Credit for prior learning

See frequently asked questions


If you have previously studied Higher Education (HE) courses or worked at professional level before embarking on an MEd or MSc programme, we recognise that you bring with you some very important skills and knowledge.  The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process is a way of formally acknowledging this fact, and instead of unnecessarily repeating work, we may grant you exemptions from your programme.

APL and postgraduate loans

Please note that postgraduate loans are NOT available for partial MA programmes where the student brings accredited prior learning (APL) with them from another qualification - ie. if you had 60 credits of APL from a PGCE and wished to take this into an MA Education. To receive a postgraduate loan you need to be studying a full 180 credits. You can learn more about funding options for postgraduate study, including the Postgraduate Student Loan on our dedicated webpages.

Accredited Prior 'Certified' Learning (AP(C)L)

This is the achievement of learning that has been formally assessed and certificated from previous study with a HE institution. Up to a maximum of 90 credits may be available for those who have completed prior modules on recognised programmes run by Universities or approved national agencies. Ex. SEDA, RSA, the National College's NPQH, or a PGCE leading to QTS including the PGCE in Post Compulsory Education. These credits must be at Masters level (or equivalent) and must not be more the 5 years old.

Accredited Prior ’Experiential' Learning (AP(E)L)

This is the non-certified acquisition of relevant skills and knowledge, gained through relevant experience, which is capable of being evaluated. Professionals in education may gain up to a maximum of 30 credits for prior professional experiences, non-accredited in-service training (INSET) and continuing professional development. This experiential learning must not be more than 5 years old.

Applying for APL

You should think about APL at around the same time as you apply for the course. However, there may be some flexibility on this depending on the timetabling of the modules you wish to become exempt from or if you are studying part time. For part time study, you must have your APL application completed and approved before you progress to your dissertation module. You should apply for the course in the normal way as well, bearing in mind that ultimately you may not be permitted to APL any of the modules. You should carefully read the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before proceeding with your application.

You will be required to evidence the learning you have achieved. In some cases this will be by matching the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of the module you wish to bypass with the previous experience or qualifications that you have obtained. Even if you are unable to match all of the ILOs for the module you wish to APL it can be worthwhile applying. If, however, you are unable to match at least two-thirds of the ILOs then it is probably not worthwhile.

The decision as to which, if any, modules you can APL will be taken by the Programme Director for the programme you wish to study. The process is overseen by the Associate Dean for Education and the Taught Faculty Dean.

Once the APL decision has been taken you will be informed of the outcome and the impact on the work that you will have to do. The decision of the Taught Faculty Dean is final. Your application to study the programme will be processed separately.

Further guidance on APL can be found in the Teaching Quality Assurance Manual.