Recognition of Prior Learning
(Previously Accreditation of Prior Learning)

What is RPL?

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a generic term for the process by which Higher Education Providers recognise and, where appropriate, award credit for learning that has taken place before entry onto a programme of study.

The University's policy covers the following types of prior learning:

RPEL - Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning - a process through which learning achieved outside education or training systems is assessed and, as appropriate, recognised for academic purposes, usually through the award of credit.

RPCL- Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning - a process, through which prior certificated learning which has not previously resulted in the award of university credits or qualifications positioned on the relevant HE qualifications framework is assessed and recognised by the University of Sheffield for academic purposes, usually through the award of credit.  Prior Certificated Learning may include professional development or employment-related awards.

Credit Transfer of credits or qualifications from a UK higher education awarding body for use towards a University of Sheffield qualification.  As the credits or qualification have been awarded in accordance with the UK Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, the process of recognition requires academic staff to determine the status of the prior credit/award as they relate to the University of Sheffield programme, but will not require a process of assessment as in the case of RPEL and RPCL.  See also the policy on Double Counting.


University approach

The policy on RPL, in the downloadable document to the right, deals with how prior learning can be recognised to allow exemption from specific modules of a University of Sheffield programme or to allow direct entry to the second year of UG study.  The prior learning must be at the same level as the University programme for which the student is applying/undertaking.

There is no obligation for any department to consider requests for RPL if it considers RPL inappopriate to the programme or nature of provision offered, for example due to the requirements of a professional body.

Double Counting

There is a University Policy on double counting (downloadable document to the right) which ties in to RPL and covers in more detail the fact that credits may not normally be used to count towards a second qualification which is both at the same level and in a similar subject to the first.