Academic Offences

It’s important that you stick to the academic rules and regulations when writing, creating, or presenting work at De Montfort University (DMU). Otherwise, you could be on the receiving end of a serious disciplinary action, such as expulsion!

We understand that all the rules and terminology might be slightly confusing, so we have pulled together an easy read guide to academic offences at DMU.

What is Bad Academic Practice?

Bad academic practice is the unintentional act of committing an academic offence, often due to lack of knowledge of academic procedures, such as referencing.

It is important to note that multiple offences of bad academic practice will be classed as an academic offence and hold severe consequences!

What is an Academic Offence (AO)?

An academic offence is an intentional act of trying to gain an advantage in any University assignment or exam. This can consist of collusion, plagiarism, cheating, copying, reusing work or anything deemed to have been done with dishonest intentions.

Let's Explore these Offences...


Collusion is the deliberate act of presenting work that is not your own but the ideas and words of another student, without reference.

Collusion is recognised by the duplication of ideas and wording in written assignments and oral presentations. Acts of collusion, often involve more than one individual:

The Colluder

The individual passing off information as their own in an assignment.

The Colludee

The student who provides an individual with the material to use.

Collusion or Collaborative Learning?

Collusion is DIFFERENT to collaborative learning and peer support. Collaborative learning includes sharing third-party material such as books and articles!

How to avoid Collusion?

Individual Assignment:

Plan, organise and write an assignment in your own words. (reference your ideas where necessary!)

It is ok to share or receive third party materials from a peer.

Do not let someone write part of your assignment for you.

Do not share your assignment with anyone else.

Group Work:

Plan and organise the assignment together but write the work individually.

Sharing third party materials is ok but sharing and/or writing work for another group members is not ok.


Plagiarism is the deliberate act of producing any work, data, or concepts that are not your own without giving credit to the original source.

You are at risk of plagiarising no matter your course or assignment; written, oral or creative.

Plagiarism is where you do not give credit where it is due, including not showing where your information and ideas have come from. (For example, they might have originated from a book, article, website, designer, or video.)

How does someone plagiarise?

Plagiarism is recognised by:

Word for word duplications.

Copying elements of a specific source.

Reusing pieces of your own work. (self-plagiarism)

The lack of acknowledgment of the origins of your inspiration.

Fabricating results from experiments, observation, and interviews.

Purchasing or acquiring (for free) work that is completed, amended, or improved by a third-party. (also known as Contract Cheating)

How can I avoid plagiarism?

Do NOT copy!

Always, make the reader aware about where your ideas have come from by referencing and using citations properly!


Referencing is the procedure of acknowledging the sources of other people’s work that you have used in your assignments or research.

What does referencing include?

The Reference

The information of the sources which you have used to gain your ideas. (Often in the format of a list, stating the name, title, place, and type of the source.)

The Citation

The intext wording that links back to a designated reference. (Often in the smaller form of a name and date, Smith, 2010 or Mistry and Okunowo, 2018).

Why should I reference?

Referencing and citations allow the reader to locate the material which supports your ideas. It is used as your evidence to show your ideas are reliable and referencing can provide some protection from the act plagiarism. By referencing correctly, it can support you in gaining a better grade as it shows the breath of your research and demonstrates you have a core academic skill!

How do I ensure I am referencing properly?

There are many forms of referencing styles such as Harvard and APA. Refer to your course handbook to see the style you must adhere to.

DMU Library and Learning Service's referencing guide - Follow the reference guide thoroughly making sure all information is in the right place. (Even the commas, and full stops.)

Attend one of the library workshops offering referencing support or contact your Subject Librarian.

Find out more from (CLaSS) Centre for Learning and Study Support.


Cheating is the act of gaining an unfair advantage in an assignment or examination space, in person or online.

What does cheating consist of?

A student commits the offence of cheating in an examination or assignment if they:

Deliberately obtain knowledge of the exam content before the examination.

Copy from another student.

Allow another student to copy your work.

Communicate (or attempt to communicate) with another student in an exam.

Use unauthorised materials in the exam.

Take another students exam or assignment for them.

Have another student take their exam/assignment.

Refuse to comply with a reasonable request made by a member of staff where cheating is suspected.

Collude with others via social media to gain an unfair advantage e.g. in the case of online examination.

Anything deemed to have been done with the intention of gaining an unfair advantage.

Contract Cheating

Contract cheating is the act of paying or simply getting someone to amend, adjust or complete your assignment with the intention to submit the work as your own. It is important to note that payment does not have to occur to make it contract cheating just the act of someone else doing the work for you, which you then submit as if it is your own is contract cheating.

This can include buying or acquiring without payment material from any third party such as friends, family, online sources or strangers.

Contract Cheating is commonly referred to as an essay mill, ghost writing, or simply paying for or getting someone else to produce your work ! Money does not need to be involved to make this contract cheating.

How can I avoid Contract Cheating?

Make sure the work you submit is YOUR OWN work!

Do not pay for or ask someone to amend, adjust or complete any aspect of your university work.

Do not contact any advertisements that imply they can help with university assignments for a small fee (sometimes it might even be a scam!)

Be prepared and plan your assessments in advance.

If you cannot complete your assignment on time, ask for an extension or deferral (evidence may be required for this to be granted)

If you are feeling stressed and need support academically. Speak to your module leader/personal tutor. There is lots of help in the Library and Learning Services for writing, referencing, maths, critical analysis and subjet support. You may use Studiosity for initial help with grammar, spelling and structure, some maths support and access help.

Think before you buy or agree to someone else doing your work!

It can feel like paying for an essay or getting someone else to do it for you is a quick and easy solution to academic problems. However, this type of academic behaviour is neither tolerated nor acceptable within DMU. Contract cheating (for payment or not) could lead you to financial, personal and university issues!... (including being terminated from the university!)

Why are these terms important?

These are explanations of academic offences that you should be familiar with as if you make any of these mistakes, it could result in disciplinary action from the University, including expulsion.

Protect your future by familiarising yourself with the academic offences.

If you find yourself a victim on an academic offence, you can seek our Advice and Wellbeing Team’s support by visiting their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page here.