What is APL?

Tue 1 Dec 2020

Here’s a guide to what Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is and how you gain entry to a course using it.

Not all prospective students meet the standard entry requirements for their chosen course, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out. You might have already satisfied the entry requirements, or learning outcomes for certain modules of your chosen course, in other ways, including:

• Your other qualifications;

• Your own self-directed study;

• and/or your professional experience.

Applying for APL gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to your chosen university or training provider how you meet the entry criteria for your chosen course based on these factors.

APL is your chosen university/training provider’s official recognition of your prior learning and/or experience. If granted, it can be used to start at the beginning of a course, or it can be given a ‘credit-value’ that will allow you to gain credits towards your chosen course and to be exempt from completing certain course modules.

Types of APL

There are 3 types of APL:

1.       Credit transfer

2.       Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL)

3.       Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Credit transfer:

Falmouth University’s Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme (CATS) allows you to use your previous qualifications to gain credits towards your course. Your previous qualifications need to be recognised/positioned within the higher education qualifications framework (FHEQ). Falmouth University have a limit to the amount of credits that can be transferred into a course.


APCL gives you the opportunity to have any learnings you may have completed through an educational institution or training provider that isn’t recognised/positioned within the FHEQ, recognised. Your learnings need to have been formally assessed and certificated.


Gives you formal recognition of prior learnings you’ve achieved through other experience, such as your paid work, voluntary work, and/or self-directed study. Course teams may also want you to complete APEL if you completed your formal qualifications (within the FHEQ framework) over 5 years ago.

How do I start the APL process?

When we have received your application, our Applicant Services team will assess whether you may need to complete the APL process. You will be sent some information about the next steps with your application.

If the course team would like to make you an offer, they will make a decision about if they’d like you to complete the APL form. If they do, your offer would be conditional on you successfully completing the APL process (alongside any other requirements of the course such as English Language proficiency).

Whichever form of APL you are asked to complete, you’ll need to demonstrate how your prior learning and/or experience satisfies the entry requirements for your chosen course.

To demonstrate this, within the APL form, you’ll need to include a Reflective Statement of 500-750 words. Your Reflective Statement needs to include information about:

  • How the learning you achieved is relevant to the subject area you’re applying for; and
  • How you’ve kept your learning current/up-to-date since you completed your independent learning or gained the relevant experience.

You might also be asked to provide further evidence to support your application for APL, such as:

  • The course syllabus of your prior learning
  • An assessed performance
  • Your portfolio
  • A work reference

Your completed application will then be considered and processed in accordance with Falmouth’s APL Policy and Procedure.

Providing as much relevant detail and evidence as possible to support your APL application will help academic staff to determine your eligibility for APL as quickly as possible.

What happens after I apply for APL?

Your application for APL will be assessed based on the learnings you achieved from your prior qualification and/or experience, not the qualification and/or experience itself.

Once Falmouth receives your completed APL application, they will:

  • Scrutinise the authenticity, sufficiency, currency and relevancy of your prior learning; and
  • Where appropriate, determine the number of specific credits to be awarded to you at stage and module level.

You will be contacted to let you know whether or not your application for APL has been approved. If your APL is not approved the first time, you will be given feedback, and a chance to complete the form, reflective statement, and any further tasks again.  You can also ask for further verbal and/or written feedback on your application once you’ve been notified of the outcome of your application.

You can find out more about Falmouth’s APL policy and Procedure.


See also:

How to Write Your Personal Statement

Online Learning, Application, Blog, Comedy Writing, User Experience Design, Indie Game Development, Marketing and Digital Communications

Get in touch today