Information from the University on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct can be found here.


What is academic misconduct?

The University’s definition of academic misconduct is:

Gaining or attempting to gain, or helping others to gain or attempt to gain, an unfair academic advantage in formal University assessment, or any activity likely to undermine the integrity essential to scholarship and research. It includes being in possession of unauthorised materials or electronic devices during an examination, including recording or communication devices or devices that can store data, even where Registered Students are unaware that such materials or devices are unauthorised, have no intention of using them, or are unaware that they have them in their possession.

Academic misconduct includes plagiarism, self-plagiarism, contract cheating, collusion, impersonating someone or being impersonated in an examination, fabrication, falsification or misrepresentation of data and/or results and failure to meet legal, ethical and professional obligations in carrying out research. 

You may also wish to familiarise yourself with the University's guidance on Artificial Intelligence, assessment integrity, and implications for education.


If you are suspected of academic misconduct

This guidance applied to all University courses from 1 October 2023.

For work submitted before October 2023, please access this link.

Examiners are experts in their field and are likely to detect work that is poorly referenced and/or plagiarised. If plagiarism is suspected, the University might use specialist software such as Turnitin UK that can detect the presence of matching text found within other academic materials. Further information on the use of Turnitin at the University of Cambridge can be found here.



Where academic misconduct is suspected, the case may be investigated by the department or faculty. The investigation is conducted by the Chair of Examiners, the Senior Examiner or the Chair of the Degree Committee (the Chair). 

This guidance outlines the process from the point of an investigation being conducted at the department level to a potential referral to the Student Discipline Process.


Timeline of events where an investigation is commissioned

1. The Chair or the delegated person will gather the relevant information which, depending on the case, may include:

• Concern Form

• Student’s submitted assessment

• Turnitin Report

• Original source material

• Analysis from the assessor/examiner regarding the likelihood of inappropriate use of the original source material (either part of the Concern form or a separate statement)

• Copy of statement confirming the assessment is student’s own work;

• Information that the student has received regarding referencing/academic integrity.

2. The Chair will determine whether to meet with you to gather your account, or to request a written statement from you where the matter is straightforward. If a meeting is arranged, you will have an opportunity to respond and ask questions about the suspected academic misconduct. You may ask to bring a supporter with you, such as your Tutor, a friend, a family member, or an Advisor from the Student Advice Service

3. Whether a meeting is arranged or you are asked for a written statement, you should be told in advance what the meeting is about. You would either be provided with all investigative materials to allow you to familiarise yourself with the materials in advance and then respond to detailed questions. Or, you could be provided with a summary of the suspected academic misconduct.

The following people may attend the meeting:

• one of the Examiner(s)/Assessor(s) responsible for examining the assessment;

• the student or students;

• the student’s College Tutor, Graduate Tutor or Director of Studies;

• if the student wishes, an additional supporter or representative in addition to the College member (e.g. an Advisor from the Student Advice Service);

• a note taker;

• (optional) a member of OSCCA, to provide procedural advice only.

Following the meeting, the student would normally receive the outcome within a week.


Preparing for a meeting

• It is a good idea to look over the assessment in question to see if you can identify any mistakes;

• Listen to the concerns and the evidence presented to you before responding;

• Think about what may have led to the academic misconduct, make a note of this and present it at the meeting if you think it might clarify the situation;

• Bring any notes and supporting academic materials relevant to the assessment in question if you think will help explain your study methods;

• Be honest about what happened and what you think led to the academic misconduct even if it means admitting to breaching the rules of behaviour;

• Present any personal circumstances and supporting evidence such as illness, difficult family circumstances, financial difficulties, disability, etc. and explain how these may have impacted the assessment in question;

• Consider expressing remorse and insight into the situation as this is usually taken into account when imposing sanctions.


Possible outcomes

• There is no evidence of academic misconduct, and no further action should be taken;

• There is evidence of academic misconduct and sanctions will be imposed;

• There is evidence of academic misconduct and further sanctions than those available to the Chair may be required, consequently, the matter requires a referral to the Discipline Committee.

Within the Procedure, Chairs of Examiners, Senior Examiners and Chairs of Degree Committees are permitted to impose the following sanctions:

• An educative session regarding academic integrity;

• A mark for the assessment that only reflects the parts of the assessment not affected by academic misconduct;

• A mark of 0 for the assessment affected by academic misconduct;

• An apology;

• A written reflection;

• Where re-sits are permitted by the course of study regulations, a re-sit assessment where the maximum mark permitted is a pass mark.

Further information on each of these sanctions can be found in the guidance, pages 12 - 17.

Once the decision has been made, the Chair shall write to you with the outcome and reasons for the outcome.

If the matter is referred to OSCCA, the full investigation materials, the student’s examination results (if known) and classing criteria must be sent to OSCCA at the same time as the decision letter.



If the Chair refers the case to OSCCA, this will be investigated using the Student Disciplinary Procedure. Further information on the process, including guidance on sanctions and a flowchart of discipline procedure, can be accessed here.

You might also find helpful our resource on the Student Disciplinary Procedure, which can be accessed here


Possible outcomes

• Reduce the mark for the paper to 0;

• (further) Reduction of classification for the year by one class or division, or grade;

• Educative session with the Director of Studies or Departmental staff;

• A written reflection;

• Temporary or permanent removal from the University.

Full guidance on sanctions can be found here.


Resources and support

Guidance on referencing can be found here.

Further guidance on study skills (good academic practice, recognising plagiarism, academic integrity, etc.) can be found here.

A list of sources of support, including the University Library, Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre, Counselling, Careers and Language Centres and more can be accessed here.

Study skills resources can be accessed here, and this includes time management, reading, note taking and research, library and IT skills.

You might also wish to visit our Study Skills web page, which includes some of the resources mentioned above and more.