Accreditation of prior learning

How to gain accreditation for prior learning from another institution, as part of an internal transfer at UWE Bristol, or through experiential learning.

Accredited Learning (AL)

We define the accreditation of prior learning as learning which has been accredited or certificated by either:

  • a UK or overseas higher education provider; or
  • an external body (eg a professional or other awarding body); or
  • UWE Bristol (in the case of internal transfer).

Approval process for the recognition of AL

Application process

You should complete the Accredited Learning application form if you are:

  • applying to UWE Bristol for the first time and already have some AL achieved at another provider which you think could be recognised towards the programme you are applying for; or
  • already registered on a programme at UWE Bristol and seeking recognition of some AL as part of an internal transfer*. In this case, your AL may have been achieved at UWE Bristol.

It is your responsibility to apply for AL. You can make an application at any time of year, though we encourage you to apply pre-entry.

You may have achieved the learning you want recognised before you started at UWE Bristol or during your time with us. 


To be recognised as contributing credit to an award of the University, your evidence for AL must demonstrate:

  • authenticity – you completed what was claimed
  • direct comparison – by matching the learning outcomes with comparable specified modules approved for the award sought, or with programme learning outcomes within the Shell Award Framework, or where advanced entry to a programme is being sought
  • currency – the learning is in keeping with expectations of current knowledge
  • an equivalent academic level of achievement to the module/s being applied for
  • an equivalent credit size to the module/s being applied for.

Credit for AL will not:

  • carry marks or grades awarded by another institution
  • carry marks achieved under the University’s own academic regulations
  • be used to gain an award in its entirety

Marks or grades used in the AL process will not be shown on your Notification of Credit and Assessment Marks, nor will they be used in the calculation for honours or other differential level of award.

Accredited Experiential Learning (AEL)

AEL is learning achieved through experience that may not be formally certificated.

If you are registered for a UWE Bristol programme and you think you have work experience which covers everything you will learn on one or more modules, you can apply to your faculty to have your work experience assessed. If you pass the assessment, you will be awarded UWE Bristol credit.

The assessment may require you to collect and present evidence of your learning in a portfolio or, where appropriate, you may be assessed by formal examination.

Approval process for the recognition of AEL

Application process

The assessment of applications for AEL will be done by designated staff within each faculty. They will have appropriate subject, discipline and professional expertise, and relevant experience of, or training in, the appropriate procedures.

You need to apply to the faculty or affiliated institution running your programme.

Assessment of AEL may take a variety of forms, including:

  • a structured interview plus corroborating evidence
  • work-based observation plus a portfolio or other record
  • a form of assessment, including assessments and examinations set for relevant approved modules devised to meet the specific requirements of a programme or award.

Credit award

Credit, but not a mark, may be awarded if your experience can be matched against the learning outcomes of a module or group of modules through supporting evidence, or through university assessment procedures. The module outcome will be pass or fail.


There are some restrictions on the amount of recognised prior learning that can contribute to a UWE Bristol award. This is set out in Volume 1 (Part E) of the UWE Bristol Academic Regulations.

Transferring university or college

If you decide to transfer to another higher education provider to continue your studies, they may be able to accredit learning achieved at UWE Bristol. You should check their regulations for guidance.

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