A2.5 Accreditation of Prior Learning Regulations

  • The accreditation of prior learning (APL) refers to the identification, assessment and formal acknowledgement of prior learning which has taken place outside the University. This may be certificated learning (APCL), for which a student has already followed a prescribed programme of study leading to a specified academic award; or experiential learning (APEL), where learning which has taken place outside formal education or training systems (often in the workplace) is assessed and recognised for academic purposes. APCL is normally used as part of admission with advanced standing. 

    Credit is awarded for learning, and students must therefore provide evidence of their learning, either through the submission of the required assessment/s for a module or programme of study taken at Brookes, production of an award certificate, or other evidence of learning where it has taken place outside formal educational settings.

    The credit assigned to prior learning may be used for admission with advanced standing onto an Oxford Brookes programme, or for exemption from an element or elements within the programme. The University seeks to ensure that applicants are awarded the maximum amount of relevant credit to which they are entitled by virtue of their prior achievements, subject to a maximum limit of two-thirds of the total credit required for the award. The two-thirds limit also applies to any interim exit awards.

    A student transferring credit towards an award shall have the class of degree or distinction determined either by the average of the marks on the minimum number of acceptable module credits that must be passed by study on a Brookes programme or, if marks as well as credits are transferred, ie from previous study on a Brookes course or by specific arrangements with another institution which will be detailed in individual programme regulations, by the average of any marks on the modules credited together with those on the modules specified above.

    AP(E)L may be used:

    • to award credit in part-fulfilment of a programme requirements at the point of entry (direct entry or entry with advanced standing);
    • to enable transfer between programmes of study, with the credit from the first programme being used in part-fulfilment of the newly entered programme’s requirements;
    • post entry, with credit awarded in part fulfilment of the requirements of the programme.

    Prior learning achievements must be broadly equivalent to the learning outcomes of the programme or module against which credit is sought. A student must demonstrate through the admissions process that the credit they have previously been awarded is broadly relevant to the learning outcomes of the programme at the appropriate level to which they wish to gain entry. A specific match of learning outcomes at the module level will not normally be required. Where prior learning is accepted in relation to programmes that have professional accreditation, the prior learning accreditation will follow the regulations of the relevant professional bodies.  

    The decision to award credit will be that of an exam board chair or the relevant Associate Dean for Student Experience acting on behalf of the chair. An appeal of an APL decision will be through the normal Oxford Brookes appeal process. 

    Where admission with advanced standing is sought in respect of one or more specific modules, prior learning achievements should relate broadly to the learning outcomes of the modules. Credit can only be awarded in the multiples used on the programme against which credit is being awarded. Claims should generally be viewed against the outcomes for the relevant level of study. If level learning outcomes are not stated, reference should be made to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

    Applicants for admission with advanced standing may be admitted to any point of a programme consistent with the level and volume of credit awarded for prior learning. However, to be eligible for an award normally, a maximum of two thirds of the required total credit for the award may be awarded through APL. This eligibility requirement does not apply to students who have successfully completed the Oxford Brookes and HKMA GDL programmes and wish to complete an LLB (Hons) degree.   

    An overseas qualification may be judged acceptable for entry with specific credit, subject to reference to NARIC, to the relevant overseas qualifications framework, and to the FHEQ. Entry with advanced standing may also be granted through an articulation agreement with a partner organisation (approved through the appropriate process as set out in the Quality & Standards Handbook), in which students successfully completing an identified programme at the partner are guaranteed entry at a later stage of a specified Brookes programme. 

    Subject Coordinators/admissions tutors  are responsible for assessing claims for admission with advanced standing and the results of the assessment should be recorded on the relevant form (contact Student Central for advice on applications for APL/advanced standing), and submitted for approval. The authority for verifying decisions and approving the award of credit for prior learning lies with Examination Committees chairs and relevant ADSE

    Students awarded exemption from aspects of the programme through APL should be provided with information about how their final award classification will be calculated if it will differ from the standard calculation. Credits awarded through APL should be recorded on the transcript. 

    Where a student undertakes certified learning that is not part of their academic programme at the University they may apply for credit to be applied towards their programme. In such circumstances, exam board committees will be responsible for assessing such claims. The certified learning must broadly accord with the programme learning outcomes or module that the claim is being made against.  

    Applications for APCL may be made for APCL any point of a programme and the normal maxima in terms of credit for APL will apply. 

    An overseas qualification may be judged acceptable for APCL subject to reference to NARIC, to the relevant overseas qualifications framework, and to the FHEQ.

    In cases where it is not possible to determine the equivalence of an item of certificated learning, then the student would be recommended to follow the APEL route. 

    Prior experiential learning is uncertificated learning which has taken place outside formal educational settings, such as in the workplace. Where applicants' prior un-certificated learning, including experience and industrial training, can be assessed with sufficient accuracy it may be used to award credit towards a programme of study. 

    APEL is concerned with accrediting learning that has taken place through experience. APEL cannot be awarded without a suitable assessment process being used. Such assessment processes will be overseen by the relevant exam board and subject to scrutiny be external examiners.

    Claims for APEL must be assessed against intended learning outcomes of the programme or module against which the credit will be claimed. The Open Award framework (section B3 in the Specific Regulations) may also be used to deal with individual claims for APEL.

    Credit for prior learning can only be awarded in respect of whole modules or levels of programme, potential claimants should therefore be advised against presenting an application for APEL unless they have sufficient experience to claim at least one module’s worth of credit.

    Faculties must have clear procedures in place for assessing APEL claims. Clear information must be available to staff and students about:

    • who is responsible for collecting and presenting the evidence of learning,
    • what format the evidence should take,
    • what advice and support will be provided by the University for claimants in preparing the portfolio,
    • by whom and how the claim will be assessed,
    • which Examination Committee will consider the claim for approval,
    • how the APEL will be recorded on the transcript, and
    • how award classifications will be calculated. 

    The cost of processing claims for APEL can be high because of the complexity and the time involved, for both University staff and claimants, in putting together the portfolio of evidence, advising and supporting applicants, and assessing the claims; and applicants should be advised of this prior to embarking on the process.

  • Approved: 
    Academic Enhancement & Standards Committee, 27th June 2012
    Academic Board 18th July 2012

    Last updated:
    Academic Enhancement & Standards Committee, 14 September 2016 (addition to A2.5.2)
    Academic Enhancement & Standards Committee, 7 March 2018 (variation to A2.5.3 - paragraph 2) 
    Academic Board, 3 July 2019 (for implementation January 2020)