School of Population Health

Plagiarism & Academic Integrity

What is Plagiarism?
Addressing plagiarism and academic misconduct
Where can I find more information?
UNSW Student Code



UNSW has an ongoing commitment to fostering a culture of learning informed by academic integrity. All UNSW staff and students have a responsibility to adhere to this principle of academic integrity. Plagiarism undermines academic integrity and is not tolerated at UNSW.

Depending on the level of seriousness, plagiarism can be viewed at UNSW as a form of academic misconduct and is treated seriously. The following describes what plagiarism is and where you can obtain additional information about it. It is part of your responsibility as a student of UNSW to ensure that you understand what plagiarism is, so that you avoid it in any of your assignments and other academic work.


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own.  Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft. It can take many forms, from deliberate cheating to accidentally copying from a source without proper acknowledgement. UNSW groups plagiarism into the following categories:

  • Copying:  Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source and using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement.
  • Inappropriate paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.
  • Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time, paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own, stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it, offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work. In addition, it is important that students understand that it is not permissible to buy essay/writing services from third parties. Nor is it permissible to sell copies of lecture or tutorial notes as students do not own the rights to this intellectual property.
  • Inappropriate citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.
  • Self-plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

UNSW requires substantiated plagiarism to be classified into three levels (Level 1, 2 or 3). In many cases, Level 1 plagiarism is the result of inexperience or poor academic skills, rather than the deliberate intention to deceive. However, the same penalties may apply for plagiarism related to inexperience in scholarly writing and referencing requirements. As postgraduate students, it is your responsibility to ensure all work submitted complies with the rules of student conduct and academic integrity. The University has adopted an educative approach to plagiarism and developed a range of resources to support students, which are outlined below.


Addressing plagiarism and academic misconduct

Procedures are in place that categorise plagiarism (Level 1, 2 or 3), based on the extent and seriousness of the case. Allegations of Level 1 and 2 plagiarism are addressed at the School level. If the allegation is proven, the student is placed on either the Level 1 Plagiarism Register or the Misconduct Register and academic penalties can be imposed. Any Level 3 Plagiarism case is considered serious student misconduct and is referred to the Office of the Director Student Life and Learning for investigation and determination.

All cases of plagiarism require educative action and referral to the Learning Centre. Penalties may also apply, based on the Level of plagiarism and previous history of the student. These range from a reduction in marks through to failing a course, or for more serious matters, suspension or exclusion from the University. Students found to plagiarise more than one assignment are generally considered to have engaged in Level 2 plagiarism or Level 3 plagiarism depending on the seriousness of the case and/or the number of previous plagiarism findings. For more information on plagiarism and academic misconduct you can refer to UNSW Student Misconduct Procedures and Managing Plagiarism for Students Enrolled in Coursework Programs.

At the School of Population Health we have developed guidelines for students to inform you of the procedures considered appropriate for our postgraduate coursework students. The following outline the responsibilities for you as a student at the School as well as the responsibilities of the course convenors and Program Directors when managing plagiarism.

Submitting assignments: When you submit your assignments on Moodle, you submit through Turnitin. Turnitin is a similarity detection software that enables assignments to be checked for plagiarism including improper citation or misappropriated content. Each assignment submitted to Turnitin is checked against the submitted assignments of other students as well as the internet and key resources selected by the course convenor.

The Turnitin originality report is an indication similarity of your assignment to other students work as well as online sources and peer-reviewed literature. The percentage similarity is not a reliable indicator of plagiarism (i.e. there is no cut off), but assists the marker in identifying passages of text that are similar to other published works. The Turnitin originality report is just one tool course convenors use to determine if the assessment you submitted is your own work and whether you have appropriately acknowledge your sources. It is important for you to understand how you can use Turnitin as a tool to self-manage plagiarism.

The role of the course convenor: It is the responsibility of the course convenor to review all submitted assignments for evidence of plagiarism prior to commencing marking. All suspected assignments are notified to the relevant Program Director or Assistant Director. The suspected assignments are not graded until the case is finalised.

The role of the Program Directors and Assistant Directors: It is the responsibility of the Program Directors and Assistant Directors to investigate and make decisions on all allegations of plagiarism for students undertaking coursework within the School. All students for which allegations arise are required to meet with a Program Director to discuss their case. The Program Directors will then determine the appropriate plagiarism level, penalties and requirements for resubmission of the assessment. The Program Directors are also responsible for registering all substantiated cases of Academic Misconduct with the Student Conduct and Integrity Unit.

What can I expect if my assessment is suspected of plagiarism?  

  • All students for which allegations arise will receive an email from a Program Director/Assistant Program Director, outlining the allegation and attaching the Turnitin originality report (if relevant) and the login key for the UNSW Academic Integrity module on Moodle.
  • All students are required to meet with their Program Director(s) to discuss their case, either in person or over the telephone, before a decision is made.
  • Prior to attending the meeting, all students are required to complete the Academic Integrity module and submit their response to all sections, including the exit tasks. Completion of the Academic Integrity module and the exit tasks will be considered at the meeting along with other relevant information such as the academic history of the student and prior plagiarism.  
  • After considering the evidence, the Program Director(s) will determine if the allegation of plagiarism is substantiated, the appropriate plagiarism level and penalty, and requirements for resubmission. A summary report is emailed to the student. Students may be referred to the Learning Centre if required.
  • Once the decision has been made, the student’s grades will be released.
  • Students have 10 working days to appeal the decision. Level 1 appeals must be made to the Head of School and Level 2 to the Director Student Life and Learning and only on the grounds of lack of procedural fairness.
  • Level 3 cases are always referred to the Director Student Life and Learning, and in most cases an investigation process similar to that described above is undertaken by the Student Integrity Unit as opposed to the School.

Confidentiality: All cases of suspected and substantiated plagiarism are confidential. The UNSW Student Plagiarism and Misconduct Register is a confidential database managed by the Student Conduct and Integrity Unit.


Where can I find more information?

1. UNSW’s Plagiarism & Academic Integrity Website

This site aims to address three issues that often result in plagiarism: unfamiliarity with the concept of plagiarism; knowing how it occurs, and developing the necessary academic skills to avoid plagiarism. As a student, you will be able to use this collection of resources (worked examples, activities and links) to improve your all-round academic literacy and, consequently, reduce the possibilities for plagiarism. More information is available on the UNSW Plagiarism & Academic Integrity site. UNSW has also produced a booklet to assist you with essential information for avoiding plagiarism.  See Plagiarism: Essential information for avoiding plagiarism.

2. The Learning Centre

The Learning Centre provides a range of programs and resources for students including website materials, workshops, individual tuition and online tutorials to aid students in:

  • correct referencing practices and citation practices;
  • paraphrasing, summarising, essay writing, and time management;
  • appropriate use of, and attribution for, a range of materials including text, images, formulae and concepts.

3. The Elise Study Skills tutorial

ELISE (Enabling Library & Information Skills for Everyone) is an online tutorial to help you understand how to find and use information for your assignments or research. It will also help you understand plagiarism and how to avoid it. The Elise Study Skills tutorialis is highly recommended to postgraduate students in their first semester of study.


UNSW student code

The UNSW Student Code provides a framework for the standard of conduct expected of UNSW students with respect to their academic integrity and behaviour. It outlines the primary obligations of students, and directs staff and students to the Code and related procedures.