Copyright for study

During your studies, you may want to copy or reuse material that has been created by other people, such as book chapters, journal articles, images and videos. In most cases this material will be covered by UK copyright law, which prohibits reuse and copying without permission from the copyright owner. 

Fortunately, there are exceptions to copyright law that allow you to use limited amounts of material for private study. 

Copying library materials 

UK copyright law allows students to make a single copy of an article or book chapter for private study. Such copies should not be shared with others. 

Copies must be fair to the copyright owner and therefore should not exceed: 

  • 5% of the total pages of a work 
  • one chapter from a book 
  • one article from a journal issue 

Copying material from the internet 

Material on the internet is protected by copyright in the same way as books and journals. Check the terms of use on individual websites to see if specific conditions are applied. 

It is possible to find free-to-use content online. Some websites make material available for free-use under licences (such as Creative Commons). 

Using copyrighted material in assignments 

A specific exception to UK copyright law allows the use of copyrighted material for the purposes of criticism and review. 

You should use material only when it is necessary to make your point. This should be the minimum amount possible and you must adequately reference any material you use. 


You may include quotes in your assignments to back up your arguments and make specific points. You must cite and reference and clearly identify quotes to avoid plagiarism.

Photographs and images 

If you would like to use images to illustrate your assignments or presentations, we advise that you use your own photos or find free content online.

It is possible to use copyrighted images, as long as they will not be made public. Just make sure they are crucial to your argument and don’t just enhance the appearance of your work. 

Avoid using copyrighted material if your assignment will be made publicly available (e.g if you have been asked to create a website). 

You should avoid downloading from websites which offer stock images, as costs are associated with any type of use, even assignments. 

Movies, television programmes and videos 

Clips from films and TV programmes, along with videos from sharing sites such as YouTube, can be used in classroom presentations provided they have been obtained from a legal source and uploaded with the consent of the copyright holder. 


Small sections of printed maps can be used in your assignments. Refer to the licence and/or terms of use before including maps from online sources such as Google Maps and Digimap.