Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

Page last updated:
08 Sep 2021

Did you know that you could be exempt from certain parts of your course if you have previous relevant qualifications or experience?

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) allows you to start your course at a point appropriate to the learning and skills that you may have developed in a professional, vocational or community setting.

What is RPL?

RPL is a general term, widely used amongst universities (it may also be referred to as Accreditation of Prior Learning or APL), relating to the formal recognition of learning gained in a variety of ways before a student starts a course at a university. This essentially allows applicants to be exempt from parts of their course as, based on evidence they provide, their prior learning has been judged by academics to be equivalent.

The opportunity for RPL applies to all students, regardless of level of study or whether they study at Leeds Beckett University or with one of our partners.

In some courses, however, there are restrictions on RPL and applicants are advised to contact the appropriate course director to check whether RPL can be considered. Restrictions normally apply where professional statutory or regulatory bodies have accredited the course, for example, in the areas of nursing, social work or youth work.

There are three types of RPL (as shown below).

Credit transfer is the process of recognising / transferring the credit and / or qualification achieved by a student against one course to another course. Unlike Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (RPCL), this credit / qualification is defined in the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Quality Code (such as a Bachelors degree or Diploma of Higher Education from a university). This may include instances where a student transfers from one Leeds Beckett University course to another or where the student transfers to Leeds Beckett University from another higher education provider.

For example, Jenny studied a Foundation degree in TV Studies with another university. After submitting the details of this course, and how it matched the course she wished to join, she was exempted from the first two years of a BA (Hons) Applied TV Studies course at Leeds Beckett University.

How to request credit transfer

When you contact our Admissions team to ask about a place on one of our courses, indicate that you would like to transfer your existing HE UK credit. You’ll need to provide your transcript and details of the course you studied, specifically the modules you passed. If you don’t have access to these, please contact your training provider / university for copies; it is unlikely that an application without this information would be approved.

RPCL is the process for assessing and awarding credit for learning that has been previously accredited or certificated through a training provider but has not led to an award or qualification which is defined in the QAA Quality Code, e.g. a Bachelors degree or Certificate of Higher Education from a university.

Through RPCL, students who possess qualifications, such as personal development or profession-based awards, may seek recognition of these qualifications against their Leeds Beckett University course.

For example, awards from the following bodies may be used against part of your course:

  • National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH)
  • Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
  • The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
  • British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • British Computer Society (BCS)
  • National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)

These qualifications fall outside of the QAA Quality Code and therefore need to be assessed in terms of the level and amount of credit which they are worth, in addition to the content.

For example, Joe had completed a short professional development course with a local government training provider (not a higher education provider). Based on the details of the course he was able to provide, he was given exemption from 20 credits of a project management Certificate in Higher Education.

How do I prepare and submit an application?

  1. Contact the course team to discuss a potential application
  2. Download the RPCL / RPEL application form
  3. Obtain the Leeds Beckett course documentation (you’ll need details of the learning outcomes); this can be accessed from the relevant School
  4. Obtain the course documentation from your previous course and any confirmation of completion
  5. Follow the step-by-step instructions set out in the Guide to Completing the Application Form for RPCL / RPEL
  6. Submit the completed application, including the supporting evidence, to the Admissions team

RPEL is the process for assessing and awarding credit for learning that has been achieved through experience and / or training that has not been certificated or formally assessed.

For example, Mohammed gained five years of experience in a garage, working as a mechanic. Based on the learning he was able to evidence he was given exemption from 40 credits of the first year of an undergraduate mechanical engineering Honours degree.

How do I prepare and submit an application?

1. Contact the course team to discuss a potential application

2. Download the RPCL / RPEL application form

3. Obtain the course documentation (you’ll need details of the learning outcomes); this can be accessed from the relevant School

4. Gather evidence you have that will support your application. Here are some examples:

  • Written reports / spreadsheets / databases / presentations, etc.
  • Updated CV
  • Multimedia sources
  • Job specifications
  • Witness testimonies / statements from employers
  • Technical schematics / drawings / programmes / products
  • Recordings of practical demonstrations
  • Art and design pieces
  • Web pages / website

5. Follow the step-by-step instructions set out in the Guide to Completing the Application Form for RPCL / RPEL

6. Submit the completed application, including the supporting evidence, to the Admissions team

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A.

RPL against academic credit is not permitted by Student Finance England for students who are in receipt of postgraduate loans. Please see the .gov Funding for postgraduate study web page or contact Student Funding for more details.

A.

Exemption may be awarded for a maximum of two thirds of the academic credit of the selected course of study. This means at least one third of the total credits or the last 60 credits (whichever is the higher) must be studied on the course applicants wish to join.

For example:

  • Grad Cert or PGCert (or courses of 60 credits or less) – RPL not permitted
  • RPL limited to no more than 60 out of the 120 credits of a CertHE, Grad Dip, PGDip
  • RPL limited to no more than 160 of the 240 credits of a Foundation degree or DipHE
  • RPL limited to no more than 240 of the 360 credits of a Bachelors degree
  • RPL limited to no more than 320 of the 480 credits of an Integrated Masters degree
  • RPL limited to no more than 120 of the 180 credits of a Masters degree

Exemption cannot be awarded for part of a module, for example, one of the assessments, and cannot be against any L6 credit on an Honours or ordinary degree.

A.

A fee will only be applied to RPEL applications, as follows:

  • Full-time applicants: £250 per 20-credit module equivalency to a maximum of £1,000 – only applies to postgraduate applications
  • Part-time applicants: £250 per 20-credit module equivalency to a maximum of £1,000 per postgraduate application or per undergraduate level

For example:

  • Joe wanted to apply for RPEL against two 20-credit modules on a FT postgraduate course = £500 fees
  • Selma wanted to apply for RPEL against L4 (6 x 20-credit modules) of a PT undergraduate degree = £1,000 fees
  • Billy wanted to apply for credit transfer L4 (6 x 20-credit modules) of a FT undergraduate degree = no fee applied because it’s not RPEL

Applicants purchase the appropriate amount of RPL tokens from the Leeds Beckett Online Store and attach them to their application form; the application cannot be processed without the token(s). Please use the Online Store Help option if you have any problems or queries relating to the fees.

A.

Applications are normally submitted as part of the admissions process, as the outcome will determine where you will join a course.

A.

The idea of being exempt from part of your course may be tempting, but RPL may not be right for everyone.

Advantages of RPL:

  • You could finish your course earlier
  • If you were exempt from part of a year, you would have more time to focus on the rest of your modules
  • You won’t need to attend sessions or submit assessments for those modules that you are exempt from

The process of applying for RPL can:

  • lead you to realise how valuable your existing knowledge and experience are and give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence
  • help to develop, or refresh, your academic writing, reflection and referencing skills, and thinking styles

Potential drawbacks from RPL:

  • You may not have as much time / contact with your peers so you won’t have the same opportunities to broaden your circle of peers and access their experience and knowledge
  • You may miss out on opportunities to gain valuable additional knowledge / skills
  • Joining a course part-way through means you will need to hit the ground running, with little opportunity for you to refresh your skills and knowledge or adjust to the demands of academic study. If you are new to studying this will be particularly challenging, especially if you join your course at a higher level, such as the final year
  • Impacts on funding, visas, benefits, etc.
A.

Please be assured that we will process your application as quickly as possible. However, our university needs to make sure that you are offered a place to join your course at the right point to ensure you have the best chance for success and all students are treated fairly and equitably.

Please contact the Admissions team for more information on expected timescales for processing your application.

Contact admissions

If you have an enquiry about our courses or the application process, please contact our Admissions Enquiries team.

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