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Common questions about Recognition of Prior Learning

Your previous learning and experience could support your entry to a course or exempt you from one or more modules. Find out everything you need to know about recognition of prior learning.

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

The university compares any existing qualifications or work experience you have with the requirements and structure of your course at Greenwich.

We then assess if your prior learning can support your admission (if you do not meet the entry requirements) or exempt you from modules so that you can complete your course more quickly.

What type of learning can I gain RPL credits for?

RPL credits can be awarded for formal study or for learning you have gained through experience in a work, home or voluntary environment.

Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning (RPCL) is where we award credit for learning that has been assessed and formally recognised as part of a completed/part-completed study programme or qualification (including academic, professional or vocational courses).

Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) is used to award credit for learning gained through other life experience. We will need some evidence of this experience, which could range from a report or written assignment to an oral presentation or interview. This is assessed by University of Greenwich tutors.

Occasionally, an RPL application may contain a combination of RPCL and RPEL.

How do I apply?

In the first instance, you should contact the programme leader for your chosen course for advice. (These are named on each course page.) You then complete an application form.

If you are applying via UCAS for direct entry to the later stage of a course, you will not need to make a separate application, but we still recommend that you contact the programme leader before you proceed.

See full details on how to apply.

When should I apply?

You should apply for RPL as early as possible (as part of your application process), and ideally before you are formally registered as a student.

This allows us to reach a decision and provide you with clear information about the modules you will need to study.

You should not assume that you are exempt from any stage/module until you have been notified in writing that your claim has been accepted.

What levels of study can I apply RPL credits to? 

Higher education qualifications are measured in credits. You earn credits by completing individual modules as you progress through a degree (e.g. 30-credit modules).

The credit framework defines all university certificates, diplomas, foundation degrees, undergraduate degrees or postgraduate qualifications at attainment levels 4, 5, 6, 7:

  • Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE)/Higher National Certificates (HNC) require 120 credits at level 4
  • Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE)/Higher National Diplomas (HND)/Foundation Degrees (FdSc, FdA, FdEng) require 240 credits across levels 4 and 5
  • Bachelor's degrees (BA/BSc Hons) require 360 credits across levels 4, 5 and 6
  • Master's degrees normally require 180 credits at level 7.

To claim credit for exemption or direct entry, your prior learning must be at the same level as the modules you would have taken. For example, to count towards the first year of an undergraduate degree, your learning must be from the first year of another degree course or another award worth 120 credits at level 4 (e.g. a foundation degree, HNC/D, a professional/vocational qualification, or evidence of learning from experience of an equivalent level).

How is RPL credit graded?

The grade for any credits gained via RPL do not normally count towards your University of Greenwich award. Your award is calculated using only the grades achieved from your study at the University of Greenwich – even if you enter a course at the final stage.

The only exceptions to the rule are where grades for RPL credit are transferred as a result of external credit-rating by the university, or where there is an agreement with another higher education institution to recognise a transfer of grades.

How much RPL credit can I claim?

For the majority of our awards, the University of Greenwich will recognise credit awarded by RPL for up to 50% of the credit requirements for a qualification.

RPL credit can only be awarded for whole modules, not for part of a module.

How much does it cost?

The assessment and award of RPL credit is usually free of charge. Please check with your RPL co-ordinator.

Please note: for most courses, an RPL award does not mean a reduction in tuition fees. If you are studying an apprenticeship course or will be sponsored by the NHS/Health sector, please contact your RPL co-ordinator.

Will RPL credit affect my student funding?

An RPL application may affect your student funding and financial support arrangements. Please contact Student Finance at the campus where your course is based (shown on the course page).

  • Greenwich Campus | Tel: 020 8331 8526/8553
  • Avery Hill Campus | Tel: 020 8331 9585
  • Medway Campus | Tel: 020 8331 9324/9735

International students

There may be fee or visa implications for international students who obtain credit and are no longer registered for a sufficient number of modules to be equivalent to full-time study.

Please seek advice from International Student Advisers based in the campus Student Centres or contact the International Office.

Why claim credit through RPL?

RPL might benefit you in the following ways:

  • Make your prior knowledge and experience count
  • Gain access to a course without the standard entry requirements
  • Avoid repeating modules that are similar to study you have done before
  • Complete your studies more quickly.

What happens next?

The mapping of prior learning against learning outcomes is considered a matter of academic judgement. Our decision takes into account a number of factors based on the evidence you provide:

  • Equivalence: your prior learning must cover similar knowledge and skills to the learning outcomes of your chosen course
  • Depth: your application must outline clearly the nature of your achievements and (where necessary) prove that the achievements are your own
  • Relevance: Is your prior learning up to date and relevant? Both certificated and experience-based learning is considered 'current' if it is achieved within 5 years of your course start date.

We will send you a formal decision in writing and – if relevant – revised information about the courses you will take to complete your award.

Please do not assume that exemptions have been granted unless you have been notified in writing.