Adapting to university study

It is a good idea when starting university to become aware of study expectations. At university it is important not to present the work of others as your own. This is considered poor academic practice, and could lead to an investigation into your work. 

This may sound scary - don't worry. Reading this guide, and the preparing for university site, and taking time to understand good academic practices as soon as you start your studies means your confidence in this area will increase.

How to ensure good academic practice

Understanding academic integrity

To understand good academic practices it is helpful to explore the concept and values of academic integrity.

Understanding plagiarism and collusion

Adopting good academic practices will mean you can meet the wider expectations of academic integrity, and it is helpful to briefly explore what plagiarism and collusion mean, particularly if these are unfamiliar terms.

Avoiding poor academic practice

Few students deliberately set out to cheat, but sometimes bad academic practices can occur accidentally by:

  • Not being realistic about the time needed to work on assignments: Rushing to meet a deadline can result in shortcuts, such as failing to check that all references are in place. This is one of the reasons for thinking carefully how you plan and organise your time (see our guide on planning and organising your time)
  • Taking poor approaches to note-making: For example, forgetting to note references to sources can lead to plagiarism, so developing effective note-making strategies is critical (see our guide on active note-making strategies).

Key takeaways

  • Wherever you have previously studied (in the UK or abroad), familiarise yourself with the referencing expectations of your course once you start
  • When you are at university, seek help to develop your understanding of referencing requirements
  • Embrace the values of academic integrity when working on assessments will help you to thrive at university
  • The same values of respect, honesty, responsibility, trust and fairness are highly valued by employers, and in life beyond university.


  • International Center for Academic Integrity (2017) The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. (Accessed: 21 May 2021)
  • Morris, E. (2011) ‘Graduate Impact, student employability and academic integrity: exploring the links’, in Atfield, R. and Kemp, P. (eds), Enhancing Graduate Impact in Business, Management, Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism. Newbury: Threshold Press, pp.1-8.

What next?

Understanding the importance of academic integrity will start you off on the right track at University, but applying good academic practices will evolve as you develop as a confident, active learner; see the making the most of your university learning experience guide.