Academic Integrity

What is Academic Integrity, why is it important, and what happens if you breach it?


The importance of Academic Integrity
Resources to help you develop good academic practice
Failure to meet UCL’s Academic Integrity requirements
What happens if Academic Misconduct is found in my work?
Frequently Asked Questions


Academic Integrity means being honest in your academic work, and making sure that you formally recognise and reference the existing knowledge and ideas on which your work is based. If you do not acknowledge the work or ideas of others, you could be penalised for Academic Misconduct.

The importance of Academic Integrity

UCL requires high academic standards in order to maintain trust and confidence in our world-leading research and teaching, as well as the individuals who work and study here.   

Through your UCL education you will become an independent learner and knowledge creator. To be successful you must develop good academic practice skills and avoid any type of Academic Misconduct, including plagiarism (read on to find out what plagiarism means).

We take Academic Integrity very seriously, and you are expected to understand and comply with UCL’s referencing and citation requirements.

Resources to help you develop good academic practice

Get to know UCL’s referencing and citation requirements, and make sure you can follow the specific referencing requirements of your discipline - contact your department if there are any doubts.

The Students’ Union UCL can offer guidance on the proper presentation of quotes, and referencing.

UCL’s Introduction to Academic Integrity Moodle course takes around 20 minutes to complete. It includes reflections on current practices around Academic Integrity, and helps to provide a better understanding of academic integrity and Academic Misconduct

Candidates for written examinations should understand the requirements set out in the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates, which is published annually on the Examinations and Awards website. It is also very important that you are aware of what items you can take into the Examination Halls, so that you do not break the examination rules by mistake.

Research Students only: Key information on Copyright issues

Failure to meet UCL’s Academic Integrity requirements

As a UCL student you are required to maintain your Academic Integrity throughout your studies. If you fail to do so, UCL could consider your actions to be Academic Misconduct, which can result in penalties being imposed, such as lower marks. If you engage in Academic Misconduct more than once, this will be taken very seriously and could result in the strongest penalties (such as failing your degree or expulsion). 

Here are the main examples of Academic Misconduct:


Plagiarism is the representation of other people’s work or ideas as your own without appropriate referencing or acknowledgement. This can include instances of copying from a book, journal or website without appropriate references and use of quotation marks, switching key words in a text with synonyms, paraphrasing without acknowledgement, incorrectly identifying quotations, or an incomplete bibliography.

UCL can detect plagiarism very easily via a sophisticated detection system (Turnitin®) which scans work for evidence of plagiarism against billions of sources worldwide including websites and journals, as well as work previously submitted to UCL and other universities.

Your department and the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service can provide guidance on the proper presentation of quotations and referencing. 

Cultural differences might mean that plagiarism can occur accidentally if you have been taught to reference in a different way, so it is important that you are fully aware of UCL’s expectations regarding quotations, referencing, and paraphrasing. If in doubt, please seek advice before submitting the work.

Please note: You can submit your work to Turnitin to check it for potential plagiarism ahead of submission to ensure your referencing is right. Turnitin does not identify conclusively the level of plagiarism contained in your assessment, but it can identify the level of similarity with other texts.
If Turnitin does indicate a high similarity score, then staff are required to investigate this further and make an academic judgment of the exact level of any plagiarism.

Poor Academic Practice

Poor Academic Practice is the failure to follow the referencing and citation conventions for your discipline because you have not yet received guidance or training on how to do this. If this is the case, UCL may view any referencing and citation mistakes in your work more leniently   and not as Academic Misconduct. You will be given the opportunity to meet your department to discuss your work, take UCL's 'Introduction to Academic Integrity' course, and present the piece of work again with the relevant corrections to address the issues.


Self-Plagiarism is the reproduction or resubmission of any work which you have already formally submitted for assessment at UCL or any other institution.

Even though it is your own work, it is still plagiarism to submit it more than once, and it will be detected by Turnitin. The only exception to this is earlier formative drafts of that assessment.


Collusion is unauthorised collaboration with other people, inside or outside UCL on any assessment.

All work you submit should be entirely your own, and unauthorised collaboration with other students is not permitted. The only exception is where your department has given you permission - if you have any doubts whether you are permitted to collaborate, please check with your department.


Falsification is presenting or making use of fictitious, altered, or misrepresented data, evidence, references, citations, or experimental results. 

This also covers documents such as Extenuating Circumstances  evidence, or any other information that could be used to gain an unfair academic advantage.

Contract Cheating

Contract Cheating is comissioning an assessment from a third party with the intent to submit this as if it were your own. It is sometimes known as 'Ghost Writing' or use of 'Essay Mills'. Where there is doubt about the authorship of any assessment you submit, you may have to undertake an investigatory viva so your department can decide whether the work is your own or was produced by a third party. UCL takes any instance of Contract Cheating extremely seriously, and has adopted a zero tolerance approach to this resulting in expulsion on the first instance.

Using a contract cheating company carries other high risks, in addition to the risk of losing your place at UCL. There have been instances where students who have used these companies have later been blackmailed or threatened. Data leaks or whistle-blowers will always be an on-going risk, and the use of such services could cause issues for you in the future.

Examination Room Misconduct

The UCL Examination Guide for Candidates outlines UCL’s requirements for good conduct in Examination Halls, and should be read and understood in advance of taking any written examination at UCL. The guide sets out what UCL considers to be Examination Misconduct, such as having notes, mobile phones or smart watches on your person, talking under examination conditions, unauthorised writing or marking on your examination envelope or candidate card, or the unauthorised removal of any examination stationery. The full list of what constitutes Examination Misconduct can be found in Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual, Section 9.2: Definitions.

What happens if Academic Misconduct is found in my work?

Depending on the Academic Misconduct that has taken place, the outcome may be a mark reduction, a mark of zero, failure of the module, or expulsion. A full list of all the potential penalties is available in Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual, Section 9.3.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers some of the most frequently asked questions related to Academic Integrity:

I've received an Examination Hall Warning - what happens next?

If you have received an Examination Hall Warning you should read Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual, Section 9.4. Some minor misconduct will not result in any further action, but more serious offences will be referred to a panel and may result in penalties being applied.  UCL strongly urges all candidates to read the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates to make sure they understand what might be flagged as misconduct in the exam halls.

Is it possible to plagiarise under exam room conditions?

Yes - in both open and closed book exams, it is still plagiarism if you present other people’s work or ideas as your own without appropriate referencing or acknowledgement.

Does Academic Misconduct go on my transcript or references?

Academic Misconduct is not explicitly highlighted on your transcript - if you have had to Resit as a consequence, it will show on the transcript as a 2nd attempt like any other reassessment.

Your department will not normally mention Academic Misconduct in any references provided unless they believe it to be directly relevant to the duty of care owed to the recipient of the reference, i.e. relevant to the job or programme that the student has applied for.

I'm on an accredited programme - what happens for me?

Some programmes have an external accrediting body, and require UCL to inform them of any confirmed Academic Misconduct, You may also be subject to fitness to practise procedures if these are relevant to your field.