You are here:

Coursework offences

Writing coursework, whether a small assignment or a large research project, can be a difficult process, requiring focus and planning.

Presenting your written work is of particular importance but can be given the least amount of attention by students who have not taken the time to understand the importance of referencing.

Typing up my notes during class
It is crucial that you fully credit the work of others in your written work. Discover some tips to referencing.

In academic writing, referencing is key.

It is crucial that you fully credit the work of others in your written work.

If somebody else's work appears without full acknowledgement, there is the possibility that you could end up receiving credit for that work.

This is called plagiarism.


Under the General Regulations plagiarism is the intentional or unintentional use of somebody else's work when it is not properly referenced and is therefore presented as your own.

Another person's work includes any source that is published or unpublished, including words, images, diagrams, formulae, audio recordings, computer code, ideas and judgements, discoveries and results.

Plagiarism is an assessment offence.

The majority of plagiarism cases will receive at least a penalty mark of zero, with harsher penalties available for further or particularly serious offences.

Referencing systems

There are a variety of referencing styles available, but they all follow the same basic principles.

The differences are largely down to the way in which the references should appear on the page.

For example, the Harvard style uses brackets after a quoted passage to inform the reader of the source, while the Vancouver style uses a footnote system.

These are universally recognised and widely used systems. They will not only be important for succeeding in your University of London coursework, but also for any academic writing you may do in the future.

Please note: The Harvard style is the most common referencing system, but you should take care to ensure that you are following the specific guidance set out for your programme.

General advice

Some important points of general advice to remember are:

  • Any word for word quotation, no matter how short, should always be placed within quotation marks, or indented, and followed with a clear reference.
  • A reference at the end of a copied passage, without also using quotation marks, is only partial referencing and may still count as plagiarism.
  • Referring to an idea or discovery belonging to another author does require referencing, but not quotation marks, providing that the words are your own.
  • Paraphrasing - changing words and phrases so they appear different to the source but say the same thing - can still count as plagiarism if not referenced properly.
  • A bibliography alone is unlikely to be enough! Including a list of references at the end of your assignment or project only says that you referred to those sources during your research - not how you used them.
  • If you submit the same piece of work (or a significant part of the same work) twice, this is considered 'self-plagiarism'. This applies equally to work you have submitted to the same programme, as well as work submitted to different programmes, institutions or publications in the past. If you use your own previous work, you must reference it the same way as any other source.

More information