Academic integrity


Academic integrity is a very important concept for all students at the University. It is advised that you are familiar with the regulations listed below.

Do not:

  • Use inappropriate citations on written assignments
  • Share assignment answers (avoid excessive collaboration)
  • Submit same material for more than one assignment/course

Any of the above activities is deemed an academic offense and will be penalized as follows:

  • The assignment in question will be given a mark of zero.
  • A letter, signed by the Instructor and student, outlining the offense and grade change will be forwarded to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Science who will decide if additional penalties need to be be applied.
  • Copies of this letter will be placed in the student’s file.

Second infractions or more serious offenses (e.g. fraudulent use of medical certificates or any cheating on exams or tests) will incur further penalties and be handled on an individual basis by the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Science. 

Regulations for academic discipline

What is an academic offense?
Offenses include cheating on assignments, lab reports, exams or tests, plagiarism, double submission of material and fraudulent use of medical certificates. Other cases such as sharing of assignment answers will incur cheating penalties for both individuals whether or not both are involved. All students are expected to know what constitutes an academic offense, to avoid committing them and to take responsibility for their academic actions. Categories of theses offenses and types of penalties are outlined in Policy 71.

Avoidance of academic offenses
The Science website contains details on these offenses and how to avoid them. Unless otherwise indicated, any work submitted will be assumed to be the work of the individual student. When there is an expectation of a group or team submission, this will be clearly indicated by the course instructor. The only materials permitted during an examination will be the exam paper and a pen or pencil (no cases etc.). Only designated calculators will be allowed for used in exams as indicated by the instructor and students should be prepared to have them examined by proctors.

Resolution of academic offenses
Any activity that contravenes Policy #71 is deemed an academic offense and must be followed up by the instructor. Teaching Assistants have a responsibility to bring to the attention of the course instructor all cases (suspected or otherwise) of academic dishonesty. In the case of written assignments, the material should not be handed back to the student; instead, the student should be asked to meet with the instructor and the evidence of the infraction should be discussed. Instructors must then notify the Associate Dean of these infractions in writing, with the supporting evidence, so that repeat offenders can be identified and the academic penalties are fair and consistent.

Depending on the severity of the infraction, first offenses may be handled informally. For example, excessive collaboration or the use of inappropriate citations on assignments, particularly by first year students could be handled informally as follows:

  1. The assignment will be given a mark of zero by the instructor.
  2. A notice of the offense and the grade penalty, signed by both the student and the instructor, will be forwarded to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs, Faculty of Science. Copies of this letter will be placed in the student’s file held in the Faculty of Science office.

In more serious offenses (e.g., cheating on a mid-term exam) or if the Associate Dean of Science for Undergraduate Studies has been previously informed of an earlier offense by this student, a formal consideration of the offense will follow.

  1. The assignment will be assigned a mark of zero by the instructor.
  2. The instructor will notify the Associate Dean of Science for Undergraduate Studies in writing of the offense and provide all supporting documentation, including testimony from Teaching Assistants, if applicable. The Associate Dean will instruct the Registrar to place a UR (“Under Review”) as the grade for this course, until the matter is resolved, and the appropriate grade is assigned. The early and timely placement of the UR is critical – a student cannot drop a course in which a UR is recorded.
  3. The Associate Dean carries out an investigation, typically inviting the student to meet and explain what has occurred in light of the evidence in hand. Based on this meeting and the evidence, if the student is found guilty of the offense, the zero grade for the assignment (or test etc.) will stand. In addition, there will be a further grade penalty of a minimum of 5% subtracted from the final course grade, up to the full value of the assignment or test. This additional penalty is determined by the Associate Dean, who will communicate this to the instructor so that the final grade can be calculated appropriately. For premeditated cheating on a mid-term test, zero is assigned as the course grade. Cheating on a final exam will lead to an automatic penalty of zero on the exam (opportunistic) or if premeditated, zero in the course and suspension for a minimum of one term.
  4. A formal report is submitted by the Associate Dean to the Secretariat, the Registrar, the course instructor, and the student. A copy is also kept in the student’s file in the Faculty of Science Office.
  5. The student is typically placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of his/her undergraduate career at the University of Waterloo.
  6. If the offense is the second one that has been reported formally, the typical penalty is the same as for a first offense plus an automatic minimum one-term suspension.

Missed tests, assignments or exams:
Students who encounter serious or on-going problems that may affect their performance and ability to complete assignments and tests are strongly encouraged to speak with the course instructor as soon as possible so that all parties can respond effectively and fairly to the situation.

  1. If a student misses a test, exam or assignment deadline, it is his or her responsibility to contact the appropriate instructor, or lecturer as soon as possible, preferably the same day, before the exam.
  2. Although illness may constitute a valid reason for missing an exam, it does not automatically entitle a student to an alternate exam. If an alternate exam time is provided, it is expected that it will as soon as possible after a student returns to class. In some instances, students may be asked to write the exam the next time the course is offered.

Verification of illness:
When an exam or assignment is missed due to illness, the student should be prepared to provide a verification of illness. This information will be used to determine if the student is eligible for consideration. The dates affected and degree of incapacitation will be used to determine follow-up action. Students should ensure that their health care provider indicates this type of information on the medical certificate. For example, “was seen” or “attended emergency Dept on...” are not acceptable. The University of Waterloo verification of illness form is available online. Any University of Waterloo student can go to University of Waterloo Health Services.