Skip to main content
APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) – Bath Spa University

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you don't meet the standard entry requirements for one of our courses, we may be able to accept your prior learning or experience.

If you don't meet the standard entry requirements for a course at Bath Spa University, we may be able to accept your prior learning or experience from outside of education via our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) policy. For example, you might want to apply for a master’s degree and don’t have a bachelor’s degree, but have over three years relevant work experience instead.

With APL, we assess and can formally recognise learning which has taken place in the past. It may have been:

  • Prior certificated learning (APCL): Learning completed at another educational institution where qualifications and academic credits were achieved.
  • Prior experiential learning (APEL): Achieved from experiences outside the formal education and training systems (e.g. work/ life experience, in-house training etc).

The prior learning must be relevant to your course of study at Bath Spa University and at the same academic level or at the level required for entry to the course. 

Once you've applied for the course, you'll be sent an APL application form to complete, outlining your experience, skills and knowledge and describe:

  • How it can be related to the course of study applied for.
  • How this course will support your career, learning and personal development goals.

You might also be interviewed as part of the process.

Accreditation of Prior Learning for credit exemption

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process may also allow you to gain academic credits from prior learning or experience outside of education and avoids you repeating what you've already learnt. This means you could be exempt from some modules or even whole levels/years, depending on the evidence of prior learning you are able to present to us.

The prior learning must be relevant to your course of study at Bath Spa University and at the same academic level. Academic staff will then map your prior learning to the learning outcomes of the course you have applied for and will to consider whether any credit can be awarded.

For more information on APL please see:

Bath Spa University staff can also view staff specific guidance on Sulis (staff login required).


How much Accreditation of Prior Learning credit can I claim?

The maximum credit that can be transferred into a standard three-year undergraduate degree or one-year taught postgraduate course is normally two thirds of an award.  This means that at least 120 credits of an undergraduate degree or 60 credits of a postgraduate degree must normally be achieved through modules studied at this University. 

However, the maximum number of credits which can awarded under APL may be reduced for courses with professional accreditation or for non-standard courses.  For more information see section 4 of the Accreditation of Prior Learning Policy.

How will any APL credit approved affect my award classification?

If credit is awarded under APL, only marks from courses studied at Bath Spa University will be counted towards your final degree classification.

If I have registered on a module, can I then apply to claim APL for it?

No. APL applications must be made before you start your course.

What is the cost of claiming APL?

There is no charge for APL applications.

What information do I have to provide?

Once you've applied to Bath Spa University, you'll be asked for a range of evidence to support your APL claim:

For Prior certificated learning (APCL), you'll need to provide evidence of the qualification you've gained previously, in the form of a ‘transcript of results’ and module learning outcomes. We need to assess the academic level, number of credits, date of award and syllabus information.

For Prior experiential learning (APEL), you'll be sent an application and asked to summarise your experiential learning that relates to the course. You'll also need to explain how it has advanced your skills and knowledge, and reflect how it relates to the course as well as how the course will support your career learning and personal development goals.

You'll also be asked to complete an essay related to the course (500 words for undergraduate programmes; 1000 words for postgraduate) and submit a portfolio of evidence to support the APEL application, which might include:

  • A curriculum and certificate of attendance of a non-credited course you have studied
  • CV or job descriptions
  • Samples of work
  • Reflection on relevant experiences
  • References or independent corroboration, where relevant

Please see our guidance for students on the APL process.

Is there a time limit on my prior learning?

In most cases of experiential learning, applicants will be at least 21 years of age to allow for sufficient learning at the right level to be accrued.  

Applicants can normally only seek to claim prior learning accumulated within a maximum of five years prior to the start date of the course. However, learning in subjects where there has been a rapid technological change may have a shorter “shelf life”. In other cases, the five-year maximum may be extended if the applicants is working in a sector directly related to the proposed course of study and can show that their learning is up to date.

I’m a postgraduate student. Will claiming APL affect my student finance?

Claiming APL may have an impact on your eligibility for a postgraduate loan. You should contact your funding council for further advice. 

What if I'm an international student?

It's not normally possible to assess non-UK qualifications as part of APCL applications for advanced standing or exemption from individual modules unless it forms part of a formal articulation arrangement with your previous university.

Bath Spa University can only sponsor International students for full time courses at the University, therefore exemption from modules may also impact on the provision of a CAS for a Student Route Visa.

Edit section | Website feedback to