Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

Last Updated 7 November, 2016

Recognition of Prior Learning is a form of assessment, which matches students’ skills and knowledge with the outcomes of courses or units of courses in an accredited program. The skills and knowledge may have been obtained through education, work experience or life experience.

Applicants are responsible for demonstrating that the skills and knowledge they have obtained through work or life experience, match the outcomes of the units in the accredited program. The Sydney College of Divinity makes a judgment about the extent to which the applicant has so demonstrated.

In reaching a decision on Prior Learning, the following criteria are considered:

  • Authenticity – can the applicant provide the documentary evidence of the experiences on which their claim rests?
  • Currency – are the skills, knowledge current?
  • Quality – is the standard at least equal to that which meets the learning outcomes of the accredited unit(s)?
  • Validity – can the applicant demonstrate the knowledge and skills he/she has acquired relevant to the learning outcomes.
  • Disadvantage – in granting such credit students will not be disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for the course of study or qualification.
  • Integrity – the integrity of the course of study and qualification are maintained.

How to Apply for RPL

Applicants prepare a submission /portfolio of their prior learning. The portfolio should contain:

  • evidence that authenticates the previous learning experience.
  • a statement which links the learning experiences with the specific learning outcomes of the appropriate SCD subjects or units.

The SCD provides three RPL forms to help document the above requirements. On completion, they are submitted with the supporting portfolio.

Who Processes the RPL Application

In the first instance, the Member Institution would receive and process the RPL application. As part of the portfolio deals with achieving the learning outcomes of SCD units, a faculty / academic staff member from the relevant subject area (normally the lecturer of the unit) would have to be involved in assessing whether a student had achieved these outcomes.

The MI then forwards the portfolio and its recommendations to the SCD Student Support and Administration Committee (SSAC) who in turn evaluates the application and makes a determination.

The SCD SSAC informs the MI of the outcome who then communicates with the student in a timely manner.

Results of RPL

The SCD Student Support and Administration Committee may:

  • award the number of credit points sought
  • award more than the number of credit points sought
  • award less than the number of credit points sought
  • decline to award points in which case reasons must be given to the applicant
  • require further bridging work to be done to fill the gaps in the learning outcomes


A student may appeal to the SCD Academic Board against the outcome of an RPL application.

  • In the first instance, the student may dialogue informally with the Dean about the outcome. If there is further supporting evidence the student should table this information during these discussions.
  • If the student believes there are grounds for an appeal, this should be submitted in writing to the Dean within ten working days of receipt of the determination of the RPL application.
  • The written submission will be considered by the Academic Board.
  • The decision of the Academic Board is final.

The PDF Policy document (use the Download tab at the top) contains

  • Recognised Prior Learning: Application for Credit Form
  • Recognised Prior Learning Application for Credit: Evidence Template
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