The University has a policy and formal process that provides the opportunity for you to gain formal recognition for learning that has been achieved prior to undertaking your higher education programme at Middlesex. The University calls this the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning or APEL. Accreditation uses the Middlesex University academic credit framework to assess and quantify prior learning in terms of credit points at a particular academic level. Academic credit awarded for prior learning can be used towards the achievement of your Middlesex University qualification where it is considered to be equivalent to specific programme and/or module learning outcomes.
Academic credit and qualifications
All taught higher education programmes at Middlesex University are comprised of a number of credits at specific academic levels. For example, the academic credits for the following Middlesex University qualifications are listed below:
Number of credits
Certificate of Higher Education
Diploma of Higher Education / Foundation Degree
4 and 5
Graduate Certificate / Advanced Diploma
Bachelors Degree with Honours
4, 5 and 6
Under the assessment regulations of the University the maximum amount of credit which can be counted towards a qualification is normally two thirds of the total required for the qualification. For example, 240 credits can be recognised through APEL towards the 360 credits required for a Bachelors degree with honours or 40 credits can be recognised towards the 60 credits required for a Postgraduate Certificate. However, your programme of study may require that you undertake compulsory modules against which a claim for prior learning may not be made and this may mean that the amount of credit you are able to claim is less than two thirds.
You can claim academic credit where you can provide evidence of prior learning that has been or can be assessed and/or formally recognised by the University.
This can include qualifications or certificates awarded by a university or other awarding body. This is known as certificated prior learning. Please note that only the parts of a prior qualification that are directly relevant to the learning outcomes of your new Middlesex programme will be recognised for the purposes of awarding credit. This may mean that only a proportion of the established credit value of a prior qualification may count towards the achievement of your Middlesex qualification.
Where a prior qualification or certificate is not from a recognised awarding body, its equivalence to specific learning outcomes will need to be established with reference to National Academic Recognition Centres. Where a qualification or certificate's credit value cannot be established, the prior learning associated with it will require further evidence that can be assessed.
You can also claim academic credit for learning that is derived from experience and/or work (called experiential learning) where appropriate evidence of this learning is submitted for assessment by the University. This is normally in the form of a portfolio of evidence.
Your claim for Middlesex University academic credit must be based on evidence of 'learning' and not 'experience', 'time spent', or 'work' alone. For example, academic credit is not awarded for the following where there is no further evidence of learning provided:
- Attendance at and/or participation in courses
- Training courses that do not have a recognised credit value
- Years of experience at work
- The level of seniority signified by your job title
However, all of the above may provide the context for your prior learning and provide evidence towards an academic credit claim where it is supplemented with additional evidence of related learning, for example through some form of reflective commentary.
The most straightforward kind of evidence of prior learning is in the form of higher education qualifications that you have been awarded by a university or other recognised awarding body. Within the regulations of the University the credit value of such qualifications can be partially or wholly counted towards the achievement of your Middlesex qualification.
With regards to evidence of experiential and/or work-based learning, the specific form of evidence will depend very much on the kind of experience and/or work that has provided the context for your prior learning. This could for example, be in the form of a portfolio that includes the following:
- A job description that clearly and comprehensively articulates your duties and level of responsibility
- A detailed curriculum vitae (CV) that articulates your personal, professional and career development
- Professional qualifications or certificates that may or may not have an established academic credit value
- Evidence of continuing professional development activity, in-company training, professional updating
- Evidence of significant work projects and activities you have personally undertaken
- Case studies. An evaluation of a particular case or event in which you have been involved, which demonstrates evidence of the learning you are claiming.
- Artefacts you have produced such as reports, policy and procedure documents, websites, designs, photography, video, audio files, articles etc
- Statements by a line manager or other independent source familiar with your work projects and the requirements of your job roles (the inclusion of testimonials should be to confirm other evidence. They are not adequate evidence in themselves)
Each item of evidence in your portfolio must be supplemented by an evaluation of how it has contributed your learning. This will normally also be specifically related to identified learning outcomes in selected modules from your Middlesex higher education programme to demonstrate equivalence. Where significant work projects or case studies are identified these can form the basis of specific examples or 'areas of learning' that structure your claim for academic credit.
Middlesex has a range of 'Review of Learning' modules that you can undertake. These modules are specifically designed to develop your capability to reflect on your prior learning and to produce a portfolio of evidence in support of your claim for academic credit. Review of Learning modules are available at each higher education level (from academic level 4 through to 7) and in some cases can form part of your programme of study at Middlesex. Please also note that Review of Learning modules are subject to standard Middlesex University tuition fees and that there is a separate fee of £650 for the assessment of prior learning evidence portfolios.
Alternatively, if you make it clear at the point of application (or in some cases in the early stages of your programme of study), that you wish to make a claim for the recognition of your prior learning, a Middlesex Tutor will provide initial advice and guidance as to how to construct and submit your claim. The Tutor will also be able to identify where specific module learning outcomes are likely to be able to be demonstrably met through the submission of evidence of your prior learning. It is of course possible that the advice at this stage will be that you lack sufficient and appropriate evidence of relevant prior learning.
It is however, important to note that it is at all times the responsibility of yourself as claimant, to both submit your claim and to provide sufficient and appropriate evidence of prior learning. Where a claim is submitted a fee of £650 may be charged for the assessment of prior learning evidence portfolios.
The assessment of evidence of prior learning submitted towards a claim for the award of Middlesex University academic credit is subject to exactly the same principles and processes as any other assessment of learning in relation to validated modules. The evidence of prior learning that you submit will be initially assessed by an appropriate Middlesex Tutor with regards to the extent to which it demonstrates the achievement of the learning outcomes against which your claim is made. The outcome of this first assessment will then be reviewed (moderated) by a second Tutor and (where at academic level 5 or above) reviewed by an External Examiner. The results of this assessment process will be formally considered at the University Accreditation Board where the decision to award academic credit (or otherwise) will be made. The outcome of the assessment of prior learning claims are on a pass/fail basis, are not graded and cannot contribute to degree classifications. Where academic credit is awarded this will be recorded by Middlesex University Registry and will be identified on your Diploma Supplement on the successful completion of your programme of studies.
If you are intending to make a claim for prior learning at the point of application to your Middlesex programme you should contact the relevant Programme Leader for an initial discussion, contact details can be found on the relevant course pages on the Middlesex website.
If you are already enrolled on a Middlesex programme you should discuss any opportunities for making a claim for your prior learning with your Programme Leader. Please note it may not be possible in all cases to make a claim for prior learning once your programme of study has commenced.
If you are interested in enrolling on a Review of Learning module to help you develop a claim for your prior learning, further information can be provided by contacting Middlesex Institute for Work Based Learning admissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education guidance and code of practice in relation to Higher Education Academic Credit, Recognition of Prior Learning and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications