Accreditation of Prior Learning or Experience


Warnborough College recognises that participants bring to the programmes a wide range of experience of education and training as learners themselves. Participants also have varied levels of prior experience. Our general approach is to recognise this through Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).

The APL framework consists of two elements:

  • the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL), and/or
  • the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

Rules and Regulations

There is a limit to the amount of APL that can be claimed. APL may be claimed on the basis of previously accredited learning (APCL) and/or experience (APEL), in any proportion or combination.

The academic level of any certificated learning for which credit is claimed should normally be the same as the level at which the claim for credit is made. Certificated learning should normally have been completed within the last 5 years, with an additional outcome oriented assessment within a longer time.

It is the individual applicant’s responsibility to identify the learning for which credit is claimed and to make the formal case for exemption from part of the relevant Warnborough College programme. Any claim must be made before the start of the programme or module; it is not possible to make a claim retrospectively.

The Descriptors and Levels used by Warnborough College follow those detailed in Appendix 2 of The Quality Assurance Agency of Higher Education of the UK (QAA)’s Descriptors and Levels.

The QAA defines APL, APCL and APEL as follows:

Accreditation of prior learning (APL): a process for accessing and, as appropriate, recognising prior experiential learning or prior certificated learning for academic purposes.

This recognition may give the learning a credit-value in a credit-based structure and allow it to be counted towards the completion of a programme of study and the award(s) or qualifications associated with it.

The term ‘accreditation of prior learning’ is used in these Guidelines to encapsulate 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. Such learning may have been recognised previously by an education provider; described as ‘prior certificated learning’ or it may have been achieved by reflecting upon experiences outside the formal education and training systems; described as ‘prior experiential learning’.

Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL): a process, through which previously assessed and certificated learning is considered and, as appropriate, recognised for academic purposes.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL): a process through which learning achieved outside education or training systems is assessed and, as appropriate, recognised for academic purposes.

See (page 17).

Credits will be granted on the completion of a comparable programme of study elsewhere, or a discrete part of a course, for example a module or unit. The academic level (e.g. Honours or Masters) of the programme should be equivalent to that part of the Warnborough College programmes for which you are making the exemption case.

Typical evidence include:

  1. Copies of the certificates;
  2. Copies of the syllabi or transcripts describing the work undertaken and credits awarded;
  3. Descriptions of the undertaken assessments (not the assessed work itself)
Credits may also be made on the basis of prior experiential learning. The evidence should be accompanied by a written account explaining what you have learned from participating in these activities. Appropriate evidence to support a claim might include records relating to courses and / or other formalised learning / training / development activities for which accreditation was not available (An attendance certificate is not in itself useful evidence).

You can find the APL application here.

Evidence of taking part in relevant work activities, such as:

  1. Evaluation reports and summaries (based on documented feedback);
  2. Validation and review documents (where you have been responsible for designing and/or revising or reviewing content);
  3. Outlines of programmes you have been responsible for leading and/or delivering and/or assessing e.g. undergraduate modules, postgraduate modules;
  4. Details of your involvement with other institutions in the claimed field, e.g. external examining, institutional audits;
  5. Session plans, schemes of work, materials you have designed;
  6. Examples of work design and/or innovation in practice;
  7. Bibliography of key texts which have informed your approach to learning, teaching and/or working in the field.

The APLQ portfolio (Q stands for Quality)

The Warnborough College APL framework will use a specially-developed APL portfolio of evidence for all APL applications.

Designated APLQ tutors & supervisors can help the students with individual guidance to achieve successful pathway outcomes. The portfolio of evidence must clearly reference (map) the relevant learning outcomes and levels of the modules of the Warnborough College modules and programmes.

All APL claims should include the following:

  1. A formal application form
  2. Competence portfolio with CV, archive of evidence, reflections on learning, profile of the competencies, action plan (APLQ portfolio)
  3. An overview of evidence. This document lists the items of evidence being presented in the portfolio so that items can be located easily and clear cross-references can be made in the supporting statement.
  4. A supporting statement for each module that you are claiming exemption. This should normally be a maximum of 1000 words for a 5 ECTS-credit module. If your claim is based mainly or entirely on certificated evidence, your supporting statement will obviously be much shorter.
  5. The module(s) or parts of the programme that your APL claim relates to.

The Steps and Procedures of APL Application

Stage 1 An Application is Made*
Stage 2 Briefing, Counselling and Advising
Stage 3 APL Tutor or Supervisor is allocated to the Applicant
Stage 4 Advice is given on -Q Portfolio Preparation
Stage 5 -Q Portfolio is Compiled and Cross-Referenced
Stage 6 -Q Portfolio is Assessed
Stage 7 A Decision is Arrived at, the -Q Portfolio is ratified
Stage 8 Feedback is given to the Applicant, Decisions are Carried Out

* A fee of €2000 is payable for the application process. You will go straight to Stage 5. If you wish to avail of the services of a designated APL Tutor/Supervisor, the fee is €5,000 (this will cover Stages 2 to 4 as well as any other Stage). Typically, it will take about a month to map everything. However, please allow up to three (3) months for your previous learning and/or experience to be mapped, and a -Q Portfolio to be compiled (if you use our Supervisors).

Additional Note: Where the applicant claims expertise and/or experience, but is unable to furnish any documentary and/or anecdotal proof, the applicant may apply to do a challenge test. The challenge test will feature questions and case studies that an experienced professional is expected to be able to answer/handle/resolve.

Please contact us for more information.