Bullying and harassment are never ok. Bullying and harassment are contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and the University’s Harassment and Bullying Procedure.


Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.

Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes postings on social media outlets. 

Bullying can include:
  •  Shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others
  •  Physical or psychological threats
  •  Overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
  •  Microaggressions, which include indirect and subtle discrimination towards others on the basis of race/ethnicity, gender, religion or sexuality
  •  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 or communications without good reason.

Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions, will not amount to bullying on their own.


Harassment is unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which may (intentionally or unintentionally) violate a person’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This interferes with an individual’s learning, working or social wellbeing. It also includes treating someone less favourably because they have submitted or refused to submit to such behaviour in the past.

Unlawful harassment may involve sexual harassment or 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, sex or sexual orientation.  At the University of Surrey, we believe harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories. Find out more about  sexual harassment. 

Some forms of harassment are considered a hate crime. A hate incident is any act of violence or hostility against a person or property that is motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person due to a protected characteristic. Find out more about  hate crime

Harassment can include:
  • 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 an 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.

A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended "target". For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment.

Find out more

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provide further information on unlawful harassment. 

There are two ways you can tell us what happened