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Politics, Philosophy and Law: Referencing

Politics, Philosophy and Law

Sandstone coloured seating in an amphitheatre overlaid with text Politics, Philosophy and Law


Referencing is the academic practice of acknowledging the sources you have used in your work. Sources may be other people's words and ideas.

Referencing demonstrates your ethical use of information, the range of your research and reading, provides authority to your arguments, enables others to find materials cited, and avoids accusations of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the use of another person's work without proper acknowledgment. Most plagiarism is unintentional and the result of poor academic practice. It's is important to reference when directly quoting or paraphrasing another person's work. 

Referencing styles are sets of rules governing referencing practice. They prescribe the type, order and format of information in a reference. There are 3 main types of referencing style: in-text, footnote and endnote. Always check what referencing style is required by your department or assessment, as there may be local interpretations.

Why reference?

It is important to learn the scholarly practice of citing other people’s research, and referencing the material you have used. 


  • Enables your reader to find the material you have referred to  

  • Demonstrates your breadth of reading about the subject 

  • Supports and/or develops your argument

  • Avoids plagiarism: using somebody else’s work without acknowledging the fact is plagiarism. It is important to always reference when quoting or paraphrasing another person’s work 

Referencing Styles

There is no single referencing style at the University of Warwick. The Departments of Politics and Philosophy follow Harvard referencing styles, which requires in-text citations (Author, Year) and an end-of-text bibliography or list of references. The School of Law follows OSCOLA referencing, which requires numbered footnotes and an end-of-text bibliography, lists of authorities (legislation and case law) and references.

There is no single Harvard referencing style. Different universities and departments have their own local versions of Harvard referencing. You are advised to check individual assessment guidance and follow guidance from each department. The OSCOLA referencing style is published by the University of Oxford and available as a free download from their website.

The library provides training and support in plagiarism, referencing and reference management, and a list of referencing styles by department:

Further information and referencing styles are available in the Referencing section of the Library website.

Advice and support about referencing is available from your Research and Academic Support Librarian.

Cite Them Right book cover imageCite Them Right: The Essential Referencing Guide

Cite Them Right is a popular guide to plagiarism and referencing. It is available as both print and ebook from the library. It provides an introduction to the general principles of plagiarism and referencing, a comprehensive guide to the Harvard referencing style, and simplified guides to the APA, Chicago, IEEE, MHRA, MLA, OSCOLA and Vancouver referencing styles, with clear rules and examples.

Referencing Tutorials

Online library tutorials introducing the general principles of referencing and plagiarism:

Moodle iconAvoiding Plagiarism  - an introduction to plagiarism and the consequences of plagiarism for students.


Moodle iconIntroduction to Referencing - an introduction to referencing using the Harvard referencing style.
This tutorial follows the Harvard (Warwick Medical) referencing style, but is suitable for Department of Economics students.

Referencing Software

Referencing software allows you to manage references, insert citations and create a bibliography, in your referencing style.

EndNote iconEndNote
EndNote is referencing software from Clarivate. EndNote Desktop supports many Harvard referencing styles. EndNote is available from Warwick IT Services, and is supported by Warwick Library.

Please see the EndNote LibGuide for further information.