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.
What is Academic Misconduct?
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. This applies to all current and former students of UCL, including undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students.
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. This also includes falsification of Extenuating Circumstances evidence, assessment submission receipts and the Word Count of a submission.
- Cheating: exam room misconduct.
- Contract Cheating: submitting someone else’s work as your own, a very serious offence.
- File Sharing: sharing assessment content with other students or third parties where this is not authorised by your department.
- Any conduct that would give an unfair academic advantage to a student.
The full list of definitions is available in Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual
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 contact form.
Expedited Academic Misconduct Process 2023-24
You may be offered a penalty without the need for a panel. You should still receive evidence of the alleged Academic Misconduct.
However, it is your right to dispute an academic misconduct allegation. If you do not accept the penalty, then your case will be considered through the standard procedures, set out here
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:
- A reduction of marks for the component in which the offence took place.
- A 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.
- Falsification of Extenuating Circumstances.
- Examination Misconduct.
- Online Assessment Misconduct.
- Any attempt to tamper with coursework after submission.
- Contract cheating.
- Plagiarism, collusion or falsification by a Research student in work presented for upgrade or final examination.
- Any other conduct that would give a student an unfair academic advantage.
- Any conduct which is likely to affect the security of an assessment.
The penalty may be one or more of the following:
- A reduced or zero mark for the component or module.
- A requirement to re-submit the assignment.
- A fail for the upgrade or final examination.
- 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 excluded 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.
If you have received an allegation of Contract Cheating, Collusion or improper use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), you may be invited to an investigatory viva (meeting) to establish authorship. This meeting should check your understanding of the key concepts and ideas in your work, such as the research methodology used, how you went about writing and completing the work, and what sources you used and why.
If the Departmental Panel believe that there is evidence to suggest that a student is not the author, then the case will considered further. You may be invited to an Academic Misconduct Panel.
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.