Academic Integrity & Misconduct

Academic Integrity is the commitment to, and demonstration of, honest and moral behaviour in an academic setting.

As a City student you are expected to uphold academic integrity and good academic practice by demonstrating authentic and ethical behaviour and practice in all of your academic work.

How we define Academic Misconduct

Academic Misconduct is any action that produces an improper advantage for you in relation to your assessment(s) or deliberately and unnecessarily disadvantages other students.

It can be committed intentionally or accidentally, so please make sure you read and follow the guidance carefully. City actively pursues all cases of suspected academic misconduct.

City Students’ Union (SU) have worked with the University, including academic staff from across all Schools, to produce a short video which explains academic integrity, the consequences of academic misconduct and how to avoid misconduct such as plagiarism, collusion and cheating.

For the SU Video and the full SU Academic Integrity & Misconduct Campaign, please click here.

How we manage Academic Misconduct

City’s Academic Integrity & Misconduct Policy and Guidance sets out the process which is triggered if we suspect that you have not upheld these principles and have committed Academic Misconduct.

We will manage and consider cases of alleged Academic Misconduct in accordance with the Senate Regulations*: Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19). The regulations are designed to ensure that students suspected of Academic Misconduct are provided with an independent and transparent system that is both efficient and fair.

This system safeguards the integrity of our awards as well as the interests of the majority of students who work hard for their award through their own efforts.

*Due to the impact of Covid-19, further details on how Academic Misconduct cases may be managed in 2020/21 can be found here.

You can also find more information about the measures we are taking to help you succeed in your studies in 2020/21 here: Mitigating the Impacts of Covid-19 on your Studies in 2020/21 | Student Hub | City, University of London.

Avoiding Academic Misconduct:

Avoiding Academic Misconduct means upholding your Academic Integrity. This means conducting all aspects of your academic life in a professional manner. It involves:

  • taking responsibility for your own work
  • respecting the rights of other scholars, fully acknowledging the work of others wherever it has contributed to your own to avoid plagiarism
  • ensuring that your own work is reported honestly
  • supporting others in their own efforts to behave with academic integrity
  • avoiding actions which seek to give you an unfair advantage over others
  • following the requirements of the University Assessment Regulations (Senate Regulation 19).

You can find more information about the support available to you during your studies and how to avoid academic misconduct on the Student Academic Skills and Wellbeing Moodle page.

Types of Academic Misconduct

Contract Cheating

Contract cheating is one of the most serious forms of academic misconduct.

It is defined by the University and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) as ‘a form of cheating where a student submits work to a for assessment, where they have used one or more of a range of services provided by a third party. Such input is not permitted. The contract with the student can include payment or other favours, but this is not always the case’.

  • 'Services' may include essays or other types of assignments, conducting research, impersonation in exams, translation into English and other forms of unfair assistance for completing assessed work.
  • 'Third parties' include web-based companies or auction sites (Essay Mills), sharing websites (including essay banks), or an individual such as a lecturer, colleague, friend or relative.
  • 'Input' means that the third party contributes to the work of the student, such that there is reasonable doubt as to whose work the assessment represents.

What are Essay Mills?

Essay Mills are businesses that allow customers to commission an original piece of writing on a particular topic so that they may commit academic fraud. Essay Mills make supposed promises about the standard of work that is commissioned and charge money per page/number of words. These sites may also offer ‘plagiarism checkers’, which may not be as reliable as claimed.

How might I be targeted by Essay Mills?

Essay Mills try to profit from the anxiety students may face because of the pandemic. They rely on exploitation and aggressive marketing and may reach out to you in a number of different ways including:

  1. Reaching students at the right time such as at the middle and end of their terms. They target students with advertising and discounts via email or pop-up ads to order an assignment “just in time”.
  2. Shopping around: Essay Mills have also started crafting entire networks of potential essay sites to give students the sense that they are shopping for the “best match” when really there is one master essay business at the core.
  3. Offering a “professional” and personalised experience. including posting university logos on their websites without permission to appear official.
  4. Following up with perseverance using your contact information to relentlessly contact you via email, text and social media at key points in the academic year.

What do I do if I am targeted?

Essay Mills will often disguise themselves as ‘proofreading’, ‘tutorial’ and ‘academic support’ services. They may target you via email, text, pop-up ads and social media. If you receive this marketing you must:

  • Delete it immediately
  • Do not use click though links 
  • Do not offer any personal information or contact details

Academic support services, including study tips, proofreading and tutorials are all offered in- house by City. Useful links and contacts on how to access our services, can be found in the ‘Support available for me’ section below.

Could I be blackmailed by Essay Mills?

Yes. The moment someone starts threatening you in an attempt to get a demand met or financial gain, that’s blackmail and it is a very serious crime. Essay Mills demand payment and have been known to blackmail people who use the service or who start to use the service but change their mind.  If you have used an Essay Mill and find yourself being blackmailed, you should:

  • not pay any money
  • stop all contact  
  • keep all the evidence  
  • seek help (report it to the Police, contact Victim Support on 0808 16 89 111)
  • talk to someone you trust (for example the Students’ Union or someone in your School such as your Module Leader or your Personal Tutor)

Am I likely to get caught if I Contract Cheat?

Yes. Universities have developed several strategies to combat this type of academic misconduct including using anti-plagiarism software such as Turnitin and accessing large databases of known assignments sold to students by Essay Mills which we have access to and can check your work against.

What happens if I am found guilty of using Essay Mills or Contract Cheating?

The consequences of contract cheating are very serious. Contract Cheating and the use of Essay Mills is defined by the University as Severe Academic Misconduct.

If you are found to have committed contract cheating and/or have been using Essay Mills, you are likely to be referred to a Disciplinary Panel as an outcome of the academic misconduct process.

The outcome is often expulsion from the University as it includes an element of deception/fraud.

How to avoid contract cheating

The Students’ Union website offers information on Academic integrity and contract cheating: the pitfalls of paying someone to do your studies for you.

With the increased response to COVID-19 there has been a notable spike in aggressive contract cheating marketing. To stay aware of what this is and how to avoid it, please familiarise yourself with the definition of contract cheating from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) by reading our Academic Integrity & Misconduct Policy and Guidance.


Collusion involves working together with other students on a piece of work that will be submitted for individual assessment.

This includes via digital channels such as text and email as well as via online platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram etc. (including the sharing of screenshots and photographs).

This is not permitted and can result in an accusation of academic misconduct for all the students involved

How to avoid collusion

The Students' Union offers useful general advice, guidance and support including information on  ‘Collaboration vs Collusion’.


Plagiarism is defined as use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source, for example:

  • Wholesale copying of passages from works of others without acknowledgment.
  • Use of the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment.
  • Submitting an assignment prepared by another student as your own


It is possible to plagiarise yourself by re-using work you have previously submitted* without acknowledgement.

If you do re-use work from a previous assignment, this should not normally be more than a short quotation, as the same work cannot be submitted for different assignments.

*This does not include any re-submissions of work for the same assignment which have been approved by your lecturer/tutor.

Essay Mills

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill has become law. Through this act, the Government has passed changes that will transform higher education, including criminalising Essay Mills.

As you may know, Essay Mills are online platforms that facilitate contract cheating. Contract cheating happens when someone else completes work for a student (in full or in part) which is passed off by the student as their own work.

Essay mills are now illegal entities, and you should not engage with or respond to their advertising.

It is no longer a moral question; you will be entangling yourself with an illegal activity and you will be providing your personal information (name, phone number, email address) to people offering a service that is now against the law.

To find out more about how City define ‘Contract Cheating’ and what ‘Essay Mills’ are, please see our Academic Integrity & Misconduct Student Hub Page.

What does this mean in terms of the law in England?

  • A person who provides or arranges to provide a relevant service to students commits an offence: It is now a criminal offence to provide, or arrange for another person to provide, contract cheating services to students taking a qualification at a University or Higher Education Institution in England. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine.
  • A person who advertises a relevant service to students commits an offence: ‘it is now an offence for a person to advertise any service or individual that is offering a cheating service. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

What does this mean for me as a student?

In order to comply with City Policy and Regulations, students should not use any material provided as a result of an Essay Mills service in completing all or part of the assignment. This is deemed by City University to be ‘severe academic misconduct’.

While it is not a criminal offense to make use of a contract cheating service, this is deemed by City University to be ‘severe academic misconduct’. The consequences of contract cheating are very serious. Making use of contract cheating services can lead to disciplinary action and expulsion from the University.

What do I do if I am targeted?

Essay Mills will often disguise themselves as ‘proofreading’, ‘tutorial’ and ‘academic support’ services. They may target you via email, text, pop-up ads and social media.

If you receive this marketing you must:

  • Delete it immediately
  • Do not use click though links
  • Do not offer any personal information or contact details

And if you need any support throughout your assessments and studies, please also remember that staff in your School and in our Student Support Services are here for you.

Plagiarism and TurnItIn Checks

Please be aware that TurnItIn is a multi-institutional platform. This means that any assessment uploaded to TurnItIn will be stored in one repository regardless of who uploaded it and which Institution it was uploaded from.

Uploading your work to TurnItIn via another institution log in or via another City student or a student from another University will not prevent a plagiarism match once you submit your final assessment.

TurnItIn will match the final submission to the one submitted previously, and an academic misconduct investigation will be instigated. In order to avoid an investigation and a possible sanction being applied to your work, please do not upload your assessment to TurnItIn via any log in, unless explicit permission to do so has been given to you by your School.

If you are unclear or have any questions, please speak with your personal tutor first.

For more definitions of types of Academic Misconduct please see Appendix 1 of our Academic Integrity & Misconduct Guidance.

Useful resources

  • The Academic Learning Support Team has put together lots of helpful tips and information for moving to studying online, which you can find here.
  • You can find further information about study skills and revision here.
  • Library Services have created some guidance for citing and referencing your work correctly, which you can access via their website.

The Students' Union offers useful general advice, guidance and support. The Union Advice service is independent from the University and they can:

  • Explain the academic misconduct regulations and process.
  • Advise you on responding to the allegations.
  • Advise on how to put together a statement to respond to the allegations.
  • Accompany you to meetings or panels with your School.
  • Provide ongoing advice throughout the process.

If you need any further support throughout your assessments and studies, please also remember that staff in your School and in our Student Support Services are here for you.