Citing the Law

Citing the Law


Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. The Code of Practice on Student Discipline at section 3.3 defines plagiarism as follows,

"Plagiarism is defined by the University as the use, without adequate acknowledgement, of the intellectual work of another person in work submitted for assessment. A student cannot be found to have committed plagiarism where it can be shown that the student has taken all reasonable care to avoid representing the work of others as his or her own.”

It is important you acknowledge the sources you have read and refer to in your own work. The School of Law at the University of Aberdeen uses OSCOLA (The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) for the citation of authorities, legislation, and other legal materials.

Many taught courses include workshops on academic writing and how to avoid plagiarism. It is important that you attend these. Contact your School, library staff or the Student Learning Service if you need to know more.

Citing the Law

When writing your assignments, dissertations, theses, papers etc. it is essential you cite sources you have read and refer to in your text.

Here is a list of sources you must always acknowledge in your own work:

  • Direct quotes: words taken directly from someone else's work

  • Paraphrases: concepts, theories or ideas belonging to someone else that you have written about in your own words

  • Data, graphs, diagrams and images: belonging to someone else

  • Other students: ideas arising from informal discussions or tutorials with your peers, or their work submitted for assessment here or anywhere else

  • Yourself: your own work previously submitted for assessment here or anywhere else

If you need more guidance on referencing and citing using OSCOLA why don't you try working through an excellent interactive online guide produced by Cardiff University called Citing the Law?

For guidelines on legal citation see the 4th edition of OSCOLA (Hart, 2012) online at the Oxford Law website.

Library Guide:


Plagiarism: what it is and how to avoid it, a talking slideshow by Emily Allbon, Law Librarian at the City University 
Citing the Law, an interactive online guide by Cathie Jackson and Ian Bradley at Cardiff University 
Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, a database for deciphering the meaning of legal abbreviations

Help and Advice

Janet MacKay, Information Consultant for Law and Business T: +44 (0)1224 272572 
Nicola Will, Site Services Manager, Taylor Library T:+44 (0)1224 272601 
IT Service Desk, T:+44 (0)1224 273636