Collusion is when students work together to complete an assessment that should be taken independently.

What is collusion?

Collusion is where students work together to complete an assessment that should be taken independently.

Talking to friends and peers about a topic is a valuable way to improve your understanding and support your learning. But, there is a line between working collaboratively, or in cooperation, and collusion.

Formal group work is an important skill and likely to be an essential part of your future career. You have the opportunity to develop this skill in tasks and assessments that are labelled as group work. Outside of this group work we expect you to work on your assessments independently.

Differences between co-operation or collaboration and collusion

Actions classified as co-operation or collaboration and actions classified as collusion
Acceptable co-operation or collaborationUnacceptable collusion
Forming a study group with your peers to help you understand a particular topic. Forming a group with the intention of working together on an assessment by sharing answers and ways of working.
Discussing generally how to approach particular assessments. Using WhatsApp, text messages or other instant messaging to share answers during a timed exam.
Asking a friend if they are OK during an open book, 7-day timed online assessment. Contacting a friend during an open book, 7-day timed assessment to share answers.

How to avoid collusion

  • Don't share your answers for any assessment with others.
  • Keep social media apps turned off during any online exams and keep your mobile devices where they cannot distract you.
  • If friends suggest sharing assessment answers or messaging each other during an online assessment you should refuse to do so. Remind them of our shared values on academic integrity.
  • Follow the instructions provided for each assessment. If you are unsure, ask the unit director, programme director or your personal tutor for clarification.
  • Work independently on your assessment unless you are told to work in a group.
  • If a collaborative study group has created shared study notes, do not copy and paste these into any part of your answer. Use your own words to express the topics and ideas instead.

If there is similarity between different students' work it will be picked up using text-matching software. This will suggest academic misconduct (collusion or plagiarism).

What happens if you are suspected of collusion

Collusion is a serious offence. If collusion is suspected in your work, you may be asked to attend an interview with senior members of the school or faculty where you will be given the chance to discuss the issues.

Any work which has been produced by collusion is unacceptable. It will be penalised according to University examination regulations (PDF, 265kB).

If you are being investigated for collusion you can contact our Student Union's Academic Advice team for free and impartial advice and support.

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