Academic Development and Quality Enhancement

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct policy

The University's regulations and policy on Academic Misconduct are published in Section 2.9 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook available on the following web pages:

Academic Misconduct includes the following:

  • Collusion
  • Plagiarism
  • Personation
  • Misconduct in unseen exams
  • Fabrication of results

It is University policy that the values of academic integrity are promoted.  These values include honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility.  Academic misconduct is prevented by educating students in appropriate academic conduct. Guidance on avoiding academic misconduct can be found on the Study Success at Sussex webpages.  

Where markers suspect academic misconduct in assessment they should mark the work in line with Regulation 2.9.7 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations and not assign a mark where major collusion or plagiarism is suspected.

Concerns regarding academic misconduct must be considered seriously and referred to the Module Convenor. Where a concern has been raised, the student will be given an opportunity to present their case. For cases of academic misconduct which are proven, a penalty will be applied. Penalties that can be applied are detailed in section 2.9.14 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

The flowcharts below and accompanying guidance on these web pages are provided to set out the sequence of events and what is required at each stage of the process:

A list of Academic Misconduct Panel members and Investigating Officers is also available. 

Summary of the process

Where academic misconduct is suspected, the Module Convenor will send an Academic Misconduct Notice of Advice Letter [DOC 32.00KB] to inform the student that a concern has been raised and to refer the student to published guidance on academic integrity in assessment and avoiding academic misconduct. This notice is copied to appropriate members of staff in the School.

An Evidence File will be prepared by the Module Convenor which includes an Academic Misconduct Cover Sheet [DOC 42.00KB] outlining details of the concern raised. This is referred to the Investigating Officer of the School which owns the module, who will determine the type of case and whether the student has any previous academic misconduct. Their determination could be one of the following:

  • First case of collusion or plagiarism
  • Minor misconduct
  • Major misconduct
  • No case to answer

 In all cases, students will receive written confirmation of the Investigating Officer's decision using the Investigation of Academic Misconduct Letter Template [DOC 33.00KB].

Minor misconduct

In the case of a minor misconduct investigation, the Evidence File is passed to the Head of School. The Head of School (or nominee) interviews the student and decides whether the allegation of academic misconduct is upheld.  Where upheld, the standard penalty of 10 percentage points will be deducted from the mark for the assessment. The Academic Misconduct - Minor Misconduct Interview Guidance [DOC 43.50KB] must be referred to and the form completed.

Major misconduct

In the case of a major misconduct investigation, an Academic Misconduct Panel will be arranged. This will comprise of four members – the Chair, an academic panel member, and two representatives from the Students’ Union. A note taker will also be in attendance to record the outcomes of each case. Students are invited to attend to present their case and are entitled to be accompanied by either a member of University faculty or a representative from the Student Voice Advocates. 

Where the case is of exam misconduct and the candidate has not been considered by the Panel previously, the case will be delegated to a designated Chair for decision and the student will not normally be invited to attend a Panel.  See Academic Misconduct Flowchart Part 4 (Major route for exam - first panel) [DOCX 47.88KB] and the procedure for considering exam misconduct.

The Panel will consider the evidence file and hear from the student, if they have chosen to attend. The Panel will then determine if there is a case and apply a penalty, as appropriate. A standard penalty will apply in all cases where the candidate has not been considered by the Panel previously - this will be a reduction of the assessment mark to zero. The more severe penalties are reserved for cases where the candidate has been considered by the Panel previously.  Outcomes of Academic Misconduct Panels will be confirmed in writing within 10 working days.

The following procedure is provided for a case of personation to be considered, for example, where there is a concern that an essay has been purchased online Procedure for considering personation cases [DOCX 20.72KB]

First Case of collusion or plagiarism

The Investigating Officer will determine whether the case is major or minor and confirm that it is a First Case of plagiarism or collusion.

Within 10 days of marks publication, the Module Convenor must arrange to meet with the student using the Academic Misconduct Template Invite to Module Convenor Meeting [DOC 30.00KB].  The purpose of the meeting is to explain the proportion of the work judged to be plagiarised or subject to collusion and to explain that the mark that has been determined has been based on the work considered to be the student's own. Guidance is available for Module Convenors meeting with students about a First Case of collusion or plagiarism, Academic Misconduct Guidelines for Module Convenors (First Case) [DOC 45.00KB]. The student will be asked to attend an Academic Practice Workshop. An Academic Misconduct First Case Collusion_Plagiarism Form (15-16) [DOCX 27.22KB] will be completed as a record.

The student may accept the referral to the Academic Practice Workshop, or decline, or choose to challenge the decision. Challenging the allegation of collusion or plagiarism would involve electing to go through the relevant standard procedure (major or minor).

Referral to an Academic Practice Workshop will be recorded on the student's assessment record (but not as a misoncudt case); attendance and satisfactory engagement at the Academic Practice Workshop will be recorded and will be taken into consideration if a further academic misconduct case occurs.

Where a further concern of collusion or plagiarism occurs (major/minor), the full major procedure will be applied.

No case to answer

Where there is no case to answer or academic misconduct is not proven, work will be fully marked and the Evidence File pertaining to the case will be destroyed leaving no reference to academic misconduct on the student's record.

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