Computer Laboratory

Guidance on Plagiarism and Collusion

This guidance note has been issued by the Faculty Board of Computer Science and Technology and the Degree Committee of the Computer Laboratory. After explaining plagiarism and penalties for plagiarising, it clarifies the rules for each part of the Computer Science Tripos and for the MPhil in Advanced Computer Science.

In general, plagiarism can be defined as

the unacknowledged use of the work of others as though this were your own original work

In the context of examinations or other assessed course components (this includes, but is not limited to: written tests, written papers, ticked exercises, take-home tests, written assignments, practical assignments, project reports, dissertations and essays) this amounts to

passing off the work of others as your own to gain unfair advantage

THE GOLDEN RULE: THE EXAMINERS MUST BE LEFT IN NO DOUBT AS TO WHICH PARTS OF ANY SUBMISSION ARE YOUR OWN ORIGINAL WORK AND WHICH ARE NOT.

The scope of plagiarism

Plagiarism may be due to

  • Copying (using another person's code, language and/or ideas as though they were your own)
  • Collusion (unauthorised collaboration)

Methods include

  • quoting verbatim another person's work without due acknowledgment of the source
  • paraphrasing another person's work without due acknowledgment
  • using ideas taken from someone else without reference to the originator
  • cutting and pasting from the Internet
  • submitting someone else's work as part of your own without identifying clearly who did the work
  • colluding with another person, including another candidate, other than as might be permitted as indicated below

Plagiarism applies to all types of sources and media. Failure to conform to the expected standards of scholarship (e.g. by not referencing sources) in examinations may affect the mark given to the candidate's work. In addition, suspected cases of the use of unfair means, which might include plagiarism, will be investigated and may be brought to one of the University's Courts. The Courts have wide powers to discipline those found guilty of using unfair means in an examination, including depriving such persons of membership of the University.

It should be noted that learning from one another can be just as important as studying the material presented in lectures, so it is both inevitable and acceptable that individual assessed exercises will be discussed by those who have to work through them. However, simply copying someone else's submission is plagiarism and is not allowed.

Specific Requirements for written assignments including but not limited to Dissertations, Project Reports and Essays

When presenting the views and work of others, include in the text an indication of the source of the material, e.g. "as Sharpe (1993) has shown," and give the full details of the work quoted in your bibliography. If you reproduce a diagram from someone else's work, this must be clearly acknowledged.

If you receive help from your module convener, supervisor, Director of Studies or from some other person, with the language and style of a piece of written work, you should include a general acknowledgement of that fact.

You should be aware that the electronic copy of your written work could be submitted to plagiarism-detection software. There now follows some course-specific guidance.

Computer Science Tripos

  • Part IA, Paper 1 (shared with NST Part 1A and PPS Part 1)
    • ML and Java ticks: You must work as an individual.
  • Part IA, Paper 2
    • Hardware ticks: You normally work in pairs, but the write-up must be your own work.
  • Part IB
    • ECAD ticks: You must work as an individual.
    • Java, Prolog/C++ ticks: You must work as an individual.
    • Group Project: Because the projects are carried out in groups, co-operation with other members of the group is a requirement, and a group report is submitted describing that joint activity. That report must acknowledge wherever the project has incorporated source code and other components from sources outside the group. Furthermore, each member of the group is required to make an individual technical contribution. In addition to the group report, each member of the group must submit a personal report, clearly describing what their own original contribution has been. The personal report must be entirely the individual's own work.
  • Part II
    • Individual project: Students must sign a declaration of originality. The starting point must be clearly described, and any help, code, etc provided by others (for example the Project Supervisor) must be clearly acknowledged.

      You should be aware that the electronic copy of your code could be submitted to plagiarism-detection software.

  • Part III
    • Taught modules: Details of any group working are specified in the information concerning each module, particularly with regard to the preparation of assessed components.

      Unless otherwise stated you must work as an individual.

      Students taking modules where a take-home test forms part of the assessment are required to sign a declaration of originality.

    • Individual project: Students must sign a declaration of originality. The starting point must be clearly described, and any help, code, etc provided by others (for example the Project Supervisor) must be clearly acknowledged.

      You should be aware that the electronic copy of your code could be submitted to plagiarism-detection software.

MPhil in Advanced Computer Science

  • Taught modules: Details of any group working are specified in the information concerning each module, particularly with regard to the preparation of assessed components.

    Unless otherwise stated you must work as an individual.

    Students taking modules where a take-home test forms part of the assessment are required to sign a declaration of originality.

  • Individual project or research essay: Students must sign a declaration of originality. The starting point must be clearly described, and any help, code (if applicable), etc provided by others (for example the Project/Essay Supervisor) must be clearly acknowledged.

    You should be aware that the electronic copy of your code could be submitted to plagiarism-detection software.

University of Cambridge Policy on Plagiarism

The Faculty of Computer Science and Technology subscribes to the University's policy on plagiarism. See

The wording of this document makes considerable use of the statements of several other Faculties in the University and the guidance issued by the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board.