Examination Misconduct

Information for Staff

Online examinations

During the pandemic, with the move to online examinations, the allegations the Senate Office receives has changed. Rather than allegations of prohibited material, we now receive allegations of plagiarism in exam answers, collusion with other students (or external assistance) or violation of exam duration instructions. These allegations should be reported to us with, where appropriate, the plagiarism referral form and marked up sources. We appreciate home working makes the finding and marking up of sources more challenging, but without this evidence we cannot take cases forward. Schools are now asked to deal with online examination cases in undergraduate levels 1 and 2, and full details can be found here.

Separate guidance for students about their conduct in online exams has been produced.

In-person examinations

Students are made aware of examination instructions in advance of all examination diets and should be clear about which items are permitted and which are not. Additionally, large posters indicating this are present at examination venues, and the invigilator’s announcement gives a final summary of the rules before the examination starts.

Students found to have brought prohibited items into an examination will be reported by the invigilator to Registry, who will then advise Senate Office and the student’s School. When Schools are advised about the allegation, they will be reminded in the email that the student’s answer book must be removed from marking, and sent to the Senate Office. Please ensure this is done and that the paper is not accidentally sent for marking. Senate Office should receive the original answer book, not a copy. If, for some reason, the paper has already been sent for marking before the report of the allegation is received, no mark must be returned to the student.

A result of 7 (‘deferred’) should be returned in the student’s record for the course concerned. Senate Office will advise on any change to this once the case is concluded.

Although some students will be sent warning letters (for very minor misdemeanours), most students will be interviewed by the Senate Assessors for Student Conduct or have their case considered in their absence by the Senate Assessors. The typical penalty applied for examination misconduct, where the student could potentially have gained an advantage by the misconduct, is grade H for the examination with no resit opportunity. If the student is found to have used the material then credit may be refused. All students are made aware of this in advance of their examinations.

Sometimes staff members submit letters of support for their students. We welcome this. However, staff members wishing to do this should bear the following in mind:

  • Intentionality cannot be taken into account.
  • The offence is bringing the prohibited item, regardless of whether it was, in practice, used, consulted or relevant to the exam questions.
  • A student’s previous good standing does not mitigate the offence.
  • Penalties applied need to be fair to all students committing a similar offence and, although the proportionality of penalties is taken into account, the range of possible outcomes may be limited.
  • Avoid speculation and unfounded comments or criticisms (of, for example, the invigilator's actions).

Once the student has been interviewed (or their case considered in absentia), the School will be advised, via the outcome letter, of the result and whether any resit opportunity is to be permitted.