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The University of Southampton
Student and Academic AdministrationAdmissions

Applying with a criminal record

Having a criminal record does not prevent you from applying to study with us, but in some circumstances it will be necessary or advisable to declare it.

For most courses, you will not be asked to declare a criminal record.

If you are on licence, you should discuss your application with your supervising officer and take their advice on whether to inform the University of any licence conditions.

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Fair Chance for Students with Convictions

The University is proud to have worked in partnership with Unlock, supported by the UPP Foundation, to consider our approach to applicants with criminal records.

We believe everyone with the potential and ambition to go to university should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of background. People with criminal convictions face obstacles and barriers to accessing university, yet higher education has the power to transform their lives by helping them move forward and make a positive contribution to society. Therefore, as the leaders of our institutions we pledge to give applicants with a criminal record a fair chance by;

When you need to declare a criminal record at application

You will only be required to declare a criminal record, including unfiltered spent convictions, at application in the following circumstances:

  1. If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK


  2. If you are thinking of applying in one of these subject areas*:

*You can find a full list of degree programmes where you must declare a criminal record at application in our Policy and Guidance for Applicants with Criminal Records.

Download the policy

We may also ask you to tell us about a criminal record when choosing modules, conducting research, or taking part in extracurricular activities.

It may also be necessary to disclose a criminal record when choosing University accommodation.


If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK

Applicants who need a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK will be required to disclose a criminal record, including spent convictions, at the time of applying for their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Tier 4 students who require a new CAS to extend their stay to complete their programme will also be asked to disclose a criminal record, including spent convictions, at the time of reapplying.

If you have any questions about applying for a visa, contact us using our online enquiry form.


If you are thinking of applying in one of these subject areas

If you apply to a programme which leads towards a profession or occupation exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974), you will be asked on application to declare a criminal record, including unfiltered spent convictions.

DBS checks

Because these programmes involve regulated activities with vulnerable groups, the University may be asked to undertake an enhanced criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

An enhanced DBS check will show:

It is a criminal offence for anyone on the DBS's lists of people barred from working with children or vulnerable adults to apply for a programme of study involving regulated activities.

On some courses you may also be required to complete a criminal record self-disclosure form at the start of subsequent academic years.

If you are academically suitable to be made an offer, we will assess whether there are likely to be any issues based on the information you have disclosed about your criminal conviction.

Students on programmes with a practice component leading to professional registration are required to demonstrate their fitness to practise. Where a criminal conviction comes to light through an enhanced DBS check, this will be dealt with through the University’s Fitness to Practise Policy and Procedure.


Choosing modules

Degree programmes are made up of different types of modules. Some of them are optional, while others must be taken by all students on a particular course.

The following modules require enhanced DBS checks

For core and compulsory modules it is unlikely that alternatives can be offered, whereas alternatives will be available for optional and elective modules. Read the module descriptions carefully to identify potential issues.  

Where it is not possible for adjustments to be made, it may be appropriate to amend the offer to an alternative programme.



Research projects that involve working with children and vulnerable adults, alone and unsupervised for significant periods of time, may require an enhanced DBS check. We suggest that you discuss your plans for fieldwork with your research supervisor to identify potential issues.


Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad opportunities that involve contact with children and vulnerable adults may require an enhanced DBS check. Applicants with a criminal record may also face restrictions on visa applications, depending on the country where they want to study.

Students are encouraged to undertake a work placement during their studies to gain professional experience and industry knowledge.

Some employers may request an enhanced DBS check as part of their placement offer. You should think carefully about your placement choices to avoid disappointment.

Find out more about DBS checks and the sectors that require them at


Non-academic considerations

You may want to consider the implications of having a criminal record in the following non-academic areas, even if you are not required to declare it when applying to study with us.

Careers and professions

Some programmes are closely linked to professions which may have their own strict requirements governed by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs) regarding the background of the students admitted, for example Accountancy and Law.

There is no barrier to studying these programmes, but some offences may be a barrier to practising in that field following graduation. Check with the relevant regulatory body to identify any possible barriers.

Extracurricular activities

Involvement in activities that do not form part of your programme of study but which could bring you into contact with children or vulnerable adults - eg through a Students' Union club or acting as a student ambassador - might require an enhanced DBS check.

Halls of residence

You will not be asked to disclose information about a criminal record when applying for University accommodation. Accommodation preferences - such as wanting to live in a quiet area, or with postgraduates - can be made in the usual accommodation application process. However, as we cannot guarantee that preferences are met, you can disclose the reason for your choices in confidence by emailing Our Residential Services team will then ensure that your needs are given appropriate consideration.

Student disciplinary regulations

Read our student disciplinary regulations for more information about misconduct that is also a criminal offence.


Advice and support

If you have any questions, you can contact us in confidence at

We also have a full range of student support services to help you make the most of your time at the University.

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