I am in my third year of a Mathematics degree (UK). Where a masters is concerned, It seems like I only have to declare unspent convictions. But it is not clear where research positions are concerned.

It is spent now, has been for 12 months. I had 50 hours community service for the crime (Not a custodial sentence).

The research I would be interested in doing would be in either Applied Mathematics(Physical fields) or Computer Science. I feel ill whenever I talk about it.

The offence was an assault. I pressed charges, so did he. Also I am interested in UK/Euro universities, not America.

Could anyone shed some light on this? maybe someone who may have applied for research positions in these fields?

If this is the wrong place to ask this question then please say so I can remove it.

  • 1
    What kind of offense are we talking about? There have been several similar previous questions (e.g. this one and a few others in the legal-issues tag.) Please read them and then edit your post to highlight what (if anything) makes your situation substantially different.
    – ff524
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:57
  • I have edited, the offence was assault. A little more serious and relevant than a petty possession charge. Also I am interested in UK/Euro universities.
    – user31383
    Nov 6, 2015 at 18:01
  • There was a similar question here about a marijuana arrest in the US, and the answer was that there's no general rule, and it often requires advice from a lawyer. I expect UK/EU to be more uniform, but still I think this requires consulting a lawyer.
    – user6726
    Nov 6, 2015 at 19:50
  • 2
    I have a friend who's wrapping up a STEM PhD at a reputable program in the US who has a felony DUI from his undergrad days. In his case, he turned his life around after the address, with tangible evidence to support that. Nevertheless, he said it was a conversation with all of the programs to which he applied. Moral of the story: it definitely doesn't help, but being forthcoming about, so long as you frame it correctly, shouldn't prevent you from being judged on your other merits.
    – marcman
    Nov 7, 2015 at 2:44
  • Thats for the comments guys!
    – user31383
    Nov 7, 2015 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


It appears that in the UK, they must state on the application form that they are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, if they are; if they are exempt, you have to declare the conviction, and otherwise you don't. The probability that a PhD position would be exempt is low. This document provides extensive discussion of "spent" convictions under Irish law, indicating that if asked, you must tell (Ireland appears to be the only member of the EU without some analog of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act).

  • "The probability that a PhD position would be exempt is low." Things are looking up. I just want to move on now. Thanks for the answer.
    – user31383
    Nov 7, 2015 at 11:00

I do not know about the legal situation, but from my experience from hiring and scholarship committees I would say that everything not affecting your work at university has little influence on your chances. So a pub fight gotten out of control or an excessive reaction to some perceived provocation would be no problem, theft of university equipment or sexual harassment would be a problem. In any case, not being open about whatever you did will bring you into trouble. Academia is a small world, chances are that I meet someone who knows you next time I come to England. Rumors do spread, and are usually far worse than the truth.

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