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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK


Education

Student praised for hoax essay

The university says that its academics were not fooled

A student who submitted a spoof essay received high marks for an effort that had been intended as a joke.

Richard South, a student at Edinburgh University, presented an English literature essay which was based on fictitious experts and sources and which parodied the language of literary criticism.

In response he received a mark equivalent to an upper second class degree, with commendations from the marker.

But the university asserts that its English department has not been fooled by the hoaxer, claiming that the high marks were an acknowledgement of the "orginality" of the approach.


[ image: The undergraduate invented academic sources for his essay, including the imaginary Parker J Sprague]
The undergraduate invented academic sources for his essay, including the imaginary Parker J Sprague
"It is perfectly appropriate for markers to credit a student with originality. It would be inconceivable that specialists wouldn't know that it was a hoax," said a university spokesperson.

The essay, which was not externally marked and will not contribute to the student's degree grade, was in response to the question "Is it valid to read literature historically?"

The student's essay is reported to have included references to two entirely invented academic sources, Parker J Sprague and Professor Levi Erskine-Bloom, Emeritus Dean of Scatology at Trinity College Cambridge.

The university was involved in a mass plagiarism controversy earlier this year, when students in the computing science department were accused of cheating using e-mail and the internet.



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