Intellectual Property Policy for Students

Title University of Derby Intellectual Property Policy for Students
Document type Policy
Version 2.0
Area Innovation and Research
Author Paul Moss, Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager
Owner Provost for Innovation and Research
Team University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office
Equality analysis N/A
Approval body Academic Board
Last approval date January 2024

1. Purpose/Abstract

The Intellectual Property Policy for Students is intended to:

2. Introduction

Intellectual Property is something that you create using your mind, for example, a story, an invention, an artistic work or a symbol, names, images, designs, know-how and confidential information. IP refers to ideas, information and knowledge that can be protected and commercialised.

In terms of its obligations placed upon it as a charitable organisation, the University 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.

University students must respect, and avoid infringing, IP rights belonging to others.

This Policy is designed to meet the 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.

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.

3. Scope

This Policy refers to IP that is owned by students at the University. As such, this Policy provides guidance for students at 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 Intellectual Property Policy for Employees. 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.

4. Definitions

The following definitions apply to this document: 

5. Responsibilities 

This Policy is subject to the oversight of the University Innovation and Research Committee (UIRC).

The University Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager is responsible for the implementation of this Policy and provides guidance in terms of general advice. 

Students are the owners of their IP, and therefore are responsible for the handling, protection and disclosure of IP, unless otherwise agreed.

6. Policy Statement

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

General Position on IP 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 from the Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager,

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 the Intellectual Property Policy for Employees.

IP 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, International 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, the On-Campus Intern Scheme (OCIS) 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, including internships and work-based learning. Prior to embarking upon a work-based learning opportunity, students are required to enter into an agreement, which sets out the terms and conditions of the collaboration.

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 IP 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. 

Postgraduate research studentships & bursaries
Some Postgraduate Research Students receive financial assistance that helps them to support their studies in full or in part. 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 Intellectual Property and Commercialisation 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 Senior Copyright Officer 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 the University of Derby a perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide, in all formats (now known or yet to be devised), sub-licensable, non-exclusive licence to use the material(s) they create as part of their studies whilst enrolled at the University for academic (i.e. research and teaching), promotional and administrative purposes, including for archival and open access requirements. 

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 IP

If you create IP which falls within the exceptions described in the section above (IP ownership exceptions), then you must notify your Programme Leader or Director of Studies (as appropriate) 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 Programme Leader or Director of Studies (as appropriate), 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 Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager at 

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 (2000) has a presumption that materials within a University should be publically available, therefore, in terms of IP protection, students should be aware of the importance of maintaining strict confidentiality 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 IP 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 Intellectual Property and Commercialisation 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. 

Using Third Party IP 

It is the responsibility of students to make legitimate and appropriate use of third-party material. The exclusive rights of copyright holders should not be infringed. 

Exclusive rights are: 

In relation to Gen AI, the University should capitalise on the opportunities of AI but in a way that protects academic rigour and integrity in higher education. Further guidance on Gen AI can be found in the University Publication and Open Access Policy (POAP) and Guidance on the Acceptable and Responsible use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in Research.

Before copying or otherwise using material authored by others, (including the University) students must determine whether that material is subject to copyright by considering whether:

a) the intended use is authorised by the terms of a collective (or blanket) copyright licence (e.g. a CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence or ERA (Educational Recording Agency) licence);
b) the intended use falls within one of the statutory exceptions to copyright; or
c) they obtain the written permission of the relevant rights-holder to the intended use (either in a formal licence or otherwise)

Where students determine that paragraph a) or b) applies, they should:

d) document their assessment and the reasons for it; and
e) comply with the requirements of that licence and/or statutory exception (as appropriate)

If paragraph c) applies, then the written permission should be retained by the individual who requested it until such time as use of the copyrighted material is no longer required and/or copyright permission expires. If the copyrighted material is transferred to an archive, the permission documentation must be transferred as well. 

Students must not use any IP which belongs to any other party unless paragraph a), b) or c) applies. Any failure to comply with this may constitute IP infringement. 

Care should be taken when using certain types of third-party material in recorded lectures and other online teaching and learning activities, as it may not be legal to include these in recordings or make them available online.

The University provides detailed guidance on copyright law for students and the institutional licences to which it is a signatory on the Library website. 

Students are expected to familiarise themselves with such guidance and to apply it in all their dealings with copyright works.

Requests to use IP which belongs to the University

Any request pursuant to paragraph c) to use:  

f) a copyright work which belongs, or is licensed, to the University must be sent to the Library’s Senior Copyright Officer at and
g) any other IP which belongs, or is licensed, to the University must be sent to the Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager 

For the avoidance of doubt, any request to use the University’s name and/or logo for any purpose must be sent to Marketing.

Infringement of rights

If any student suspects, or becomes aware of, any potential or actual infringement of IP which belongs to the University by any other party (or vice versa), they must: 

h) immediately notify the Intellectual Property and Commercialisation Manager, providing full details of the nature of the infringement; and
i) provide all further assistance as reasonably required

Any person who is not a student who suspects, or becomes aware, that any IP may potentially or actually infringe the rights of any other party (including rights related to the protection of IP, privacy and/or reputation) must contact the University’s Senior Copyright Officer in accordance with the University’s Takedown notice procedures. 

Gen AI

The role of AI in Intellectual Property is unfolding rapidly but the UKs legal position on copyright ownership for AI generated works remains ambiguous. CDPA 1988, described a computer-generated work as one that ‘is generated by computer in circumstances such that there is no human author of the work'. 

Gen AI constructs an artificial author for computer-generated works, which, by definition, are authorless.

In 1988, when CDPA was enacted, a human author could always be identified due to their clear involvement in programming the computer outputs. CDPA has not been updated since its enactment. 

As such, the use of any Gen AI tools should be declared and clearly explained in publications as is expected for any other methodology, software or tools. Where Gen AI tools are used to support the writing process, this must be acknowledged and documented appropriately. Authors should note the specific requirements of individual publishers. Authors using Gen AI to support the writing process must use it in the context of the University’s Guidance on the Acceptable and Responsible use of Gen AI in Research. 

7. Policy Implementation 

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

The Intellectual Property Policy for Students is made publicly available to all students on the University website. The most recent version, approved in 2022 can be found at Student IP Policy.

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 postgraduate research (PGR) students. The primary purpose of these sessions is to raise awareness and inform PGR students, helping to embed and foster an IP and Commercialisation culture within the institution. Also, working with PGR colleagues within Innovation and Research to include additional IP resources through the PGR tile on Udo. 

8. Sanctions

Failure to comply with this policy may result in the University Student Disciplinary Procedure within student regulations being invoked Academic regulations - About us - University of Derby.

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 and Research whose decision in the appeal process will be final.

9. Related documents 

The latest versions of these Policy and Procedure documents will be available on the Innovation and Research Sharepoint section for

10. References

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) - 1988 -

Universities UK Concordat for Research Integrity -

Universities UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers - The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers - Vitae Website

Version Date Author Rationale
1.0 January 2022 Paul Moss Policy first approved in new format by Academic Board
2.0 November 2023 Emma Butler/ Donya Rowan & Paul Moss Addition of Rights Retention & Gen AI guidance