Mike, a student holding a file of his coursework

You are the Judge: Mike's Scenario

Mike and Andrew met during the first year of their programme and decided to share a house together in their second year. Mike has a weekend job, which means he is often under time pressure when assignments are due in on Mondays. On one such occasion, when Andrew was away for the weekend, Mike borrowed the disk that contained Andrew's assignment work and downloaded this to his computer. He changed the headings, re-arranged the order in which sections appeared, wrote his own abstract and conclusion, and submitted the work as his own work, knowing that it would be marked by a different tutor.
However, when the assignments were returned, both he and Andrew were asked to meet their programme leader to explain the similarities in their work.


Feedback for Mike's Scenario

Clearly this is a double case of deception of a friend and the tutor. It will be very difficult for Andrew to prove that he had not colluded with Mike and for the tutor to determine who stole the work from whom. Both students may be awarded zero marks, a fail or narrow pass, and then Mike will be forced to admit he stole the work, to protect the marks of his friend.  An even more severe penalty would surely follow such an admission.

A better approach would be:

  1. Discuss your problem with your tutor if you have been asked to work additional hours, for which you could not plan ahead
  2. Try to change your working hours if this problem occurs regularly
  3. Plan for the unavailable time and set yourself your own deadline and aim to hand your work in on the Friday before the actual handing-in date
  4. Decide to hand your work in late and take the consequences – they will not be nearly as severe as the penalties for theft and plagiarism!