Guidance for students who wish to use a translation dictionary in on-campus exam

If your first language is not English, you are allowed to bring a translation dictionary to your exams. Please note the following information very carefully. 

Depending which School you are studying in, you will either have to take your dictionary to the School Office for checking (the day before each exam), or you will have to complete a form (one form for each examination diet) that gives you permission to use a dictionary, explains the rules about dictionaries to you, and acts as a declaration that you have read and understood the rules.  Please make early contact with your School office so they can advise you which method is to be used - do not assume, and do not wait until the examination day before asking. You are not allowed to bring any dictionary with you to your exams unless it has been approved by one of these methods. 

It is your responsibility to make sure you take the correct type of dictionary.


Dictionaries must: 

  • Be translation only dictionaries (eg Chinese-English/English-Chinese, French-English/English-French, German-English/English-German). 
  • Not contain anything other than the word in English and the translation of the word into the other language, or the word in your own language and the translation into English. Brief examples of how to use the word are permitted but there must be no definitions (explanations about what the word means).  Some dictionaries have a section that contains information separate to the dictionary such as examples of letters, the periodic table, historical dates, and so on. Your dictionary must not contain this information.  These rules mean some popular dictionaries such as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, and some others, are not allowed.  If you are not sure your dictionary is an allowed type, please check with your School Office.  Do not guess, do not take advice from other students, and do not assume that because you have brought it to previous exams that it is allowed. 
  • Not contain any notes or annotations of any kind. If you have borrowed a dictionary, or bought one from someone else, check it very carefully, as you will be responsible for any notes or annotations found in it, even if you did not write them or know they were there. 

You are not allowed to bring: 

  • An English dictionary. 
  • A Thesaurus. 
  • A Subject-related dictionary (for example, Dictionary of Economics, Dictionary of Finance, Dictionary of Psychology). 
  • An electronic dictionary/translator. 

Dictionaries will be checked by the invigilators in exams and any that are not of an approved type will be removed from you and you will be reported under the Code of Student Conduct for not following examination instructions. 

The usual penalty for bringing a prohibited dictionary type is a grade of H for the exam with a capped resit opportunity. If your dictionary contains notes, you are likely to receive an H for the exam, with no resit opportunity. 

At A Glance


Not Allowed

  • Dictionaries that translate the word directly between English and another language or give brief examples of use
  • Dictionaries that give definitions or contain additional information such as sample letters, scientific or historical information, etc
  • English language dictionaries
  • Subject-related dictionaries
  • Notes or annotations of any kind
  • Thesaurus
  • Electronic dictionaries or translators

Dictionary Examples

How dictionaries look inside will help you know if they are allowed. 

 If it looks like the one below – it is allowed. Note only the word and a brief example of use in both languages is given – no other information explaining what the word means. 

 an example of an approved dictionary, only the word and a brief example of use in both languages is given.


If it looks like the one below – it is not allowed, because the meaning of the word is given. 

an example of an unapproved dictionary - page of a dictionary with the word and an explanation of the word as well as examples of usage.