Using generative AI in your assessments



What is generative AI?

Generative AI includes a range of tools which can generate human like responses to questions and prompts (this guide will focus on text-based tools). Tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot are large language models (LLMs), which are trained using large amounts of text to predict the next most likely word. Large Language models learn to understand the statistical relationships between common sequences of characters (tokens), and can then produce the next character in a sequence. This means that the writing they produce is based on probability not understanding i.e. which word is most likely to follow another. Models are trained on data from webpages, social media and other online content.

Generative AI’s are very good at creating new content quickly, however, it's important to be aware that AI models frequently produce responses that look plausible but contain factual errors. In the case of an assessment would result in you receiving a poor mark or potentially failing an assignment. Outputs should always be critically evaluated.

Some examples of Generative AI tools for text creation are:

  • ChatGPT
  • Gemini
  • Claude
  • CoPilot

The University of Sussex does not recommend any of these tools for assessment. Microsoft CoPilot is now available for University of Sussex students and staff. The University’s subscription doesn’t retain prompts and responses, aren’t used as part of the models training and the data is encrypted.


What are the limitations of AI?

  • Reliability: AI models produce plausible and well-written responses, however, frequently make factual errors (referred to as “hallucinations”), make up quotes and citations, only present one side of an argument. This means that they are not suitable for unmediated use in academic work. Remember that increasingly generative AIs are being used to create content for the web including fake new and deep fakes.
  • Currency: Generative AI’s knowledge isn’t necessarily up-to-date, so wouldn’t always be able to give you reliable information about current events.
  • Specialist areas: They perform better in subjects that are widely written about, and less well in niche or specialist areas.
  • Bias: Generative AIs are not free from bias. Models will preference Western viewpoints and can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and biases. Tools like ChatGPT, Google Gemini, MS Copilot are trained on data created by humans and primarily in English data scraped from the internet. There are also concerns that as AIs generate more and more content for the internet this same content will be used to train models and lead to degeneration and a loss of diversity.
  • Ethics: In some cases AI tools have been trained on unlicensed information without the consent of the author. Models will also use your data to train themselves unless you opt out. AIs outputs are often checked by human reviewers (known as Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback) to ensure responses are accurate and appropriate. This has raised some ethical concerns around the working conditions of content moderators.
  • Access/Equity: The full functionality of AI tools are usually only available via subscription, which we would discourage anyone from doing on an individual basis.
  • Privacy: It’s important not to share personal/private information with AI tools. Some tools allow you to opt out of using your conversations to train the algorithm.

It’s important to remember that anyone can put anything on the internet, therefore, it’s likely that Generative AI models have been trained on incorrect, biased and copyrighted information. You always need to be critical of sources. There are lots of resources available on Skills Hub on Critical Thinking. One approach to evaluating sources is the CRAAP test.


Can I use generative AI to edit or proofread my assessements?

If you ask someone to proofread your work, they can only make minor suggestions about grammar, vocabulary, expression, and word order. They cannot make changes directly to your work as the general principle of any contributory (summative) assessment is that the structure, argumentation, content, analysis and conclusions are wholly your own, unless properly cited and acknowledged to the original source.

The same rules apply to using AI tools like ChatGPT or advanced features in Grammarly. The use of a proofreader or AI tool to generate an assignment (or part of an assignment) and submit this as if it is all your own work will be regarded as academic misconduct and treated as ‘personation’ under the University’s  Academic Misconduct Policy.

A proofreader (person or AI) may not:

  • rewrite sections where argumentation or logic is unclear,
  • rewrite sections to improve paraphrasing,
  • rearrange paragraphs and sentences with the intention of improving structure,
  • rearrange paragraphs and sentences with the intention of improving the argument,
  • correct calculations, data, or factual errors etc,
  • make substantial changes or correction to the references and bibliography.

A proofreader (person or AI) may:

  • identify errors in grammar, vocabulary, expression and word order, only making specific minor suggestions where the communication is clear,
  • highlight areas where communication is unclear or where there is inconsistent use of a referencing system.

A proofreader may not be used for assessments where the use of language and the formal accuracy of the work form part of the mark.

Any suggestions made by a person or an AI proofreading your work should be retained in case of any concerns about academic misconduct. We recommend saving and writing your assignments using your University of Sussex OneDrive account as this will automatically keep version history.

Students registered with the Disability Advice team and in receipt of reasonable adjustments are still permitted to use other assistive technology as recommended by the University in their Learning Support Plan.

Support and guidance available:


Can I use Grammarly?

It's fine to use Grammarly to improve basic grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. However, you should not use Grammarly's generative AI features to meaningfully change your work. The same restrictions apply to Grammarly as they do to a proofreader, and you should think carefully about which changes you accept, as it remains your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your work.

  • Video transcript

    In line with the Sussex Proofreading Policy, you can use Grammarly to identify errors in grammar, vocabulary, expression and word order, which this short video will demonstrate. This should be limited to minor language correction, which is available via the free version of Grammarly. Do not pay for the premium version. Along with being an unnecessary expense, some functionality of the premium version contravenes the proofreading policy, which may result in academic misconduct.

    The Sussex Proofreading Policy, which applies to Grammarly, states that a proofreader may not make substantial changes to the content. This means that Grammarly should not rewrite sections to improve paraphrasing, or where argumentation or logic is unclear. It should not rearrange paragraphs in sentences with the intention of improving the structure or argument. It should not correct calculations, data, or factual errors, nor should it make substantial changes or corrections to the references and bibliography. With that in mind, let's look at how you can use Grammarly for minor language correction, to benefit your learning and understanding, while avoiding academic misconduct.

    Go to the web version of Grammarly. Upload your document. You will see the suggested changes in the Review Suggestions panel on the right of the page. Think about the suggestions and use your critical thinking skills to decide which to incorporate. For example, I would like this to read create your own audio book. So I'm going to dismiss this suggestion. I will accept the spelling suggestion, removing the preposition, correcting the pronoun, adding the hyphen, adding the comma and changing the preposition. Now that we've finished, click on the Grammarly menu at the top left of the screen and download from the pop-out side menu. Keep copies of your original version and updated version in case of any concerns about academic misconduct.

    We recommend saving and writing your assignments using your University of Sussex OneDrive account folder, as this will automatically keep version history.


Can I use generative AI tools to translate my work?

Using AI to translate your work into English, or another language will be regarded as academic misconduct and treated as ‘personation’ under the University’s Academic Misconduct Policy. It is important to note that minor (single word) translation is permitted, however, translating substantial sections of text is not.

All work submitted for assessment should be your own work and prepared in the language required by the assessment and must not be translated by a third party (person or AI).

If a translation service is required for an assessment, you will be required to confirm the section/s of the assessment that have been translated and whether they were translated by yourself or someone/something else. More

If you need support with writing, there is additional support available:

  • English Language for Academic Study (ELAS) offers workshops and 1-2-1 support for students working in English as an additional language.

Writing Support is available through:

There may also be writing support available through your School/Department.


Can I use generative AI to write my assessments?

If the use of AI has been permitted by your school in a particular module or assessment task then this will be stated clearly in your assessment guidance. Currently, in most modules, it is not permitted. See the following section for more guidance.

It’s important to remember that in written submissions if a person or AI other than yourself prepares the work, part of the work, or provides substantial assistance with work submitted this would be considered academic misconduct.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • AI generated text or responses
  • Purchasing essays from essay banks
  • Commissioning someone else to write an assessment
  • Writing an assessment for someone else (including where no benefit is gained by the student producing the assessment)

It’s important to remember that all work submitted for assessment should be your own work and all sources of information used in preparing must be fully acknowledged.

See Skills Hub for more guidance on referencing and academic integrity.


How do I know if the use of AI is permitted on my module?

If the use of AI has been permitted by your school in a particular module or assessment task then this will be stated clearly in your assessment guidance. If AI is not permitted on your module it will be because its use would mean you miss out on the knowledge and skills the module is designed to teach.

If in any doubt about what is permissible, you should check with the module convenor. The statements should appear as below:

Generative AI tools must not be used to generate any materials or content for this assessment: The purpose and format of this assessment makes it inappropriate or impractical for AI tools to be used.

Students registered with the Disability Advice team and in receipt of reasonable adjustments are still permitted to use other assistive technology as recommended by the University in their Learning Support Plan.

Generative AI tools can be used in an assistive role: You are permitted to use generative AI tools for specific defined processes within this assessment.


Generative AI has an integral role: AI can be used as a primary tool throughout the assessment process.

It’s important to note that such permissions are for specific assessments and in the particular module only. You should not assume they apply in other modules.

If you are permitted to use generative AI tools then you will need to keep a record of your prompts, the outputs and how you used them to inform/develop your final submission.


Can I use AI tools to support my learning?

In limited ways you can use AI tools to assist with your learning.

  • Providing explanations and definitions of difficult concepts or theories.
  • Summarising texts, transcripts and notes or re-presenting in a way that helps you to understand/remember theories and ideas. For example, as a song or a play.
  • Help with planning. For example, suggesting a structure for a piece of work.
  • Improving your grammar and writing style.
  • Help finding academic literature

It’s important to note that AIs can be used to support your understanding, but shouldn’t be copied into your assignments as this would constitute academic misconduct. It's best practice to keep a record of all your prompts and outputs.


How do I reference the use of AI in my work?

If you have been given explicit permission by your tutor then current guidance on a suggested format is:

I acknowledge the use of [1. insert AI system(s) and link] on [date] to [2.specific use of generative artificial intelligence]. The prompts used include [3. list of prompts]. The output from these prompts was used to [4. explain use].

AI tools cannot be cited as you would the author of a book because it is not possible to refer your reader to an original source and nor are AI tools considered authors (AI tools generate content based on the training dataset).


Alternative tools to generative AI

It’s important to understand that there is an ever increasing range of AI tools available and the quality of responses will vary depending on a number of factors including the quality of the prompts, whether you are using the free or subscribed version and if it’s the right tool for the job.

ActivityGenerative AIRelevant tool

Generative AI tools often create fictional citations and in most cases won’t provide citations at all. There are tools available which reference all sources of information, however, may not accurately format the citation as required by you school/department.

It’s important to be aware that using a source without acknowledging it would amount to plagiarism. Find out how to avoid plagiarism on Skills Hub.

Your school will have specific guidance on which referencing style you should be using. The below tools will help you with your citations and bibliographies. More importantly, they will help you to stay organised and avoid accidental plagiarism.

  • Zotero,
  • Endnote,
  • Zoterobib.

Find the Referencing and academic integrity guidance on Skills Hub.

Finding academic sources

It’s important to remember that LLM are not databases.

Not all AI tools will:

  • provide citations.
  • find current, high-quality, peer reviewed articles.
  • find the most relevant resource for answering a research question.
  • find genuine sources.

There are tools like Research Rabbit which provide lists of sources based on an article, which can help with unstructured searching. However, in order to undertake systematic searches you’ll need to use tools like Library search, Web of Science and Scopus.

Publication research tools include:

  • Research Rabbit (Free): a visual citation literature mapping tool similar features in Scopus and Web of Science.
  • Elicit (Subscription): finds scientific literature from the Semantic Scholar corpus and automates parts of the research process including finding keywords, summarising and extracting key information.
  • Scite (Subscription): finds scientific articles, categorises citations based on context and provides supporting or contrasting evidence for the source reference.

The University of Sussex does not recommend any of these tools for assessment.

Through Library Search and your Subject Resource Guides you can access high quality, academic, peer reviewed research quickly and easily.

Scopus and Web of Science allow you to visualise connection between articles and filter effectively by subject areas. If you’re writing a literature review then structured searching will be essential.

When undertaking your research remember that tools like Google Scholar search all subject areas. You’re more likely to find subject specific materials by using subject databases. Examples of some of the resources available through the library include:

  • Literature Online (LION) is ideal for English students and let you find criticism easily
  • Reaxys is perfectly design for Chemistry students look for chemical compound properties, structures and reactions.
  • Nexis allows you to search for news across the range of newspapers and countries.

Also if you're searching for archival/primary/statistical sources then AI searches won't discover these resources. Examples available throught the library include:

  • Independent Voices a collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals.
  • Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice brings together primary source documents from archives and libraries acros the US and UK.
  • Orbis provides access to finacial data for public and private companies worldwide.

The library regularly runs workshops on search skills and offers 1-2-1 support.

Checking Facts

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are trained on large datasets at a certain point in time, so won’t necessarily have up-to-date information e.g., the free version of ChatGPT-3.5 was trained on data up until January 2022. Tools like Perplexity search the web, however, internet searches aren’t necessarily the best place to find subject relevant, academic sources.

It’s important to remember that because there are many possible responses to a question there is an element of randomness in AI models so you can get different answers to the same question.

Like Wikipedia, AI generated summaries can be a good starting point, however, the best place to check facts or find introductory materials for a topic is by using your reading list (which you'll find on your module Canvas site), subject encyclopaedias and textbooks, which will also provide a bibliography of sources used and be relevant to your specific discipline.

You can access dictionaries and encyclopaedia resources via Library Search and Subject Guides.

Summarising articles and book chapters

AI generated summaries of texts are not replacements for critically engaging with sources for your research.

An AI generated summary may help you get a general sense of text, but may miss out the nuances or misrepresent arguments.

Critically engaging with your sources will help improve your understanding of the topic and will also help you to bring your own voice and informed perspective to a debate. When writing your assignment it may be more engaging for yourself (and your reader) if you’re identifying novel and unique connections rather than relying on a general overview produced by AI which everyone will have seen.

When researching for your assignment you need to read critically and keep your research question in mind to identify information relevant to your argument. General summaries won’t be tailored to your research question.

Resources available via Skills Hub on:

Please note that given the rapid development of AI tools, this information may at times become out of date. This page was last updated on May 7 2024.