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Student Guide for the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence

This guide has been informed by the work of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Teaching and Learning Working Group. It is recognised that AI is rapidly evolving, and this document should be considered as a living document. This is version 1.1, created in August 2023.

There is a significant amount of media coverage, interest, and experimentation with generative AI. These are tools which can be prompted in conversational ways to create new content including text, images, audio, video and computer code. As the tools develop, they are becoming integrated into existing business and personal applications such as web browsers, the Microsoft Office suite and Google Docs.  New plugin architectures are evolving allowing other businesses to integrate their services within the tools.

Tools such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, DALLE-2 and CoPilot can be helpful for generating content. This has obvious implications for assessment and some institutions have banned their use. Here at Ulster, we believe that these tools will be a part of our personal and professional lives and we wish to explore their use with students in ethical, transparent and reasonable ways.  Our position is to

  • Encourage a University culture that upholds the value of integrity

  • Reinforce the expectation that work submitted for assessment is students own original work.

  • Remain open to the benefits of the use of AI whilst highlighting the dangers of relying on the outputs as accurate sources of information.

  • Develop guidance about how to accurately acknowledge the reasonable use of AI in student work.

  • Encourage critical dialogue when AI tools are used within the curriculum. 

As an Ulster student, you are expected to comply with the University Regulations which include appropriate academic conduct. The Academic Misconduct Policy has been updated to explicitly reference the use of AI, and the student declaration for coursework submission states that:

 I declare that this is all my own work. Any material I have referred to has been accurately referenced and any contribution of Artificial Intelligence technology has been fully acknowledged. I have read the University’s policy on academic misconduct and understand the different forms of academic misconduct. If it is shown that material has been falsified, plagiarised, or I have otherwise attempted to obtain an unfair advantage for myself or others, I understand that I may face sanctions in accordance with the policies and procedures of the University. A mark of zero may be awarded and the reason for that mark will be recorded on my file. 

 It is therefore not appropriate to misrepresent AI generated content as your own original work. Where it is used without being acknowledged, it will be considered academic misconduct.


Whilst these tools can generate content that appears reasonable, they should not be relied upon to be wholly accurate, and students should know how to evaluate the information critically using other reliable sources.

 Some of the current limitations of Large Language Model (LLM) AI tools include

  • With text generation, the tools do not understand what the words they produce mean.

  • The tools will often generate arguments that are wrong.

  • The tools will often generate false references and quotations.

  • Content generated is not checked for accuracy.

  • The tools can distort the truth and emphasise the strength of an opposing argument.

  • The tools do not perform well on subjects that do not have a lot of public online discourse.

  • The content generated is based on an historical data set which is fixed in time.

  • Generated content can include harmful bias and reinforce stereotypes. These biases can be reinforced through further human interaction with the model.

  • The models are trained on a data set from a Western English-speaking perspective again reinforcing particular perspectives. 

  • There are copyright concerns in creative disciplines where existing creative works are used to generate new work without the permission of the original makers.

Over reliance on these tools will limit the development of your writing and evaluation skills which are skills that you will use in future careers. You should therefore approach the use of these tools with a critical lens by understanding the limitations and bias in the output.

Developing skills to prompt AI tools is likely to be a useful skill but students should remain open, curious, and critical when making judgements about the accuracy of the content generated.

Using AI Reasonably

You should not feel under and pressure to make use of the tools and you will not be disadvantaged if you decide not to use them. However, Ulster University recognises that these tools may be used in reasonable ways and that they will evolve to become embedded in many of our workflows.

 In their current state, reasonable use of the tools might be for:

  •  Drafting ideas and planning the structure of written work.

  • Helping students with writer’s block

  • Generating discussion prompts

  • Developing creative ideas and inspiration.

  • Answering questions of web-based material.

  • Helping to improve writing skills.

  • Asking for an explanation of a topic.

  • Exploring the impact of the tools within a particular subject discipline.

  • Developing skills to effectively prompt AI tools.

  • Developing critical thinking skills through critiquing AI outputs.

  • Creating self-assessment quiz questions to test understanding on a subject.

Acknowledging the use of Generative AI

Ulster’s Academic Misconduct Policy has been updated in academic year 23/24 to explicitly mention the use of Generative AI and contains information about acknowledging the use of Generative AI.

Where generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools have been used for an assessment, they must be acknowledged appropriately to ensure that any output is not misconstrued as the student’s own work. Before beginning any piece of assessed work, students should check that the use of AI tools is authorised, as this practice may differ across modules and courses of study.

 Use the below links to find out more information about citing and referencing AI in the Harvard style for your faculty.

 If using a different referencing style to Harvard, please contact your Library Subject Team.