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We wanted to take the opportunity to remind you of the best approaches maintaining the academic integrity of your assessments to ensure you're able to perform at your best!

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Academic Integrity refers to the University's policy on suspected academic misconduct. The University takes academic misconduct very seriously, and if you are found to have given yourself an unfair advantage in your assessments, eg. through plagiarising work, then you may be asked to attend a meeting with the University to discuss your work which can lead to penalties being applied. If you have been asked to attend a meeting, you can email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk for advice. 

However, it's always best to try to stick to good academic practices to avoid needing to go through that process. You can avoid academic misconduct by:

Having reliable notes:

Making sure your notes are entirely in your own words will help prevent you from accidentally plagiarising content or phrases that may have come from another source. Some students may unknowingly write the exact phrasing from an academic source into their notes whilst revising and fail to add a reference or quotations, or may forget to paraphrase correctly. When completing open book exams, it's vital that you're sure your notes can be relied upon.

Check your notes several times and check your final work thoroughly. The more sure you are that your work is in your own words, correctly referenced and paraphrased, the less likely you are to have committed academic misconduct.

Work alone:

It can be tempting to check your course's WhatsApp group or check in with your housemate downstairs who is doing the same exam, but you should not work with any other students on independent work, and if someone shares any answers or exam questions, you shouldn't use that information to give you an advantage on the work. The University can detect if you have worked with someone else or already had access to answers before the exam - it isn't just Turnitin scores that can indicate plagiarism or collusion.

Work alone and don't be tempted to communicate with others who are taking the same exam, and be aware that fellow students might not yet have done their exam (if there is a 24 hour window for the assessment). If anyone shares answers with other students eg. in a group WhatsApp, and you feel this is unfair, you can report these instances to your Academic Hive by emailing them. Reporting concerns of academic misconduct might help in tackling the inappropriate actions of others who have sought to cheat. The University can ensure the reports made to them on potential cases of academic misconduct remain anonymous.

Reference properly:

Some exams (particularly 24-hour exams) may require you to reference. It is therefore important that you keep accurate note of the references you've used in your revision notes and in your final work, and that you know your referencing style so you can correctly reference in-text and at the end of your essay.

Unsure on referencing? Check with your lecturer or module leader, or request support from Academic Skills and Development.

Use your time wisely:

If you have been given two hours for an examination, then that is because your lecturers feel this is a sensible time to complete your examination. Completing your exam too quickly could cause you to make silly mistakes or not perform at your best.

Whilst you may be an absolute whizz and be inclined to speed through, we would advise that you always carefully read the question, read it again and then check over your answers to make sure you are using your time wisely. If you have a 24 hour examination, remember that you're not expected to work for the full 24 hours, but do make sure you give yourself enough time to check references at the end, check your paraphrasing and still leave enough time to submit your work.

If you need help planning your time, you can download your January 2021 Revision Planner here.

Get the right academic support:

If you are really struggling with your assessments, please do not feel tempted to seek inappropriate support from companies offering assessment assistance. These companies, often called "Essay Mills" offer the promise of a quick solution to your problems but can lead to much bigger issues down the line. Firstly, these companies often make more money from students afterwards by blackmailing them, and can also often provide really poor quality work that could lead you to fail anyway.

It could also mean severe consequences at University. The University has a tool called Turnitin Authorship which can detect the tone and style of writing in your work, and spot anomalies in submissions. If the style, tone or handwriting changes in your work then the University may believe that someone else has written the work for you. This could lead to misconduct allegations, as even failure to declare third party assistance in your work can constitute academic misconduct. If the University can prove you have contracted someone else to write your work, this could lead to the most severe allegation of academic misconduct, and termination from your studies.

Make sure the work you submit is your own independent work and don't feel tempted to turn to these dodgy companies for help. If you think you need help with assessments or have additional learning requirements, then we would suggest you contact the Academic Skills and Development team or speak with Disability and Neurodiversity

Extenuating Circumstances:

Finally, if you feel that your academic performance in your upcoming exams will be impacted by circumstances outside your control, you may need to consider applying for ECs. Please talk to your Personal Tutor first if you can, and you can seek advice from our academic advice team who are running EC Drop-Ins through January to support students in their EC applications. If you have any questions or queries, then get in touch by attending a drop in or emailing ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk  

If you experience IT issues during an exam, you must notify the University as soon as they occur. Email or telephone your Academic Hive immediately if any problems occur and keep a record of your communication, and if possible, take any photos of the error you're looking at. This communication can then be used as evidence for ECs applications.

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The University's definition of academic misconduct is: 'Acts or omissions by a student that have the potential to give an unfair advantage in assessments.' The student's intention is not relevant to whether they have committed an offence. We've provided a range of example below to illustrate some of the different scenarios that the University might see.

Example 1:

Student A lives with student B and they are both taking the same 24-hour exam. Over lunch they start discussing the question, which theories and concepts they are using, and discuss what they think is the best answer. After discussing the exam, they both take the same approach to answering the question, with the same format and structure of essay, and the same conclusion.

Suspicion of Misconduct: Students have colluded on the work and have produced work with the same layout, format, structure and the same approach to the essay.

Why would this be considered misconduct: Essays should be a product of your own work. Whilst you might naturally end up having a similar approach to some other students as a result of studying the same material, you should not work with another student on assignments that are designed to be independent work. You can end up colluding without intending to if you do discuss your exams with other students. Similarity of structure, approach, and conclusion to essays would indicate collusion, which is considered academic misconduct. This could then lead to an Academic Misconduct Process being initiated, and a penalty on the work with each student receiving 0 on their work, or even more serious sanctions where it is a second or third offence.

Resolution: Talking to other students about your work is likely to have a conscious or subconscious impact on your work. Avoid talking to other students about your exams or assessments in any detail whilst you are completing them, and complete your work independently to avoid collusion. If you are in any doubt you can seek advice from academic staff or from other academic support services.

Example 2:

Student A and student B are completing the same essay assessment. Student A finishes their work and submits their work. Student B is struggling with the same assessment and asks to see student A's assignment to guide them and help. Student A is happy to send over the work, as they have already submitted their assessment so doesn't see an issue with helping their friend out. Student B finishes their work whilst relying heavily on Student A's assessment.

Suspicion of Misconduct: Student B unintentionally plagiarises student A's assessment whilst writing their own. The marking of the work highlights the similarity between the two assignments.

Why would this be considered misconduct: Although student A has already submitted their work, sharing their work with other students for them to pass off as their own is against the Academic Integrity Regulations. Student A could be investigated and sent through the Academic Misconduct Process.

Student B would be investigated as plagiarising another students' work is not allowed, and student B could have been given a material advantage if they had copied any of the work. Student B could therefore also be investigated and sent through the Academic Misconduct Process.

Resolution: Do not share your work with other students as there is always the risk that the work is relied upon or deliberately plagiarised by someone else. Even after the assessment deadline has passed, the other student may have an extension, or it could be sent further on to another student, so someone may have benefited even if you didn't intend for them to use your work. This can leave you vulnerable to penalties for academic misconduct. If you wish for feedback on your work or you are struggling, we suggest you speak with your module leader for feedback, or speak to your tutor about ECs.

Example 3:

Student A is struggling with their work and asks for help from a family member at home with writing their assessment.

Suspicion of misconduct: The University have Turnitin Authorship, which can detect the tone and style of writing in your work, and spot anomalies in submissions. If the style, tone or handwriting changes in your work then the University may believe that someone else is writing the work for you.

Why would this be considered misconduct: This could lead to misconduct allegations, as failure to declare third party assistance in your work can constitute academic misconduct. It could also lead to a more serious allegation such as contract cheating (getting someone to write the work or part of the work for you).

Resolution: Make sure the work is 100% an independent product of your own work and ensure that you are not discussing the work with anyone else, but it is still ok to access academic support. If you think you need help with assessments or have additional learning requirements, then we would suggest you contact the Academic Skills and Development team or speak with Disability and Neurodiversity. You would need to declare any other assistance you get from outside the University when you submit your work.

Example 4:

Student A is part of a group WhatsApp chat for their cohort. The cohort is taking a 2-hour MCQ Exam at any time over a 24-hour period. Student A hasn't yet started their exam yet, but others started straight away at 11am when the exam was released. A notification on the WhatsApp group shows that someone has taken photos of all the questions on their exam and posted them to the chat along with their answers.  

Student A then uses this information to complete their exam in the time given and has minimal errors.

Suspicion of misconduct: Although student A spent 1.5 hours total on completing their exam,  the University has noted unusual activity by students completing the assessment. This raises suspicions that the student already had the answers prepared.

Why would this be considered misconduct: If there are reasonable suspicions about how students have completed an online examination, then the University may instigate the Academic Misconduct Process to investigate this.  Misconduct of this kind is considered to be very serious.

Resolution: Make sure that you avoid social media, group chats, or any communications with your cohort for the full 24-hour duration of the examination. If the answers are shared, then you are not tempted to cheat. Those who do share the answers should be reported to the University as soon as possible. If you are part of a social media group and you are concerned that students are cheating, it is in your best interests to report it to avoid any possibility that you are personally disadvantaged (the person making the report can remain anonymous). 

Example 5:

A group of Maths students work on a coursework submission question together. They are asked to meet with the University together as they all have the exact same wrong answer, with the exact same wrong workings as the other students in the group.

Suspicion of misconduct: It is unusual for a group of students to have the exact same wrong answer, with the exact same wrong workings for a question, so the University may suspect the students for colluding. The University may wish to ask each student how they came to the answer they provided and may question the student on their understanding of the problem/equation.

Why would this be considered misconduct: If the University believes that the students worked together on the answer, then this may be considered collusion 

Resolution: Make sure that your submission is a product of your own work and that you are not working together on an assignment, unless specifically told to by the University.

Example 6:

Student A is writing notes following a lecture and incorporates some of the lecture content into their notes. It has been a long day and they read an excellent sentence in an article for which they add a reference.

When writing up their revision notes for their upcoming open book examination, the student forgets that they have incorporated lecture content into their notes and forgets that the reference is for a direct quote.

When completing their 24 hour exam, they use their revision notes but forget to paraphrase, thinking that the wording is their own, and not copied from the lecture/source material. Although they have added a reference for the source, they have no reference for the lecture and have not paraphrased.

Suspicion of misconduct: The student has not paraphrased or referenced properly, and the Turnitin report shows similarity between the work produced by the student and other sources, including the lecture notes and journal source. The suspicion is that the student has copied directly from the source and not used the proper referencing style.

Why would this be considered misconduct: The student has forgotten to paraphrase in their notes and add the reference from the lecture, which means the original source material ended up in their final submitted work. Even though this was unintentional, the similarity score indicates that this work is a product of plagiarism. The University would want to instigate the Academic Misconduct Meeting with the student to explore how they put their work together and to understand where the errors were.

Resolution: Make sure that all your notes are paraphrased and in your own words, and then paraphrase again when writing your essay to ensure that there is no risk of copying directly from the source. Cite the reference in your notes so that you can look at the original source to ensure you are not plagiarising. It is also a good idea to make a note of all the sources so that you can reference properly in your essays and examinations.

We suggest keeping copies of your notes/drafts and essay plans so that if you do need to demonstrate how you put the work together, you can explain this to the University easily.

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Support available throughout exams:  

  • Contact ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk if in doubt about ECs or academic regulations
  • Contact your Personal Tutor or Senior Personal Tutor
  • Togetherall (togetherall.com) - Previously known as Big White Wall
  • Nightline (log into ussu.co.uk and visit the Nightline page)
  • Centre for Wellbeing (01483689498, centreforwellbeing@surrey.ac.uk)
  • Student Minds Charity (www.studentminds.org.uk)
  • Samaritans (Call 116 123, this service is 24/7 and free)

How to take a break during exams:

What to do on a break:

How to minimise procrastination:


Changing your outlook:

  • Don't punish yourself for procrastinating, instead, try and reward yourself for getting a task done
  • Make a task list
    • Break tasks into smaller activities
  • Don't dwell on perfection at first take, aim to get it done - you can always improve on something but you can't improve on nothing
  • Self-talk motivation ('Aaron, you've got this')
  • Do the hardest task first (then the rest of your day will be a breeze)
  • Set a 15-minute timer to get started on something, once the 15 minutes has passed you will likely feel less inclined to stop
Removing distractions:
  • Find a workspace that works for you, that makes you feel calm and focused
  • Change workspace between breaks
  • Listen to music with no lyrics or lyrics in a language you do not know
  • Use app locks to avoid excessive phone use
  • Remove your phone from your study space
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If you need more information about exam misconduct, please click here

If you need more information about academic misconduct interviews or panels, please click here

To get support with your academic skills, please get in touch with the Academic Skills and Development team for help and advice. 


I need further advice:​

You can make an appointment with one of our Academic Advice team. Appointments are for a maximum of 30 minutes, Monday - Friday 10-4pm.

For further advice or to book an appointment, please email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk with the following information:

Name​, Course, Year of study, Details of your case, What you need advice on.


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