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UCT IP Policy

Copyright in UCT exam questions


Several queries have been received regarding the inclusion of past UCT exam questions in publications that are authored by UCT academics - e.g. when creating textbooks. In terms of the UCT IP Policy (and the previous 2004 version) examination questions are one of the copyright materials where the rights are not automatically assigned to the authors (as in the case of scholarly and literary publications for example), but are rather retained by UCT.

The good news for authors is that permission to include the exam questions in a book can be sought from RC&I on a case-by-case basis.

The reasons why UCT retains the copyright on exam questions include:

  1. UCT wants to potentially reuse the questions in future exams and does not want a situation where an author, who may have left UCT, charges UCT a royalty for using the exam questions. This is especially important for item banks/multiple choice exam questions.
  2. We want to ensure that we are able to provide access to students to past questions for learning purposes where this is appropriate.
  3. It may sometimes prove difficult to determine who the author of specific exam questions is.

UCT is prepared to grant permission for exam questions to be included in books authored by its academic staff, provided:


  1. This is done on a non-exclusive basis.
  2. They must not form the substantial part of the publication - e.g. not be a publication comprised entirely of UCT exam questions.
  3. The author must ensure that no claim to copyright relating to the exam questions is made by the publisher, that is in conflict with UCT being the actual owner of such copyright - e.g. prevent a situation where UCT could no longer use its own questions. The copyright agreement with the publisher should be checked by RC&I in instances where there may be a concern.
  4. Copyright must be clearly indicated on the UCT exam questions, as being owned by UCT. This copyright should not be shared with another entity (e.g. the publisher) the publisher would be using the material under license / with permission. The copyright notice should state that the University of Cape Town is the owner of the copyright and not a department or entity within the university, as only the University of Cape Town has legal persona.
  5. Permission for use of UCT Examination Questions should be sought from Research Contracts and Innovation who will have the authority to grant such permission in the form of a letter signed by the Director: RC&I or nominee
  6. As the material will not form a substantial part of the publication, permission will be granted on a royalty-free basis.

One also needs to take care that one is aware of the source of UCT's examination questions to prevent any possible infringement of a third party's copyright.