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Faculty of Mathematics


University Resources

The University publishes information on Good academic practice and plagiarism, including

There are references to the University statement

Please read the University statement carefully; it is your responsibility to read and abide by this statement.

The Faculty Guidelines

The guidelines below are provided by the Faculty to help students interpret what the University statement means for Mathematics. However neither the University statement nor the Faculty guidelines supersede the University's Regulations as set out in the Statutes and Ordinances. If you are unsure as to the interpretation of the statement or guidelines, or the Statutes and Ordinances, you should ask your Director of Studies or Course Director (as appropriate).

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism can be defined as the unacknowledged use of the work of others as if this were your own original work. In the context of any University examination, this amounts to passing off the work of others as your own to gain unfair advantage.

Such use of unfair means will not be tolerated by the University or the Faculty. If detected, the penalty may be severe and may lead to failure to obtain your degree. This is in the interests of the vast majority of students who work hard for their degree through their own efforts, and it is essential in safeguarding the integrity of the degrees awarded by the University.

Checking for plagiarism

Faculty Examiners will routinely look out for any indication of plagiarised work. They reserve the right to make use of specialised detection software if appropriate (the University subscribes to the Turnitin Plagiarism Detection Software). See also the Board of Examinations' statement on how the University detects and disciplines plagiarism.

The scope of plagiarism

Plagiarism may be due to

  • copying (this is using another person's language and/or ideas as if they are your own);
  • collusion (this is collaboration either where it is forbidden, or where the extent of the collaboration exceeds that which has been expressly allowed).

How to avoid plagiarism

Your course work, essays and projects (for Parts IB, II and III, the M.Phil. etc.), are marked on the assumption that it is your own work: i.e. on the assumption that the words, diagrams, computer programs, ideas and arguments are your own. Plagiarism can occur if, without suitable acknowledgement and referencing, you take any of the above (i.e. words, diagrams, computer programs, ideas and arguments) from books or journals, obtain them from unpublished sources such as lecture notes and handouts, or download them from the web.

Plagiarism also occurs if you submit work that has been undertaken in whole or part by someone else on your behalf (such as employing a `ghost writing service'). Furthermore, you should not deliberately reproduce someone else's work in a written examination. These would all be regarded as plagiarism by the Faculty and by the University.

In addition you should not submit any work that is substantially the same as work you have submitted, or are concurrently submitting, for any degree, diploma or similar qualification at any university or similar institution.

However, it is often the case that parts of your essays, projects and course-work will be based on what you have read and learned from other sources, and it is important that in your essay or project or course-work you show exactly where, and how, your work is indebted to these other sources. The golden rule is that the Examiners must be in no doubt as to which parts of your work are your own original work and which are the rightful property of someone else.

A good guideline to avoid plagiarism is not to repeat or reproduce other people's words, diagrams or computer programs. If you need to describe other people's ideas or arguments try to paraphrase them in your own words (and remember to include a reference). Only when it is absolutely necessary should you include direct quotes, and then these should be kept to a minimum. You should also remember that in an essay or project or course-work, it is not sufficient merely to repeat or paraphrase someone else's view; you are expected at least to evaluate, critique and/or synthesise their position.

In slightly more detail, the following guidelines may be helpful in avoiding plagiarism.


A quotation directly from a book or journal article is acceptable in certain circumstances, provided that it is referenced properly:

  • short quotations should be in inverted commas, and a reference given to the source;
  • longer pieces of quoted text should be in inverted commas and indented, and a reference given to the source.

Whatever system is followed, you should additionally list all the sources in the bibliography or reference section at the end of the piece of work, giving the full details of the sources, in a format that would enable another person to look them up easily. There are many different styles for bibliographies. Use one that is widely used in the relevant area (look at papers and books to see what referencing style is used).


Paraphrasing means putting someone else's work into your own words. Paraphrasing is acceptable, provided that it is acknowledged. A rule of thumb for acceptable paraphrasing is that an acknowledgement should be made at least once in every paragraph. There are many ways in which such acknowledgements can be made (e.g. ``Smith (2001) goes on to argue that ...'' or ``Smith (2001) provides further proof that ...''). As with quotation, the full details of the source should be given in the bibliography or reference list.

General indebtedness

When presenting the ideas, arguments and work of others, you must give an indication of the source of the material. You should err on the side of caution, especially if drawing ideas from one source. If the ordering of evidence and argument, or the organisation of material reflects a particular source, then this should be clearly stated (and the source referenced).

Use of web sources

You should use web sources as if you were using a book or journal article. The above rules for quoting (including `cutting and pasting'), paraphrasing and general indebtedness apply. Web sources must be referenced and included in the bibliography.


Unless it is expressly allowed, collaboration is collusion and counts as plagiarism. Moreover, as well as not copying the work of others you should not allow another person to copy your work.

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