Cheating at exams and other forms of assessment

Following section 9 of the Examination Order, DTU has laid down rules on disciplinary measures in cases of cheating and disruptive behaviour during exams. Violation of the exam rules will result in disciplinary sanctions against the student. See DTU Inside under 'Study rules'/'Disciplinary measures towards students'. Read more about the disciplinary sanctions used for violating the rules of the exam below under the section 'Sanctions'.

DTU has ratified the Danish code of conduct for research integrity and, based on this, has formulated DTU's own code of good scientific and ethical practice/conduct (DTU Code of Integrity in Research). This code, which includes everyone at DTU, means that students, and PhD students, through their projects and conduct during courses, must demonstrate that they have understood the principles of good scientific practice. DTU’s principles for good scientific conduct can be found at DTU Inside under ‘Research’ and ‘Principles for good scientific conduct’.

DTU has introduced an Honour Code for students at the BEng, BSc, and MSc programmes. At the beginning of their studies, students must actively express their acceptance of the code to continue their studies at DTU. With the student's acceptance of the code of honour, DTU expects the student to exhibit independence and fairness in their work and exams, and that they do not violate the rules on exam cheating. Acceptance of the Honour Code is a part of the commencement of studies exam for newly admitted BEng and BSc students. Admitted MSc students must express their acceptance of the code in connection with registration for courses in the 1st semester. More information on DTU's code of honour can be found at DTU Inside under 'Study rules'.

What is exam cheating?
DTU requires that students at DTU demonstrate independence in their work and that the exam always reflects the students’ own independent performance. That is important as all assessment is individual, and the lecturer must be able to assess what it is the individual student can.

The rules below also include exam cheating in connection with exam prerequisites. Read more about these at DTU Inside under 'Study rules'/'Teaching'/'Class participation and exam prerequisites'.

DTU considers it exam cheating if, among other things, a student:

  1. plagiarizes, including reusing own text (self-plagiarism), which has been previously assessed, without source/reference and quotation marks (read more below),
  2. uses assignments, notes, etc. prepared by others or jointly with others in an individual exam answer without source reference being made (read more below),
  3. exhibits academic dishonesty, e.g. by manipulating or falsifying data.,
  4. conceals or misleads about own efforts or results,
  5. is engaged in unauthorized cooperation,
  6. obtains unauthorized access to information during an individual exam via fellow students or others or digitally by receiving or attempting to receive assistance, 
  7. uses unauthorized aids (read more at DTU Inside here),
  8. have wrongfully acquired prior knowledge of the examination paper, 
  9. provides incorrect attendance information where attendance is required, or
  10. deliberately helps another student violate the exam rules.

To plagiarize means to use someone else's text, results, ideas, images, structures, data, etc., as one's own without making precise source references. It must be clear from an exam answer which parts result from one's own thought activity and which are based on direct copy or processing of others' knowledge. A text reference must be made to the source when using other people's texts, whether as a quote, paraphrase, or summary. A paraphrase is a reformulation of another author's text. Find more information on plagiarism on - a web tutorial for students on plagiarism.

If you insert a copy of notes, formula collections, previous assignment answers, etc., which have been made by others or in collaboration with other students, in an individual assignment, you must clearly state the source and use quotation marks if it is a direct copy. Failure to quote and refer will violate the rules of the exam. That is because the common notes etc., are not one's own independent achievement for the exam. You thus conceal or mislead about your own efforts or results. 

Copies of other students' previous assignments in the same course are plagiarism unless quoted and referenced.

Written assignments may only be submitted for assessment once. Written assignments previously assessed at DTU or another educational institution may not be reassessed, regardless of the grade obtained and whether the assignment is the student’s own previously submitted work. 

At DTU Inside, under 'Study rules'/'DTU's code of honor', there are concrete examples of violations of the rules for examinations and guidance on the basic rules for citation and source reference in written assignments. Here is also a link to a web tutorial for students, which describes plagiarism and how to avoid committing plagiarism.

Participating online from home in a written exam which takes place on campus (site test) is considered a violation of the exam rules. The lecturer must report such cases to

Notification of exam cheating
If there is a reasoned suspicion of violation of the exam rules, the lecturer must notify the Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs via 

Reporting can take place during a teaching period, e.g. in connection with an exam prerequisite assignment or other written submission, or after the final exam.

The lecturer can find further guidance on reporting students for exam cheating and other things related to exam cheating at DTU Inside under 'Educational administration'/'Guidance'/'Exam cheating'.

What should a notification report contain?
A notifying report should contain the following information:

Background specification: A brief description covering how the student's behaviour during the exam or assignment differs from the expected and gives rise to suspicion of cheating. The background specification should clearly mark what is not considered to reflect the student’s independent performance. Within the context of plagiarism, it should be stated how the student could have quoted correctly.  

Flag exam cheating: In the student’s exam paper or an independent document developed by the lecturer, the plagiarised parts of the assignment should be marked clearly: Text, graphs, equations, document creation, etc. The plagiarised parts should be marked clearly, e.g. by yellow highlighting. When the system identifies plagiarism, the report from the antiplagiarism software program should always be enclosed.

Evaluation form: What type of evaluation does the course have, and how much does the part that contains supposed plagiarism/exam cheating weigh?

The lecturer must be aware that the report is transmitted in original form to the student(s) in connection to the hearing of the student(s) in question.

How must the lecturer assess the student who is reported?
When the lecturer reports grades or Passed/Failed for the entire course, this must also be done for the student(s) the lecturer has reported or will report for the presumption of exam cheating.

The lecturer must make their assessment of the reported student(s) without including the suspicion of exam cheating. Depending on whether the student has passed or not passed the course as a whole, the lecturer in the Grade Reporting System must enter the following for the affected students: 

AI = Awaiting decision Failed, or
AB= Awaiting decision Passed

AB appears as passed, and AI appears as failed in the study administration system. Find more information on these registrations at DTU Inside under 'Study rules'/'Exam'/'Asessment forms and grading'.

The lecturer must then inform the student(s) that they will be or have been reported for suspicion of exam cheating. Read below under 'Information to the reported student(s) from the lecturer'.

After a decision has been made, the registration AB or AI will be changed to SN (Cheating) if the student is found guilty of exam cheating. 

If the student is not found guilty of exam cheating, or the student only receives a reprimand or warning, the Office for Student Programmes and Student Affairs will write in the decision and ask the lecturer to release the grade/assessment for the student(s). The lecturer does this by sending an email with the assessment to after which AB or AI will be changed to the assessment given.

Information to the reported student(s) from the lecturer
In connection with reporting a student, the lecturer must inform the student that they have been reported. It just needs to be an informational email; the student will, in connection with the hearing, conducted by the Office for Student Programmes and Student Affairs, get assess to all material in the case. At DTU Inside, under 'Educational administration'/'Guidance'/'Exam cheating', the lecturer can find a template for an information e-mail.

What is the student's position during the cheating case?
As long as a case concerning exam cheating is being processed, the reported student has the right to participate in teaching and exams in the course. However, there may be exceptions depending on the extent of the alleged exam cheating, e.g. exam cheating in connection with the final project.

If the student plans to participate in the re-exam in the course in which he or she has been reported, and a decision has not yet been made regarding the cheating case, the following applies:

  • If a decision is made that the student has not cheated, the result of any re-exam will be cancelled, and it will be the initial assessment from the first exam that is valid. However, this does not apply if the student did not pass the course/project at the initial assessment but has passed the course/project at a subsequent re-exam. In this case, it will be the passed result from the re-exam that is valid.
  • If a decision is made that the student has cheated, the result of this exam will be cancelled, an exam attempt has been used and the exam result from the re-exam will take its place.
  • If the Office for Student Programmes and Student Affairs decides in the case before the re-exam of the course, but after the registration and deregistration deadline for the exam, the student must contact the Office if they wish to be re-registered or deregistered the exam. Read more at DTU Inside under 'Study rules'/'Exam'/'Registration and withdrawal from exam'.

After hearing of the reported student(s), the Office decides on the case following DTU's rules on cheating in exams and other assessments (these rules) and DTU's disciplinary rules towards students. 

DTU has the following reactions and sanction options for violation of examination rules, cf. DTU's disciplinary measures towards students:

  1. Written reprimand
  2. Written warning against repeated violation of the rules
  3. Expulsion from the exam, i.e. non-assessment or cancellation of the exam performance. This sanction implies that an exam attempt has been used and that the student must register for a re-exam.
  4. Expulsion from the university for a limited period or permanently. Temporary expulsion can be months, a semester, or several semesters.

If the presumption of exam cheating is confirmed, the sanction in cases of a milder nature will most often be a written warning in combination with a cancellation of the exam result. In more serious cases of exam cheating or in case of repeated violation of the rules on exam cheating, the student will also be expelled temporarily or permanently.

For a further description of the above forms of sanction, please refer to DTU's disciplinary measures against students.

The case processing time for exam fraud varies and is currently approximately six months. The month of July is not included in the calculation.

Complaint guidance
The student can appeal the decision to the Dean within two weeks of receiving the decision. The appeal must be sent via The case processing time for a complaint to the Dean is approximately two months. A complaint usually does not have a suspensive effect on the sanction the student has received. Cancellation of the exam and a possible expulsion will therefore continue to apply.

The lecturer can give oral reprimands for minor offences
If the lecturer assesses that the student's violation of the rules for the exam must be considered a minor offense and below the trifling limit (e.g. failure to comply with the rules for reference to sources in a part exam, that is included with very little weight (approx. 5%) in the overall assessment of the course), the lecturer has the option of giving the student an oral reprimand instead of making a report to the Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs. The lecturer can always contact the Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs for an informal discussion of the matter.

The reprimand is not to be considered as a sanction but as a pedagogical recommendation to comply with the rules and with information on how the student has violated the rules of the exam and how the student avoids cheating in the future. The reprimand is primarily intended for newer students who need clarification of how to quote/refer correctly, collaborate with other students without violating the exam rules, or use common notes in an individual, written answer.

The part-exam/part-assignment that is the subject of the violation of the rules for the exam, or parts thereof, must be excluded from the assessment basis.

The Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs must not be notified that an oral reprimand has been given unless the lecturer notices that the student continues to violate the examination rules. In these cases, a report must be made (see above), and the teacher should refer to the fact that a charge has previously been given.

Read about the sanction reprimand at DTU Inside under 'Study rules'/'Disciplinary measures towards students'.