Student Academic Conduct

When you enrol you agree to abide by the University’s regulations.  This includes Regulation 8.12 Unacceptable Coursework and Academic Misconduct.  Academic misconduct is doing something that could give you an unfair advantage in an assessment.  It includes, but is not limited to, the following: plagiarism; collusion; commissioning of work; cheating in an examination; falsification of data or sources; falsification of official documents or signatures.

The University treats academic misconduct very seriously and penalties will be given for proven cases, including withdrawal from the University for very serious or repeat offences.  It is therefore very important that you understand how to prepare and take assessments honestly.   In order to assist you with this there are various resources and help available both as part of your programme of study (see School handbooks) and also centrally (see below for information).

Good Academic Practice – available help, online resources and guidance

How to improve your Study Skills

Information on Study Skills, which is run by the Student Support Centre, can be found here.


Help for International Students

If you are an International student, you can make an appointment to discuss your work with one the tutors in the Language Centre. You can make an appointment by contacting one of the ELU administrators ( Tel: 733013) and informing them that you need to meet one of the tutors.

At the meeting, the tutor will go over the work with you and try to determine the nature of your problem.  This may often include one or more of the following:  unfamiliarity with academic writing conventions, inability to identify relevant information, or   linguistic weaknesses that inhibit appropriate paraphrasing.   Follow-up sessions will be scheduled on a one-to-one basis in order to inform, instruct and enable you to work through the difficulties you may have.

An interactive guide to plagiarism

StudyWrite: Plagiarism

The StudyWrite Plagiarism module explains the concept of plagiarism, why it is important and how it can be avoided.  It also provides a series of activities to check your understanding as the module progresses. The module can be accessed here.

An interactive guide to referencing

StudyWrite: Referencing 

StudyWrite referencing explains the importance of acknowledging the ideas of others whilst writing for academic study.  Based upon the Harvard system, the module demonstrates different types of referencing with interactive exercises. The module can be accessed here

An interactive guide to notetaking

StudyWrite: Notetaking

The StudyWrite Notetaking module explains how to take effective notes and begin planning assignments. The module can be accessed here.

Information on the use of Turnitin

Turnitin is a text matching system that the University uses to identify text within submitted assignments to other sources; this can highlight work which is not properly referenced and non-original content in the work submitted by students.  Further information for students can be accessed by clicking here.


Proofreading - a Guide for Students

The document Proofreading - A Guide for Students can be downloaded by clicking the link. If you decide that you would like someone to proofread your work or you wish to use a proofreading company it is very important that you read this guidance. Failure to follow this guidance, if you have your work proofread, could result in you being found guilty of academic misconduct due to you having unpermitted assistance.


Academic Misconduct

Understanding Plagiarism

The most common type of academic misconduct is plagiarism. For an interactive guide to plagiarism, please use the Studywrite: Plagiarism module which can be accessed here.

Once you know how to acknowledge the sources you use in your writing for a module, you then write in your own words and present your work honestly to the University for assessment, you will not have a problem with plagiarism or collusion. But you should be aware of the University regulations so that you can be sure to avoid a problem.

Most of Regulation 8.12 concerns plagiarism and collusion, in coursework or other assessment situations (like open book exams) where you are using the work of others as sources. The “work” could be the actual text someone else wrote, whether another student or a published author, but it could also be designs or images or the ideas of someone else.

 Plagiarism in Keele’s regulations includes:

  • copying and pasting from an electronic source into your own work, or re-typing it from a paper source;
  • collusion, where two or more students produce work jointly but claim it as their individual work;
  • buying work to present as your own, either existing work or written for the purpose, including using Web sites that offer that service;
  • submitting your own work for more than one coursework assessment.

Re-using other people’s work is not a problem if the source of the work is acknowledged. In fact, you may well get credit for your use of relevant sources. Acknowledge your sources by citing the source in your own writing and giving the full reference or source in a footnote or list of references at the end. Course handbooks should indicate the format expected. If you are re-using the exact text of another author, it must be put into quotation marks. It may be appropriate to make such quotations in your writing. However, if you use many quotations and cite them properly, while it is not dishonesty or plagiarism, it is not your own work so you may receive a poor mark for it.

In the case of other people’s ideas, it can be difficult to know what needs to be explicitly acknowledged and what does not, because it is “common knowledge” for the subject and level of study. If you are not sure what ideas need acknowledgement you should consult your programme or module handbook, or the guidance available from the Student Learning team, or your module tutor or personal tutor. If you are uncertain, it is better to be safe than sorry and to make the acknowledgement. Information from the Internet needs to be acknowledged just as much as that from books and journals, and in addition you should provide the date you accessed it.

Plagiarism is plagiarism whether it is intentional or not. Students must make sure they understand the principles of acknowledging the work of others and the regulations.

The regulations distinguish minor plagiarism from major plagiarism. “Minor offences of plagiarism may be characterised by unattributed quotations; persistent inappropriate paraphrasing or word substitution in unattributed text; multiple missing, incorrect or incomplete citations; or up to a few paragraphs of direct copying without acknowledgement of the source.” (paragraph 12.8.1) So inappropriate paraphrasing, or “plagiphrasing”, is plagiarism – taking someone else’s text and rearranging phrases or substituting words to disguise it and then claiming (or implying) that it is your own.

Major plagiarism “is characterized as including copies of multiple paragraphs in full from public sources, or from a fellow student, without acknowledgement of the source; or submissions of the same piece of work for assessment, in whole or in large part, for more than one assessment without acknowledgement of the source; or the commissioning or buying of work for assessment from individuals or enterprises, or attempt to do so.” (paragraph 12.8.2).

There is a similar distinction between minor and major collusion. Note that allowing one’s own work to be submitted by another student as theirs is an offence.


Examination Conduct

You should ensure that you are fully aware of the examination regulations and procedures otherwise you may find that you are accused of academic misconduct.  Information on the examination procedures can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Examinations web pages.  These can be accessed by clicking here.

The University Policy on the Use of Calculators in Examinations can be accessed by clinking here

The Examination regulations can be accessed by clicking here.

Procedure for dealing with allegations of academic misconduct

Each School has an Academic Conduct Officer, and one or more Deputy Academic Conduct Officers, whose job it is to investigate cases of possible plagiarism or collusion or similar misconduct.  Academic Conduct Officers have the task of interpreting the regulations and making a decision in each case. 

If someone marking your work suspects some form of plagiarism or collusion, they will attempt to find the source. Even if they cannot find a source, if they have good grounds for suspicion they will pass it to the School Academic Conduct Officer who will investigate.  The Academic Conduct Officer or marker may use “plagiarism detection software” (e.g. Turnitin) that compares text with the Web, with electronic journals and books, and with other students' work from Keele and elsewhere. If there is a case to answer, the Academic Conduct Officer will write to you to invite you to an interview to discuss the problem, at a specific date and time. The marker will probably be present and notes will be kept. You have the right to be accompanied by a representative of your choosing as long as they are a member of the University, and to be represented by such a person in your absence. If you want to present information by way of explanation or mitigation, you must send it to the Academic Conduct Officer two days before the date set for an interview. The letter from the Academic Conduct Officer will explain the details. If you receive such a letter you should get advice from Advice & Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students’ Union.

Absolute proof such as a source is not required for the Academic Conduct Officer to decide “beyond reasonable doubt” that there has been plagiarism or other misconduct covered by the regulation. The Academic Conduct Officer will impose a fixed penalty or refer the case to the Academic Misconduct Panel (see section on the Academic Misconduct Panel). The fixed penalties are listed below in the section on penalties. The Academic Conduct Officer can require a student found guilty to undertake some instruction in how to avoid plagiarism.

First minor offences are dealt with as mistakes due to poor understanding of academic writing. As “unacceptable work” it is not accepted and must be resubmitted as soon as possible with the problems fixed. This constitutes a first offence in the tariff, and is recorded centrally.

 A second offence is one where a penalty under these regulations has already been applied and recorded before the submission date of the work in question. All offences are recorded centrally. The Academic Conduct Officer will keep the details of the case. Both central and Academic Conduct Officer records remain until the end of a student’s study at Keele, or longer if a School has advised the University that a professional body would require it. If the Academic Conduct Officer decision on a case is that no offence was committed, no record is kept.

After an Academic Conduct Officer has made a decision, you can appeal against it but only on grounds of procedural irregularity or of extenuating circumstances.  Details of the appeal process can be found here.

All third and subsequent offences are referred by the Academic Conduct Officer to the University Academic Misconduct Panel, which meets regularly. An Academic Conduct Officer may also elect to refer any case to the Panel, e.g. the student has presented extenuating circumstances which the Academic Conduct Officer believes should be taken into account; a particularly serious offence.

Academic Misconduct Panel

The Academic Misconduct Panel consists of a senior member of the academic staff nominated by the Vice-Chancellor as chair,  the Dean or his/her nominee  from the Faculty in which the alleged offence had taken place and one other Dean or his/her nominee.  The Panel will consider the case and will then make a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor as to any penalty.

The Academic Misconduct Panel deals with the following types of cases:

  • All allegations of academic misconduct in examinations or class tests;
  • All third and subsequent offences of alleged plagiarism;
  • Cases of alleged plagiarism where the Academic Conduct Officer is aware of a student’s extenuating circumstances and is of a view that they are relevant to the case (Academic Conduct Officers are not permitted to take extenuating circumstances into account when dealing with cases);
  • Alleged commissioning of work;
  • Falsification of data or sources;
  • Falsification of official document or signatures where these are submitted for academic benefit;
  • Major ethics offences;
  • First or second offences where the penalty is disproportionate to the fixed penalty that can be given by the Academic Conduct Officer;
  • Appeals against decisions made by Academic Conduct Officers.

You will be invited for interview with the Panel and sent a copy of all the paperwork the Panel will be considering. The School representative (usually the Academic Conduct Officer) or invigilator presents the case and you will then be interviewed, with a representative if you wish, who must be a member of the university.  You are strongly advised that it would be in your best interests to seek the advice and representation of Advice & Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students’ Union.  The Panel will then make a decision and will informally tell you of what they are recommending to the Vice-Chancellor.

If you are a student studying at an overseas collaborative college, you will not be required to attend Keele in person.  Unless videoconferencing with the Keele Misconduct Panel is arranged, a local Disciplinary Committee will act as a Keele Academic Misconduct Panel, following its process and informed by its case law. Such a Disciplinary Committee will be approved in advance by the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct. It will report to the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct who will pass its recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor in the normal way.

After you have received formal notification that the Vice-Chancellor has approved the decision and any penalty given by the Academic Misconduct Panel, you can appeal against it but only on grounds of procedural irregularity or of extenuating circumstances.  Details of the appeal process can be found here.

What are the penalties for academic misconduct?

If you are registered on a programme of study that is subject to Regulation 18: Fitness to Practise, any alleged or proven academic misconduct will be disclosed without prejudice to the Head of School so that any implications regarding fitness to practise may be considered. 

The table below sets out the scope of the jurisdiction and fixed levels of penalty available to the Academic Conduct Officer (as defined in Regulation 8 12.9). It applies to students in courses at all academic levels.


Student History

Minor or Major Case

Action of the Academic Conduct Officer

First offence


The original mark, if any, held back until an acceptable version is submitted. (Not reassessment) The final mark is awarded on merit but will not exceed any original mark given. Appropriate instruction and practice in academic writing is required of the student. A central record of ‘unacceptable work’ is kept.

First offence


The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the assessment unit in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment. A central record of academic misconduct is kept.

Second offence


The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the assessment unit in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment. A central record of academic misconduct is kept.

Second offence


The issue of a written warning for academic misconduct plus allocation of a mark of zero for the module in question and with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment. A central record of academic misconduct is kept.

Third and subsequent  offences


Referred to the Academic Misconduct Panel

a) Module marks are capped at the minimum pass mark if they include any reassessment.
b) The assessment units are those defined in the electronic Student Records System (SCIMS) for each module.
c) Setting the module mark to zero means setting all elements of assessment for the module to zero, whether first or reassessments.
d) An ACO has the discretion to send any case to the Academic Misconduct Panel rather than use the tariff, for example, if the consequences of the tariff penalty in a particular programme is disproportionate, if mitigating circumstances seem severe, or if the offence is particularly serious.


The Academic Misconduct Panel has the power to recommend to the Vice-Chancellor any penalty, the minimum being a formal reprimand and the maximum being permanent exclusion from the University. Penalties will not normally be less than those that can be given by Academic Conduct Officers.  The following are typical standard penalties for the offences stated though the Panel may choose to vary the penalty if there are procedural or extenuating circumstances to be taken into account.


Type of offence

Typical penalty

First offence of examination misconduct (where student has no previous record of academic misconduct on file)

A mark of 0 for the module (not just the examination) with the normal consequences, if any, for reassessment and with any reassessment being for credit purposes only.  This means that all the assessment components will be set to 0 and the student will have to take all the module assessments again. Should the student pass, they will be awarded the credit but will receive a mark of 0.  This 0 mark will be used in the degree calculation and so could impact on the class of degree awarded.  The 0 mark will also appear on the student’s transcript.

Second and subsequent offences of examination misconduct

Requirement to withdraw from the University

Falsification of official documents e.g. medical notes

Requirement to withdraw from the University


Falsification of data or signatures

Requirement to withdraw from the University


Third and subsequent offences of plagiarism

Requirement to withdraw from the University


Commissioning of work (with or without payment)

Requirement to withdraw from the University


Who can I go to for advice?

If you require support and representation regarding an allegation of academic misconduct you should contact:

Advice & Support at Keele, Students’ Union

Tel: 01782 734800 



If you have any questions about the process, please contact the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team.