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Recognition of Prior Learning

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the  term used to describe the system for giving formal recognition to a range of relevant learning that you may have gained prior to entry onto a particular course.  With recognition of prior learning, the focus is on learning and not on experience as such.
RPL can be used For:

  • Advanced entry  to a programme of study (Year 2 ,3 or 4)

  • Gaining exemption from a module or modules within a programme of study

Learning can be Formal, Non-formal or Informal:

  • Formal learning (Accredited) is learning which has taken place in a higher education institution.  It is linked to the National Framework of Qualifications.  It is learning for which certification has been awarded; it might include a course or part of a course that has been completed.  Examples are a Higher Certificate, Bachelors degree.

  • Non-Formal Learning (Unaccredited) is learning which has occurred through work-based training and/or education courses.  This is learning that may have been assessed, but the course is not on National Framework of Qualifications.  Examples are professional certification programmes, work-based training etc

  • Informal Learning (Unaccredited) is learning that has been gained through work, voluntary and life experiences.  It is not planned learning and can result in deeper learning about a particular topic. Examples are running a project, organising an event.

Exemptions may be awarded on the basis of a combination of the different types of learning as well as formal learning.  Therefore if you can prove that you are already have studied part of your course and/or have relevant experience and learning in that field, you may be entitled to course exemptions.

The RPL process can be used by a wide range of learners including.

  • Adults returning to higher education

  • Employed and unemployed people seeking recognition for skills gained through informal learning

  • People wishing to improve their existing qualifications

  • People wanting to re-train or change careers

  • People who have undertaken non-formal learning or training in the workplace or through community-based learning

  • People who have gained skills and knowledge through volunteering or through activities and projects in the community

There are two main categories of prior learning

  • Accreditation of Prior Certified Learning (APCL)

  • Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Accreditation of Prior Certified Learning (APCL)

APCL is also known as APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning). This accreditation refers to the recognition given to formal learning which has previously been accredited, formally recognised or certified by a recognised educational institution or other higher/further education provider.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

APEL is the recognition of learning which has not been previously accredited or formally recognised and can also be described as informal or non-formal learning. Non-formal learning takes place alongside the mainstream systems of education and training and includes learning and training activities undertaken in the workplace, the voluntary sector or in communities.

Informal learning is learning which has been gained through life and work experiences, as well as community-based learning or other settings.  APEL is often unintentional learning and may not be recognised by the learner at the time of the experience.

If you can prove that you are already have studied part of your course and/or have relevant experience and learning in that field, you may be entitled to course exemptions or advanced entry (entry to year 2, 3 or 4).

For further information please contact the relevant School Office.

Module Exemption(s)

To apply for an exemption from a module(s) on a programme of study you must complete the following form:

 RP1 Module Exemption Form

If your application for module exemption is based on prior experiential learning or a combination of certified and experiential learning, you must also complete form RP2.

RP2 Portfolio of Learning