Academic Integrity

We take Academic Integrity very seriously and encourage ALL students to review this information.

What IS Academic Integrity?


Since the Department is a part of the University, the general academic policies on cheating and plagiarism as found in the Calendar or the Faculty Handbook (section III 15), also apply within the Department. These policies suffice for much of the work, including examinations and written assignments. However, they do not deal explicitly with course work involving computers; thus the policies must be extended to cover these cases. Note that the terms “cheating” and “plagiarism” are effectively interchangeable for the purposes of this document. The decision as to whether a student has cheated depends on the intent of an assignment, the ground rules specified by the instructor, and the behaviour of the student. Two guidelines help an instructor decide if cheating has occurred:

  • Program plagiarism will be suspected if an assignment that calls for independent development and implementation of a program results in two or more solutions so similar that one can be converted to another by an algorithmic transformation.
  • Cheating will be suspected if a student who was to complete an assignment independently cannot explain both the intricacies of his or her solution and the techniques used to generate that solution.
    It is unreasonable to expect a complete definition of cheating; each case is important enough to be given careful, individual scrutiny. It is, however, helpful to have guidelines and precedents. Here are some examples of cases that are clearly cheating and clearly not cheating.


  • Turning in someone else’s work, in whole or in part, as your own (with or without his or her knowledge) and without acknowledgment. Turning in a completely duplicated assignment is a flagrant offence.
  • Allowing someone else to turn in your work as their own.
  • Several people writing one program and turning in multiple copies, all represented (implicitly or explicitly) as individual work.
  • Using any part of someone else’s work without the proper acknowledgment.
  • Copying code from the web, even if it is an open-source site (e.g. Github, StackOverflow), possibly modifying it, and handing it in as your own.
  • Stealing an examination or a solution from the instructor. This is an extremely flagrant offence.
  • Contract cheating: Contracting (employing) someone else to do your work, or you doing so for someone else.
  • Sharing course materials, including tests, exams, and assignment solutions, with others.
  • Communicating exam (or test) information with others during exams, either during online or in-person exams.

Not Cheating

  • Turning in work done alone or with the help of the course’s staff.
  • Submission of one assignment for a group of students if group work is explicitly permitted (or required).
  • Getting or giving help on how to do something on the operating system of the computer.
  • Getting or giving help on how to solve minor syntax errors.
  • A high-level discussion of the course material for a better understanding.
  • Discussion of assignments to understand what is required.
  • Acknowledging via a comment in the code the source of the program segment.
  • If you fully and correctly attribute the source (e.g. from an open-source site) it may not be cheating, but you might not get credit for it.

Disciplinary Actions

The Department faculty will not condone cheating. When cheating is suspected, instructors will take reasonable action to establish whether it actually occurred. The appropriate disciplinary policy will be applied in all proven cases, always subject to the regulations contained in the Faculty Handbook, and described in the University Undergraduate Calendar. A variety of penalties are possible. Examples of imposed penalties include: deduction of twice the maximum value for the piece of work, one or more letter grade deduction from the final mark, prohibition from taking further courses in the program,  and  expulsion from the University.