Admissions criteria and policies

Keele University strives to be a place where learning, living and working is a positive experience for all. The University is committed to providing a professional admissions process which ensures equality of opportunity to all applicants who have the potential and motivation to succeed regardless of background. Here we outline our policies on more specific aspects of our admissions criteria.

The full Admissions Policy and other related policies can be found on the Keele Academic Regulations and Policy webpages.


The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process which enables people of all ages and backgrounds to receive recognition and formal credit for learning acquired in the past through formal study and through work and other life experiences.

RPL can be requested for admission onto the start of a programme in lieu of the admission requirements. RPL can also be requested for admission onto a programme with advanced standing (to a start point other than the first year) under the following conditions:

• Admission with advanced standing is normally to the start of Keele level 2 (FHEQ 5) of a first degree course

• Admission with advanced standing to the start of Keele level 3 (FHEQ 6) of a first degree course

Details of prior learning and experience should be detailed on your application form. This will then be considered in line with our Policy on the Recognition on Prior Learning . Please also see Transferring to Keele University, below.

All successful applicants are expected to evidence academic maturity in their application. Keele University does not consider applications from any applicant under the age of 16 but will consider all other applications, regardless of the applicant’s age.

For those professional courses where there are placements with external agencies (including the NHS) as part of the course, there may need to be a minimum age restriction to comply with health and safety regulations.

Applicants who are under the age of 18 are welcome but those applicants should be aware they are applying to study in an adult environment and there may be a small number of limitations for them at the University while they are under 18.

Successful applicants will be contacted as written consent from their parent/guardian is required before enrolment on their course.

For further information, please see our Admissions Under 18 Policy .

We are committed to supporting students from a care background access and succeed in Higher Education.

Admissions Offers - please see our Alternative Offers page, section 1. Contextual Offers.

If you are a care leaver and you are considering coming to Keele University, we will provide you with a package of support that can help you pre-entry and throughout your time at University.

Further information can be found on our Support for Care Leavers webpages.

We recognise that applicants have different backgrounds and experiences and that some applicants may not have had the same opportunities to demonstrate their suitability for HE. Therefore, we will consider the additional data and information provided on an application (the contextual data) as part of the selection process to help identify applicants whose academic performance to date may not be a true reflection of their potential to succeed at University. Our offer will reflect our recognition of individual circumstances*. For more information, please see please see our Alternative Offers page, section 1. Contextual Offers.

As part of our moral and ethical duty to all members of Keele University, we ask all applicants who hold an offer to complete a Criminal Conviction Declaration.  Declaring a criminal conviction does not affect our assessment of your ability to meet academic requirements for admissions to our courses (as you are not asked to declare the conviction until after an offer has been made) and it only rarely prevents you taking up your place.  Failure to respond however will result in your offer being withdrawn.

You will be sent an email after you accept your offer asking you to complete a Criminal Conviction Declaration. 

What is a “relevant” criminal conviction?

A “relevant conviction” is considered to be one that falls within one of the following categories:

  • Offences concerned with violent or threatening behaviour or the causing of physical or mental harm to others, whether or not such harm was intended or actually caused;
  • Sexual offences, including those listed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Offences concerned with harassment, stalking or malicious communications
  • Unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances, including trafficking offences
  • Offences involving firearms
  • Any "hate crime" as defined by the Crown Prosecution Service and equivalent offences or findings in other jurisdictions
  • Arson
  • Offences involving terrorism
  • An offence under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (controlling or coercive behaviour), or any equivalent offence in another jurisdiction
  • If you were convicted outside the United Kingdom for an offence listed above, this is also considered a relevant offence.  
What is an “unspent” criminal conviction?

If a person does not re-offend during their rehabilitation period, their conviction becomes 'spent' (as defined by The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). Convictions that are spent are not considered to be relevant and you should not reveal them.

The period of time varies depending on the nature of the conviction, and some very serious offences cannot become “spent". However, apart from conditional cautions, a caution (including a youth caution or a reprimand or warning given to a youth offender) becomes spent immediately after it is given.

Further guidance on how to identify whether a conviction is "spent" can be found on the Unlock pages.

When might I need to disclose a spent conviction or caution?

If you apply for certain courses (those that also require a DBS check, as stated on the Entry Requirements in each course profile), you will be required to disclose whether you have any spent or unspent convictions on your UCAS application form.  We will follow the same risk assessment process as detailed below, but this will take place before we proceed to make a decision on your application. 

For further information on DBS checks, please see our Disclosure and Barring Service Policy - Students.

What process is followed if I declare a criminal conviction?

If you declare a criminal conviction, your offer will not automatically be rescinded.   You will be sent a further email requesting more detailed information such as the dates and nature of offences, the sentence imposed and for any details regarding the circumstances.  You will be given an opportunity to provide the contact details of a referee, such as a probation officer or social worker whom the university can contact for further information.

Following receipt of this information, including additional information from your referee, the University will carry out appropriate risk assessments regarding the implications of your conviction for the University community.  We will consider whether your conviction creates any risks to you or others in the University environment and whether/how these risks can be managed so that everyone is appropriately safeguarded.  This includes considering any risks arising if you live in University accommodation.  The risk assessment may be considered by members of a Criminal Declaration panel.

Following our risk assessment we may decide that your offer will remain unchanged; that your offer to study is subject to one or more restrictions or extra requirements with regard to your interaction with the university community; or that your offer is rescinded.  You will be informed of this decision in writing.  Appeals against the decision should be made in line with our .

How is this data stored?

Your response to the Criminal Conviction Declaration will be securely stored on our Student Records System and access restricted to only those staff that require the information as documented by the University’s procedures.  The data will be kept for the entirety of the applicant/student relationship with the University. 

What do I do if I receive a relevant criminal conviction after I have completed the Criminal Conviction Declaration?

If you are convicted of a relevant criminal offence after you have applied, we ask that you tell us during the application cycle.  We will then ask you to complete another Criminal Conviction Declaration and follow the process set out above.

What if I fail to complete the Criminal Conviction Declaration?

It should be noted that all applicants must complete the Criminal Conviction Declaration and failure to do so may result in your offer of a place being withdrawn. Please see the Student Terms and Conditions.

Keele generally welcomes applications from students who intend to defer their entry for a year. Some courses do not accept deferred applications though. This will be stated on the course webpages.

Applicants can request to defer their application once. Any further requests to defer will be considered on an individual basis please contact for further guidance.

The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities or special needs. Keele is committed to giving academic opportunities to all appropriately qualified applicants, irrespective of disability, wherever practical.

Applications from students with disabilities are subject to the same academic selection process as all applications.

Where applicants have declared a disability on their application form, this information will be passed to our Disability and Dyslexia Support Team. This process is separate from the selection process.

Occasionally upon receipt of an application, it is unclear whether an applicant is eligible to pay the Home or Overseas tuition fee rate. On these occasions, applicants will be sent a Fee Status Query form to complete and will be requested to send in copies of a number of supporting documents. This will be done after an application has been academically assessed and the ruling on a fee status is made independently of an academic decision.

Further information about our fee assessment process can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions webpages. Information about eligibility can be found on the UKCISA webpages.

At Keele University we are committed to the provision of high quality, fair and transparent admissions policies and procedures for all our applicants.

When an application has been unsuccessful, Admissions staff will normally record the reason(s) why and communicate this to the applicant. We recognise that there may be occasions when applicants will wish to ask for more detailed feedback and this can be requested in writing. Further information can be found in our Admissions Appeals Policy.

If applicants have cause for concern about the way their application has been handled or are not satisfied with the initial feedback received, they may use the  to inform the University of their concerns through a formal channel.

If you are applying for our courses in Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery, Paramedic Science, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Diagnostic Radiography, Social Work or Veterinary Medicine it will be compulsory to attend interview. For other courses, it is not normal practice for us to interview applicants. Some applicants offering non-standard qualifications or work experience may be called for interview, although we would firstly ask for examples of written work to support the application.

For further information, please see our Admissions Interview Policy.

Special consideration will be given to those applicants whose education has been significantly disrupted or disadvantaged through health or personal problems, disability or other circumstances. Applicants should contact in the first instance and will be required to provide documentary evidence.

Former students who wish to be readmitted to study at Keele following a formal withdrawal from their study at Keele will need to reapply. It should be noted that readmission is not automatic and will depend on the circumstances of the individual. Please see the University's Admissions policy for more information.

We may ask you to provide at least one academic reference to support your application. If you have a reference on letter headed paper that is signed and dated, please upload this to your application. The Admissions team may contact your referee to verify the reference provided. If a reference is not provided with your application, you may find this is included in the conditions of your offer.

Academic References

Please provide an academic reference which meets the following criteria:

  • Only provide an academic reference if you have completed study within two years of the start month of your course.
  • Signed and/or stamped letter headed paper OR contact email needs to be from the relevant institution email address registered for the School or University. It should not come from a personal email address, such as Gmail or Yahoo. Further checks will be carried out if Gmail or Yahoo are used.
  • Visible contact details from referee .
  • Dated within the last six months.
  • From the most recent institute you have attended.
  • PDF or JPEG format, unless provided directly from an official email address of institute.

A list of what to include in references for your referee's information can be found at the bottom of this section.

Employment References

Please provide an employment reference which meets the following criteria:

  • Please provide an employment reference if you have been out of study longer than two years before the start month of your course.
  • Signed and/or stamped letter headed paper OR contact email needs to be from the relevant institution email address registered for the School or University. It should not come from a personal email address, such as Gmail or Yahoo. Further checks will be carried out if Gmail or Yahoo are used.
  • Visible contact details from referee.
  • Dated within the last six months.
  • From your most recent employer.
  • If self-employed, please provide evidence of business ownership.
  • PDF or JPEG format, unless provided directly from an official email address of employer.

What to include in references for referee's information

  • Length of time they have known the applicant;
  • Capacity in which they know the applicant;
  • Comments on the applicant’s academic ability (if appropriate) such as analytical skills;
  • Commitment to intensive academic activity, ability to plan work, independent working, essay writing skills;
  • Comments on the applicant’s professional capabilities (if appropriate);
  • Comments on the applicant’s standard of English Language (where the applicant is not a native English speaker);
  • Comments on the applicant’s character;
  • Any other comments relevant to the applicant’s suitability for postgraduate study on the course identified.

References should be on letter headed paper and be signed and dated and uploaded to the Applicant Portal.

If you apply and become a student at Keele University, your contractual relationship will be governed by our Student Terms and Conditions – these can be found on our Student Terms and Conditions webpage and will be sent to you by email following receipt of an offer.

For the majority of courses, we will consider transfers in to Keele. Please see our Transfer Guidance.

Please see the following relevant links for more information:

Year 1 entry transfer 

Year 2 entry transfer

Year 3 entry transfer

If your original degree certificate, academic transcript or other relevant documents are not in English you must provide an officially certified translation.

Your certified translations must be provided either by:

  • the awarding institution
  • a professional translator

If the translation is not provided by the awarding institution we will also ask you to provide:

  • confirmation from the translator or translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • the date of the translation
  • the full name and signature of the translator or of an authorised official of the translation company
  • the translator or translation company's contact details