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​​​​​​​Exams and Coursework

The law allows you to include copied material for your assessed work, even if you need to provide more than one copy of your work for your tutors. However, you must always include appropriate acknowledgement.

The legal permission to copy for assessed work does not extend to making your work publicly available in any way, such as via publication, display or exhibition. You must obtain written permission from the rights holder before you make the work available to the public.

What is plagiarism?

The University of Edinburgh defines plagiarism as:

The act of copying or including in one’s own work, without adequate acknowledgement, intentionally or unintentionally, the work of another or your own previously assessed original work.

It also includes ‘self-plagiarism’ which occurs where, for example, you submit work that you have presented for assessment on a previous occasion.

When using extracts of a copyright work you must make sure you fully attribute/reference it correctly, otherwise you could be accused of plagiarism.

More information is available on the Academic Services webpages.

Does copyright apply to work I have created?

Yes. Your essays, emails, exam scripts, dissertations and other original material you create in the form of projects or assignments all constitute copyright material. You are the rights holder, but the University requires you to submit copies for the purpose of marking and assessment, and may require you to deposit copies of material in a departmental collection or the University Library.

Do I own the copyright in my coursework?

Yes. The University’s Intellectual Property(IP) policy states that students own their own IP (this includes copyright). Except when activities being undertaken involve the University and/or student contracting with an outside body (e.g. an industrial sponsor). For example postgraduate student research which is receiving funding from an outside body may stake a claim on the IP and require the research student to assign the IP of research output to the funding body and/or the University.

You can read more about this here: University policy on intellectual property

Can I use third-party material within my thesis?

Yes, but only if the use is fair and the material is attributed correctly. Third party material is any material that is not originally created by you and is borrowed from another source of origin. The use must be limited to what is necessary for the purpose of your work, and it must not negatively impact on the economic rights of the original work. This may mean limiting copying to shorter extracts of a work.

Further Resources

Academic Services - Plagiarism

University Policy on Student Intellectual Property Rights

OER Service

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. For further information please contact: 

Open Education Resources Service

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Scholarly Communications Team

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  • You can book a one-to one video consultation with an expert from our team. If you want to find out more about open access (journals, funding, policies etc ), Copyright & Intellectual Property, General publishing activities (request an ISBN or DOI), or research metrics (using Web Of Science or Scopus) please contact our team via email to book a session at a time that suits you.

Information on this page has been adapted from Copyright Guidance at The University of Manchester, CC BY-NC