Until June 2010, the use of peer-to-peer software on the University network was absolutely forbidden without specific authorisation. The rules have now been relaxed however, as a result of increasing usage of peer-to-peer for purposes that may be regarded as more "legitimate" (for instance Skype and Spotify), and the fact that it is increasingly difficult for users to determine whether or not a particular application uses peer-to-peer technology.
Since 18 June 2010, the use of peer-to-peer technology on the University network is covered by section 13(5) of the University IT regulations. This states: Use of file-sharing technology and participation in distributed file-sharing networks may be subject to additional regulation and restriction in order to prevent excessive use of university network resources, or the use of those resources for purposes unconnected with the University. If a user has any reason to suppose that an application employs peer-to-peer (p2p) or other file-sharing technology, they should seek the advice of the IT officer responsible for the college or departmental network on which they propose to use the software.
Which, if any, P2P applications are permitted therefore comes down to local policy. Some colleges and departments may operate a relatively lax policy, others may be extremely restrictive. Different policies may apply to wired and wireless networks owing to the differing bandwidth available. Local policy may forbid certain software or network usage irrespective of whether it uses peer-to-peer technology; this document cannot describe policies within individual units. It is each user's responsibility to ensure that they comply with any local regulations as well as University-wide rules; in the event of any queries they should ask their local IT staff.
University policy has relaxed significantly with respect to peer-to-peer software, The use of peer-to-peer technology these days has moved on from the early days, in which it was mostly used for the transfer of large files, often against the copyright holder's wishes. Many products these days may incorporate some element of peer-to-peer communications (for instance, for delivery of software updates, or instant messaging), and such usage may not be a major part of their function. Disciplinary authorities are encouraged to bear in mind that in some cases a user could not reasonably have been expected to know that a particular application might make use of P2P technology.