The Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy outlines the key definitions with regards to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. These are: 
Bullying is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive behaviour, through means which have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or humiliating environment. Bullying usually involves a repeated course of conduct.

Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes postings on social media outlets. Bullying may include, by way of example:

  • shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others
  • physical or psychological threats
  • overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
  • inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone's performance
  • abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority
  • deliberately excluding someone from meetings, communications or presentations without good reason
Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to staff in the course of their employment, will not amount to bullying on their own.

Specialist services if you or your known(s) have suffered bullying:
  •  Family Lives provides some information and advice on bullying at Universities

Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. The unwanted conduct can be physical, verbal or non-verbal. 

Unlawful harassment may be related to a protected characteristic such as age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, marriage and civil partnership, sex or sexual orientation.   

Harassment may include, for example:
  • unwanted physical conduct or ‘horseplay’, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault
  • offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks
  • mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability
  • racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender
  • outing or threatening to out someone as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans
  • ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a social activity.

Racism vs. Xenophobia
UCL focuses on the Equality Act definition of harassment, including harassment on the basis of race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins. However, it is important to recognise the difference between xenophobia and harassment. Xenophobia is “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” Racism has a slightly broader range of meanings, including “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race,” and “a political or social system founded on racism.”

Read more about racism vs. xenophobia here

It is possible for a person's behaviour to be both racist and xenophobic. If you experience behaviour that you consider racist or xenophobic, please use Report + Support to report it. 

Specialist services if you or your known(s) have suffered harassment in any form:

Sexual Misconduct 
Sexual misconduct is a form of harassment and is unacceptable behaviour of a sexual nature. It can include: sexual harassment; sexual violence; intimate partner violence; sexual assault; grooming; coercion or bullying with sexual elements; sexual invitations and demands; comments; non-verbal communication; creation of atmospheres of discomfort; and promised resources or advancement in exchange for sexual access.

The term ‘sexual harassment’ captures only some of the possible abuses of power that may occur. Sexual misconduct more specifically raises issues of unequal relationships, consent, and the prevention of equal access to education, opportunities and career progression. Intimate relationships between staff and students are strongly discouraged as detailed in the Personal Relationships policy of UCL
UCL understands sexual misconduct as an umbrella term. Below is more information on some of its types: 
  • Sexual assault
Sexual assault is a criminal offence and contrary to UCL grievance and disciplinary procedures. A person commits sexual assault if they intentionally touch another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent. 
It involves all unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature and ranges from pinching, embracing, groping and kissing, to rape and sexual assault which involves penetration without consent. 
Consent is agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice. 

A person is free to make a choice if nothing bad would happen to them if they said no. 

Capacity is about whether someone is physically and/or mentally able to make a choice and to understand the consequences of that choice. 
  • Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome words, conduct, or behaviour of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, embarrassing, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient. It is a misuse of personal or institutional power and often based on a person’s gender although it is rarely about sexual desire. 

For the purpose of this policy whether or not the harasser intended to be offensive is irrelevant. The limit of acceptable behaviour as described by this policy is up to the recipient to decide. A single incident or persistent behaviour can amount to harassment. 

Sexual harassment can range from behaviour that stems from obvious to anyone or subtler behaviour less obvious to either the person responsible for the behaviour or to the recipient. Often the impact is not felt or witnessed immediately. The impact may go beyond the recipient to people who see or hear what happens or who try to offer support.

Sexual harassment can include but is not limited to: catcalling, following, making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, sexual jokes and comments, giving unwelcome personal gifts, wolf-whistling, leering, derogatory comments, unwelcome comments about a person’s body or clothing, unwelcome questions about a person’s sex life and/or sexuality, engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations and flirtation, making somebody feel uncomfortable through displaying or sharing sexual material. Sexual harassment does not necessarily occur face to face and can be in the form of emails, visual images (such as sexually explicit pictures on walls in a shared environment), social media, telephone, text messages and image based sexual abuse, such as revenge porn and upskirting. 

If you think you have been sexually harassed, it may be hard to know what to do or how to feel. What happened was not your fault. What you do next is your choice. 

Domestic Abuse 
Domestic abuse or domestic violence can be an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over, who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can include forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence and ritual abuse. 
The abuse can include, but is not limited to: 
·         Psychological

·         Physical

·         Sexual

·         Financial

·         Emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, frighten, isolate or create dependence. 

Specialist services that provide guidance and help if you or known(s) have suffered sexual misconduct in any form:
Respect Information and support for men who experience domestic violence. Advice line open Monday–Thursday from 10am-8pm and Friday 10am-5pm Tel: 0808 8024040 or email
Women and Girls Network. Counselling and support to help women and girls recover from violence. Tel: 0808 801 0660.
Galop is a charity that supports lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people affected by sexual and domestic violence. They run a London based LGBT+ Hate Crime helpline open Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm Tel: 0207 7042040. The National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm and Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 8:00pm Tel: 0800 9995428. Whilst the online chat service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Respond helps children and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced abuse or trauma, as well as those who have abused others, through psychotherapy, advocacy and other support. Tel: 020 7383 0700. 
Revenge Porn Helpline: Open 10am – 4pm, Monday to Friday. Tel: 0345 600 0459. 
Victim Support Free and confidential support to help you deal with your experience, whether or not you report the crime. Also supports witnesses of crime. Tel: 0808 168 9111. 
Women’s Trust provides specialist domestic violence counselling in some boroughs, but support groups and workshops are pan-London. Tel: 020 7034 0303 Monday to Friday 9:30am – 5pm.
Survivors UK (National) Information, support and counselling for men and boys who have been raped or sexually abuse. Helpline Web Chat Monday to Sunday 12pm to 8pm.
Samaritans Talk to the Samaritans any time you like, in your own way, and off the record. Tel: 116 123.

There are two ways you can tell us what happened