1 The accreditation of prior experiential learning is concerned with credit-rating learning outcomes (i.e. what a student has achieved) gained through experience usually in the workplace, either through paid employment or in voluntary work. The main difference between APEL and APL is that APEL is commonly non-certificated thus making the process of formal recognition by the University for credit towards one of its own awards a far more complex and difficult one.

2 Credit is not awarded on the basis of experience per se: it is awarded on the basis of what a candidate has learned from that experience. It therefore follows that the University has to have a means of assessing that learning on the basis of evidence presented by the candidate.


3 Colleges and Schools intending to undertake APEL should be aware of the resource implications involved in creating structures sufficiently robust to withstand external quality assurance scrutiny. A structure must include:

(i) explicit and appropriate means of assessment agreed in advance with candidates;

(ii) clear guidance provided in advance on the evidence required and the rationale for it;

(iii) guidance on the basis upon which the evidence will be judged as appropriate;

(iv) provision for support and advice in the preparation of evidence for submission;

(v) a formal process of final assessment which is recorded.


4 (1) Methods of assessing experiential learning may include some or all of the following -

  • practice-based documentation and reports
  • video/audio tapes
  • analytical evaluations of practice
  • analysis of issues underlying practice
  • evidence of planning for practice
  • analysis and evaluation of training undertaken for practice
  • supporting statements from managers or supervisors in relation to practice
  • computer programmes
  • an assessor's observation of practice
  • taking traditional examinations
  • oral examination
  • submission of essay(s) on appropriate topics.

(2) An appropriate format for the submission of evidence for accreditation would be -

  • a statement of credit claimed
  • a detailed curriculum vitae to provide a context for the claim
  • a summary of the achievements (learning outcomes) claimed
  • detailed evidence supporting each of those achievements which demonstrates critical reflection, knowledge and skills acquired, a process of professional development and a capacity for autonomous study.


5 The basic criteria to be satisfied for the accreditation of prior experiential learning are:

(1) the evidence is valid and reliable;

(2) the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate the achievements claimed;

(3) the evidence clearly indicates the candidate's personal efforts and attainments;

(4) that the achievements claimed are relevant to the award toward which it will count;

(5) that the achievements are equivalent in depth and level to the successfully completed structured learning (i.e. courses/modules) for which equal credit is to be granted;

(6) that the achievements can be authenticated by external referees.


6 If a School wishes to undertake the accreditation of prior experiential learning, full details of the proposed scheme should be submitted to the relevant College Academic Standards Committee for approval.

Dr I K Francis
Academic Secretary

20 January 1997