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APL Guide for Applicants

Explanations of many of the key terms below can be found in our glossary. This quick guide is based on our detailed guidance, and should be interpreted in relation to it. 

At the discretion of your TEI, you can sometimes be exempted from modules that are part of your Common Awards programme, if you have already met most or all of the relevant Learning Outcomes. This is called the ‘Accreditation of Prior Learning’, or APL. 

Your TEI’s APL policy will tell you how much APL you can apply for, how the application process works, who the key contacts are, and what advice they can offer as you prepare your application. 

If you covered the relevant Learning Outcomes in a previous course of study that has been formally assessed and certificated by a higher education provider, we call that the ‘Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning’ or APCL. 

If you covered them in any other kind of learning, formal or informal, we call that the ‘Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning’, or APEL. 

We normally expect you to have demonstrated this prior learning within the past five years. For APCL, that means the point at which you were awarded the credits, or received the related academic award or transcript. For APEL, it means the point at which either the original learning happened, or the events or practices in which you put that learning to use, and demonstrated that you had kept it alive. 

If you have some relevant certificated learning which is older than five years, you may be able to refer to ongoing practical experience or learning that has kept the certificated learning current. That is, you might be able to use APEL to ‘bridge the gap’. 

APL can sometimes be used to make a case for ‘Direct Entry’ to Level 5 of the Common Awards BA (i.e., skipping the first Level of the BA, Level 4.) You should check whether your TEI allows this. 

It is possible in your APL application to ‘re-use’ credits that have already been used towards another award, providing that they demonstrate you have already covered most or all of the relevant Learning Outcomes. 

If your application is successful, and you are granted an exemption from some modules, you will be given an equivalent number of credits to count towards your Common Awards programme. Those credits won’t have any mark associated with them. 

You can’t claim APL to exempt you from a Common Awards dissertation or major project (i.e., one worth 40 credits or more), or from a 20-credit Independent Learning Project if you would be taking that (rather than a dissertation or extended project) as your main independent project at Level 6 of the BA. 

The heart of your application is a ‘mapping exercise’ in which you list, and explain how you have met, the Learning Outcomes that would normally be met by someone who passed the modules from which you wish to be exempted. Your TEI can advise on which the relevant Learning Outcomes are; in some circumstances, they will advise you to list Module Learning Outcomes, in others the Programme Learning Outcomes to which these modules contribute. 

For each of these Learning Outcomes, you will need to provide some evidence of how you have already met it.  

  1. For APCL, that might mean listing relevant modules you have taken in the past, and/or learning outcomes from those modules, and/or assignments you passed as part of those modules. You will need to provide a transcript or other paperwork that shows that you passed the relevant modules or assignments, and confirms the details that you give. 
  2. For APEL, you might provide some sample written pieces that you have already produced, you might be asked to provide a new piece of work specifically for your application, you might be interviewed by a tutor, and/or you might provide some other kind of evidence. The point of the evidence will be to allow an assessor in your TEI to judge that your learning is in the right area, at the right level, and broadly equivalent in scope and depth to the learning of a student who has met the relevant Learning Outcome by means of Common Awards study. 

If you have met most but not all of the relevant Learning Outcomes by means of prior learning, you will need to show that any gaps will be plugged by the learning you are going to do under Common Awards. Your TEI will advise on whether this will be possible. 

Your TEI will keep you informed of the progress of your application, and of the outcome, and will provide a clear explanation if your application was unsuccessful.