Plagiarism in Computer Science Courses


Plagiarism will not be tolerated at any stage during any Computer Science course. Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic ethical standards and is unfair to other students and the university community. Moreover, plagiarism defeats the main purpose of course work, which is to assist students in learning the course material.

Plagiarism is submitting someone else's work as your own. This includes
  • material from a published source such as a library book, a journal article, etc.
  • material from an on-line software library, web pages, etc.
  • the work of another student, friend, relative, etc.

Programs submitted for assessment in Computer Science courses may be checked for academic integrity using the Moss system to help identify material that is also present in submissions from other students. Moss does more than a simple comparison of the text to identify common sections of code.

The following policy will apply for all Computer Science courses:
Any person found guilty of plagiarism will be penalised. They should expect to receive zero marks for the work to which it relates, and may receive greater penalties in accordance with the University's Statute on Student Conduct.

Any person found guilty of knowingly allowing their work to be copied for the purpose of plagiarism should also expect to receive zero marks, and may receive greater penalities in accordance with the Statute on Student Conduct.

The University's Statute on Student Conduct details the full process involved.


The following notes are intended to help students and staff understand what is and is not acceptable under this policy and what happens when plagiarism is suspected.
  • You should always properly cite any work of others that you are including in work that you submit.
  • When you use someone else's work in an assignment you should be certain that you are making appropriate use of that work. While citing the work may avoid any question of plagiarism, failure to do the work yourself may mean that the submitted work fails to meet some or all of the requirements of a particular assignment. If in doubt, ask your lecturer.
  • Working together does not constitute a satisfactory reason for submitting exactly the same or very similar work. Unless your lecturer has specified that submitting the same work is permitted, both parties will be penalised.
  • Any Computer Science course that explicitly requires group work will advise students with respect to each piece of work exactly what degree of cooperation is expected and the degree of collaboration allowed on submitted material.
  • Do not lend your work to others. If someone submits work that is the same as or very similar to yours you should expect to be asked to explain and, if the explanation is not satisfactory, to be penalised.
  • If you are ever in doubt as to whether some action you have taken may be considered as plagiarism, you should consult your lecturer and/or clearly state on the submitted work the extent of the contribution from others.

Citing the Work of Others

Under various circumstances, which should be set out in each assignment, it is appropriate or allowed to make use of others work. For example:
  • It is standard practice to describe related work in research reports.
  • You may be allowed to use someone else's code for a linked list or tree in a 300-level project dealing with operating systems or databases.
When you do this you must always give the author of the other work credit. This distinguishes the constructive use of others work from plagiarism.

Quotations in Essays and Reports

If you use quotations from books, articles, web pages, etc in an essay or report, cite the source by:
  • Marking it as a quotation (for example, use "quotation marks" for a short quotation, or extra indentation for a whole paragraph), and
  • Referencing the source you obtained it from (either in the text, as a footnote, or as an endnote). For a publication, give the title, author, date and perhaps a page number. For a web page, cite the URL and author or organisation. Finally, for a quote from an expert, another student or other person, give their name and "Personal communication".

Note that including quotations in an essay or report is fine (when cited properly), but they should be used in a way that strengthens your discussion or argument. Generally, marks will be awarded for demonstrating your understanding of the subject matter, so that an essay that consists almost entirely of quotations with a few connecting words or sentences will typically receive very few marks.


If you are completing a programming project, you may be allowed to use code segments from a software library on the web, from model solutions in previous courses you have taken, or even from other students. If you do this, you must clearly indicate all of the code that has come from another source, and state the source.

Unless your course requirements state otherwise you are not required to cite algorithms, data structures or source code from lecture notes or the prescribed text.

If you are in doubt about the use of code that you have not written yourself you should check with your lecturer before submitting the program.

Help with the English language

Students for whom English is a second language may have friends or other people who are willing to help them with the grammar and wording of their essays, reports or documentation. This is acceptable provided that the help was confined to the grammar and wording and that the help is acknowledged in the essay/report, giving the name of the individual who helped.