Student work

Student Ownership of Copyright Materials

As a student, you own the copyright in your thesis and major research paper, as well as in any examinations, reports or papers done as part of course requirements.

However, ownership may be different in the case of copyright materials created jointly, materials created under an industry sponsored research project, computer programs and research data.

Under the University’s guideline on Ownership of Student-Created Intellectual Property (in section 3, subsection C. 4. of the Faculty Handbook), students own the copyright in their thesis, major research paper and in any examinations, reports or papers done as part of course requirements.

For normal course materials (with the exception of exam papers), the University receives a licence to copy the work for internal use within the University and to circulate the work as part of the University library collection.

For theses and major research papers, the student signs an express licence to the University granting Brock the right to reproduce the paper/thesis and to circulate it. Contact Graduate Studies for more information.

Certain types of materials or circumstances can affect who owns the materials. For example:

  • Copyright materials created jointly, for example, with other students or with a supervisor or faculty member, will generally be owned jointly and require the permission of the joint authors to publish and disseminate.
  • Computer programs written as part of employment duties, for example, by a teaching assistant, will generally be owned by the employer, while computer programs developed by the student on their own (for example, as part of an independent project for a course) will be owned by the student – refer to the guidelines for ownership of computer programs for more details.
  • Research data acquired as part of a joint or collaborative effort may be the joint property of the student and the research supervisor – refer to the guidelines for ownership of research data for more details.

For more information about student intellectual property rights, visit:

Copyright Materials in your Thesis and Major Research Paper

Whenever you include someone else’s work in your thesis (e.g. figures, graphs, photos, images, extensive quotes etc.), you need to ensure that your use complies with the Copyright Act.

You may include someone else’s copyright materials in your thesis, subject to certain limitations. However, in some cases, you may need to obtain the permission of the copyright owner.

If you have more questions about including third party copyright materials in your thesis, which aren’t answered here, speak with your supervisor or contact or the Library.