Recognising Prior Learning

The University, and LEADS, acknowledges and values the fact that staff have a range of academic experience and qualifications prior to undertaking professional development on our taught Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) and MEd Academic Practice programmes. Successful completion of the PGCAP is normally a required element of the Early Career Development Programme (ECDP) at the University of Glasgow for any new academic employee on grades 7 or 8. In some instances, a new employee or their line manager may feel that prior experience or qualification should be acknowledged formally and contribute towards their participation in PGCAP.

Accordingly, we consider claims for recognition of prior learning through three distinct routes:

  1. Full exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP on the basis of previous qualification or professional recognition;
  2. Accreditation of prior certificated learning; or
  3. Accreditation of prior experiential learning.

Should a member of staff feel that prior learning could be recognised then they can submit an Acreditation of Prior Learning (APL) claim by consulting these pages, the associated guidance and completing the ‘PGCAP/MEd APL Form’.

What is the process for gaining PGCAP exemption or recognition of prior learning?


1. Full Exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP on the basis of previous qualification or professional recognition

Most UK universities, and some overseas institutions, now offer PGCAP or equivalent qualifications for their staff aligned against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning (UKPSF) and so many staff join the university already holding relevant qualifications[i] or professional recognition. Any new employee who holds a PGCAP from another institution at a level equivalent to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 11, or holds professional recognition aligned against Descriptor 2 (D2) of the UKPSF (e.g. Fellow of the HEA), may be exempt from the requirement to complete PGCAP at the University of Glasgow as part of the ECDP.

In this instance, HR can grant exemption (subject to advice from LEADS as appropriate) from the need to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP on the receipt of certificates and other necessary documentary evidence that clearly indicates ‘equivalence’ between previous qualifications and PGCAP. The applicant will need to complete Sections 1, 2 and 3a of Appendix 1 in this instance. Exemption differs from APCL/APEL since an ‘exemption’ does not involve the award of credits.

Several distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but they have already completed a 60 credit PG Certificate in Academic Practice (or equivalent), or hold professional recognition aligned against D2 of the UKPSF.

    This applicant should provide HR with copies of their PGCAP certificate and programme handbook and/or their UKPSF recognition certificate. If deemed equivalent then the applicant would be exempt from the requirement to gain D2 recognition by completing PGCAP as part of ECDP.

  2. An applicant has completed a teaching qualification at another university but it is not UKPSF aligned, nor is it clearly equivalent to PGCAP (e.g. it has a different name). The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP.

    This applicant should discuss their case with their line manager/HoS in the first instance to determine whether exemption should be pursued. If so, the applicant will provide HR with copies of their qualification certificate and programme handbook. HR will likely seek advice from LEADS regarding equivalency. The lack of clarity in this situation means that individual cases will result in a variety of outcomes ranging from exemption, to recommending an APCL claim or a RET Fellowship application.

In some instances an appointing panel, line manager or Head of School may feel that even though a new employee is exempt from the requirement to complete PGCAP they may still benefit from some degree of PGCAP study. In such instances, APCL or APEL (see subsequent sections of this policy) would be a more appropriate process.



[i] A PGCE, or similar school-based teaching qualifications, are not normally considered grounds for exemption from PGCAP as part of ECDP.


2. Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning

Any applicant who has already gained credit towards a PGCAP (or equivalent) aligned against Descriptor 2 of the UKPSF may apply to have their certificated learning accredited. A successful application for APCL can result in exemption from specific courses within the programme and can, in some instances, lead to exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP. In all instances, and without exception, evidence in the form of certificates, transcripts and relevant programme information will be required and the applicant will complete Sections 1, 2 and 4a of Appendix 1. This differs from ‘full exemption’ since credit can be awarded and continued study is possible.

Several distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but has already completed a 60 credit PG Certificate in Academic Practice (or equivalent), aligned against Descriptor 2 of the UKPSF, at another university.

    The applicant will map attained learning outcomes against the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP at the University of Glasgow totalling a maximum of 60 credits. If successful, the applicant will have met the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP through the APCL process. In this instance, a PGCAP from the University of Glasgow will not be awarded but continued study towards PG Dip AP award is possible. In the case where the equivalence of a previous qualification is unclear (e.g. example 1.2) then this process is appropriate.

  2. An applicant has completed 40 credits of a UKPSF Descriptor 2 aligned PGCAP at another university but importantly, the applicant has not completed the qualification nor have they obtained professional recognition associated with D2 of the UKPSF. The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP.

    In this case, the applicant can apply to have a maximum of 30 credits recognised by the University of Glasgow as this would ensure that their subsequent completion of PGCAP involves at least 50% of credits derived from courses studied at the University of Glasgow (a QAA requirement). The applicant will map attained learning outcomes against the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP at the University of Glasgow. The applicant will be required to complete some courses as part of PGCAP at Glasgow and the specific set of courses and quantity of credits required will be determined through the mapping of ILOs. NB it may not be possible to recognise the maximum 30 credits due to the specific mapping of ILOs.

  3. An applicant has a PGCE or another teaching qualification related to school education (i.e. pre-Higher Education). The applicant is required to complete PGCAP as part of their early career development at the University of Glasgow.

    PGCEs or non-Higher Education based teaching qualifications are not normally considered grounds for APCL or exemption from PGCAP. It may be that some element of experiential learning can be drawn from the applicant’s experience, but automatic exemption through the APCL route would not be granted in this instance.

3. Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning

Any applicant who has a substantial track record of a reflective, reasoned and innovative approach to teaching, course design, assessment and evaluation may already have sufficient experience to facilitate an application for accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL). Applicants for APEL are required to demonstrate learning gained through experience, and not simply evidence of the experience itself.

There are two independent processes for recognition of experiential learning; using experience to gain professional recognition (RET Experience Route) or using experience to gain academic credit to facilitate further study within LEADS taught programmes (APEL). Any applicant who wishes to use their experience to gain exemption from the requirement to complete PGCAP as part of ECDP is required to gain Fellowship of RET (RET F). Any applicant who wishes to claim APEL as academic credit in order to pursue a qualification (PGCAP, PG Dip AP or MEd AP) is required to complete an APEL claim using Sections 1, 2 and 5a of Appendix 1 alongside an APEL claim.

A number of distinct examples are outlined below:

  1. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP but do not wish to engage with further learning opportunities.

    If appropriate, this applicant can meet their ECDP requirements by gaining RET Fellowship. RET F does not result in the award of academic credit nor the award of PGCAP; it is an alternative, experiential route to professional recognition for experienced staff who perhaps already exceed the grade 8 promotion criteria related to teaching and learning. NB RET F applications (around 3000 words in length) are supported by workshops offered by LEADS and engagement with such workshops is strongly recommended and, in some instances, required.  

  2. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP as part of the ECDP and they may wish to engage with further learning opportunities within LEADS taught programme.

    In this instance, RET F is not appropriate. Since the applicant may wish to engage with further study and work towards a qualification such as PGCAP, PG Dip AP or MEd AP then they would have to gain academic credit. In this instance the applicant would write an APEL claim (guidance is provided in Appendix 2) mapped against the ILOs of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP totalling a maximum of 60 credits. If successful, this APEL claim for academic credit would ensure that awards of PGCAP, PG Dip AP and MEd AP are a possibility with further study.

  3. An applicant has significant experience in teaching and supporting learning, with a variety of roles across a number of institutions. They have never been required, nor had an opportunity to complete a PGCAP nor have they received professional recognition for their experience and practice. They are required, in their new role, to complete PGCAP and they have some concerns about differences between their experience and the UK/University of Glasgow context.

    In this instance, the applicant may well have sufficient experience to meet their ECDP requirement through a successful RET F application however they would like to learn about supporting teaching and learning in a UK/Glasgow context and gain access to support to overcome their concerns. In this instance, a partial APEL claim for academic credit may be more appropriate. Accordingly, the applicant would write an APEL claim (guidance is provided in Appendix 2) mapped against the ILOs of specific courses within the MEd AP/PGCAP programme totalling a maximum of 30 credits. This would enable the applicant to complete the necessary additional credits and gain a PGCAP award. RET F would also be awarded on successful completion of PGCAP. Further learning opportunities within LEADS taught programmes are a possibility.

Maximum APEL/APCL

It is not possible to enter into the MEd AP final dissertation year by bringing 120 credits from another programme at another university. This is deemed to be too substantial a proportion of the Masters qualification to be able to receive the specific named award from the University of Glasgow. In order to be accepted to study the dissertation year of the programme, participants must have successfully completed at least 60 taught credits from the University of Glasgow PGCAP or MEd AP programmes. Consequently, 60 credits is the maximum credit value for any APL claim.


Outcomes of APL Claims

All decisions about APL require the exercise of academic judgement. The primary consideration is whether the claimed prior learning is broadly equivalent to the learning that would otherwise have been assessed during the degree programme. This means that, in some instances, an APL claim will be unsuccessful, either in part or in whole, due to prior learning being judged as ‘not equivalent’.

All APL claims are judged through a rigorous process that is subject to quality assurance in a similar manner to our taught courses. Claims will be considered by at least two members of LEADS staff including the relevant programme coordinator for which recognition is claimed (or their designate where appropriate). Initial decisions on APL claims will be communicated to applicants and their line managers within 15 working days of receipt of a claim. Incomplete claims will not be processed. Any claim for credit is ultimately subject to approval by the relevant Board of Examiners (who typically meet in May or September). In the case of an unsuccessful claim LEADS will contact the applicant’s line manager and the applicant to provide advice on the best way forward.