Consultation on proposed updates to ARB’s plagiarism policy

Closes 17 Dec 2023

Opened 27 Oct 2023


The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is an independent professional regulator, established by Parliament as a statutory body, through the Architects Act 1997. We are accountable to government. 

The law gives us a number of core functions: 

  • To ensure only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. We do this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects.
  • We maintain a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and are fit to practise.
  • We set the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet and take action when any architect falls below the required standards of conduct or competence.
  • We protect the legally restricted title ‘architect’.

This consultation

This consultation is on changes to ARB’s policy on plagiarism in the Prescribed Exam and the UK Adaptation Assessment.

The Architects Act 1997 places on ARB the responsibility for prescribing (accrediting) the qualifications and practical training experience required for entry to the UK Register of Architects. The Board also has a duty to ensure that those who apply for registration without accredited qualifications have an equivalent standard of competence.

ARB runs a Prescribed Exam so that professionals with relevant qualifications in architecture – but that aren’t accredited by ARB or recognised through an international agreement – have a route to registration. ARB also runs the UK Adaptation Assessment, which applies to architects seeking to join the UK Register through one of our international agreements. This assessment tests an individual’s preparedness for practice within a UK context.

Most forms of assessment carry a risk of cheating and/or plagiarism. It is essential that ARB identifies and acts on plagiarism within the Prescribed Examination and the UK Adaptation Assessment in order to maintain the integrity of the Register so that the public can be confident that those joining the Register have demonstrated the necessary competencies.

Currently, ARB operates a zero-tolerance policy towards “plagiarism and cheating” but the Registrar retains a high level of discretion on whether offending applicants can reapply.

We believe that this policy should be changed to improve its fairness and consistency. We also want to clearly emphasise the standards of honesty and integrity those who join the Register are expected to uphold.  

We are now consulting on a proposed updated policy. The proposed policy is set out in our document here, along with accompanying changes to procedures for the Prescribed Examination and the UK Adaptation Assessment.

The proposed changes

The proposed new plagiarism policy continues to treat plagiarism as severe but improves our approach in four key areas:

  • A clearer new definition of what we consider to be plagiarism.
  • A clearer declaration for applicants.
  • A clearer process for examiners and ARB staff involving a new standardised approach to identifying plagiarism.
  • A new range of discretionary penalties that escalate based on the severity of the offence.

Definition: The new definition expands on the previously used scope of what constitutes plagiarism in any work submitted for assessment (including any designs, models, plans, video or image files) but also accounts for developments in the use of technology and peer-to-peer collusion. It also incorporates principles from the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice on honesty and integrity as part of guidance on sanctioning plagiarism offences.

Declaration: We propose that ARB introduce a more detailed declaration which all individuals sitting a prescribed exam must sign. In signing, the individual acknowledges that the work they have submitted is their own, with all correct references given to the work of others, and that they understand what we consider to be plagiarism.

They also acknowledge that any plagiarised content found in their submission as defined in our definition could be considered a breach of ARB’s expected standards of honesty and integrity as set out in the Code. ARB will reserve the right to sanction any form of plagiarism accordingly. 

Process: The clearer and more standardised process is centred on examiners escalating submissions within which they identify plagiarism. Examiners will flag to ARB staff any submission that includes the following:

  • The submission provided includes improper referencing of their sources.
  • The submission contains no references at all, but the examiner has identified it includes the work of others.
  • The submission contains fabricated material.

ARB will then deliberate the extent of the offence and any penalties to impose upon the applicant at ARB’s discretion as set out in the proposed guidance. The proposed policy sets out who is then responsible for the final decision – that being ARB staff and not the examiner. 

Penalties: We propose a range of penalties available to ARB decision makers, outlined as part of the policy, to be used at their discretion based on assessing the severity of the offence. The principles behind these are separated into the outcome or grade on their current application, and the impact on their ability to reapply. This means an ARB decision maker could apply a proportionate sanction based on the offence.

With the ongoing development and use of new technologies, the architectural profession is continuing to adapt to new ways of working. We do not wish for our policies to impose excessive barriers to the legitimate use of such technology and prevent certain groups from submitting an application. We will review this policy on a regular basis and consult further as may be needed in the future.

Why your views matter

This policy will affect how ARB and appointed examiners investigate and sanction plagiarism offences made by applicants to join the Register. Acting with honesty and integrity is at the cornerstone of all regulated professions in the UK – we expect applicants to the Register to demonstrate honesty and integrity in their applications, as they would in their everyday professional conduct.  

As part of ARB’s important duty to uphold the standards of public protection within the architectural profession, this proposed new policy sets out a clearer approach to ensuring only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. This means the public can be reassured that those who join the Register are suitably qualified and are fit to practise.

The consultation will close at 23:59 on Sunday 17 December.

The consultation will comply with ARB's Code of Practice for consultations. We are issuing this consultation for a period of six weeks because of the narrow nature of the topic and our desire to avoid unnecessary delays in implementing the policy.

Give us your views


  • Academic - registered architect
  • Academic - other
  • Registered architect
  • Architectural assistant, designer or consultant (not Part 3 qualified)
  • Architecture Student – undergraduate (studying Part 1)
  • Architecture Student – graduate (studying Part 2)
  • Architecture Student – Part 3 candidate
  • Other (built environment professional)
  • Other


  • Professional Standards