Applying for Recognition of 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 eligible for module exemptions through Recognition of Prior Leaning (RPL).

There are two types of RPL:

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.

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.

The maximum credit that may be awarded through RPL 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)

For further information please refer to Academic Regulations Recognition of Prior Learning.

If you are a prospective student, we can only process an application for RPL once you have been accepted onto the course.

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. You must evidence through your application that you have met the module learning outcomes as they are required to meet the overall programme learning outcomes and these must be met to attain the award.

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.

How to submit an application for RPCL

RPCL is assessed by reviewing documented evidence of certificated learning achieved with another academic institution. Please note that credit already awarded by the University of Derby as part of a University award cannot be used as part of an RPCL application against a second award.

To apply, please complete the RPCL application form and email this along with your supporting evidence listed below to

  1. Official transcript and certificate for previous qualification. Please note, your previously completed qualification needs to be of an equivalent academic level or higher.
  2. Module learning outcomes for previous qualification. These can usually be found in the module handbook but you may need to contact your previous institution in order to obtain these.

For RPCL claims there are no fees associated with the application process or the award of RPCL credit.

How to submit an application for RPEL

A postgraduate loan is designed to support students with payment of a full Masters programme. If you are approved Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) you will not be eligible for a Postgraduate Student Loan as you will not be studying the full 180 credits.

RPEL is assessed by reviewing documented evidence of learning achieved outside of an academic remit, such as on the job training.

To apply, please complete the RPEL application form and email this along with your supporting evidence to You will need to write a reflective commentary as part of your application to show how your experience can be mapped to the module learning outcomes. Further information on this process can be found within the application form along with examples of suitable evidence.

If your application for RPEL is successful, you will pay 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.

Please be aware we cannot accept RPEL for MSc Psychology and PG Dip Psychology programmes.

Deadlines for RPL Application:

Please note: 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 one calendar month before the end of teaching on the modules involved.

The RPL process can take up two months therefore if you apply after the application deadlines given below we cannot guarantee a decision prior to the start of teaching. However, if you apply after the RPL application deadline for your intake, your application will still be considered and you can still enrol while awaiting the outcome of your claim.

If you are enrolled onto a module which is subsequently approved for RPL, this module will be dropped without charge.

If you are applying for RPL for the first module on your programme and you are unsure how this may affect your start, please contact the Enrolment Team at to discuss your options.

If you are applying for the September intake, the deadline date for RPL applications is 31st August

If you are applying for the January intake, the deadline date for RPL applications is 4th January

If you are applying for the May intake, the deadline date for RPL applications is 4th May

The Award of Credit for Prior Learning

Where a request for an RPL exemption is approved, the award of credit will be reflected as an 'N' grade, i.e. no grade will be awarded. This means your final classification will be calculated using only the grades from the modules you have completed as part of your award. For example, if you achieved a 2:1 mark for the module you completed with another institution but achieved a 3rd class mark for the modules completed with the University of Derby Online Learning, your overall classification would be a 3rd class degree.