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Unfair Practice

 What is unfair practice?

Unfair Practice is defined in the University’s Unfair Practice Procedure. Unfair Practice is defined generally as 'any act whereby a person might obtain for him/herself or for another, an unpermitted advantage or a higher mark or grade than his/her abilities would otherwise secure'.

Unfair Practice can take one or more of a number of forms in relation to non-examination and examination conditions. Examples could be taking notes or electronic devices into an examination, or presenting other people's work as your own in an assessment.

Categories of unfair practice


Plagiarism occurs when work that is submitted for assessment contains the words or ideas of others without the original source being properly referenced.

It includes attempts to pass off work that has been produced by fellow students as your own, your own work that you have used for previous assessments or words or ideas that are found in textbooks, in articles, on the Web, or in any other format.

To avoid accidentally plagiarising due to poor referencing, you can learn more about your courses reference style by clicking here.


Collusion takes place when work that has been done with others is submitted and passed off work completed by one person. . When working with others you must ensure that you are clear about what can be done in collaboration with others, and what must be solely your own efforts.


 If you should attempt to submit work that you have completed for another assessment, this will constiture self-plagiarism.

Examination misconduct

This can include but is not limited to;

  • Opening the question paper or writing in your answer book before the exam has started.
  • Trying to continue writing once you have been told to stop.
  • Taking in notes or electronic devices on you that are not permitted (including mobile phones or pre-programmable calculators).
  • Talking or communicating with other students.
  • Impersonating another student or allowing yourself to be impersonated.

Assessment Misconduct

This can include but is not limited to;

  • Presenting other people's work as your own
  • Presenting group work as your individual work.


What happens if you are accused of Unfair Practice?


If it is suspected that you have breached the Unfair Practice rules during an examination, the Invigilator who has the suspicion with inform you that they will be reporting you for this. This will include mobile phones or electronic devices: these are not allowed in exam venues unless expressly permitted within the exam rubric. The Superintendent will decide either to:

  • Refer the case to a Committee of Enquiry;
  • Take no further action.

A Committee of Enquiry will consider the evidence submitted to it on the allegation of Unfair Practice and determine whether the allegation has been substantiated and if appropriate, apply a penalty.

The Committee has the following range of penalties to choose from:

  • A formal reprimand;
  • Study skills training;
  • The cancellation of marks for an assessment or module or year of study;
  • A recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor that your progress is postponed for a year;
  • To reduce your degree classification by one class or to not award you a distinction;
  • A recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor that you are disqualified from all future assessments.

If you are not happy with the decision, you are able to appeal this. We would recommend speaking to a Student Adviser about this.


If your tutor believes you may have committed unfair practice in an assessment you will be invited to attend a meeting with the Unfair Practice Coordinator for your school and the member of staff who identified the possible unfair practice.  You should be sent a letter or an email outlining the details of this.

If the assessment is summative (it does count towards your end of year mark) then the Chair of the Examining Board can decide to:

  • Take no further action;
  • Ask you to undertake study skills and warn you of the possible future consequences;
  • Require you to undertake study skills and set the mark for your assessment to zero;
  • Refer the case to a Committee of Enquiry.

If the assessment is formative (it doesn't count towards your end of year mark), then the Chair of the Examining Board can decide to:

  • Dismiss the concern;
  • Require you to undertake study skills training;
  • Place a note on your student record which will remain throughout your studies.

Remember, the University considers it your responsibility:

  • To check and ensure that you have referenced your work correctly;
  • To check you are not bringing any unauthorised material into the exam room;
  • To ensure that the work you submit for an individual assignment is your own and is not from colluding or copied from others or previous work submitted.

How can Student Advice help?

If you are facing an allegation of unfair practice, you can speak to Student Advice in confidence about your case and a Student  Adviser can help you to prepare your response to the allegation. Student Advice is independent from the University so we can offer you confidential and impartial advice.

It is important that you contact Student Advice as soon as you receive a letter about unfair practice, whether it’s from your School’s Unfair Practice Co-ordinator or the Superintendent of Examinations. A Student  Adviser can explain the procedure to you, attend any meetings with you and help you draft a response to the allegation.


Still have questions?

Contact an independent adviser in the Students' Union by emailing Advice@cardiff.ac.uk, by calling 02920 781410 or by filling out the form below.

Want to speak with a Confidential Student Adviser?

Write your details below and an independent adviser from the Students' Union will be in touch to provide confidential information and guidance.

Your Details

List of Unfair Practice Coordinators 

N.B. The following contacts will not necessarily provide support through the Unfair Practice procedure, which can better be sought from Student Advice in the Students' Union. Contact advice@cardiff.ac.uk, call 02920 781410 or use the above form.


Unfair Practice Coordinator

Contact Details


Kathryn Wilkinson



Barbara Evans






Mark Elliot


Computer Science

Xianfang Sun



Fiona Kiely



Lesley Cherns



Michelle Adridge





Geography and Planning

Gareth Enticott



Jayne Foley

Amanda Holland

Anna Sydor





History, Archaeology and Religion

Kate Gilliver


Journalism, Media & Culture

Nick Mosdell



Demetra Arsalidou



Nikolai Leonenko



UG: Carmen Van der Berg

PGT: Sharron Heathcote

UG: vandenbergcw@cardiff.ac.uk

PG: HeathcoteS@cardiff.ac.uk

Modern Languages

Angharard Brown



Cameron Gardner



Ashley Wood





Physics & Astronomy




Margaret Walby



Social Sciences




Lisa Sheppard



A Student Advice adviser can explain the procedure to you, attend any meetings with you and help you draft a response to the allegation.