The roles of SCD in the SMU Disciplinary Procedure are purely advisory, educative and representational. The UCSC is the executive disciplinary arm in SMU where student misconduct is concerned. The following examples are intended to illustrate the type of offences that have been dealt with by the university administration, the procedures involved, and the range of sanctions that have been imposed.   No two cases are alike; and hence the outcome of the cases will be different. These cases only serve as a rough guide. For more information on the disciplinary procedures, and your rights and responsibilities, do view the other articles on our website, or contact us.

*Disclaimer: The examples featured here were adapted from actual disciplinary cases. Details, dialogues and characters may have been created for illustrative purposes. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.*

Past Cases


Plagiarism is a serious offence. A student who is caught plagiarising will be issued a letter of warning by the University Council of Student Counduct (UCSC). Upon that, the student will either be:

  • Awarded a zero-grade for the assignment involved;
  • Awarded a fail-grade for the module;
  • Suspended from school or
  • Expelled.
  • Subjected to any combination of the above

Student Y panicked. With multiple assignment datelines fast approaching, he rued his mismanagement of time. He had too little time to complete all his readings and was afraid that he could not deliver a quality assignment. Student Y breathed a sign of relief when he thought that he had found his “solution”. He sourced for articles and journals via the Internet. Copying much of the texts he could find, Student Y did not want to reference his sources. He hoped that Prof X would not notice that he had plagiarised. Prof X used the software called “Turnitin” to scan all the assignments of his students for acts of plagiarism. He found that Student Y had indiscriminately copied from a variety of sources and did not reference them. Recognizing this as an act of plagiarism, Prof X gave the student a zero-grade for the assignment.

Fabrication & Impersonation

With bleary eyes, X scrolled through his SMSes.
Darn; his group mates were pressing him for his part again.
‘Guys, I would love to sent it out too… if I had it… ’.
He cursed silently; the damn competition was taking its toll.
As he scanned through the ancient email announcing the professor’s project requirements, an idea struck him.

Suddenly, the 4 a.m. sky felt much brighter…
Like most project groups, X’s team mates split up their work.
Each member was supposed to finish one portion of the project.

As the same time, X was also taking part in an international competition with another group.
Unfortunately, he miscalculated the additional workload it entailed.
The pressure mounted as the deadlines converged.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, X decided to fake an email from another professor that would excuse him and get his project team mates to pick up the slack.
However, his team mates became suspicious when he produced another email from yet another professor making a similar request.

The project team confronted X, but he stood his ground.
When the team checked with both professors, they denied ever making those requests.
X exercised his right to a hearing and put up a vigorous defence, in spite of the evidence against him.
Because X had already been sanctioned for a previous offence, the university took a stern view of the case and suspended X for one semester.

The fact that he was representing the University in a prestigious competition was not considered a sufficient mitigating factor. X faces expulsion should he commit any further offences.


With a sure and swift movement, T grabbed his notebook computer and the one next to it.
He was beside himself with guilty pleasure.
He congratulated himself silently.
Nobody saw him.
As he stole out of the room, a camera blinked in the background.
A student had left her notebook at the CIT counter for reformatting and configuration.
It was stolen when everybody’s attention was elsewhere.
The CCTV stills and student sign-in logs for the helpdesk were checked.
Exhaustive interviews were conducted with all students who visited CIT during the period concerned.
The list of suspects was narrowed down to a few. Finally, after a prolonged investigation, T confessed.
He saw the unguarded notebook while collecting his own, and he took the opportunity.
The case was then referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Panel. T was sanctioned with a warning letter and placed on disciplinary probation for one term – he will be expelled from SMU should he commit any offence during the probation period.
He also had to perform an additional 40 hours of community service.

Illegal Download

It was such a breeze! Downloading big files got so much easier for B since she came to university.
She could never do this at home with her dodgy “broadband” connection.
No need to pay for movies and music anymore! Somewhere in California, a software probe flickered to life.
It had noticed something unusual on the network traffic to Singapore.
One fine morning, the folks at the IITS Network Operation Centre received an interesting email from the Motion Pictures Association (of America), which basically said: ‘Somebody is using your network to download our member’s movie illegally. Here’s the IP address. Could you please stop him/her/it? And make sure he/she/it doesn’t do it again? Thanks.’   After checking their logs, IITS traced the download to B, a freshman, and the university administration contacted her.

She had installed a popular file-sharing software on her laptop and downloaded the movie ‘Taxi’.
She claimed she was unaware it was illegal to do so.
Her download was tracked by the MPAA to the SMU network.
The download violated SMU’s guidelines on acceptable use of the network. It was also an infringement under Singapore’s copyright law.
B was lucky the MPAA chose not to pursue the case in the civil court or inform the authorities.

Under amended laws that came into effect on 1 Jan 2005, illegal downloads of movies and music may attract both civil and criminal penalties.
B was sanctioned with a fine and issued a warning letter.
She also had to perform an additional hours of Corrective Service.


Cold sweat broke out across W’s brow as his eyes darted across the table. His breathing quickened.
His hands trembled as he copied the answers. Was the professor suspicious? Nope.

He’s looking the other way now.
Quick, what’s the answer for the next question?
A TA marking a regular term test noticed something weird about two particular scripts: the sequence of answers, including wrong ones, was unfailingly similar.

He raised the alarm with his professor. The submitted test scripts were then scrutinized by other faculty member and similar suspicions were raised.
Both students were asked by the professor to re-take the test in his office with the sequence of the questions jumbled up.
W was unable to produce the same answers as in the earlier test.
He was interviewed at length and finally admitted to having cheated. He had copied his answers from his neighbour during the test.

W suffered from anxiety disorder, and was worried about his results, so he cheated to get a higher grade. With the concurrence of the Dean, W was given an F grade for the test.

His maximum possible final grade for the module was capped at D. He was also given a warning letter; any further misconduct will result in his expulsion from the university.