Institute of Criminal Justice Studies

RPL frequently asked questions

  1. What does an RPL application form look like?

    Applications are collection of documents, or even full portfolios of evidence, that prove your learning (certified or experiential). The evidence must be organised in a standard format and must contain:

    • An RPL application form, which can be found in the RPL policy document (PDF), and which provides details of the claimant.
    • Sections for each of the units on your course for which you are claiming you already know the learning.
  2. What is the maximum credit I can claim for my previous learning?

    University regulations limit the amount of prior learning credit you can count toward a degree to 240 of the 360 credits required in the case of an undergraduate degree; and 120 of the 180 Level 7 credits for a Masters. For all other cases and awards please consult with your Course Leader.

  3. What is credit?

    A credit system is a standard way of measuring learning. BSc degrees are worth 360 credits of which 120 are at higher education Level 4, 120 at higher education Level 5 and 120 at higher education Level 6. Credit for level 5 learning requires deeper understanding than Level 4, and so on. Credit is awarded for successful learning through Units of study, and depending on the type of Unit, they are worth 20 or 40 credits at undergraduate level, or 30 and 60 at postgraduate level.

  4. I have a lot of learning that I think counts but will I be missing out if I claim RPL?

    This is an important point. Part of the learning experience is to join in with the others on your course and become part of the learning community, sharing ideas and comparing practice. You may be eligible for the greater amounts of credit than you actually decide to claim for in any RPL application. Your Course Leader can advise you in a way that doesn’t put your overall learning experience in jeopardy.

  5. I learned something in a work situation that is different to the study of my degree but it seems relevant, does this matter?

    A lot of learning is useful in all sorts of work situations. If you have already learned something that is similar to what you would be studying on your degree it may be worth claiming credit for it.

  6. I have completed study in the same subject as my degree. Can this study count towards RPL?

    If you have qualifications or good knowledge of the subjects covered by your degree, then prior learning credits could be awarded and you may be exempt from individual Units within your study programme. It is possible in certain circumstances to allow students direct entry into the third stage of the degree (Level 6), or direct onto the Postgraduate Diploma level on a MSc course. 

  7. When do I make my claim?

    Most claims are made prior to the start of a course or shortly afterwards when the students have had a look at the learning that is planned. However, on some occasions it becomes apparent to the student that they already know more than they realised and so subsequent claims are made. Such additional claims must be made prior to the Unit for which the claim is being made. There is no formal limit to the number of claims that can be made (up to the maximum allowed credit) but students might jeopardise their learning if they spend too long putting claims together and not enough time joining in with the learning activities of the group.

  8. I have a qualification from many years ago. Does it still count?

    Normally, a relevant certificated course completed within 5 years of registering upon a University of Portsmouth award will be counted as current learning. If a student completed a course earlier than this but has retained the currency of the learning through work based experience and/ or verifiable CPD opportunities, the learning may be considered to have retained its currency. The claim form should make it clear under the ‘experiential learning’ section how the learning has remained current.

  9. How much does this cost?

    Please contact the admin team on 023 9284 3148 who will be able to advise you on this.

  10. What happens if my learning only covers part of the learning in a unit of study?

    For each individual Unit of study you are required to demonstrate that you have attained the relevant Learning Outcomes (as shown on the individual Unit Descriptor). It may be that the there are various sources that you can deploy in order to make the case that you demonstrated all these Unit Learning Outcomes, which may be certificated as well as experiential.

  11. How long does it take to prepare an RPL claim?

    Making an RPL claim can be a lengthy business. Just thinking about what you know and which of the subjects it covers on your course takes time. You then have to find the evidence that proves your learning, and at the right Level, and put together your claim. Most students report that it isn’t the time that is the problem, rather it is getting organised, finding the proof and having good clear time in which to think. RPL claims for learning that has already been assessed elsewhere and for which you already have evidence of these results in a transcript or certificate do not take long. However, it is much more complex and time-consuming to demonstrate past learning that includes learning in the workplace or training or education that has not previously been assessed. For such claims the advice would be to put together a claim over 2-3 weeks, doing a little at a time.

  12. How long is prior learning credit valid?

    There is no formal time limit on the validity of RPL credit awarded by the University of Portsmouth. However, 18 months after the date on which the credit was confirmed, questions may be asked particularly where the prior knowledge has a short shelf-life. For example, relevant legislation and policies may have changed, work practices may have been revised and developments in computing and other technologies can become rapidly out-of-date. In such cases evidence of how knowledge has been updated may be requested.

  13. How do I know if my prior learning is appropriate for the level of the unit of study?

    It is important that the learning is at the right level. Learning about any subject can be at many levels. As the learning reaches the higher levels it involves more complex and creative applications of knowledge, the ability to be critically constructive, the achievement of professional standards and so on. The best way to check on the level of your learning is to look carefully at the learning outcomes, syllabus content and aims of units of study and check the level at which the unit is offered. You then need to consider if your learning matches the level indicated. To check the levels of learning you will need to look at the guidance given at Step 2 in this guide.

  14. I have an NVQ Level 3 which I know is not at the right level to count but I have built on that learning at work and with my own reading. What do I do?

    It sounds as if you have a potential claim that you could make if your learning has reached a higher level and is relevant to your degree. This is an issue to discuss with your Course Leader.

  15. What happens after I have made my claim?

    Your claim will be assessed by the Course Leader, verified by the Associate Head of Department and confirmed or otherwise by the Associate Dean. You will then be informed by letter of the outcome of your claim. There is no requirement that having been awarded RPL credit that you take all or part of it up. It is your choice. RPL credit that has been awarded and accepted by you will be recorded on your transcript of marks as credit for the unit of study for which the claim was made together with an indication that this credit has been assigned through RPL.

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