Bad academic practice

Bad academic practice 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 webpage 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 Chapter 4 of the General Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students

The importance of referencing

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/date method) and in a reference list and/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

Further sources of information

Centre for Learning and Study Support:

Faculty Advice Centre

What happens next?

Year 1 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.

Year 1 students – second instance and returning and master's
students – first instance

You will be invited to meet with an academic practice officer. 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 the DSU Advice centre in the students' union.

DSU Advice
De Montfort Students' Union 
First Floor 
Campus Centre Building 

T: +44 (0)116 257 6307

Contact details

Further advice on bad academic practice and academic offences can be obtained by emailing or via your Student Advice Centre.  Alternatively, you can refer to Chapter 4 of the General Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students.