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IMPORTANT: Please read this handbook in conjunction with the Level 1 School of Biological Sciences Student Handbook, available here:

Key information

Semester Dates & Holidays

University welcome and induction programme 13 September 2021
School and programme induction activities 20 September 2021
Semester 1 teaching starts 27 September 2021
Christmas break starts 18 December 2021
Christmas break ends 17 January 2022
Semester 1 exams 17–28 January 2022
Semester 1 ends 29 January 2022
Break 31 January – 4 February 2022
Semester 2 starts  7 February 2022
Easter break starts 4 April 2022
Easter break ends 24 April 2022
Semester 2 exams 23 May–10 June 2022
Semester 2 ends 11 June 2021

You should read the corresponding sections in this guide for further information on the following:

Deadlines for changing course units:
Level 1 course units: end of the second week of teaching in each semester
Level 2 course units: end of the second week of teaching in each semester
Final level course units: end of the second week of each ‘early’ semester unit; end of the first week of each ‘late’ semester units


Submission of project reports will be online via Blackboard by 5pm on the date stated.

BIOL40031: 17 January 2022
BIOL40032 & BIOL40030: 10 June 2022


Examination results:

Semester 1 examinations: late February
Semester 2 examinations: early-mid July
Resit examinations: mid-September


Semester 1 only students: Students will receive an Interim Transcript at the end of February and will be able to access their official transcripts online in August (via the Digitary service:  If hard copies are required, students will be able to order these from the central transcripts team – contact details in the above link.

Semester 2 and full year students: Students will be able to access their official transcripts online in August (via the Digitary service:  If hard copies are required, students will be able to order these from the central transcripts team – contact details in the above link.

Assessed essays in lieu of examinations
deadline for submitting completed ‘assessed essay approval form’ (Semester 1 only):

Not applicable in 2021-22, as examinations will take place online

Assessed essay submission deadline:

Not applicable in 2021-22, as examinations will take place online

Deadline for emailing to formally request to be entered for resit examinations
Semester 1 & 2 units: No later than 8 July 2022

School of Biological Sciences Contacts and Information

The Incoming Erasmus Exchange Coordinator for the School of Biological Sciences is Dr Patrick Gallois. Dr Gallois oversees the running of Erasmus exchanges within the School, offers academic advice to prospective Erasmus students and has overall responsibility for Erasmus students throughout their study with the School of Biological Sciences. Patrick is supported in this by Lisa Monks, who acts as a first point of contact for Erasmus students and is able to respond to most non-academic queries. Both Patrick and Lisa can be contacted at

For general information about studying at the University and living in Manchester, please visit the University’s main website at Information of particular interest to international students can be found at

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Choosing Course Units

Information on the course units offered by the School of Biological Sciences can be found on the website at Each module guide includes descriptions of the course units, how many credits they carry, assessment details, preliminary reading etc.

Semesters – Course units ending in ‘1’ e.g. BIOL31301 take place in semester 1 only and course units ending in ‘2’ e.g. BIOL21132, take place in semester 2 only. Course units ending in ‘0’ run during both semesters. Please bear this in mind when choosing your course units, especially if you are applying to come to Manchester for one semester only – if your exchange is for a single semester rather than a full year you may only choose course units ending with the relevant semester number. Most of our units are worth 10 UK credits, which equates to 5 ECTS credits, but you should check the individual course unit specifications for their credit ratings.

You should take no more than 120 UK credits (60 ECTS credits) for a full academic year, and no more than 60 UK credits (30 ECTS credits) for a single semester. Most course units are 10 UK credits each, however, some units do carry more credits (e.g. project units, some HSTM units). Please check credit values when you are selecting units to ensure you will have an appropriate workload i.e. 60 UK credits per semester.

Erasmus students are required to attend lectures and seminars, to carry out online assessment, to read from the extra-reading list according to the individual course unit requirements.

Advice on Choosing Course Units

Please ensure that you discuss your choice of course units with the academic adviser at your home University. You must make sure that the units you take at The University of Manchester are approved for credit transfer.

When choosing your units, you should also bear in mind that you may be unable to take certain combinations of units due to ‘clashes’ (units taking place at the same time, on the same day). You may therefore find it helpful to select some additional units in advance as alternatives. Please note that clashes are more likely if you select a mixture of Second and Final level course units.

Timetables for the relevant academic year and information on ‘Clash Groups’ (lists of incompatible unit combinations) will be sent to you by email prior to your Faculty registration meeting to assist you in choosing your course units as accurately as possible before you arrive at the University. While at Manchester you will be able to make checks and changes during the Erasmus School of Biosciences welcome meeting.

Changing Course Units

You can change, add or drop course units after registering on them, but only within the first two weeks of the unit, and subject to the availability of other course units.

You must seek approval from your home Erasmus Coordinator if you wish to change any of the course units listed on your original Learning Agreement. Confirmation of their approval should be forwarded to Lisa Monks before the change can be made on the student system.

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Erasmus Projects

Please note that Erasmus projects are completely separate to Manchester student final year projects and do not follow the same format or regulations – please refer to the guidance below.

Europe_with_flagsProjects should be self-arranged (by you) prior to your arrival in Manchester. The best way to find a member of staff who does research of interest to you is to visit our website at:  You should send an email and a one-page CV to a few prospective supervisors, highlighting your technical and lab experience. Be very clear about when you would start the project, when you would finish the project, and whether you are taking teaching units or not. Once an academic has agreed to supervise your project, you must complete an ‘Erasmus Project Form’ as confirmation that your project has been agreed (email to obtain a form). Your completed form should be sent to Lisa Monks at as soon as possible.

PLEASE NOTE: you should notify Dr Patrick Gallois ( as soon as possible if you wish to undertake a project during your Erasmus exchange. You must check with your Home University’s Erasmus Coordinator to find out whether a research project would count towards your degree from your home university. If you have any queries about projects, please contact Dr Patrick Gallois for advice.

There are three course units for Erasmus students who wish to undertake a project:

  1. BIOL40031 (40 UK credits/20 ECTS credits) is taken in semester 1 and represents 2 to 3 days per week during 3 months. You are required to submit a written project (not exceeding 20 pages) for assessment. Up to 2 lecture units will normally be taken at the same time.
  1. BIOL40032 (40 UK credits/20 ECTS credits) is taken in semester 2 and represents 2 to 3 days per week during 3 months. You are required to submit a written project (not exceeding 20 pages) for assessment. Up to 2 lecture units will normally be taken at the same time.
  1. BIOL40030 (60 UK credits/30 ECTS credits) is for full-time projects of 6 months (or less) and can be taken by students on a single semester exchange. This course unit is for Erasmus students who wish to undertake a project only, with no teaching and no course units. You are required to submit a written project (not exceeding 20 pages) for assessment of this unit.

Structure and timing of projects

The start time, amount and scheduling of the work will depend on your particular project and supervisor – your start and finish dates will be agreed with your supervisor before your project begins and will be recorded on your ‘Erasmus Project Form’. Please note that all work in University laboratories must be supervised, with the timing agreed by mutual consent with your supervisor.

Doing the project

You are advised to discuss the aims and objectives of the project with your supervisor before the start of the project. Agree the days and times of the week you will work on the project. This allotted time should include some time for library work, data analysis and the commencement of writing. You should not feel pressured to work more than the allotted time but may do so if both you and your supervisor consider that the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages (e.g. less time spent on unit work).

Project write-up

Report-writing is a necessary and important part of any scientific project since unless the results are communicated to others the value of the work will be lost. One of the reasons for requiring you to write a research project report is to help you to learn this skill. As your report should be written in the style of a scientific paper (supervisor to advise on journal style), it is important that when you read research papers you pay attention not only to the scientific content but to the style, layout and construction, and ask yourself whether it is clear, readable and conveys all the important information. Your report should emphasise the communication, assessment and interpretation of results, putting them into the general context of the project and the work of others.

The report must not exceed 20 pages of text excluding the title page and list of references. Please use A4 paper. Print on one side of the paper only. Number all pages. Text must be in Arial, 10 point, one and a half line spacing, with margins of at least 2.5 cm all around the text. ALL supporting material, such as figures, tables, text boxes etc must be included in the page limit, and you are advised to ensure that any such items are sufficiently large enough to be read and understood with ease.

If you prefer to prepare your work in a different font, font size or format you are advised to check frequently that the material will convert to the above for submission, as penalties will normally be imposed for exceeding the limits (20% of marks lost for each page over the limit or part thereof).

In exceptional circumstances additional supporting material may be accepted in the form of an appendix. Such material might include sets of grid references for a large field study, or microarray data, for example, but should under no circumstances be material critical to an understanding of the report. This should be agreed with your supervisor at least 2 weeks in advance of submission of the report.

You will be expected to review the literature related to your project topic in your introduction. You are also encouraged to discuss the literature with your supervisor and submit a one-page outline for feedback before starting to write the introduction. A review of the relevant literature should be a substantial part of this introduction.

The mark penalty for reports outside the page limits will be:
a deduction of 10% of the marks for every page or part thereof greater than the page limit.

NB: The report must be in your own words (See School guidelines on Plagiarism at the back of this Guide, in student handbooks, and on the intranet).

In addition, a document called ‘Guidelines for Writing up Erasmus Projects’ is available to download from the ‘Biosciences Erasmus’ Area on Blackboard.


Suggested Stages in all project

  1. Do the initial library work.
  1. Do a literature survey. Keep detailed records of all references referred to. References are best stored via Endnote or kept on index cards, so that sorting is facilitated. You must be aware of copyright restrictions on the use of images in your project.
  1. Plan the initial experiments in detail with your supervisor. Agree risk assessment, experimental or product designs and statistical analysis before starting work.
  1. At the outset of practical work you may need day-to-day help from post-docs, post-grads, technicians or your supervisor. Eventually you should become more independent.
  1. Write down any experimental details or product development daily in a laboratory book given to you by your supervisor. Write critical comments on your results. Draw conclusions and plan future work. Your supervisor will probably want to see your laboratory book and discuss your results and may keep your laboratory book for future reference.
  1. Try to generate your own ideas for experiments/products and design your own experiments or products if you feel able to. However, always discuss the final experimental design/product with your supervisor before you do the experiment.
  1. Talk about your work to fellow students and think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  1. Make appointments to discuss your results with your supervisor at regular intervals.
  1. Agree a timetable for submission of draft work and obtaining feedback on the draft well in advance of the submission date.
  1. Do all necessary data analysis during the course of the project.   Don’t leave it all until the end.
  1. Evaluation is a key part of product development for teaching and learning based projects.

If, for reasons beyond your control, your project fails to give adequate results or the product is not completely finished, you will not be penalised.

Submission of Projects
Depending of the requirements of your home University you may have to submit earlier than the deadline indicated in the Key Information section at the top of this handbook. For any aspect specific to your home University, please contact us.



Submission of your final electronic copy must be via the unit’s presence on Blackboard in PDF format (details of how to convert to PDF can be found in the Blackboard area for the course; you are advised to check your PDF carefully before submitting it). You can submit this from any computer, however if you plan to use one outside the University we STRONGLY recommend that you submit in the morning of the deadline day (at the latest). This is to ensure that you have time to get technical help if you have a problem by calling the IT service desk (0161 306 5544) and asking to be put through to the School of Biological Sciences eLearning team. You should remember to save your project to your P drive in addition to any portable storage device you may be using.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL NEED TO SUBMIT ELECTRONIC COPY BEFORE THE DEADLINE IN ORDER TO AVOID A LATE SUBMISSION PENALTY. Electronic submissions completed after 17.00 will be marked as late. Computer problems are not normally accepted as mitigating circumstances for late submission. Please see your handbook for further information.

Instructions on submitting your electronic copy via Blackboard.

  1. Name the file you wish to upload with your lab supervisors surname and your library card number (for example: Smith_4208890.pdf)
  1. Go to the BIOL40031/30/32: ERASMUS Project unit on Blackboard
  1. Read the instructions carefully and follow them to upload your Project

NB. Users who submit before the deadline have the option re-submit their submission if they submit the wrong file. This is done by completing the submission again.
Marking: either your lab supervisor or your University will mark your report. Please ask your home Erasmus coordinator for the rule that applies to you

Support for your electronic submission
Support will be provided by submitting an eLearning enquiry which is located within the “eLearning Support” link in the left hand menu of the Blackboard course. Responses to these enquiries will be sent to your email inbox between 9am and 5pm on working days. Please ensure that you give as much information about where you are encountering problem as possible to enable us to provide you with assistance in the shortest possible time.

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Teaching and Learning in The School of Biological Sciences

Student/Staff Liaison Committee

The School values students’ views on academic and organisational matters and welcomes the contributions you can make to the work of its committees. With this in mind, we seek a volunteer to act as the representative for all Biological Sciences Erasmus students on the Student/Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC).

The Student/Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) is the main student-focussed forum for discussion of matters related to teaching. The committee consists of the Programme Director and one student representative from each year of every Degree Programme. Meetings of this Committee consider questions and concerns of a general nature (rather than those specific to a particular Degree Programme).

This committee usually meets three times during each academic year – for this reason only students who are on a Full Year exchange will be able to fulfil this role. Although only one student can be the named representative, he or she can be accompanied by one other student to the meetings if they wish.

Erasmus students will be able to contact the representative to raise issues of concern or interest regarding teaching within the School. These can then be taken to meetings by the representative for discussion, and he or she will be able to provide feedback to you from these meetings on what has been discussed and agreed.

If you feel you could serve as the student representative for Erasmus students in our School, please send an email to to express your interest. A representative will then be chosen from all applicants.


Deadlines, penalties and document limits

Items of coursework, such as essays and write-ups, will normally have strict deadlines. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you know when the deadline for each submission falls. As your programme is preparing you for the world of graduate employment, where deadlines are often very strict indeed, you should treat School deadlines like train departure times (just a few seconds after the time has passed, you will have missed the train!).

Any work that has been submitted after a deadline has passed is classed as late except in cases where an extension has already been agreed via mitigating circumstances procedures and DASS extensions. A student who submits work at 1 second past a deadline or later will therefore be subject to a penalty for late submission; a reduction of 10 marks per 24 hours or part thereof past the deadline. If the work is submitted more than 10 calendar days late then it is considered as a non-submission and a mark of zero applied. Students who submit referral assignments after the deadline will be automatically subject to a mark of zero. The full policy can be found here. Exceeding the specified page limit will result in a deduction of 20 marks per page or part thereof.

Coursework will normally have a specified content limit. This will normally be a number of pages, but in some cases may be a number of words – it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you understand exactly what the limits are and how they are to be achieved. Again, in post-graduate work you will usually find that documents, such as applications for grants, reports etc., have stringent word or page limit requirements – with line spacing, font, margins etc. specified. The standard School of Biological Sciences instructions for coursework including essays, reports and write-ups follow, but it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any alternative requirements for a particular piece of work:

The [submission] must not exceed [x] pages of text excluding the list of references. Text must be in Arial, 10 point, one and a half line spacing, with margins of at least 2.5 cm all around the text. ALL supporting material, such as figures, tables, text boxes etc. must be included in the page limit, and you are advised to ensure that any such items are sufficiently large enough to be read and understood with ease.

You should conform to the format that has been specified. If the work needs to be converted to a PDF for submission you should check very carefully that the conversion is accurate and conforms to the guidelines well in advance of the submission deadline.

Absence affecting submission of written work

If, as a consequence of illness or other mitigating factor, you wish to seek an extension to a deadline for submitting written coursework for a course unit or a tutorial assignment, you must submit an Assessed Coursework Extension Request form with appropriate supporting evidence to the Student Support Office (or your Academic tutor in the case of tutorial work). The application for extension must be made BY 10:00 THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY OF THE DEADLINE and NOT retrospectively. Forms are available from the Student Support Office or can be downloaded from the Student Support Forms page on the School’s intranet.

If you are unable to provide evidence at the time of application for the extension, you can apply for an extension pending evidence. The Assessment & Progression Office will set you a deadline to submit the evidence by. Failure to submit the evidence could incur application of a late penalty to the piece of work.

You should not assume that an extension has been approved until you receive written (e.g. email) confirmation from the Student Support Office. If you have been granted an extension to a deadline it is normally not possible to claim further mitigation for this work unless it is for a different reason.

Absence affecting eLearning assessments

Note that eLearning assessments are open for at least one week and close at 4.00pm on the published end date. Students should anticipate a possible period of illness during this time and complete the assessments as soon as they open. Students failing to submit by the deadline will receive a mark of zero for that assignment. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as prolonged illness, will a request for mitigation be considered. To request mitigation you must submit a mitigating circumstances application by the advertised deadline. Details of how to apply and the deadlines can be found below under the Mitigating Circumstances Committee section of the handbook.

Absence from examinations due to ill health

You should make every effort participate in all examinations. It is often surprising how well candidates who are ill can perform in written examinations, and a mark of just 40% will avoid the automatic referral in August/September (level 1 and 2 only, there are no referrals/re-sits for level 3 students). It will not be possible to make special arrangements to take the exams in an alternative location, unless this has been arranged through the DASS.

If you are so ill you are unable to take an exam, you must contact the Student Support Office as soon as possible, and certainly no later than the day and start time of your examination. You should complete a Mitigating Circumstances application which must be accompanied by appropriate independent third-party supporting or collaborative documentation such as a letter signed by your GP or a letter from your health care professional.

Please note some doctors surgeries can take 2 weeks to provide you with a letter of evidence, so it is important to organise this as soon as possible. If your evidence will not be available until after the deadline, you must ensure your application is submitted on time and notify the Student Support Office when they can expect to receive the evidence.

If the information is of a highly confidential nature, you may submit your evidence in a sealed envelope, marked for the attention of the Chair of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee. If due to an emergency you have attended a hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department, you must obtain written confirmation of attendance either from the hospital or subsequently from your GP confirming your attendance and stating the nature of the emergency. A hospital attendance card alone will not be accepted as appropriate evidence of illness.

2021/22 DEADLINES for submitting your mitigating circumstances form

Semester 1 – 12pm Monday 1st February 2022

Semester 2 – 12pm Friday 10th June 2022

Resit Period – 12pm Monday 5th September 2022

Requests for mitigation submitted after this date for the end of an examination period cannot be considered. Students would need to go through the Appeals process and provide a credible and compelling explanation as to why the circumstances were not known or could not have been shown beforehand.

If you miss a unit examination through illness, you will be required to take the examination again in the August/September examination period (level 1 and 2 only). Provided that you have followed the procedures described above, this re-examination will normally be counted as your first attempt and the referral fee will be waived.

Mitigating Circumstances Forms are online

Applications for mitigating circumstances must be submitted using the above link. Paper forms will not be accepted.

Illness not resulting in absence from examinations

You may be unwell but able to proceed with an examination, but feel that your performance will have been impaired. If you wish this to be taken into account you must follow the same procedures as in Section Absence from examinations due to ill health (Undergraduate). Note that long-term chronic conditions or suffering from stress, anxiety or feelings of panic would not normally be considered a mitigating circumstance. If you anticipate or experience any of the latter problems you are strongly encouraged to contact the Counselling Service (see Section Counselling)

Mitigating Circumstances Committee

Sometimes circumstances or events beyond your control may adversely affect your ability to perform in an examination/assessment to your full potential. The University defines mitigating circumstances as ‘unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances that could have, or did have, a significant adverse effect on the academic performance of a student’.

Possible mitigating circumstances include:

  • significant illness or injury; or worsening of an ongoing illness or disability, including mental health conditions; (please see the following DASS webpage for examples of disabilities:;
  • the death or critical/significant illness of a close family member/dependant;
  • significant family or personal crises or major financial problems leading to acute stress; and
  • absence from the University for public service, for example, jury service.

Circumstances or events that would NOT normally be regarded as grounds for mitigation include:

  • holidays, moving house and events that were planned or could reasonably have been expected;
  • assessments that are scheduled close together;
  • misreading the timetable or misunderstanding the
  • requirements for assessments;
  • inadequate planning and time management;
  • failure, loss or theft of a computer or printer that prevents submission of work on time; students should back up work regularly and not leave completion so late that they cannot find another computer or printer;
  • an act of religious observance;
  • consequences of paid employment;
  • exam stress or panic attacks not diagnosed as illness or supported by medical evidence;
  • disruption in an examination room during the course of an assessment which has not been brought to the attention of, or recorded by, the invigilators (including instances such as fire alarms or other noise disruption).

If you are unable to take an exam you must contact the Student Support Office as soon as possible and certainly no later than the day and start time of your examination. You will need to complete a Mitigating Circumstances application which must be accompanied by appropriate independent third-party supporting or collaborative documentation such as a Doctor’s note or letter signed by your GP or a letter from your health care professional.

Please note some doctors surgeries can take 2 weeks to provide you with a letter of evidence, so it is important to organise this as soon as possible. If your evidence will not be available until after the deadline, you must ensure your application is submitted on time and notify the Student Support Office when they can expect to receive the evidence. If the information is of a highly confidential nature, you may submit your evidence in a sealed envelope, marked for the attention of the Chair of the Mitigating Circumstances Committee. Students who attend a hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department must obtain written confirmation of attendance either from the hospital or subsequently from their GP confirming their attendance and stating the nature of the emergency. A hospital attendance card alone will NOT be accepted as appropriate evidence of illness.

We advise you to make every effort to attend all examinations. If necessary, special arrangements can be made to take the exam in an alternative location; if you cannot write (e.g. due to a broken arm), it may be possible for someone to write for you. If you feel you might experience any examination difficulties, you must inform the staff in the Student Support Office at the earliest opportunity.

Applications for mitigating circumstances must be submitted using this link:

2021/22 DEADLINES for submitting your mitigating circumstances form

Semester 1 – 12pm Monday 1st February 2022

Semester 2 – 12pm Friday 10th June 2022

Resit Period – 12pm Monday 5th September 2022

Please be aware, mitigation will NOT result in the changing of any marks, unless penalties for late submission are waived after an assignment has already been marked. Instead, mitigation may result in some marks being disregarded and the assessment being excused because it was adversely affected. You may also be given a mark for a whole unit based on your performance in the parts that were not adversely affected. Mitigation may also mean treating your overall performance as borderline even though the marks you obtained would not normally be high enough, and so considering you for a more favourable result such as a higher degree class.

Online Health & Safety Course Unit

As part of your induction to The University of Manchester you are required to complete an online Health & Safety course, BIOL12000. You will be automatically enrolled on this course unit. The course is compulsory and will be accessed via Blackboard (see section below on ‘eLearning’). The course does not carry any credits but will be assessed.

The purpose of the course is to:

  • Provide you with appropriate information on the health & safety policies and procedures in place
  • Encourage good practice and set a high standard of health and safety at all time
  • Ensure you are aware and understand health & safety procedures and information
  • Enable you to take care of your health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your actions

The course is split into 3 sections (below) followed by an online assessment:



  1. University Standards
  2. On-campus health and safety
  3. Good lab practice do’s and don’ts

Programme Pass Requirements
All Sections of the course are compulsory and at the end of the course you will find an assessment, which must be fully completed with 100% achieved to pass the course. You can view your scores in the ‘My grades’ tool in the left hand menu.

The Health & Safety Course must be completed by the following deadlines:

Semester 1 and Full year exchange students:   30 September
Semester 2 exchange students:                               31 January


Each course unit you are enrolled on is expected to require 100 hours work, which includes 22 to 25 hours of lectures. For each hour of lectures per week, you are expected to spend a further 3 hours on personal study.


You must attend all scheduled lectures and classes for the course units on which you are registered.

eLearning (Blackboard)

As a student at the University of Manchester, you will find that most of your units contain sections of work that you have to complete online (known as electronic (e)Learning). The University uses a website-like environment for this called Blackboard.

Online eLearning support for your course means that it is easy to fit your learning into your everyday life, as you can complete the work from almost any computer in the world with an internet connection.

Your eLearning work will often have strict deadlines and marks will be awarded for successful completion of assessments. Every Blackboard course is different, so read the rules regarding the course before you start, to ensure that you don’t miss any work.

Technical support from the eLearning team is available between 9am and 5pm on all working days. This is accessible by selecting ‘eLearning Support’ and then ‘eLearning enquiries’ from the menu bar on the left of your online courses; the eLearning team will reply to your University email address.

More information on eLearning will be available on the Blackboard area of individual courses.

On your Blackboard Area, you should see a Community Space called ‘Biosciences Erasmus’. This area contains useful information for Erasmus students in the School of Biological Sciences such as ‘Alternative Assessment Request’ forms and guidelines on writing an Erasmus report. The Biosciences Erasmus Blackboard area will be updated on a regular basis so please make sure that you check this area frequently.

Reading Lists

Lecturers often provide a reading list for specific lectures and you should make every effort to read the articles they mention and use them to answer exam questions. Reading relevant material that you are guided to by your lecturer is an essential part of your studies and will help you to gain improved understanding and knowledge of the subject, as well as providing you with vital preparation for your exams. One lecture unit is expected to represent 100 hours of work by you, of which reading is an integral part. If you are unsure about any aspect of this, you should ask the Unit Coordinator or lecturer concerned.

General advice: The University and the Faculty communicate with you using your Manchester e-mail address. Please read your University e-mail every day.

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Support Services at The University of Manchester


The University Counselling Service offers you help in understanding, dealing with, or overcoming the many sorts of difficulties that may prevent you getting the most out of your life and studies at university. These may include problems at home, pressures from personal relationships, and difficulties in coping with stressful events, now or in the past, such as examinations, separation, bereavement or forms of abuse. There are also some group sessions/workshops on specific issues, e.g. confidence and self-esteem, managing low mood, managing exam stress, coping better with academic pressure, speaking out in groups, etc.

Please check the Counselling Service webpage for details on how to access the service

Students’ Union Advice Centre

The Students’ Union Advice Service offers free and confidential information and advice to students on personal and academic issues. It is run by professional Advisors who are independent of the University.

Please see the Students’ Union webpage for more information on how to access their service

Students with additional support needs

The University of Manchester welcomes students with additional support needs arising from a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, an unseen medical condition, or a disability or impairment. The University has a central Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS). Further information can be found here. In order to access the full support that the University can offer, you should contact the DASS to discuss your support requirements.

Please see the Disability Advisory and Support Service webpage for more information on how to access their service

If you are a student who has, or suspects they have, support needs and have not yet informed the DASS, then please contact them in the first instance. In addition to this, the School of Biological Sciences has a Disability Coordinator, who liaises with the DASS to organise your support in the School. They can be contacted by email

The Stopford Building has car parking spaces reserved for blue badge holders, wheelchair access and an adapted lift at the car park end of the building.

Night-time telephone advice/listening service

The Students’ Union runs Nightline, a telephone advice and listening service operated by students that offers a point of contact throughout the night. Please see Nightline’s webpage for more information about how to access the service

Discrimination and Harassment

Information and University policies on discrimination and harassment can be found at

For further information about the University’s Policy on Harassment, or if you have been a victim of some form of harassment, contact the Equality and Diversity Office on 0161 306 5857 or the Students’ Union Advice Service on 0161 275 2952.

All members of the University community are required to treat all students, staff and local community in a friendly, courteous and dignified manner. Bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation are contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and the values of the University as set out in the Equality and Diversity Policy.

Students have a right to complain in confidence if they are being harassed whilst studying. No student is expected to tolerate what they genuinely and reasonably believe to be bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation, whether by a member of the University community or a third party such as a supplier or visitor to the University.

The University’s policy on bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation is called the Dignity at Work and Study Policy and covers students, staff and the wider community.

The University has a dedicated team of advisors that students can speak with. Students can also report an incident anonymously if preferred. Further information on how to report an incident and to obtain support can be found here. The Students’ Union Advice Service can also provide free, impartial and confidential advice.  You can also make an appointment to meet with one of the Senior Advisors via the Student Support Office or by contacting directly at

The Student Services Centre

The majority of the University’s administrative services for students (except Accommodation Services) are available from our centralised Student Services Centre, off Burlington Street.

Please see the Student Services webpage for details on how to access their service including contacting the Service Delivery Team via email


The Accommodation Office provides information and guidance on a range of issues including ways to deal with any problems that students might encounter over accommodation choices, special needs, existing accommodation difficulties, accommodation for students with families and on temporary accommodation, including provision available outside semester time. Please refer to the Accommodation Office website for further details at

For private sector accommodation see the Manchester Student Homes website at Manchester Student Homes (MSH) is owned, managed and funded by the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University and their respective Students’ Unions.

The Students’ Union Advice Centre is also an excellent source of help and advice on problems with private accommodation.

International students

The International Society (ground floor of the Students’ Union), offers advice, information and a social base for students. Please see the International Society webpage for further information

Security on campus

The University Security Service should be contacted if you have concerns about personal security or theft (0161 275 2728) or wish to speak to a member of the security staff. You can also contact the Police Liaison Officers on 0161 275 7042 or Information on safety can also be found in the My Wellbeing section of MyManchester.

Complaints procedure

As part of its commitment to ensuring the standard and quality of its programmes of study, services, and facilities, the University has established a Complaints Procedure to deal with complaints from students. Complaints provide useful feedback information and, where appropriate, will be used to improve services and facilities.

The University’s Student Complaints Procedure (Regulation XVIII) and associated documents, including a complaints form, can be found at

The University has separate procedures to address complaints of bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or victimisation – see

Academic Appeals

Academic Appeals are a way of asking the University to review a recent decision taken by an Examination Board or equivalent body, which affects a student’s progress or status (e.g. where a student is expelled or excluded from the University, or transferred to a programme for a lower qualification). However, appeals cannot be made simply on the basis of disagreeing with a mark, or as a challenge to academic judgement. They must instead be based on one of the grounds for appeal detailed in Regulation XIX Academic Appeals.

Full details are available here:

The purpose of this regulation is to safeguard the interests of students and may only be used when there are adequate grounds for doing so which are outlined in the regulation.  It may not be used simply because you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your assessment or other decision concerning your academic progress.

An appeal which questions the academic or professional judgement of those charged with the responsibility for assessing a student’s academic performance of professional competence shall not be permitted. This means that you may not challenge marks or grades awarded unless you believe that they may have been affected by factors under i-iv below.  

The accepted grounds for appeal are as follows:

(i)        Circumstances affecting your performance of which, for good reason, the board of examiners or committee may not have been aware when the decision was taken, and which may have had a material effect on the decision.

ii)         An administrative error or procedural irregularity in the assessment process or in putting into effect the regulations for the programme of study such as to cause significant doubt as to whether the decision might have been different if the error or irregularity had not occurred.

(iii)       Evidence of prejudice or bias or lack of proper assessment on the part of one or more of the examiners.

(iv)       The supervision or training in respect of research for a dissertation or thesis or equivalent work was unsatisfactory to the point that your performance was seriously affected.

Appeals based upon provisional decisions of the School cannot be considered.  This means that you will not be able to submit an appeal until after your marks have been ratified by the Board of Examiners and the results have been released.  All recommendations for mitigating circumstances must be approved by the Board of Examiners, and any appeal cannot be considered until after the Board of Examiners has met in June/July/September.

The University encourages students to try to resolve the issue with their School in the first instance and only when this process has been concluded to proceed to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (formal) appeal, if necessary. Please contact with informal queries.

Please note you can only appeal on your own behalf. If you want a representative (e.g. a parent) to appeal for you, you must send a letter (or email) with your appeal explaining that you have given them permission to act on your behalf.  Students can contact the Students’ Union for assistance in drafting an appeal.

For further information on submitting an appeal, please contact the Student Support Office, email:

Conduct and Discipline

The Conduct and Discipline of Students, Regulation XVII not only covers academic malpractice/plagiarism (see section Plagiarism, collusion and other forms of academic malpractice (Undergraduate) (Postgraduate Taught)) but also behaviour and actions.

General University information on the conduct and discipline of students can be found at

The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (FBMH) has its own policies for students on communication and dress code, social networking, and drugs and alcohol. Policy documents can be accessed below.

Communication and Dress Code

Drugs and Alcohol

Social Networking

Information on Academic Malpractice and how to avoid it can be found at you find yourself the subject of a disciplinary procedure you are strongly advised to take advice from the Students Union.

If the allegation relates to an incidence which occurred in a Hall of Residence, then you should consult the Code of Conduct for living in Halls of Residence which can be found in the Residences Guide.

Once you have been through the full process within the University, if you remain dissatisfied, you may be entitled to take your complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.


Teaching & Learning Facilities

Computing facilities in Stopford Building

Computing facilities are available to students within the School of Biological Sciences in three computer clusters situated on the ground floor: Stopford PC Clusters 1-3. Although these clusters are used for scheduled classes, the School tries to ensure significant free time on these computers for student use. Standard word processing, spreadsheet and database software is pre-installed (Microsoft Office Suite), as well as any software related to your studies. Printing facilities are available in each cluster and technical help can be obtained via the IT Service Desk.


In addition, the University of Manchester provides several large public computer clusters based around the campus, which are available to all students. All the PC clusters run the same operating system and have the same software installed. Visit for the location of these clusters and availability.


Guidance notes for students wishing to access their University email accounts outside the University can be found at

The University of Manchester Library

The University of Manchester Library provides you with the resources and support you need throughout your Biological Sciences programme. The Main Library and Stopford Library house all of the essential text books. The Library also has an extensive collection of eBooks, databases and journals available online.

The My Learning tab in My Manchester has quick links to all of the Library’s resources and services available to students.

Getting Started

All the information you need to get started at the Library is found on the student page of the library website. You will need your student card to access all library sites around campus. Many of our services and resources also require you to confirm that you are a registered student, this is usually your central username and password.

There is a library guide for Biological Sciences students giving all of the latest information on resources and learning and research services available. This is a good starting point if you are looking for any library resources or information related to your course.

Your course unit in Blackboard may include an online reading list, so you can quickly check availability and directly access e-books, digitised chapters and e-journals or articles.

The Main Library

The Main Library holds the principal collection of Biological Sciences books and journals available. Biological Sciences textbooks are available on Floor 2 of the Blue Area. Books and periodicals in other related subjects such as Biology are located in other areas of the Main Library. The Library Search facility will let you know what items are available and where to find them including eBooks and online journals. All the main biological science databases are available including Web of Science, Biosis Previews, Biological Sciences, Medline, Embase, Scopus and Zoological Record. These can be used to discover what has been published on a particular subject. The electronic resources can be accessed both on-campus and remotely.

The Main Library offers group study rooms, individual study space options and computer clusters. WiFi is available throughout the building and a cafe lounge can be found on the ground floor. The Library has long opening hours and extends these during exam periods. Please check Locations and Opening Hours for full details.

The Stopford Library

The Stopford Library is a smaller site library for Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Biological Science

s and holds multiple copies of all new editions of core and useful texts. Full details of what is available can be found using Library Search or asking a member of customer service staff. In addition to books, Stopford Library also has half skeletons, anatomical models and iPads available for loan.

The Stopford Library also has a computer suite, wifi and 6 group study rooms. Bookings can be made via My Manchester or at the customer service desk in the Stopford Library.

Please check Locations and Opening Hours for full details.

The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons

The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons is a state-of-the-art learning environment. The Learning Commons has flexible open learning spaces with multimedia facilities, computer clusters and bookable study rooms. Study spaces are available from 10am to 4pm.

Please check Locations and Opening Hours for full details.

My Learning Essentials

My Learning Essentials is the Library’s comprehensive programme of online resources, workshops and drop-ins designed to support you in your personal and professional development.

Workshops and drop-ins are held throughout the year and include special sessions during exams and the summer. Our online resources are available at all times, providing flexible support for your development from undergraduate to postgraduate level and beyond.

Full details of workshops and online resources can be viewed on the My Learning Essentials website.

The My Learning Essentials programme is run by The University of Manchester Library in collaboration with other services across campus.‌

Textbooks and other requirements

Included in most of the unit descriptions and on the Blackboard sites for each unit are the text-book(s) recommended for the unit, and any other special requirements. You are advised not to purchase textbooks until the Unit Coordinator has had a chance to discuss these with you, and perhaps show you samples – sometimes there is a choice of recommended texts, depending on the other units that you are taking. Copies of all recommended texts are in The University of Manchester Library and multiple copies are available for overnight loan.

Where no ‘recommended reading’ list has been provided in the unit description or on Blackboard, it can be assumed that there are no set texts that cover the unit or that would be useful to read before the unit begins, and that reading material will be recommended once the course has started.

White lab coats are required for all practical classes and will be available in the practical laboratories. A pocket calculator will also be necessary.

NB: Calculators capable of storing and retrieving text (or having a full alphabet keyboard) are not permitted in University examinations. Please refer to the “Guidance on the use of calculators in examinations” for further information.


Help with English – University Language Centre

The University Language Centre provides a range of English language support services for registered students whose first language is not English. These include classes in Academic Writing, Speaking and Listening, which are free of charge.

The Language Centre also provides an English language proficiency testing service for international students, which you will be asked to attend. Sessions are specially arranged for Erasmus students and you will be sent details of these before you arrive in Manchester. Details can also be found at

If you wish to take any English Language courses with the School of Languages, or to prepare for a Cambridge ESOL qualification, you must take this test, regardless of any other tests you may have taken elsewhere.

Further information about the Language Centre and the support offered can be found at

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Examination Arrangements

January exams:     Semester 1 course units – all levels
May/June exams: Semester 2 course units – all levels

As an Erasmus student you are registered as a full time student of the University of Manchester and, like any other students of the University, must attend the University examinations of the course units which you have enrolled on.

Use of Dictionaries in Examinations (not applicable in 2021/22 as examinations will be online)

As an Erasmus student, you are permitted to use a language translation dictionary (dictionaries which give equivalent words or phrases in two languages, without further explanatory text or description) in examinations, provided your first language is not English. Shortly before each exam period the School will provide a letter for you confirming that you are an Erasmus student. It is your responsibility to take this letter to all examinations to certify that you may use a translation dictionary.

Please note: This type of dictionary cannot be borrowed from the University Library – you may therefore wish to purchase your own language translation dictionary in your home country or when you arrive in Manchester.

Examination Timetables
You will be able to access a personalised exam timetable shortly before the examination period. Details of how to do this will be provided at that time.

Should the need arise, you may be permitted the opportunity to resit units you have failed, subject to the agreement of your home Erasmus Coordinator. This may be necessary for EU countries which require their Erasmus students to pass their exchange year in order for them to progress to their next year of study at their home institution. Students are not permitted to resit a unit if it is not a requirement of their home University. Please ask your home university coordinator about possible compensations for failed units that may allow you not to resit some or all of your failed units.

Students must formally request to be entered for resit examinations for each course unit they wish to resit no later than 9th July 2021 by sending an email to

Student must sit the resit examinations in Manchester.

University Examinations Policies and Information

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 ECTS/UK Grade Conversion Table

GRADEUniversity of Manchester School of Biological Sciences ECTSStudent Class  ECTS Definition ECTS GRADE
70% or over – I grade Best 10% Excellent: an outstanding piece of work, only marginal   mistakes A
60-69% – II1 grade Next 25% Very Good: some mistakes, but overall still excellent work B
55-59% upper II2 grade Next 30% Good: good and sound understanding but some basic mistakes C
50-54% lower II2 grade Next 25% Satisfactory: an average piece of work, clearly showing some deficiencies D
40-49% III grade Next 10% Pass: the work fulfils the requirements E
30-39% fail Fail: minor improvements would be necessary in order to achieve a pass FX
Below 30 Fail: considerable further work is required F

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Plagiarism, collusion and other forms of academic malpractice

These topics form an important part of the first stage of the Writing and Referencing Skills module (BIOL10741) but general guidelines and advice are given hereunder.
Plagiarism is a serious offence – it is treated as seriously as cheating in exams.

  1. As a student, you are expected to cooperate in the learning process throughout your programme of study by completing assignments of various kinds that are the product of your own study or research. Coursework, dissertations and essays submitted for assessment must be your own work, unless in the case of group projects a joint effort is expected and this has been indicated by the Unit Coordinator. For most students this does not present a problem, but occasionally, whether unwittingly or otherwise, a student may commit what is known as plagiarism, or some other form of academic malpractice, when carrying out an assignment. This may come about because students have been used to different conventions in their prior educational experience or through general ignorance of what is expected of them, or of what constitutes plagiarism.
  2. This guidance is designed to help you understand what we regard as academic malpractice and hence to help you to avoid committing it. You should read it carefully, because academic malpractice is regarded as a serious offence and students found to have committed it will be penalized. At the very least a mark of only 30% would be awarded for the piece of work in question, but it could be worse; you could be awarded zero (with or without loss of credits), fail the whole unit, be demoted to a lower class of degree, or be excluded from the programme, depending on the severity of the case. Academic malpractice includes plagiarism, collusion, fabrication or falsification of results and anything else intended by those committing it to achieve credit that they do not properly deserve. Further guidance is available here: and online exercises are available on the ‘My Essentials’ pages: It is well worth visiting these sites in your spare time to ensure that you fully understand.  All students are required to confirm that they have read and agree to the University’s declaration on Academic Malpractice as part of the online registration process.

The University uses electronic systems for the purposes of detecting plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice and for marking. Such systems include TurnitinUK, the plagiarism detection service used by the University.

As part of the formative and/or summative assessment process, you may be asked to submit electronic versions of your work to TurnitinUK and/or other electronic systems used by the University (this requirement may be in addition to a requirement to submit a paper copy of your work). If you are asked to do this, you must do so within the required timescales.

The School also reserves the right to submit work handed in by you for formative or summative assessment to TurnitinUK and/or other electronic systems used by the University.

 Please note that when work is submitted to the relevant electronic systems, it may be copied and then stored in a database to allow appropriate checks to be made.

Different types of academic malpractice are explained over the next few pages.


Plagiarism is presenting the ideas, work or words of other people without proper, clear and unambiguous acknowledgement. The most obvious examples of plagiarism would be to copy another student’s work, or to copy text from a book or website. Even if you acknowledge the source in a citation, you must put the ideas or concepts into your own words, unless you are using a direct quote (although over-reliance on quotes is poor practice). It also includes ‘self-plagiarism’ (which occurs where, for example, you submit work that you have presented for assessment on a previous occasion), and the submission of material from ‘essay banks’ (even if the authors of such material appear to be giving you permission to use it in this way). It is as serious to use material from the internet or from a computer based encyclopaedia or literature archive as it is to use material from a printed source.

Paraphrasing, when the original statement is still identifiable and has no acknowledgement, is plagiarism. Taking a piece of text, from whatever source, and substituting words or phrases with other words or phrases is plagiarism. It is not acceptable to put together unacknowledged passages from the same or from different sources linking these together with a few words or sentences of your own and changing a few words from the original text; this is regarded as over-dependence on other sources, which is a form of plagiarism.

It is essential to make clear in your assignments the distinction between the ideas and work of other people that you may have quite legitimately used and developed, and the ideas or material that you have personally contributed.

To assist you, here are a few important do’s and don’ts:

Do get lots of background information on subjects you are writing about to help you form your own view of the subject. The information could be from electronic journals, technical reports, unpublished dissertations, etc. Make a note of the source of every piece of information at the time you record it, even if it is just one sentence. Consider writing skeletal notes of your own rather than storing original text.

Don’t construct a piece of work by cutting and pasting or copying material written by other people, or by you for any other purpose, into something you aresubmitting as your own work. Sometimes you may need to quote someone else’s exact form of words in order to analyse or criticize them, in which case the quotation must be enclosed in quotation marks to show that it is a direct quote, and it must have the source properly acknowledged at that point. Any omissions from a quotation must be indicated by an ellipsis (…) and any additions for clarity must be enclosed in square brackets, e.g. “[These] results suggest… that the hypothesis is correct.” It may also be appropriate to reproduce a diagram from someone else’s work, but again the source must be explicitly and fully acknowledged there. However, constructing large chunks of documents from a string of quotes, even if they are acknowledged, is another form of plagiarism.

Do attribute all ideas to their original authors. Written ‘ideas’ are the product that authors produce. You would not appreciate it if other people passed off your ideas as their own, and that is what plagiarism rules are intended to prevent. A good rule of thumb is that each idea or statement that you write should be attributed to a source unless it is your personal idea or it is common knowledge. (If you are unsure if something is common knowledge, ask other students: if they don’t know what you are talking about, then it is not common knowledge!)

As you can see, it is most important that you understand what is expected of you when you prepare and produce assignments and that you always observe proper academic conventions for referencing and acknowledgement, whether working by yourself or as part of a team. In practice, there are a number of acceptable styles of referencing depending, for example, on the particular discipline you are studying, so if you are not certain what is appropriate, ask your Advisor or the course Unit Coordinator for advice. This should ensure that you do not lay yourself open to a charge of plagiarism inadvertently, or through ignorance of what is expected. It is also important to remember that you do not absolve yourself from a charge of plagiarism simply by including a reference to a source in a reference list that you have included with your assignment; you should always be scrupulous about indicating precisely where and to what extent you have made use of such a source.

So far, plagiarism has been described as using the words or work of someone else (without proper attribution). However, it could also include a close paraphrase of their words, or a minimally adapted version of a computer program, a diagram, a graph, an illustration, etc., taken from a variety of sources without proper acknowledgement. These could be lectures, printed material, the Internet or other electronic/AV sources.

Remember: no matter what pressure you may be under to complete an assignment, you should never succumb to the temptation to take a ‘short cut’ and use someone else’s material inappropriately. No amount of mitigating circumstances will get you off the hook, and if you persuade other students to let you copy their work, they will be disciplined as well.


Collusion is any agreement to hide someone else’s individual input to collaborative work with the intention of securing a mark higher than either you or another student might deserve. Where proved, it will be subject to penalties similar to those for plagiarism. Similarly, it is also collusion to allow someone to copy your work when you know that they intend to submit it as though it were their own and that will lay both you and the other student open to a charge of academic malpractice.

On the other hand, collaboration is a perfectly legitimate academic activity in which students are required to work in groups as part of their programme of research or in the preparation of projects and similar assignments. If you are asked to carry out such group work and to collaborate in specified activities, it will always be made clear how your individual input to the joint work is to be assessed and graded. Sometimes, for example, all members of a team may receive the same mark for a joint piece of work, whereas on other occasions team members will receive individual marks that reflect their individual input. If it is not clear on what basis your work is to be assessed, to avoid any risk of unwitting collusion you should always ask for clarification before submitting any assignment.

Fabrication or falsification of results

For many students, a major part of their studies involves laboratory or other forms of practical work, and they often find themselves undertaking such activity without close academic supervision. If you are in this situation, you are expected to behave in a responsible manner, as in other aspects of your academic life, and to show proper integrity in the reporting of results or other data. Hence you should ensure that you always document clearly and fully any research programme or survey that you undertake, whether working by yourself or as part of a group. Results or data that you or your group submit must be capable of verification, so that those assessing the work can follow the processes by which you obtained them. Under no circumstances should you seek to present results or data that were not properly obtained and documented as part of your practical learning experience. Otherwise, you lay yourself open to the charge of fabrication or falsification of results.

 FinallyFlag - Target

If you commit any form of academic malpractice, teaching staff will not be able to assess your individual abilities objectively or accurately. Any short-term gain you might have hoped to achieve will be cancelled out by the loss of proper feedback you might have received, and in the long run such behaviour is likely to damage your overall intellectual development, to say nothing of your self-esteem. You are the one who loses.

For further guidance, please go to


    Within your essays you are being asked to analyse and interpret. Use references to support your argument and don’t just report or copy what you have found
  • DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE & VOICE: This is an important part of what examiners are looking for. You have to use your own words, not those of another author.
    Attending University is not just about gaining the end result of a grade, but about gaining research and writing skills in the process. If you have any problems developing these skills, contact tutors (academic, programme director or unit co-ordinator).
  1. PARAPHRASE, DON’T PLAGIARISE: A footnote is not sufficient to indicate that any direct text you have used is not your own. Either put the sentences in quotation marks, or write them in your own words and include a footnote to the source.

    When making notes from sources put direct quotations in quotation marks and always keep track of sources. This will ensure you do not accidentally plagiarise and also make collating your references easier when you are writing up work.
  1. FACTS:
    Common knowledge does not need to be cited but when in doubt reference your source.
  1. CUT & PASTE:
    Either don’t get into the habit of cutting and pasting from e-resources (the internet, electronic journals etc.) or put them directly into quotation marks and note the source.
    If you are having personal problems that mean you will have difficulty meeting deadlines, go and speak to the relevant person who can help -Dr Patrick Gallois (Erasmus Coordinator), or Dr Nicky High (Senior Advisor).

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Avoiding Plagiarism

Compliments of the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (Anne geschrieben)

Academic writing is filled with rules that writers often don’t know how to follow. A working knowledge of these rules, however, is critically important; inadvertent mistakes can lead to charges of plagiarism, or the unacknowledged use of somebody else’s words or ideas. While other cultures may not insist so heavily on documenting sources, American and European institutions do. A charge of plagiarism can have severe consequences, including expulsion from university. This handout, which does not reflect any official university policy, is designed to help writers to avoid accidental plagiarism.

 The Contradictions of Academic Writing:

Show you have done your research     But-     Write something new and original

Appeal to experts and authorities        -But­       Improve upon, or disagree with experts and authorities

Improve your English by mimicking    -But-    Use your own words, your own voice what you hear                                                                           and read

Give credit where credit is due            -But-     Make your own significant contribution

Since teachers and administrators may not distinguish between deliberate and accidental plagiarism, the heart of avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due. This may be credit for something somebody said, wrote, emailed, drew, or implied.

Actions that might be seen as plagiarism

Choosing When to Give Credit:

Need to Document

  • When using or referring to someone else’s words or ideas from a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advert, or any other medium
  • When you use information gained through interviewing another person
  • When you copy the exact words or a “unique phrase” from somewhere
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, and pictures
  • When you use ideas that others have given you in conversations or over email

No Need to Document

  • When you are writing your own experiences, your own observations, your own insights, your own thoughts, your own conclusions about a subject
  • When you are using “common knowledge” folklore, common sense observations, shared information within your field or cultural group
  • When you are compiling generally accepted facts
  • When you are writing up your own experimental results

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Making Sure You Are Safe:

  Action during writing process Appearance on the finished product
When:Researching Note-taking Interviewing Mark everything that is someone else’s words with a big Q (for quote) or with big quotation marksIndicate in your notes which ideas are taken from sources (S) and which are your own insights (ME)Record all the relevant documentation information in your notes  Proofread and check with your notes (or photocopies of sources) to make sure that anything taken from your notes is acknowledged in some combination of the ways listed below:• In-text citation• Footnotes• Bibliography• Quotation marks• Indirect quotations
When: Paraphrasing Summarizing First, write your paraphrase and summary without looking at original text, so you rely only on memory.Next, check your version with the original for content, accuracy, and mistakenly borrowed phrases  Begin your summary with a statement giving credit to the source: According to Jonathan Kozol, Put unique words or phrases you cannot change, or do not want to change, in quotation marks: “savage inequalities” exist throughout our educational system (Kozol)
When: quoting direct Keep the person’s name near the quote in your notes, and in your paper Select direct quotes that make the most impact in your paper -­too many quotes may lessen your credibility and interfere with your style Mention the person’s name either at the beginning of the quote, in the middle, or at the endPut quotation marks around the text that you are quotingIndicate added phrases in brackets [ ] and omitted text with ellipses ( . . . )
When:quoting indirectly Keep the person’s name near the text in your notes, and in your paperRewrite the key ideas using different words and sentence structures than the original text Mention the person’s name either at the beginning of the information, or in the middle, or at that endDouble check to make sure your words and sentence structures are different from the original text

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Material is probably common knowledge if . . .

  • You find the same information undocumented in at least five other sources
  • You think it is information that your readers will already know
  • You think a person could easily find the information with general reference sources

Exercises for Practice:

Below are some situations in which writers need to decide whether or not they are running the risk of plagiarizing. In the Y/N column, indicate if you would need to document (Yes), or if it is not necessary to provide quotation marks or a citation (No). If you do need to give the source credit in some way, explain how you would handle it. If not, explain why.

Y/N If yes, what do you do? If no why?
1. You are writing new insights about your own experiences.
2. You are using an editorial from the Exponent with which you disagree.
3. You use some information from a source without ever quoting it directly.
4. You have no other way of expressing the exact meaning of a text without using the original source verbatim.
5. You mention that many people in your discipline belong to a certain organization.
6. You want to begin your paper with a story that one of your classmates told about her experiences in Bosnia.
7. The quote you want to use is too long, so you leave out a couple of phrases.
8. You really like the particular phrase somebody else made up, so you use it.

(Adapted from Aaron)

Aaron, Jane E. The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers. NY: HarperCollins, 1994
Gefvert, Constance J. The Confident Writer, second edition. New York: Norton, 1988 Heffernan, James A.W., and John E. Lincoln. Writing: A College Handbook, third edition.NY Norton, 1990
Howell, J F. and D Memering. Brief Handbook for Writers, third edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993
Leki, Ilona. Understanding ESL Writers: A Guide for Teachers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1992. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers, sixth edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. Rodrigues, Dawn, and Myron C. Tuman. Writing Essentials. New York: Norton, 1996. Swales, J, and C B. Feak. Academic Writing for Grad Students. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994. Walker, Melissa. Writing Research Papers, third edition. New York: Norton, 1993.

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