or misunderstanding 
  • The passing off ideas, data or other information as if originally discovered by the student

Detailed information can be found in our General Regulations.


  1. Why is referencing important?

    You must reference all sources that you use in your work at university. You must reference both direct quotations and at points where you may have re-phrased ideas you have read. This must be done both within the text of your written work (using either footnoting or the name and date method) and in a reference list or bibliography at the end. Your tutor may also expect you to include items of background reading in your bibliography. Unacknowledged re-use of your own work is an academic offence, so you must remember to reference this too.

    Your subject tutors will advise you about which referencing conventions to use in your different modules and will give you some examples to follow.

    Accurate referencing is important because:

    • It demonstrates that you have carried out the required reading and research
    • It allows you to show precisely which ideas have come from your reading and research
    • It enables your reader to trace the sources you have used
    • Your use of referencing and its conventions are likely to be assessed and have an effect on your overall mark
    • A lack of attention to referencing may lead to an allegation of plagiarism
    • It indicates a generally thorough approach to academic work
    • It is accepted good academic practice to acknowledge the work of others and would be unethical not to do so
    • Your work becomes part of academic debate in a wider academic community where referencing is fundamental
    • You are contributing to the academic community, because other writers and researchers can find and follow up interesting leads from your references

    You can learn more about referencing and how to implement it into your work at the Library and Learning Services.

  2. Procedure

    First year students: first instance

    If you have carried out low-level duplication, your module leader or other appropriate member of academic staff will discuss this with you and advise you how to avoid making the same mistakes in future.

    If you have passed off somebody else’s ideas as your own, your tutors will discuss this with you in detail and will advise you on how to avoid this in future.

    In either case, you may be given training or remedial work. The discussion will be recorded and logged in your student file.

    In some instances, the mark awarded for the assessment will be reduced and will reflect the proportion of work that is original content.

    First year students: second instance, and returning and Masters students: first instance

    You will be invited to meet with an Academic Practice Officer (APO). APOs are based within each faculty and it is their role to advise on how to prevent bad academic practice and academic offences and to deal with serious cases.

    The APO will give you a formal written warning that will be logged in your student file and will recommend appropriate actions to avoid recurrences.

    Returning and postgraduate students: further instances

    These instances will be dealt with as an academic offence.

    Students' Union representation

    If you are informed that you are suspected of bad academic practice then you may wish to consult with a De Montfort University Students' Union welfare and education advisor. In any case you can get independent, confidential advice and representation from DSU Advice.



Academic offences

Academic offences include plagiarism, cheating, collusion, copying work, acquiring work and reuse of your own work, among others.

The university takes academic offences very seriously and they can lead to expulsion. We make every effort to ensure that students understand how to avoid committing such offences. Detailed information can be found in our General Regulations.

  1. Examples of academic offence


    Plagiarism can be defined as the significant use of other people's work and the submission of it as though it were one's own in assessed coursework (such as dissertations, essays, experiments etc).

    This includes:

    • Copying from another student's work
    • Copying text without acknowledgement
    • Downloading information and/or text from the internet and using it without acknowledgement
    • Submitting work and claiming it to be your own when it has been produced by a group
    • Submitting group work without acknowledging all contributors

    The university uses software packages to detect plagiarism.

    Contract cheating

    Contract cheating is when a third party completes work for a student and the student submits it as their own.

    The "contract" element may involve some sort of financial exchange, but can also include family and friends or other students completing assignments for you.

    Contract cheating is a serious academic offence and has now been deemed illegal.


    Cheating in examinations means trying to gain unfair advantage over your fellow students.

    For example:

    • Having notes, programmable calculators or any other information on or near your desk or on your person, which are not allowed in the examination, whether you use it or not
    • Having any mobile telephone or other communication device on your person during an examination
    • Copying from the examination script of another candidate
    • Helping another candidate


    Collusion is the deliberate attempt to gain advantage by presenting work that is not solely your own as if it were, where the source of the unreferenced work is that of another student who has connived to deceive. Being party to collusion in providing material for another student is just as much an academic offence as using such material.

    Ethics offences

    This includes failure to follow correct procedures for undertaking research without ethics approval.

    Fabrication or falsificaition of results

    This is when a student claims to have carried out experiments, observations, interviews, data collection or any form of research that they have not in fact carried out. Fabrication includes the creation of false data.

    Repeated bad academic practice

    Students who have repeated cases of bad academic practice could be found to have committed an academic offence.

    Re-use of work

    The re-use of own work without reference to said work is an academic offence. If you do re-use your own work you must reference it.

    Submitting someone else's work

    It is an academic offence for a student to acquire (or attempt to acquire) and then subsequently submit work that they have not written or produced themselves.

    This includes, but is not limited to, work that is purchased from third parties and/or online sources and work that has been substantially amended and/or improved by a third party.

  2. Procedure

    Please be advised that DSU Advice can provide you with advice and support. They can be contacted on 0116 255 5576 or via email at

    Academic practice officers

    If you are suspected of committing an academic offence you will be called to a meeting with an Academic Practice Officer (APO). APOs are based within in each faculty and it is their role to advise on how to prevent bad academic practice and academic offences and to deal with serious cases.

    You have the right to be accompanied by a member of De Montfort University Students' Union, university staff or your family but not normally a solicitor or barrister acting in a professional capacity. If you prefer, you can make a written statement instead of attending the meeting.

    At the meeting, the APO will discuss the alleged offence with you. The APO may also suggest further training or remedial work. If the APO considers you guilty, they will impose an appropriate penalty.

    If your offence is a second offence, or is otherwise deemed serious, it will be referred to a panel.

    If you are a research student, the role of the APO will be undertaken by your Faculty Head of Research Students.

    Penalties that can be imposed by APOs include:

    • Setting aside the component or assignment concerned and requiring you to complete it as if for the first time
    • Failure of the component. You will be reassessed and the mark capped if appropriate and not disproportionate in effect
    • Failure of the component and the module. You will be reassessed in the module.
    • APO will, following discussion with a colleague from the Academic Support Office, submit your case to the Academic Offences Panel

    Academic Offences Panel

    Second instances of offences will be referred to the Academic Offences Panel. The panel is chaired by a senior member of academic staff and consists of an independent member of the Academic Board or Research Degrees Committee, the President of the students' union (or nominee) and a nominee from Student & Academic Services.

    You will be given at least 14 days written notice of the hearing, which will take place whether you attend or not. You have the right to appear and make your case and to be accompanied by a representative who may speak on your behalf. The representative may be a member of the students' union, DMU or your family but may not normally be a solicitor or barrister acting in a professional capacity. The APO will appear and make the case against you.

    The panel will decide whether, on the balance of probabilities, the offence occurred or not. If the panel does decide that an offence occurred, one of the following penalties may be imposed, depending on the seriousness of the offence and the panel's views on your evidence in mitigation:

    • Expulsion, to incorporate failure of any and all assessments or examinations taken during that session
    • Reduction of the degree classification achieved or to be achieved by one class (applicable to final level students only)
    • Suspension from the university for one year (or part thereof) and failure in that academic year (or specified part thereof) and the student to retake the assessments with or without attendance as determined by the panel
    • Failure of that academic year (or specified part thereof) and the student to retake its assessments, with or without attendance as determined by the panel
    • Refer back to the APO for reconsideration under their powers

    Right of appeal

    You have the right to appeal against a panel decision on the following grounds only:

    • There is new and relevant evidence that you were exceptionally unable to present to the panel hearing
    • The panel failed to follow the procedures set out in the regulations and their decision may have been different had they followed the procedures
    • There is evidence of prejudice or bias in the decision reached by the panel.

    The appeal procedure is explained in the university's General Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students.