Frequently Asked Questions
RPL at a glance …
What is RPL?
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the generic term used to describe the
system for recognising a range of relevant learning that a student may have
gained prior to entry onto a particular course.
(i) Recognition of Prior Formal Learning: This refers to the recognition of
formal learning which is linked to the National Framework of Qualifications
and for which certification has been awarded; it might include a course or
part of a course that has been completed previously.
(ii) Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning: This refers to the recognition of
the kind of learning that has been gained through work or life experiences.
It could also include learning gained through workplace training courses.
How is the prior learning measured?
Our courses are composed of modules and the stated learning outcomes of
these modules are seen as the basic levels of learning. Therefore, in CIT, these
become the minimum standards against which prior learning is measured.
The RPL process can enable students who have already achieved the learning
outcomes for a subject/module on their chosen course to apply for an
exemption from taking that subject/module again. In this way, it allows learners
to build on previous learning wherever it was attained and not to repeat
Who is RPL aimed at?
Generally the RPL process is aimed at mature learners who will have significant
experiential learning in a particular area and who may also have some formal
How can RPL be used?
There are two main ways in which the RPL process is used generally:
The RPL process can be used to gain access to a course for a student who might
not meet the standard entry requirements. This is classed as advanced entry to
a course. A student who can demonstrate and provide evidence for learning
at, e.g., Level 6, in a particular discipline may gain access to a course at Level 7
despite not having attained an award at Level 6.
More commonly, the RPL process can be used to gain exemptions from a
module or a number of modules within a course. In this case, the student might
be able to provide evidence that they have already acquired the learning related
to one or more modules of a particular course.
Where do I start?
After applying for the course a good point to start is to contact the Course
Coordinator. Their phone numbers are available in the CIT prospectus. They are
best placed to give you relevant advice as they have an in-depth knowledge of
the course materials and can see how your prior learning relates to this. You
should then attend an RPL workshop and access the RPL supports on the CIT
What does it cost?
When you register for a module the cost is the same whether you intend to
apply for RPL or not. The exception to this is if you apply for an exemption based
on your prior formal learning the cost will be the examination fee only.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is an accumulation of evidence of learning relating to a particular
module’s learning outcomes (for exemption) or to an award at a particular level
on the National Framework of Qualifications (for entry). Depending on the
subject area or discipline the portfolio can include a huge variety of material.
The portfolio will contain the package of evidence that will be assessed to see if
you have already met the module learning outcomes or level of learning.
Am I given help to develop a learning portfolio?
Yes, the RPL Coordinator will support you through the process. In preparing
a portfolio you are preparing a claim to prove your prior learning and have it
accredited. You are provided with a workbook and a template to support your
efforts and you can decide how best to present your own case. If you have any
questions about the scope of the learning outcomes within the module you
should direct them to the lecturer involved or the Course Coordinator.
How do I know if my work is good enough?
The RPL Coordinator will be able to provide general advice and support and the
appropriate academic staff will be able to help you to answer module specific
How long does it take?
This is really up to you. You direct the pace. Most candidates take two to three
weeks to complete a portfolio for a particular module.
Do I get a grade for my portfolio?
Yes, if it is an application for exemption based on prior experiential learning only,
the portfolio is graded. You will not be awarded a grade for all other types of
portfolio. If the outcome of your assessment is successful you will be granted an
exemption or entry to a course depending on the situation.
What if I don’t get the exemption?
If an exemption is not granted then the Assessor makes a recommendation.
It means the assessment process isn’t finished yet. This informs the candidate
the necessary steps/actions which must be taken in order to obtain the
exemption. This can be a recommendation for additional work, study, research,
project work, assignment, short course, attendance at a seminar, or further
development work on the portfolio. The recommendation can also be that the
normal assessments of the module should be completed and lectures attended.
Are there any rules I should be aware of?
The limitations and rules for applications for exemptions are as follows:
- You can only be exempt from a whole module, not part of one.
- The Assessor will compare the learning that you have presented in your portfolio and the evidence in support of that learning with the learning outcomes of the module in question.
- How you present your case depends on the basis of your claim. If you are seeking to have prior formal learning recognised then you may present a comparison of your course syllabus with the relevant CIT course syllabus and then prove your case with certificates and transcript of results.
- If you are basing your claim on prior experiential learning only then you must respond to each of the learning outcomes of the module specifically.
- There is no upper limit for the number of modules which can be achieved using prior experiential learning only. A grade will be awarded for each portfolio submitted.
- In the case of prior experiential learning portfolios you will not be advised of your grade prior to the module exam boards at the end of the relevant semester.
- In the event that you are unhappy with the outcome of the assessment then you can appeal the result.