This Policy applies to Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate students only


This policy sets out the University’s position on proofreading, including the use of professional third-party proofreading or editing services, in relation to coursework (essays, reports, dissertations, etc.) submitted for assessment in taught programmes (undergraduate and postgraduate taught).

Key Principles

1. Students are expected and encouraged to proofread their work and develop the necessary skills to do so, and are supported by the University to do this.
2. The University does not permit the use of professional third-party proofreading services (unless specifically approved by the University for defined purposes, e.g. as a reasonable adjustment).
3. All students must declare upon submission of each assessment that their work is their own and is submitted in compliance with this Policy.
4. Students must abide by the definitions and responsibilities set out in this Policy, and ensure that any proofreaders used are aware of these requirements.


Editing and proofreading are essential final stages of the writing process.

Editing is defined as any material amendment to the presentation of text which exceeds proofreading, as defined below. In particular, it includes any alteration which substantially changes, corrects, expands or condenses the academic content of the work. Editing involves reviewing the content of the text to ensure that ideas and concepts are clearly and logically expressed and that the text is both meaningful and coherent. Editing may be small scale or substantial in nature and can completely alter the content and meaning of the final work. Editing should be undertaken by the student, in conjunction with their academic supervisor.

Proofreading is defined as “the careful reading of a yet to be finalised document, to detect any errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting, and layout in the text”.

A proofreader may:

  • identify spelling and typographical errors;
  • identify any errors in punctuation;
  • identify poor grammar and sentence structure;
  • highlight clear vocabulary errors and suggest an alternative choice of wording when the meaning is clear;
  • highlight unclear syntax/sections of text which appear ambiguous to the reader;
  • indicate inconsistencies in the layout of the document such as use of headings, referencing conventions, etc.

A proofreader is NOT permitted to:

  • write an essay or any other type of written assignment for a student;
  • edit, change or rewrite any part of a student’s work or contribute any additional material to the original;
  • correct a student’s work so that the original errors are not visible; handwritten notes or the “comments” function in word processing software should be used;
  • correct mistakes where the original intended meaning is not clear; instead, they should inform the student that the meaning is unclear;
  • translate the work;
  • offer advice about what to add or leave out of the work;
  • reorganise paragraphs;
  • correct factual errors or mistakes in calculation, formulae or computer code;
  • re-label diagrams, charts or figures;
  • correct or reformat references.

Further definitions and academic misconduct

Professional third party proofreading (or editing) services: any professional and/or external third party service contracted by the student to make changes and/or improvements to their work; use of such services is considered academic misconduct.

Paraphrasing and grammar software: online programmes and tools that offer help with writing style through suggesting and/or making changes to grammar and wording (whether to improve style or avoid plagiarism); while the use of basic spelling and grammar checkers (e.g. in Microsoft Word) is permissible, extreme caution should be taken with more sophisticated tools as use of these may result in poor academic practice and/or academic misconduct.

Translation software: online tools that can translate chunks or large amounts of text from one language to another; such tools should not be used to translate large portions or full pieces of work as such use may result in poor academic practice and/or academic misconduct.

Contract cheating/commissioning: businesses (sometimes known as essay mills) and/or individuals or systems that allow commissioning of an original piece of work (essay, coding solutions, etc.); this is considered to be academic misconduct and can result in serious penalties.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools/systems: the University’s Academic Misconduct Procedure lists, as an example of plagiarism, unacknowledged material produced using generative AI (artificial intelligence) systems.

For further information regarding academic misconduct, please refer to the University’s Academic Misconduct Procedure.


Students are expected and encouraged to develop the skills of proofreading and to ensure that they proofread their own work, and are supported by the University to do this.

The University works to support students in developing the skills to produce work of a high standard, including the ability to proofread their own work. Students are expected to thoroughly read their own work to ensure that typographical, grammatical and spelling errors are avoided in final submitted assessments. Study Skills support, including sessions and resources on proofreading, is available from the Centre for Academic Success.

As part of the teaching process, programme teams should also demonstrate to students how to edit, proofread and refine coursework effectively. This may involve explaining to students the specific requirements of a given type of written work, demonstrating techniques to improve a specific piece of writing, and providing effective feedback, to help students understand the writing process and expected standards of any final submitted work.

Students may, however, wish to make their own arrangements to have their work proofread, especially where they have a disability or specific learning difficulty.


The University does not permit the use of professional third-party proofreading services (unless specifically approved by the University for defined purposes, e.g. as a reasonable adjustment).

The University will provide study support for students fairly and equitably in both English and Welsh to enable students to develop the skills to edit and proofread their own work effectively, and/or ensure that reasonable adjustments are in place where required.

The University does not permit the use of professional third party proofreading or editing services, including online services such as paraphrasing and grammar software which are not otherwise supported by the University (and/or unless it is an agreed reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010). The use of these proofreading or editing services may not only give a student an unfair advantage over other students, it can also expose students to risk through their work being used, copied or stolen by another, resulting in detection by text matching software on submission, and exploitation from Essay Mills.

Students will be made aware that the use of professional third-party proofreading services could result in an investigation of Academic Misconduct, which may result in their work being awarded a fail.


The responsibility for proofreading student work prior to its submission for assessment rests with the individual student as author. However, the University recognises that proofreading is a mechanism for supporting and enhancing student learning and may also be a reasonable adjustment for some students with specific support requirements under the Equality Act 2010.

When a student submits work for assessment, they must make a declaration of academic integrity on each assessment submission ‘cover sheet’, which asserts that they are the sole author of the work unless otherwise stated:

“In submitting this assessment, I certify that this is my own work (except, where indicated as group work) and that the use of material from other sources has been appropriately acknowledged in the text. Neither this work, nor any part of it, has been submitted in the same format in connection with any other assessment. I have read and understood the University’s Academic Misconduct Policy and University Proofreading Policy, and definitions including plagiarism, collusion and commissioning therein, and I therefore understand that the consequences of committing Academic Misconduct will result in an investigation for academic misconduct and, if proven, may result in cancellation of marks for the paper, a mark of zero for the module, cancellation of marks for the level of study, or cancellation of all marks and disqualification from the programme.”

All students must adhere to this Policy, and in all cases, must retain authorship of their work. Failure to adhere to this Policy may result in an investigation in accordance with the Academic Misconduct Procedure, in particular Section 3.


Students must abide by the definitions and responsibilities set out in this Policy, and ensure that any proofreaders used are aware of these requirements.

This policy has been reviewed in line with the revised QAA Quality Code: Assessment published in November 2018; revised August 2021.