You are expected to build your own arguments in the course of an essay, but you are also expected to inform them with wider reading and situate your ideas within the developments and debates that exist in scholarship, especially where you have based your conclusions on them. Referencing is essential to show that you have read around the subject and to differentiate between your ideas and those of other writers and to acknowledge material that is not your own. Your reader should be able to locate the origin of any material you use in its original source through your references.
Plagiarism is taking somebody else's ideas and passing them off as your own. This may involve copying directly from another piece of work or rephrasing without crediting the original author appropriately. The University of Cambridge takes plagiarism very seriously and any suspected cases will be investigated.
Plagiarism is sometimes the result of deliberate cheating, but may easily happen accidentally. Further information about plagiarism and how to avoid it is available on the University's Plagiarism and Good Academic Practice website. If you have any questions or concerns relating to this, speak to your supervisor or a librarian.
You will be expected to reference your work in a specific format. The citation style used at the Faculty of English is available on the Faculty website, as part of their guidelines for Part I and Part II students. This style is based on MHRA, which is available online or in the English Faculty Library.
Citation is covered as part of the Skills course in the Faculty of English and the English Faculty library organises drop-in sessions on referencing at key points during the year. Examples and FAQs are available on Moodle, or you can look at sample dissertations in the library to see how others have referenced their work. If you want to know how to cite a particular source, your supervisor and library staff will be able to help.