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Academic integrity

Academic integrity breaches

During your time at the University, you will routinely be required to submit assessment tasks. We use these assessment tasks to evaluate your progress toward developing the knowledge and skills required for your qualification.

Once you achieve your award, this shows to prospective employers and the wider community that you have met these requirements. The value of your qualification is based on the University’s reputation and culture of academic integrity.

What is considered an academic integrity breach?

An academic integrity breach is a form that academic dishonesty involving any conduct that undermines the integrity of the University’s academic work and standards. Conduct may range from inadvertent and unintended failures to comply with academic standards or policies to intentional acts to gain an academic advantage by unfair or dishonest means.

We treat suspected breaches seriously because of our commitment to our culture of academic integrity. Academic dishonesty threatens the confidence the wider community has in the University’s students, staff and alumni.

You can find more information in the Academic Integrity Policy.


Plagiarism means presenting work that is not your own without acknowledging the original source of the work. It doesn’t matter whether you do this on purpose or accidentally.

Plagiarism can include copying any material without correct referencing, regardless of the medium in which the original material was published. This includes material in hard copy (books, journals, theses etc), soft copy (internet, email attachments, e-journals etc), other digital formats (audio visual, MP3s etc) and live presentations (lectures, speeches etc).

For example, it is considered plagiarism if you:

  • copy ideas, phrases, paragraphs, formulas, methods, evidence, programming code, diagrams, images, artworks or musical scores without correctly referencing where it came from
  • copy from another student’s work without indicating this is what you have done
  • mention the source in your bibliography but do not reference content properly in the main body of your work, so the assessor does not know what work is your own
  • change the order of words taken from other material but retain the original idea or concept, without correct referencing
  • quote from a speech or lecture without acknowledging the speaker
  • quote from a secondary source, without acknowledging the primary source.

This means you can be seen as plagiarising not only in your written work, but also in oral presentations, artworks or performances, for example.

Not all acts of plagiarism are intentional. In some situations it may be caused by your failure to understand the required referencing. These will be considered minor breaches and we will provide you an opportunity to understand referencing requirements with minor educational outcomes.

Plagiarism will be considered dishonest where you have done it on purpose, or if the amount of copied or unacknowledged work dominates your own original work.


What’s not plagiarism

It is not considered plagiarism if:

  • the ideas or words are commonly used and there is no other way to express them
  • you have made the discovery yourself through experimentation or analysis
  • you have combined the work and ideas of others to reach your own conclusion and have acknowledged these sources in the body of your work.

Learn more about avoiding plagiarism and referencing.

Recycling/resubmitting work

Recycling involves submitting (or resubmitting) work that has already been assessed without your teacher’s permission and for which you have already been given feedback.

It is fine to build on work you have previously completed, but you cannot simply copy and paste from previous assignments at the last minute before an assignment is due or to save yourself time and reduce your workload.

If you want to draw on knowledge or ideas you have encountered before, speak to your lecturer, tutor or supervisor about how to do this.

Fabricating information

Fabrication involves making up information for research-focused assessment tasks, such as experimental or interview data. It can also include inventing sources of data, evidence or ideas by including citations to publications that are incorrect or that simply don’t exist.

By making this information up you don’t benefit from the learning and skill development involved in gathering this information properly.

Collusion in individual and group work

Collusion involves engaging in illegitimate cooperation with one or more other students in the completion of assessable work.

Cooperation is not legitimate (or appropriate) if it unfairly advantages a student or group of students over others. It can include working with a friend or group of friends to write an essay or report that is meant to be an individual piece of work. It can also include sharing quiz or test questions and answers with other students, as well as written assignments like reports and essays.

If you’re not sure if the way you are working with other students is legitimate, you should first ask yourself: 'Am I willing to tell my teacher about this?' If your answer to this question is 'no', then you are probably not cooperating in a way that is academically honest.

Exam cheating


Make sure you're aware of our exam rules and regulations and that you know how to prepare for exams.

Exam cheating involves a number of different behaviours, which can include:

  • writing cheat notes on your arms, legs or another part of your body
  • taking prohibited materials into an exam, such as cheat notes, textbooks, or unapproved phones, tablets or calculators
  • attempting to communicate with or copy from another student during an exam
  • using electronic devices, such as a smartphone or smartwatch, to access information related to the exam while it is in progress
  • discussing an exam with someone else outside the exam venue while it is in progress
  • allowing another person or a service, to complete or contribute to all or part of an examination
  • removing confidential examination papers from an exam venue.

Contract cheating


There doesn’t have to be a payment for something to be considered contract cheating.

Contract cheating involves getting someone else to complete part or all of your work and then submitting the work as if you had completed it yourself. This can include asking someone else to sit an exam for you or having them write an essay, report or some other kind of assignment, which is sometimes referred to as 'ghostwriting'.

You can be accused of contract cheating if you:

  • buy a completed assignment from a tutoring or ghostwriting company
  • ask a partner, friend or family member to write part or all of an assignment for you
  • pay a private tutoring company to coach you on how to complete an assignment
  • submit 'model' assignment answers provided by a private tutor or tutoring company
  • get someone to sit an exam for you
  • sit an exam for someone else
  • buy, sell or swap completed assignments or assignment answers via 'sharing' websites or social media platforms like Facebook and WeChat.

The University takes contract cheating, misconduct and impersonation very seriously and applies severe penalties under the University of Sydney (Student Discipline) Rule. This may mean you fail your unit of study, or that you are suspended or expelled from the University. Consequences can go beyond the University too though. Cheating could undermine your future employment and career prospects and may affect your registration with professional associations, exployer groups, and federations. 

Some contract cheating companies have taken to blackmailing students who buy completed assignments from them. This blackmail might start while a student is at University, but can continue long after they have graduated.

Contract cheating can involve personal misconduct and in some cases contract cheating can be against the law, such as if you are:

  • Uploading the University's copyright teaching materials such as unit of study outlines, lecture slides and assignment questions to 'study notes' sharing websites so that you can access documents uploaded by other students.
  • Selling or sharing the University's teaching materials with private tutoring or ghostwriting companies.
  • Booking University venues on behalf of private tutoring companies who illegally use the University's teaching materials to provide their own services to students for payment.
  • Providing your UniKey login details to private tutoring and ghostwriting companies so that they can access teaching materials hosted in Canvas.

Use of generative artificial intelligence and writing tools

The recent emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools is changing the way we think about assessment. While we acknowledge the many benefits these tools may bring, we generally do not permit students to use AI tools to create or modify your assessable work.

You can only use these tools if your unit of study coordinator has expressly permitted your whole class to do so. This means that the unapproved use of AI tools in the completion of assignments is considered to be a breach of academic integrity and will treat the submission of content generated by these tools where you have presented it as your own is assessable work as contract cheating.

You may only use writing assistance tools (grammar checkers, translation and paraphrasing tools, reference generators and artificial intelligence) in assessment tasks if permitted by the unit coordinator, and, if you do use them, you must acknowledge this in assessment either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section. 

If you are permitted to do this by your unit coordinator, you must also include a statement in your submitted work that you have used AI tools in completing the work and how you have done this.

Last updated: 27 October 2023

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