Recognition of Prior Learning

Students often enquire whether it is possible to transfer prior learning or experience when making an application to a course in ScHARR. Where this occurs it is known as "Recognition of Prior Learning" or "RPL" (previously "Accreditation of Prior Learning" or "APL")- the range of activity and approaches used formally to acknowledge and establish publicly that some reasonably substantial and significant element of learning has taken place.

There are specific regulations governing RPL at the University of Sheffield. The principles of RPL are set out on this page, and a "Guidance document" can be downloaded from the downloads box to the right of this page.

There are some important principles set out in the guidance. Please take particular note of the following:

There is a University Policy on double counting 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.

So if you have already "used" your learning to gain an award previously, either at the University of Sheffield or elsewhere, e.g. a PG Certificate or PG Diploma, it cannot be submitted for consideration for RPL. It is only the situation where your learning has not been recognised in a previous award that can be considered for RPL. You may be able to "surrender" the award that you hold by contacting your previous institution and informing them that you will "hand back" the award. Please note that other institutions may differ in their RPL policies, and may not agree to allow you to surrender your award. It is your responsibility to ascertain whether this is possible or not. If they do agree, you may then present these credits for RPL, along with official confirmation from your former institution, that you no longer hold the award. However, you should note that even if you have surrendered your credits to your previous institution, your RPL claim at the University of Sheffield may not be successful.

Please note also that exemptions cannot be given for dissertation and/or projects stipulated in the regulations for Masters degrees, as an RPL exemption can only be given for the taught part of a programme.

How to make an RPL claim

You can only apply for RPL once you have returned your acceptance letter and been accepted onto a taught programme. Once your registration is complete, you may then submit an application for RPL. Please note that it is a matter of academic judgement whether the department accepts or rejects your RPL claim and that an application for exemption does not constitute an entitlement to an exemption.

You will need to complete sections 1 and 2 of the RPL form (available as a download from this page) and send this to your Course Director. Where necessary, you will also need to provide full documentary evidence before the end of Week 1 of Semester 1 to the department responsible for the credit you are seeking an exemption from studying. You can apply for accreditation for up to 50% of the credits of a programme of study, e.g. up to 90 credits for a Masters programme. If your RPL claim is unsuccessful, it is your responsibility to adhere to the regulations for your programme of study and to ensure you have registered for the correct number of credits for your programme of study by the end of the Add/Drop period (end of Week 3 of Semester 1).

To make a claim, you should liaise with the relevant Course Director in the first instance. The departmental RPL Assessor is Mr Chris Blackmore, and if you have queries about the RPL process, you can contact him by email.

Chris Blackmore