Recognition of Prior Learning

Abertay University operates an RPL scheme which encompasses both the recognition of prior ‘certificated’ learning and prior ‘experiential’ learning. RPL refers to the process whereby prior learning may:

  • Facilitate admission to a degree programme
  • Provide advanced entry to a degree
  • Provide exemption from module(s) that are part of a programme

Please take the time to read our Recognition of Prior Learning Policy.

What is Recognition of Prior Certified Learning?

Prior certified learning is recognised when the University acknowledges learning that has already been assessed and certified by a Further/Higher Education Institution or training provider.

What is Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning?

Prior experiential learning is recognised when the University assesses the learning achieved outside an education or training provider. This, for example, might be attained through voluntary or employment experiences.

Facilitating admission to a degree Programme

This is a process where an applicant, who does not meet the entry requirements for a programme, can use their prior experiential learning and professional experiences to gain entry to a University programme.

When applying through this route you would make an application to the University through UCAS and make contact with the RPL Co-ordinator to discuss preparation of a portfolio of evidence to complement the UCAS application; the RPL co-ordinator can also put you in touch with the appropriate School RPL Adviser, who can support you through this process.

A portfolio of evidence must consist of a description and evidence of the relevant skills and knowledge acquired. Forms of evidence may include project reports, databases, case studies, correspondence, work plans, and testimonials from employers, mentors, clients etc.

Any prior learning must be relevant to the programme of study a student wishes to join. You must be able to demonstrate that there is a satisfactorily expectation of completing the programme to which you are applying. Your prior learning will be judged on whether the evidence is:

  • Relevant – the match between the evidence and the learning is clearly defined
  • Sufficient – the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate the learning
  • Current – the prior learning must be completed within 5 years and not elapsed since it occurred.

RPL for advanced entry to a degree

This is a process through which previously assessed and certified learning at SCQF Level 7 or 8 (Certificate of HE, HNC, Diploma of HE, HND) is considered for entry to Years 2 or 3 of an undergraduate programme.

Entry into years 2 and 3 of an Abertay undergraduate degree will depend on the number and level of SCQF credits you have achieved and the subject match between your prior qualifications and the programme of study you apply for. You can read more about popular advanced entry routes from HNC/HND to Abertay Undergraduate programmes here.

If you wish to enter a degree at Year 2 or 3, you must apply to UCAS prior to the 15th January and enter the appropriate year you wish to enter. On the UCAS application, you should list all qualifications you wish to use for entry with advanced standing, including modules/units and the SCQF level achieved. This should include details for all completed qualifications and those you are still to complete.

Decisions on UCAS applications are made by the Admissions Team in Registry in collaboration with the appropriate academic department. A decision on an advanced entry application will be made via UCAS.

Providing exemption from module(s) that are part of a programme

This is a process whereby a student who holds an offer or is registered on a programme can apply for credit for module(s) that form part of their programme. If you believe you have met the learning outcomes of module(s) through either certified learning or experiential learning you can apply for module exemption. 

In order to apply for exemption through this route you should make an appointment with the RPL co-coordinator who will provide first line advice and discuss the general basis for a claim and the fees involved.

The RPL co-ordinator will arrange for you to liaise with the relevant RPL advisor who will determine whether you're eligible to proceed with a module exemption application. They will also advise you on the evidence required to demonstrate that the previous learning matches the learning outcomes of the module you are applying for exemption from.

An application for module exemption, including evidence and payment of administration fees, must be submitted to the RPL co-ordinator by the end of week 3 of the term in which the module is running. It is your responsibility to prepare and submit an exemption application.

In the case of RPCL (prior certified learning), the evidence you would normally supply are course outlines or syllabi and certificates or transcripts. Where the prior learning is experiential, a portfolio of evidence is supplied which normally consists of project reports, case studies, testimonials from employers etc.

An administration fee should be attached to a Module Exemption RPL application. The fee will depend on the credit weighting of the module(s) and your own fee status (Home/EU, RUK or Overseas). The RPL co-ordinator will advise on the fee due when you seek advice about your application.

You should note that an award of RPCL or RPEL credit for modules on the current stage of your programme may affect your full-time status with consequent effects on your eligibility for a Tier 4 visa, or for bursaries and other public funding.

Academic Regulations on RPL


The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards the award of a Bachelor’s degree or Honours degree is 240, unless the student is admitted under a specific articulation agreement that permits a higher amount. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Diploma in Higher Education is 120. No credit may be counted towards a Certificate in Higher Education.


The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards the award of a Master’s degree is 60, unless the student is admitted under a specific agreement that permits a higher amount. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Postgraduate Diploma is 40. The maximum amount of credit that can be counted towards a Postgraduate Certificate is 20.

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