University of Toronto -- Department of Computer Science

What is an academic offence?

Briefly, an academic offence is a bad thing done to get marks you don't deserve.

Slightly more formally, an academic offence is an action by a student or course instructor that breaks the rules about academic credit at the University of Toronto.

"Academic offence" is a general term that includes specific offences such as these:

There are other kinds of offences. Many of them are obviously bad, and you probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that they lead to punishment or penalties. Others, if you haven't thought about them, are not so obvious, and others are harder to define than you might expect.

One category of offence that is not obvious to everyone is:

What's so bad about academic offences?

Plagiarism, cheating on exams, and so on, are obviously wrong, but they usually aren't actually crimes. So why do we make such a big deal about them here?

Committing an academic offence strikes at the very basis of the university.

At a university, the most important commodity is ideas. Academic offences are about the falsification or false trading in ideas. You can't have a more important kind of offence than that, in the context of a university.

The Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters

Because academic offences are so important, and because some of them are more subtle than you might have thought, the University of Toronto has a formal definition of academic offences and a set of procedures for handling them: the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.

The definitions and procedures given in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (which we will call the "Code of Behaviour" or simply the "Code" here) are interpreted and implemented across the University in ways that vary somewhat on different campuses and in different faculties. Besides reading this web site, you should look at the Calendar for your faculty or campus. The Calendars for all the faculties or campuses where Computer Science students are registered are listed in the "menu" page for this advice web site. You'll find that your Calendar includes the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, perhaps with some particular explanation relating to your own faculty or campus.

On this web site we emphasize the application of these definitions to offences in Computer Science courses in the Faculty of Arts and Science on the St. George campus.