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.  Please refer to Chapter 4 of the General Regulations & Procedures Affecting Students for detailed information.

For details of the normal tariffs for Bad Academic Practice and Academic Offences (Students on Taught Programmes) please see the Annex to Chapter 4 of the Regulations.


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.


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.

Re-use of own 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.

Acquiring and submitting work not written by the student

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.

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.

Academic practice officers: penalties

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.

Academic offences panel: penalties

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 

Student representation

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

Contact details

Further advice on academic offences can be obtained by emailing