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Assessment of Prior Learning (APL)

1. Rationale

1.1 The rationale for Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) at Roehampton is consonant with the Mission objectives to provide a learner-centred environment that is flexibly responsive to the academic requirements of individuals of all ages and backgrounds, and in which they may be empowered to reach their full potential. It is an integral aspect of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, which works in harmony with the University's Modular Scheme to ensure that all learning relevant to a particular award-bearing programme of study is recognized and appropriately accredited. This avoids cumbersome and costly duplication of study and enhances efficiency and flexibility in student learning.

1.2 APL may be of two distinct types: Assessment of Prior Certificated Learning, or Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning. Each has its own procedures, but the aim of both is to allow students to progress to appropriate and challenging programmes of study and achieve their specified learning objectives without repetition or duplication or unnecessary expense. In the case of experiential learning, the objective of the assessment process is to encourage the identification, articulation and contextualization of learning through reflection, self-evaluation and review.

2. Assessment of Prior Certificated Learning

2.1 The opportunity for credit transfer on the basis of the Assessment of Prior Certificated Learning is available on all programmes at Roehampton. This is in accordance with Section 4 of the current Academic Regulations, where maxima for the transfer of credit are specified. Transfer of credit to an award-bearing programme at Roehampton will be at a specific level and in a specific subject, and the regulations require that the 'relevance, status, and currency' (Reg 4.6) of the prior certificated learning will be evaluated.

2.2 Level. The concept of 'level' for undergraduate and graduate learning is defined in accordance with the generic levels descriptors which are in use at Roehampton for defining generally accepted tiers of learning achievement within higher education.

2.3 Relevance. For specific credits to be awarded, previous certificated learning must be 'relevant' to the target programme of study at Roehampton. This means that it must be at a similar level, must have similar learning outcomes, and cover a similar knowledge-base. The level, learning outcomes and knowledge-base need not be identical, but they must be close enough to those in the target programme to allow the student to progress without the need to recapitulate exempted study.

2.4 Status. Confirmation of the 'status' of certificated learning requires that the learning has been assessed according to discoverable criteria, and that the result has been formally documented, normally through the medium of a transcript or official letter. If status is uncertain, an essay may be required before credit is confirmed.

2.5 Currency. Eligibility for credit transfer requires that prior certificated learning be 'current'. The definition of currency may vary from subject to subject, and may need careful evaluation at Roehampton prior to the award of credit. Evidence of continuing academic activity between the certificated learning and application to Roehampton may be adduced in support of an argument for the currency of the learning.

2.6 The generally accepted commonality of standards among recognised HND and degree programmes in institutions of further and higher education in the UK will be taken into account in determining the amount and 'level' of learning claimed by applicants for credit transfer, though variations in institutional tariffs mean that vigilance needs to be maintained in order that appropriate credit be awarded. However, in accordance with Regulation 9.5, no grades will be transferred with credit transfers from any other institution in the UK or abroad.

2.7 In assessing the 'level' of prior learning from institutions outside the UK, assistance will be sought from recognized authoritative public sources, such as the British Council.

2.8 No credit allocation may be counted towards the requirements of more than one academic award of the same type at the same level.

2.9 Credit may be awarded in recognition of assessed learning from a variety of sources, including courses at higher education institutions, BTEC courses, courses leading to higher vocational qualifications or awards of professional bodies, and employers' inhouse training courses.

2.10 Credit will be awarded on the basis of the volume of learning achieved, which must be verified through reliable and valid assessment. Where there is doubt about the level, validity, or reliability of the assessment, Roehampton may require evidence to be produced in verification of standards (e.g. coursework or portfolio), or may require alternative evidence of learning attainment (e.g. a specially written essay).

2.11 The amount of credit transferred will not be increased on the basis of exceptional achievement: all credit is transferred at 'pass' standard.

3. Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning [APEL]

3.1 Credit may be awarded only on the basis of achieved learning and not on the basis of experience itself. Though credit may be awarded for all learning wherever that learning occurs, it must first be identified and then assessed in terms of its amount, level, relevance, status, and currency (as defined above).

3.2 Learning from planned experience, where the learning may be more structured and systematized, is to be distinguished from learning from prior experience in terms of credit transfer.

3.3 Individual applicants will receive clear guidance on the rationale for their evidence of learning and advice on its compilation and desired overall structure. Submission and assessment procedures will be clearly stated, and will include provision for discussion of a draft prior to formal submission.

3.4 Applicants will be advised in each case as to what would comprise adequate evidence of prior learning. A submission should include:
(i) a statement of claim for credit;
(ii) a summary of the learning claimed;
(iii) reflection on the learning claimed in relation to the target programme;
(iv) a summary of evidence against each element of learning, cross-referenced against the full evidence; and
(v) full evidence as appropriate.

3.5 Evidence may include:

  • practice-based documents;
  • reports on observations of practice;
  • video/audio tapes, with commentary and analysis related to achievement of learning outcomes;
  • analytic and evaluative description of practice;
  • statements from supervisors in relation to aspects of practice; et al.

3.6 Assessment might require, in addition to the submission of a portfolio, the production of artifacts, a project, performance, oral examination, and/or one or more traditional examination(s). Whatever the form of evidence, the assessment process must evaluate a submission in terms of:
(i) acceptability (is the evidence valid and reliable?);
(ii) sufficiency (is the achievement of the claimed learning fully demonstrated?);
(iii) authenticity (is the evidence clearly the achievement of the applicant?); and
(iv) currency (is the learning current, or if not is there evidence of updating?).
Most importantly, evidence must be presented to demonstrate that the applicant is familiar with the appropriate knowledge-base of the learning claimed. This should include 'reflective expertise', which includes the ability to sustain analytical review and the application of relevant concepts to the planning and evaluation of practice.

3.7 The amount and level of credit awarded through APEL will be measured against the identified learning outcomes of existing validated courses and of the target programme. Where general APEL credit awards do not precisely match the learning outcomes of validated courses but are related or comparable, professional and academic judgement will be invoked to determine a credit award with consistency and fairness in relation to other credit award decisions and programme learning outcomes.

4. Appeals

4.1 Appeals by registered students against awards of credit or against refusal of credit applications based on the assessment of prior certificated or experiential learning shall be subject to the University's appeals regulations as specified in current Academic Regulations.

4.2 Appeals by other persons against awards of credit or against refusal of credit applications based on the assessment of prior certificated or experiential learning shall be subject to the ruling of the Vice-Chancellor, whose decision shall be final.