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Referencing and Plagiarism: Plagiarism

Plagiarism Quiz

Quiz: Understanding Plagiarism as an Academic Offence

  • Test your understanding of plagiarism as an academic offence
  • We recommend allowing 10-15 minutes to complete this

Take the Plagiarism Quiz

[Released 5th September 2019]

Quiz and Video: Academic Offences

  • Plagiarism is one example of an academic offence

Video: What is plagiarism and how to avoid it

What is plagiarism?

(Latest academic year Student Agreement PDF linked on BU's Important Information for Students webpage)

“Representing another person’s work as your own or using another person’s work without acknowledgement, and duplication or ‘self-plagiarism’, using material that has already been submitted for assessment.” (BU 2022, p.21). 

“Copying or misappropriating ideas (or their expression), text, software or data (or a combination) without permission and acknowledgement.” (BU 2022, p.22).

  • Plagiarism also includes self-plagiarism (or duplication). This means "you are not allowed to submit the same or substantially similar work for more than one assessment (this does not include resubmission of work for the same assignment)" (BU 2022), as stated in BU's 'How to avoid academic offences' webpage.
  • Plagiarism is the most common academic offence committed by university students. Often students plagiarise work by accident because they don't understand how to reference properly. Unfortunately, you will be penalised for plagiarism, regardless of whether or not you did it deliberately.
  • The University uses software to help to detect plagiarism and other academic offences. When writing / creating a piece of university work, you must indicate where you have referred to sources written or produced by others.
  • The University follows a version of the widely used Harvard System of referencing where cited publications are referred to in the text by giving the author's surname and the year of publication, and are also listed at the end of the text (BU Students studying Psychology, History or Law follow instructions for another referencing style).

Understanding plagiarism

Understanding plagiarism (Click on Institutional Login)

If you are experiencing difficulties and need to develop your academic writing skills (e.g. you have not written an essay before, or you need to better understand paraphrasing and quoting) we strongly recommend you work through this skills for study module because it covers the following:

  • Understanding plagiarism
  • Quoting without plagiarising
  • Choosing how much to quote
  • Using or plagiarising? (includes paraphrasing)
  • Ways of using other writers' text (includes paraphrasing)
  • FAQs e.g. "I don't want to copy work, but other people express things so well. What can I do?" and "How can I copy words without it being plagiarised?"

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • To avoid plagiarism, ensure you cite and reference sources according to the referencing style required for your course. Most BU courses (but not all, so always check first) use BU's version of Harvard referencing. Guidance and referencing instructions available here.


  • What is plagiarism?
  • Where can I find support for avoiding plagiarism?
  • How to use Turnitin

Plagiarism Checking Sites on the Web

  • There are a number of websites which offer to check academic assignments for plagiarism. BU strongly encourages students not to use these sites, as many contain hidden viruses or are designed to reuse and/or sell all work that has been uploaded to the site, in other websites.
  • By using such sites, you are giving permission for work to be uploaded to an essay database, opening yourself up to a number of risks including having your work stolen / plagiarised, or, your document being detected by Turnitin.
  • Whilst BU would always encourage students to check their work, we recommend you use 'Turnitin Draft Checker' on your Brightspace home page for these checks (Guidance about Turnitin).
  • This means there is no need to run work through third party sites that may or may not be reputable.
  • For some students who may be submitting work online, you may automatically have access to the Turnitin software which is safe to use; it is also important to read through BU's Turnitin and online submission guidance on the Help area on Brightspace.