This guide explains what you should do if you are accused of academic misconduct. The full details of the Student Academic Misconduct Procedure can be found in the Academic Manual (Chapter 6; Section 9). You can also find more information about Academic Integrity on the UCL website.
Academic Misconduct used to be known as examination irregularities at UCL. It can relate to all methods of assessment (coursework, exams), and both summative and formative assessment.
You can be penalised for:
- Plagiarism: copying from authors without referencing, not using quotation marks or taking sections from other people’s work and altering it to make it look like your own.
- Self-plagiarism: using parts of an assignment you submitted earlier in the course in a second assignment.
- Collusion: copying from other students, allowing your work to be copied and working with other students without permission.
- Falsification: falsifying data or misrepresenting information.
- Cheating: exam room misconduct.
- Contract Cheating: submitting someone else’s work as your own, a very serious offence.
- Any conduct that would give an unfair academic advantage to a student.
The following are not considered Academic Misconduct:
- Poor Academic Practice: where a student has not received teaching on Academic Misconduct and proper referencing. Students will not be given a penalty, but a chance to correct their work and resubmit.
- Language and Writing Review: where a third party has checked areas of academic writing. This may become Academic Misconduct if substantial and significant changes are made.
The Advice Service can advise you on the relevant regulations, help you to put together your response to the allegation and attend meetings or hearings with you. To book an appointment, please use our registration form.
Changes to the Academic Misconduct Procedure for 2021
Due to Covid-19 a number of changes have been made to the Academic Misconduct Procedure. They can be found here. This includes:
- The applied penalty can deviate from the official guidance, with Faculty Tutor approval.
- The penalty for academic misconduct can be accepted without need for a panel. However, a panel must still be offered and all students have the right to dispute an academic misconduct allegation.
First instances of plagiarism, collusion or falsification, may be dealt with by the Module Leader, Programme Leader, Departmental Tutor or Exam Board Chair. In some cases first offences will be referred to a Departmental Panel. A first offence may carry one of the following penalties:
- An informal reprimand.
- A reduced or zero mark for the component or module and a requirement to re-submit the assignment.
Second Offences and More Serious Breaches of Conduct
In more serious breaches in conduct, the Module Convenor will determine whether to refer the allegation to the Academic Misconduct Panel or to a Departmental Panel.
The following are referred to the Academic Misconduct Panel:
- A second or repeat offence occurring at separate examination periods.
- An attempt to access the assessed coursework of another candidate without that candidate’s knowledge.
- Contract cheating is automatically referred to an Academic Misconduct Panel.
- A sufficiently serious breach of the regulations, which could lead to the termination of the student’s registration at UCL.
The penalty may be one or more of the following:
- An informal reprimand.
- A reduced or zero mark for the component or module.
- A requirement to re-submit the assignment.
- No degree/diploma/certificate being awarded before the expiry of a stated period.
- No degree/diploma/certificate be awarded to the student.
- The student is exclude from UCL and not permitted to re-enrol but may be able to get an interim qualification.
- The student is excluded from UCL and is not permitted re-enrol and will not be permitted to receive a qualification, even if eligible.
Writing a Statement
If you have received an allegation of Academic Misconduct from your department, you may have been requested to attend a Departmental or Academic Misconduct Panel. In this case, you are invited to respond to the allegation, in the form of a written statement. Please see our academic misconduct statement guide for information on how to write a statement below.
Your supervisor or tutor may also be willing to write a short statement on your behalf. If they are happy to do this, some things they could note include:
- A character reference
- Some details and/or evidence of past high quality academic work
- A rationale for why you could have used lecture slides/notes
- Any information about academic integrity sessions/notes you have been given – did they include information about how to avoid the misconduct you have been alleged of?
- how your work could be raised as plagiarism - did you use definitions? Formulas which cannot be altered? Are some answers likely to be the same for all students because there is only one, or a finite number of, correct answers?
It is possible to appeal against a decision made using the Academic Misconduct procedures.
The Advice Service can assist you with making an appeal. The appeal must be submitted within 10 working days of the formal notification of the Panel’s decision so if you require support, please get in touch as soon as you receive your decision.