Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)


APEL is the process where credit is sought for learning which has not previously been assessed and awarded credit by an academic institution or professional organisation.


It is learning which has taken place from a range of experiences and is often unstructured, personal and unconsciously gained. Skills, knowledge and abilities that come with this type of learning however can be equal to those gained by students following traditional courses through formal educational institutions.

If you feel you have covered the content of a module/ modules via your work/ life experience, APEL is a way to provide the evidence to show this and to gain credit for it. You will need to establish the learning experience (i.e. what was the experience?) and then identify the learning which has taken place (i.e. what did you learn from your experience?)

Examples of experiential learning include:

  • Work experience (paid or unpaid/ voluntary), e.g. a task or project that you undertook, or a report which you wrote, or a database you designed
  • Non-accredited courses, e.g. in-house training, hobbies
  • Life experience
  • Travel
  • Home and family
  • Reading and Research

NB. In order to make an APEL claim the experience you have must be relevant to your intended programme of study. For example, it would not be appropriate for someone to claim APEL based on their experience of working as a conservation volunteer, when they are undertaking a degree in History.

When the relevant areas of learning have been identified you should reflect on what you have learnt from those experiences.

You will need to understand and identify:

  • The knowledge you have gained and how it has been applied.
  • The skills you have acquired and how they have been used.

It is important to identify the level of your learning. This can be done using appropriate terminology and by giving specific examples of what you can do/have done.

For more information on APEL contact Julie.kelly@swc.ac.uk in the Higher Education office.