Intellectual Property Policy for Students


The Intellectual Property Policy for Students is intended to:


Intellectual Property (IP) refers to ideas, information and knowledge that can be protected and commercialised (used to generate revenue). This includes inventions, literary and artistic works, logos, names, images, designs, know-how and confidential information.

In terms of its obligations placed upon it as a charitable organisation, the University of Derby is required to ensure that it is using its IP to promote its core missions of learning, teaching and research.

This Policy covers the ownership and handling of IP created by University students.

The Policy is designed to meet the increasing requirement for UK Universities to manage their operational and student endeavours to deliver the widest economic and social benefit. This policy recognises that University students will in some circumstances work alongside staff and third parties during their learning journey, undertaking research and project work. Thus, a further aim of this policy is to achieve an appropriate balance of flexibility and protection for the University and its students.  It is the spirit and intention of this policy to recognise the importance of student ownership of their IP, whilst ensuring the University’s own IP position is protected, especially in terms of University Managed Projects.

There are well established legal rules and practices, which govern how IP is owned, protected, and used in the UK higher education sector. This Policy ensures that the University’s position on student IP is up to date, is consistent, and that the University is compliant with its obligations to the various public and private organisations who fund research.


This Policy provides guidance for students at the University of Derby (the “University”) in relation to the ownership and management of IP. It is a condition of formal enrolment with the University that students accept and agree to be bound by this Policy. 

This Policy applies to all students at the University, including undergraduate and postgraduate, on taught courses, on campus and online, as well as research students and to any IP they create as part of their programme of study whilst enrolled at the University. It is intended that this Policy will supersede all previous practices and customs in relation student IP at the University.     

If students also undertake teaching or research under a formal University staff contract, their IP in respect of the works carried out under that contract are set out in the University of Derby Staff Intellectual Property Policy. The policies that relate to staff and to students will align to form a clear framework within which IP will be recognised, acknowledged, and exploited to mutual benefit.  The Policy is necessitated given the increasing requirements placed upon universities to apply the results of their research and innovation to provide greater social and economic impacts to their wider communities.  Realising societal and industrial benefit from research is often based on the management of underlying IP requiring clarity of ownership alongside their identification and management to enable their fullest exploitation.


The following definitions apply to this document:


This Policy is subject to the oversight of the University Innovation and Research Committee. The University IP & Commercialisation Manager is responsible for the implementation and ensuring compliance with this policy.

Policy Statement

The Intellectual Property Policy for Students is intended to recognise the importance of the IP Creators, namely University students.

General Position on Intellectual Property Ownership – It is the general principle of the University to acknowledge that students are the owners of the IP they create at the University as part of their studies subject to the specific exceptions identified in this policy.  

Such exceptions are occasions when the University, or other third parties, require ownership of student generated IP.  Via enrolment at the University, students subject to these exceptions assign their IP to the University and agree, where and when required to complete and sign any formal documentation to give effect to such an assignment to the University or a third party. It is advised that wherever it is reasonable to anticipate that IP and copyright will be created, students and staff discuss this possibility and formalise their discussion using standard pro-forma (available for the IP Manager, or a learning agreement as appropriate.  

It is the University’s policy to be fair with students, in exchange for assigning or transferring IP ownership to the University, where such IP successfully generates surplus revenue, students will be treated as employees and receive an income share via the University’s Intellectual Property Reward Scheme detailed in its Staff Intellectual Property Policy.

Intellectual Property ownership exceptions

The following are exceptions to student ownership of IP created during their studies at the University.  Where there is ambiguity regarding the status of the student with relation to these exceptions it is incumbent upon the student to seek advice from their programme leader in the first instance.

Work-based and / or externally sponsored students

Some students receive sponsorship that supports them in full or in part, to resource their studies.  External sponsors, including employers, usually expect to own the IP resulting from work they fund through sponsorship or other forms of support.  Such students may be subject to, may have completed, or may be required to complete a separate agreement with their sponsors.  Such an agreement will detail the ownership of IP arising from their work.  Sponsored students are required to check the terms of their sponsorship and to notify the University in advance of commencing their project or studies, of any IP being claimed by the sponsor.  

Commissioned work

As with sponsored work, commissioning organisations will typically require that separate formal agreements are put in place to address the ownership of IP in any resulting works.  In such projects, any student participants will be bound by the same terms and conditions as the University and where required, agree to sign any formal agreements to ensure these conditions are met, prior to the commencement of that work.

University-managed projects

Students may undertake research projects as part of their programme of study (for example Final Year Undergraduate Independent Study Project or Postgraduate Independent Study Project) where their work is assessed and awarded credit towards a final qualification.  In these cases, students would normally own the IP.  Where IP arises from projects where students undertake specific work at the direction of University staff as part of an organised extra-curricular project, the IP shall be owned by the University. This would normally exclude curriculum-based activities and assessments.  

Examples of University managed projects include the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme and projects that arise out of an extension of an assessed piece of work.  As required, the student agrees to formally transfer the IP they create in such projects to the University and via this policy hereby assign such IP to the University.  Depending on the nature and extent of a student’s contribution to such a project and the IP created, the University may, at its discretion (but acting reasonably), include the student in sharing any surplus revenue that might arise from the commercial exploitation of the IP via the University’s Intellectual Property Reward Scheme.  

Collaborative work including placements and work-based learning

Student engagement with employers takes a range of forms, which are described in the University’s Learning & Teaching Strategy.

Where IP arises from projects in which students undertake work as part of a formal collaboration between the University and other organisations, the ownership of IP shall be as specified in any formal agreement between the collaborating bodies. Given the nature of such collaborations the student is required to confirm that this is the case by formally assigning Intellectual Property to the University and/or its collaborators.  

Students engaging in collaborative projects are required to speak to their placement co-ordinators, supervisors, or project manager at the outset on the matter of IP ownership. 

Research studentships & bursaries

Some Postgraduate Research Students receive financial assistance that helps them to support their studies in full or in part.  These include bursaries (fees only), Postgraduate Research Studentships (PGRS), Postgraduate Research Assistants and Postgraduate Teaching Assistantships (PGTA). Where such students are undertaking higher level study that is supported in this way either from the University or any other organisation, the IP arising from such research is owned by the resource provider, unless there are written agreements dated prior to the creation of the IP which states otherwise.  

Postgraduate Research Students are required to discuss any variations to IP ownership with their supervisory team, and if necessary, with the IP Manager at the outset of their studies.  Any agreed variations must be in writing and duly signed by the University.  

Intellectual Property the University does not claim ownership of
For the avoidance of doubt, the University does not claim ownership of any student created IP produced outside of their programme of studies whilst enrolled at the University.

Unless subject to a separate agreement or subject to the aforementioned exceptions, the University does not claim ownership of the copyright in scholarly works created by students in the course of their studies at the University.  Scholarly works include:

In addition, unless agreed otherwise and subject to the aforementioned exceptions, the University does not claim ownership of student creative works such as paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, videos, prototypes, clothing, textile or fabric designs.  Students are the owners of such works in terms of both the physical works as well as any associated IP Rights, for example copyright, design rights etc.  The University’s Copyright Adviser is based in the University library and can provide advice or further information on such matters.  

The University is committed to the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity and Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers including transparent and open communication to make research findings widely available and to show care and respect for the stewardship of research. Where work is undertaken by students with staff that go beyond that expected for curriculum or assessment purposes, normal academic protocols would apply in terms of shared authorship for academic outputs in the context of the University’s Publication and Open Access Policy.  

To enable the University to access and use student works appropriately (for the primary purpose of awarding degrees and enabling the University to promote its educational operations to others) students grant to the University a non-exclusive irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to uses the material(s) they create as part of their studies whilst enrolled at the University for teaching and operational purposes. 

This license enables the University to retain and make any necessary copies of material(s) produced by students during the course of their studies at the University, specifically providing the rights to:

It is a principle that where applicable and where possible, the University will seek to reference the student creator of works used under this license.

In the event of the incorporation of student works into teaching materials, these may require the completion of a waiver of the any moral rights the student has in the works and a written statement, by the student, to confirm that work is the students own work, and that the rights of third-party IP owners have been respected and not knowingly infringed.

The license does not extend to the commercial use of student works, any commercial use will be subject to approval by the student IP owner and subject to the University Intellectual Property Reward Scheme. If a student wishes to query the use of their IP under this license, then a Dispute and Complaints process is available.

Disclosure of Intellectual Property

If you create IP which falls within the exceptions described in the section above (IP ownership exceptions), then you must notify your tutor or supervisor as soon as possible.  It is vital that you do not discuss the IP you create with anyone else until you have disclosed it to the University and the opportunity contained in your disclosure has been evaluated.

Other than those students to whom the exceptions outlined above apply, students are encouraged to disclose, initially to their supervisor or course leader, any IP they generate where they feel it has commercial value.  The University has standard pro-formas to guide students, which can be accessed by contacting the IP Manager.

This is with a view to partnering with the University, seeking access to University support and expertise to further develop and commercialise that IP.  

Any such arrangements will be subject to a formal agreement between the student and the University, and, at its sole discretion, the University will have the right to decline any such partnering request.  In this event it shall be for the student to decide how they develop and make use of their IP.


The Freedom of Information Act has a presumption that materials within a University should be publicly available, therefore, in terms of IP protection, students should be aware of the importance of maintaining strict confidentially over University or third party owned IP with exploitation potential and take all reasonable steps to ensure that is maintained.

Likewise, where students have concerns regarding the protection of Intellectual Property that they own, such as during the preparation and development of works for assessment, they should firstly approach the Programme Leader or their Director of Studies (as appropriate) or the University’s IP Manager for further advice.

The University uses Confidentiality Agreements to manage the disclosure of sensitive information to third parties and students are unable to enter into any such arrangements on behalf of the University without its express permission.

Policy Implementation

The Intellectual Property Policy for Students aligns closely with and should be read in conjunction with the Intellectual Property Policy for Employees.  

As part of the Researcher Development Programme at the University, sessions have been developed, which will cover the IP fundamentals and University IP governance, including understanding of the Intellectual Property Policy for Students.   

Specifically, separate IP development sessions have been created for University of Derby academics and postgraduate research (PGR) students. The primary purpose of these sessions is to raise awareness and inform both University academics and PGR students, helping to embed and foster an IP and Commercialisation culture within the institution.

This activity aligns closely with the University’s Strategic Priorities for Innovation & Research, contributing towards ‘creating an ecosystem for the University and its partners to commercialise ideas and develop collaborative solutions’.


Failure to comply with this policy may result in the University Student Disciplinary Procedure within student regulations being invoked.

In the event of any dispute arising out of the terms of this Policy or a matter which falls within the remit of this Policy, the matter shall be referred to the Provost for Innovation & Research whose decision in the appeal process will be final.

Related Documentation

The current versions of these Policy and Process documents are available on Policy Hub.