Credits for prior learning

Have you already studied at another institution, completed a training course, or does your work experience appear equivalent to one or more modules on your chosen course? If so, you may be able to translate this prior learning into credits towards your course modules so that you don’t have to study them again. This is called Recognition of Prior Learning or RPL.

There are two types of RPL:

Applying for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) exemptions

For undergraduate courses, you can apply for credits up to 50% of each stage such as, for example the equivalent of 3 x 20 credit level modules. For postgraduate courses, you can apply for 1 x 20 credit module for a Post Graduate Certificate; 2 x 20 credits for a Post Graduate Diploma and 3 x 20 credit modules for a full Masters programme.

In order to consider your application, we will need appropriate evidence from you that your prior learning matches the course content/module you wish to be exempt from.

Applying for RPL can take up to 2 months. If you are a prospective student, we can only process an application for RPL once you have been accepted onto the course. It is advisable therefore to apply for a place on a course and request RPL at the same time through the online application process. If you have already submitted an application for the course but did not request RPL or you are already a student with us and believe you might be eligible for RPL, please email as soon as possible for guidance.

Please note: The postgraduate loan is designed to support students with payment of a full Masters programme; if you are considering applying for recognised prior learning (RPL), please be aware that if this is granted, you will not be eligible for a Postgraduate Student Loan as you will not be studying the full 180 credits.


RPCL is the process where previously achieved Academic Credit (at formal Higher Education (HE) level) could be used towards exemptions on a University of Derby Online Learning award. It is sometimes known as credit transfer.

Evidence will need to be supplied to support a claim for prior certificated learning through documentation such as a results transcript. The learning outcomes from specific modules being used for exemptions will also need to be included. This can usually be obtained from your previous education institution. For RPCL claims there are no fees associated with the claim process or the award of RPCL credit


RPEL is assessed by reviewing documented evidence of learning achieved outside of an academic remit, such as on the job training. For such claims, you are eligible for academic support in completing the RPEL forms and evidencing your knowledge and skills. The university is responsible for assessing whether the learning is valid, current and of an appropriate level. If your application for RPEL is successful, you will pay just 30% of the fee for any module(s) for which you are claiming credits. We will usually ask you to pay these reduced fees when you enrol on your course or, if after enrolment, as soon as we have approved your RPEL application

The Award of Credit for Prior Learning

Where a request for an RPL exemption is approved, the award of credit will be reflected as 'N' grade, i.e. no grade will be awarded. As a result any previous grades received will not count towards your overall grade; only those grades achieved for modules studied on your University of Derby Online learning programme will be counted. For example, if you achieved a 2:1 for your RPL modules but achieved a 3rd class mark for the remaining modules, your overall grade would be a 3rd class degree.