Recognition of Prior Learning

C1 Definitions

C1.1 Recognised Prior Learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an all-encompassing term referring to the formal recognition, assessment and award of credit for all prior learning. It embraces both certificated and experiential learning.

C1.2 Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (RPCL)

Recognition of prior certificated learning refers to the formal recognition, assessment and award of credit for certificated learning. Certificated learning refers to qualifications or awards gained prior to the current programme of study, from a recognised body, based on a validated process of assessment.

C1.3 Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL)

Recognition of prior experiential learning refers to the formal recognition, assessment and award of credit for experiential learning, that is, uncertified learning. Experiential learning may have been gained in specific contexts including employment and voluntary work. It refers to learning derived from experience which has not be assessed or certified.

C1.4 Direct Entry

Direct Entry is the terms used to refer to students who enter a programme directly onto a stage of programme other than the first.

C2 The Award of Credit for Prior Learning

C2.1 The University’s provision for the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) seeks to ensure that applicants are admitted to the highest level of award for which they are qualified and for which they wish to apply, and that they are awarded the maximum amount of relevant credit to which they are entitled by virtue of their prior learning achievements.

C2.2 An applicant is entitled to claim credit in part fulfilment of an award in respect of relevant prior certificated (RPCL) and/or experiential learning (RPEL).

C2.3 All applications for the award of credit for prior learning must be made in accordance with the regulatory procedures for the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for Credit.

C2.4 The application of RPL should normally be made alongside application for programme of study. Where this is not possible, RPL applications should be made no later than 1 calendar month before the end of teaching on the modules involved.

RPL can also be used to transfer between programmes of study with credit awarded in part fulfilment of the newly-entered programme’s requirements.

C2.5 Where an RPL is approved the award of credit will be reflected as ‘N’ grade, i.e. no grade will be transferred.

Note: RPL does not apply for University of Derby modules that have been completed and form part of the new programme structure. In these cases where the programme leader has approved the use of credit the module credit and grade will be applied.

C3 Level and Amount of Credit

C3.1 An applicant for admission on the basis of prior certificated and/or experiential learning may be admitted to any point on a programme consistent with the credit awarded for prior learning. Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Boards (PSRBs) and apprenticeship programmes may have additional requirements which must be met. However, for an applicant to be eligible for a University award at the first, intermediate or final stage of a programme, the maximum credit that may be awarded is as follows:

AwardTotal credit required for awardMaximum credits available as RPL

Professional Doctorates or Practice-based Doctorates

120 - Level 7 60

Master of Professional Practice - Research Skills modules

180 - Level 7 60
Masters Award 180 - Level 7 60
PG Diploma 120 - Level 7 40
PG Certificate 60 - Level 7 20
Undergraduate awards n/a
  • Level 3 – 60 credits
  • Level 4 – 60 credits
  • Level 5 – 60 credits
  • Level 6 – 60 credits
Programmes with no stage awards (eg OCN, NVQ, GNVQ, HNC/D) n/a 50% of the total credit (or less if specified by national awarding body)

C3.2 RPL is only permitted against whole modules and therefore applications cannot be made against individual elements of assessment.

C3.3 RPL is not available in respect of Independent Scholarship, Independent Work Based Professional Practice or for Independent Research into Practice.

C3.4 Credit already awarded by the University as part of a University award can not be used as part of an RPL application against a second award.

C4 RPL, Learning Outcomes and Learning Equivalence

C4.1 When assessing a claim for RPL based upon module equivalences, the claimant’s previous certificated and experiential learning should be mapped directly to the learning outcomes of individual modules that comprise the programme.

C4.2 For certificated and experiential RPL claims only learning that has occurred up to five years prior to the start date of the award will be considered. However, in all cases, consideration to the currency of learning should be given and further assessment in the form of a viva voce may be needed.

C5 Rules for Determining Classifications

C5.1 With regard to determining degree classifications:

(i) Foundation degrees may be awarded with distinction, merit or pass. The classification of the award is based on the average of all graded credits (up to a maximum of 120) achieved at level 5.

(ii) Honours classification following direct entry or RPL is determined using the rules detailed in section F, Assessment Regulations for Undergraduate Programmes.

(iii) Master’s degrees may be awarded with distinction or merit. In the case of students who joined the programme with RPL, reference should be made to the rules in the section G, Assessment Regulations for Postgraduate Programmes.

C6 Direct Entry and Entry

C6.1 Direct entry from another institution or following completion of a Foundation Degree or an HND/HNC:

Students may be admitted to a degree programme in one of the later stages, having already completed the equivalent of the earlier stage(s) on a different programme. They will be recorded as “exempt” from the earlier stage(s), and this exemption will be reported on each issue of the student’s Statement of Achievement, thereby signalling that the credit requirements for the stage(s) have been completed.

C6.2 When assessing a claim for direct entry based on a whole stage(s) of a programme, the claimant’s previous certificated learning should be mapped directly to the level/interim stage learning outcomes as stated in the programme specification.