Plagiarism is a growing concern to educators in the tertiary sector, although currently its appearances in the higher education literature have predominantly been concerned with its prevention and management. This article draws on the poststructuralist theory of consumption developed by Michel de Certeau, to consider plagiarism as a tactic deployed by consumers in their attempts to negotiate the demands of an increasingly commodified tertiary education sector. The article interrogates institutional structures of power through which consumers of tertiary education are attracted, progress and are occasionally excluded, to argue that the tertiary sector's subscription to market ideologies makes educational institutions complicit in the production of a climate in which the illicit appropriation of the work of others is deployed by students as a tactic to achieve educational success. Theorizing plagiarism as a consumptive practice is a necessary step in developing adequate institutional responses to plagiarism designed to facilitate student's negotiation of curriculum, rather than negotiation of institutional strategies. Copyright © 2004, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.