Recognition of Prior Learning

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences recognises that students applying for programmes of study may have derived significant learning from previous educational or life/work experience. By introducing a process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), the School offers potential students the opportunity of having such learning assessed either for credit or for entry to their chosen academic pathway. RPL can be gained from either experiential learning (RPEL – Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning) or certificated learning (RPCL - Recognition of Prior Certificated Learning).

Depending on your own situation, you could benefit from RPL in one of two ways:

  • gaining entrance to the postgraduate programme without prior completion of a first degree
  • gaining credit on the postgraduate programme for previous certificated learning outwith the School

Further information

All initial enquiries should be directed to

Please note there is a charge of £85 to apply for RPCL and RPL for entry. If transfer of credit is subsequently approved, a charge of £70 for each 10 points awarded.  Further details are contained within "Making an APCL claim guide" below.

Gaining entrance to the postgraduate programme without a first degree

Normally, the entrance requirement for taught postgraduate study is the satisfactory completion of a first degree. Although all degrees will exhibit a balance of subject breadth and depth, typically, holders of a degree will have the following characteristics:

  • knowledge base of a particular subject area which is informed by current developments
  • well developed skills for gathering, evaluating and analysing information
  • an ability to communicate the results of their studies and other work accurately and reliably

For potential students without a first degree, the RPEL process enables entrance onto the postgraduate programme through demonstration of the acquisition of these characteristics. The following options have been identified as possible sources of evidence to demonstrate these required characteristics for entry to your chosen postgraduate pathway. As each student will present with differing life/work experiences, the most appropriate option for individual students will vary.

Any one of the following may be considered for RPEL purposes:

  • A summative piece of coursework recently completed for degree level study (completed within 5 years and at Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 9). Confirmation of successful achievement of this work should be submitted along with your application.
  • A recently published article in a professional journal or a detailed work based report where you were the sole/ main contributor.
  • A 2000 word academic essay critically reviewing current literature on a given subject area. See the following guidance notes for this option.

APEL Essay Guide

If you wish to apply for entry for postgraduate via RPEL, please discuss with your chosen academic programme leader/facilitator who will advise further on specific actions and timescales.

The submission of evidence in support of an RPEL claim is only part of the selection process and does not automatically mean acceptance onto your chosen pathway.

Gaining credit on the postgraduate programme for previous certificated learning

Successful completion of one of the School's postgraduate pathways requires you to gain 180 points at SCQF level 11. This usually consists of four 30 point modules and a dissertation and it is likely that the four modules will be selected from the School's available modules (see the modules list for your preferred programme). However, it is possible to transfer up to 60 credit points from previous certificated learning (RPCL) from another institution, providing this has been completed within the previous five years.

Applying for general or specific credit

General credit can be gained by providing evidence of study at Masters level within the last five years. Normally a transcript of previous study or a certificate is sufficient for this, but it must include confirmation of the level studied at and the number of credits gained. General credit can provide exemption from optional modules within your chosen programme/pathway of study.

Specific credit can be claimed if you wish to be exempt from specific modules within your programme, normally a framework or named award core module. If you wish to claim specific credit you must

  • indicate which module within the framework you wish to claim against
  • map all of the learning outcomes for that module against learning outcomes you have achieved elsewhere
  • provide the evidence (usually in the form of coursework) to demonstrate that you have achieved these outcomes.

Again, this must have been completed within the last five years. Please note that it is the student's responsibility to undertake this mapping process, not University staff. However, we are very happy to provide advice and support during this process.

If you wish to apply for credit through this route please complete the following form indicating whether you are applying for general or specific credit and submit this together with your pathway application form: