How can I use AI?

Everything you need to know about how and how not to use AI to help with your studies.

Generative AI technology* will certainly be something that you encounter in your personal and professional lives long after you have graduated. At Essex, we want you to explore Generative AI tools responsibly. But when you use these tools, remember to think about things like keeping your data safe, respecting copyrights, and being honest in your academic work. We hope that by the time you graduate, you will have developed the knowledge and skills to be able to use AI effectively and ethically to support your learning and help you succeed in the future.

*Generative AI is a type of AI that creates new content or data. Recent developments mean that Generative AI is very easy to access and use without specialist training for example through applications such as ChatGPT, Bard, Claude and Bing.

AI is a tool. There are ways you can use it effectively while still following the rules, as long as you never attempt to pass off AI-generated material as your own work. If you are not pretending that you wrote it, then you will not be cheating and will not have committed any academic offences.


How can I use AI in a positive way?

  • Creating an essay plan to help you develop and improve the structure of your assignment.

  • Using AI to help you improve your grammar or your writing style by looking at how it constructs answers to questions.

  • Asking AI to explain a concept, theory, or text that you have had trouble understanding. Providing the explanation is used to help you understand and is not copied into your assignment, you will not be committing any academic offence. However…

  • Never assume the information generated by AI is accurate or true. Check it.


What things can I do to make sure I do not commit an academic offence by using AI? 

  • Always cite and reference material included in your assignments that is not your own work.

  • Never present AI-generated work as your own in an assignment. That would be cheating. Your lecturers and teachers will give you more specific instructions but in general you will be expected to include information about how you have used AI as part of your assignment submissions.

  • Never ask AI to generate experimental data which you then submit having purported to have collected it yourself as primary data, either in raw form or after analysis. This is fabrication and counts as serious misconduct.

  • When you are preparing an assignment, it is a good idea to keep notes that you make along the way and try to keep different versions saved as separate files as your work develops. Should you be suspected of committing an academic offence you will be able to use such notes and archived files to demonstrate how you have constructed the assignment.

  • Be transparent about which tools you use and how you have used them to create your academic work.

  • You can also find help on academic skills, including referencing, via the Student Directory

  • Read the Student Guidance on Academic Offences and Academic Integrity


Why can’t I use AI to write my assessments?

Writing your own assignments is the only way in which you will develop the skill of communicating effectively in written form.  It is also a key pathway for developing your skills more broadly, including the key abilities of developing, formulating, expressing, and testing your own ideas. You will be cheating yourself if you don’t use your time at university to develop those skills by writing your own assignments – whether with or without assistance from digital tools including AI.


Under 1.2c of our current Academic Offences Procedures the following would constitute an academic offence: “…false authorship or contract cheating, including the soliciting of a third party or the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning or other automated technology, to produce material that is then submitted for assessment and presented as one’s own original work.”