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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

At Bournemouth University, we recognise that knowledge and skills can come from many types of formal and informal learning.

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

Our RPL procedure is used to formally recognise the knowledge gained by applicants through experience and previous study, and the university allows students who provide evidence of prior learning to be considered for exemption from certain units (Individual Unit Exemption) or years of study (Direct Entry). Examples of prior learning include professional qualifications that do not carry academic credit, or academic credit received from higher education institutions outside of the UK. If your prior learning was at a UK higher education institution, it will be considered as UK Credit Transfer (UKCT). We often use this procedure when applicants wish to transfer their credits from a different institution to Bournemouth University.

BU distinguishes between two types of RPL:

  1. RPCL: Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning from formal education equivalent to HE credit. 
  2. RPEL: Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning from work/life experiences.

How to apply for RPL?

If you wish to be considered for RPL when applying to one of our undergraduate courses, you need to submit an application through our website. Simply click on the course you want to apply for below and you will be taken to our online application form. 

When you reach the personal statement section, please make it clear which level of entry you are applying for, i.e. Level 5 (year 2) or Level 6 (year 3).

Whether you are applying for undergraduate or postgraduate course, you will need to submit the following documents before we can consider your application for RPL:

  • A programme specification or course handbook showing a breakdown of the units you have studied and the content of the units. These can normally be found on the university’s website.
  • A transcript for the levels of study you have completed.
  • An academic reference from the institution

If you are applying for RPEL we may ask you for evidence of your work/life experience. This may be in the form of a portfolio or CV.

What happens next?

Completed applications will be referred to the course programme leader for a review. If your RPL application is approved, we will make you an offer.
Here is where you will find all the BU policies and procedures that you need to be aware of, including the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): Policy and Procedure.

Enquiries about studying at BU

If you are considering studying at BU, please call our Future Students Enquiry Team on +44 (0)1202 961916 or email