Academic Integrity, Plagiarism and Research Ethics

Academic Integrity: The University Policy

The University expects that all students will familiarise themselves with the Regulations Governing Academic Integrity.  Where professional, statutory and regulatory body requirements apply and for programmes that lead to professional registration, additional reporting requirements may be in place. The Students’ Union Advice centre has developed a Guide for students.

Procedures will be invoked to investigate suspected breaches of academic integrity when concerns are raised during the marking process or in connection with suspected cheating in examinations.  We are aware that students may have experienced differing standards at other institutions (including those overseas) but it is essential that you take steps to ensure your full understanding of the standards expected at Southampton as significant penalties can be imposed if these are breached.  These penalties will always affect the mark you receive for the piece of work in question, and the most serious cases could lead to a reduction in degree classification or even termination of programme.  There is likely also to be an impact on any future reference we provide.

It is often helpful to discuss ideas and approaches to your work with your peers, and this is a good way to help you think through your own views.  However work submitted for assessment should always be entirely your own, except where clearly specified otherwise in the instructions for the assignment.  In some instances working in groups will be required, and there may be occasions when work is submitted from the whole group rather than individuals.  In these instances the instructions will make it clear how individual contributions to the joint work should be identified and will be assessed.  If you are in any doubt, check with the person setting the assignment.  If you have worked with others you should make sure that you acknowledge this in any declaration you make.

If you wish to improve your study skills, always seek advice sooner rather than later.  Your personal tutor or module convenor will be able to help you identify sources of assistance.  It is an important element of independent learning, and a normal part of academic development, to recognise when you need to seek advice, and to learn to benefit from it.  This would not necessarily mean that you are ‘struggling’ with your work – you may feel you need additional advice to reach your personal potential.

If in doubt about what is required in any particular assignment, what referencing styles are appropriate etc, always ask.  Your tutor or module lead will be able to point you in the direction of appropriate sources of advice and information.

You are responsible for your own work and conduct, and for ensuring that you neither fall accidentally into poor academic practice in your written work nor engage in practices which breach academic integrity.  Such practices are unacceptable, whether they have been followed deliberately or through a lack of understanding.  As well as damaging your own development, failure to work with academic integrity is unfair to other students who complete work honestly and fairly.  It can also potentially damage the relationship between staff and students which is at the heart of the University community, and relationships with external partners.  Ultimately, your results will not be a true reflection of your performance, which may potentially damage the academic standing of the University’s awards.

Furthermore, should you have reason to believe that a fellow student is not working with academic integrity, you should speak in confidence to the module convenor.  Your identity will not be revealed as part of any investigation; however no further action would be taken unless additional evidence is identified by the marker or module convenor.

Useful Downloads

Click here for information about student academic integrity – Examples of breaches of academic integrity can be found under Appendix 1.

Research Ethics

The University of Southampton is committed to carrying out its research, teaching, enterprise and other activities within a comprehensive ethical framework (

Principles of ethical research include the expectation that studies are undertaken with integrity, quality and transparency. Participants in research must be fully informed about the research and participate voluntarily. They need to know what will happen with the information they provide, and that they can withdraw from the study subsequently (wherever possible). Risks from participation in research must be explained and minimised. Participants’ anonymity and/or confidentiality should be protected, for example by removing information that could be used to identify them and by storing confidential information securely.

All research on human participants, their tissue or data requires ethical approval via the University’s Ethics and Research Governance Online (ERGO) system ( This includes, but is not limited to, studies of the following kind:

  • analysis of existing secondary data at an individual level, even where such data have been anonymised and/or the datasets exist in the public domain;
  • collection of data using questionnaires and online surveys;
  • collection of data using interviews, observations, focus group discussions or similar qualitative approaches; and
  • experiments involving human participants.

Research on animals is governed by separate procedures.

The University believes that ethical issues should be interpreted broadly and that ethics approval might also be needed for research where other factors could be present including:

  • a risk of damage to the environment;
  • political or social sensitivity; and
  • impact on culture and cultural heritage.

If you are in doubt about whether the research for your dissertation requires ethical approval, please contact your divisional ‘ethics champion’, or a member of the Faculty Ethics Committee via

To obtain ethical approval for your research, please apply via the ERGO system ( Detailed guidance on how to apply and what documents to upload can be found on the Researcher Portal ( ) and in the Downloads section on the ERGO page.

Please note that the University does not permit mass emailing for the recruitment of research participants.

Your supervisor will need to approve your ethics application before it is reviewed by the Faculty Ethics Committee. There are no submission deadlines; instead applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. You can expect a decision within 10 working days. Please allow extra time in case you are asked for revisions. You must not begin your research before you have obtained approval via ERGO! Retrospective approval is never granted.

Failure to obtain ethics approval or to comply with the University’s Ethics Policy will be investigated under the University’s regulations governing Academic Integrity (

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