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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

1.6.2: Student Guidelines

What do I need to know about APL?

If you think that you have already acquired skills and knowledge which you would simply be duplicating in your programme of study at Durham you should first take careful note of the following rules which govern the award of APL (also known as Recognition of Prior Learning, or RPL) at Durham University:

1. Most Durham programmes are modular. A module is typically worth 20 credits at undergraduate level and 15 credits at postgraduate level. Some units are double or even triple modules (worth 40 or 60 credits at undergraduate level and 30 or 45 credits at postgraduate level). Each modular unit has its own title, syllabus and assessment and it cannot be split up.

2. The minimum amount of APL which can be given to a student is for a full module (or equivalent in a non-modularised programme) - not for parts of it. That means that you must be sure that you have previously covered all the skills and knowledge of the module(s) for which you wish to claim APL. You cannot be given APL for part of a module. If the module you are interested in is a double module (or larger) you must be able to show that you have previously covered all the skills and knowledge for the whole of the double module (or however big the module is).

3. The maximum credit for APL which can be offered is normally one-third of the standard programme.

4. Any successful application for direct entry to level 2 or a subsequent level of an undergraduate programme will count towards the maximum credit for APL specified in 3 above.

5. Full-time undergraduate students cannot be given APL for more than 40 credits in any one year. This is to ensure that their full-time status is not compromised. A full-time postgraduate registered for a Masters degree cannot be given credit for more than 60 credits during that year.

6. APL may be given for any module within a programme (not just for modules at the start of the programme), but not normally for a module which comprises a major project or dissertation.

7. APL can only be given for a taught module, not for a research module.

8. APL will normally only be given in respect of learning achieved within the last five years (although some departments may specify a shorter period of time than five years, e.g. in subject areas where curriculum content changes rapidly).

9. APL may not be given for an optional module where a viable alternative module is available.

10. The use of APL does not alter the admissions criteria for the programme. If there is a deadline by which you need to accept an offer of a place, this will not be extended because you are waiting to hear the result of an APL application.

11. You may apply for APL once you have received a conditional or unconditional offer of a place from the University. You may also apply after you have been registered as a student. However:

  • you may not apply for APL after the start of the academic year in which you would normally take the module(s) from which you want exemption;
  • there are two cut-off dates for applications for APL: 1 May and 1 August. If you apply by 1 May you should hear the outcome of your application by the end of June; if you apply for 1 August you should get the result by the end of September;
  • Foundation Year students may, however, apply for APL up to 1 December (of their first year of study in the Foundation Year, in the case of part-time students). In such a situation the student must register for, and study on, the module(s) for which APL is sought until a final decision is made about the APL claim.

12. Responsibility for demonstrating that you have the skills and knowledge which constitute the learning outcomes of the Durham module(s) from which you want exemption rests with you. If you cannot demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the department concerned you will not be awarded APL.

13. In some programmes APL is not accepted. You should find out from the department concerned whether they will accept an APL claim before you start any work on the claim itself. The award of APL is entirely at the discretion of the University.

14. The department may be prepared to give indicative advice about whether you may have a good claim for APL. This is more likely to happen with clear cases of APCL rather than with APEL and in any case the department is under no obligation to give such advice. In some cases it is simply not possible to make any comment until the full submission has been considered in detail; any comment which is made has no implications for the eventual outcome of the APL application.

15. You may not resubmit an APL application if your application is unsuccessful.

16. You must submit your APL application and supporting documentation in English, unless the application relates to a module taught in another language in which case you may submit the evidence in the language concerned. If your evidence needs to be translated you must obtain, at your own expense, a professional translation from a qualified, independent translator.