Gaining Exemptions | The Open College of the Arts | Distance Learning Degrees and Courses
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Gaining Exemptions

Gaining Exemptions for an Accreditation of Prior Learning and Prior Experiential Learning

Our Open courses are designed to be studied as a sequence from the beginning but you may be able to start with a more advanced Open course if you have got relevant existing qualifications or previous experience.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is used to give you credit against some of the courses on your chosen degree. Basically it’s credit awarded for a range of learning – including self-directed study, work experience as well as other courses of study and qualifications you may have. There are fees for APL but they are lower than the full costs of studying the course.

It is possible that previous study could give you exemption from one or more of the units on one of our degree pathway. Students can make an application of Accredited Prior Learning (APL) based on previous study.  The learning must have taken place in the last 5 years and be relevant to the to the level and subject of study. However, the only way to know for sure is to formally apply for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).  There are two ways to seek exemption through APL. 

Accreditation of Prior Certified Learning (APCL)
Students applying for APCL (credit transfer) are asked to provide evidence that the learning has been completed. You may also be asked for some images of recent work, a brief statement relating to the images and the original copy of your transcripts for review. For an Honours degree the maximum APL is 66% of the total programme i.e 240 credits. You can send an APCL application to us at any time, and will usually receive an outcome between 1 – 2 months for an outcome. There is a standard fee of £250 for applying for APL, payable when you send the application form.

If your credits have been achieved outside of the UK, you will need to obtain a Statement of Comparability report from NARIC

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)
Students applying for APEL are asked to provide a portfolio of relevant work. There is a standard £200 fee for each unit for which credit exemption is sought, regardless of whether your application is successful or not.  For an Honours degree the maximum APL is 50% of the total programme i.e 180 credits. APEL applications are reviewed three times a year, which the following deadlines; 

March Review – Applications no later than 31st January 
July Review – Applications no later than 31st May 
November Review – Applications no later than 30th September

APL is not awarded at HE6/OCA Level 3. Details of the APL process can be found in the APL OCA document attached, along with an application for APL at the back of the booklet.

You may find it useful to review the course samples for the units you are seeking exemption against: and review the programme specification for your chosen degree, which you can download from the degree webpage. 

If you have certificates demonstrating earlier study, or simply that you do creative work at a high level, you may be eligible for exemption. You will need to produce evidence of your creative work for the college to evaluate, to check that your knowledge and skills are up to the required level.

Please read the APL Guidance below.

APL Guidance Notes

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