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Credit for previous study

Related study or work experience can be credited to your degree as a form of recognition of prior learning (RPL). This means you won’t have to repeat similar units and could graduate sooner. Find out about types of credit and how to apply.

Overview and eligibility

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is when your previous studies are recognised and counted towards your current degree. 

RPL can be granted as specific credit, non-specific credit in a given discipline, reduced volume of learning or a waiver.

The type of credit you may be granted will be determined by the course you are enrolled in at the University and the level, content and completion status of your previous studies.

You should be aware that accepting credit may:

  • reduce your course duration
  • reduce your fees (this will be reflected in your fee statement or Commonwealth Assistance Notice)
  • Affect your study load, which can affect your eligibility for government assistance such as Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy.

If you are a student visa holder you need to consider student visa requirements and eligibility for future visas. If your expected course duration is decreased, we are required to notify the Department of Home Affairs.

How it works

You will usually apply for credit as part of your application for your course. You can also apply after you've accepted your offer. 

When you apply to have your previous studies recognised for credit, we will assess your transcript and any other supporting documents you provide. This will allow us to determine how your previous studies are relevant to your new course. We'll decide whether any subjects you have previously completed are a direct equivalent to units of study at the University. We also take into account University policies, the rules of your degree, your nominated majors and current enrolment to see what credit can 'fit' into your degree. 

Types of credit

Specific credit

This is credit granted for a specific unit of study when you’ve previously undertaken its exact equivalent at another institution. For example,  ABCD1234 = PHIL1001. This means you won’t need to complete the unit here.

You can apply for specific credit if you are applying for or currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or master’s course at the University and have completed studies at the same level.

Non-specific credit

This is credit granted towards a subject area when there is no equivalent unit of study here. Credit will be for a certain number of credit points at a specific level – 1000/2000/3000 level for undergraduate degrees, or higher level units for postgraduate degrees. For example, ABCD1234 = 6 credit points of unspecified Philosophy.

You can apply for non-specific credit if you are applying for or currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or master’s course at the University and have completed studies at the same level.

Reduced volume of learning (RVL)

This is a form of credit that some master’s courses use to reduce the number of credit points needed to complete the course. For example, the entire previously completed bachelor degree = 24 credit points of unspecified elective units. It recognises prior qualifications and, in some cases, relevant work experience.

You can apply for RVL if you are applying for or currently enrolled in a master’s course at the University and have completed a bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate or graduate diploma in a relevant subject area, or have relevant work experience.

Waivers

A waiver might be granted if the unit you’ve completed is substantially similar to a University of Sydney unit, but credit cannot be given. Unlike credit and RVL, waivers don’t reduce the duration of your award course and you’ll need to complete another unit in its place. Requests for waivers are made through your faculty or school, rather than through the credit application process.

Eligibility

Due to the complexity of the application process, we can offer you general advice about applying, but we won’t be able to assess whether you will receive credit until you have submitted an application. 

What you can apply for

  • Units of study taken at another university or higher education institution.
  • Qualifications from a higher education institution or vocational education and training institution (including TAFE and private providers).
  • Relevant work experience (only available in certain postgraduate degrees).

When credit will not be granted

Credit won’t be granted for:

  • study completed more than 10 years ago (for some courses this time limit is reduced to three or five years)
  • undergraduate units, if you’re enrolling in a postgraduate degree
  • units of study with concessional pass grades
  • units of study that are prerequisites for your course
  • studies completed at another tertiary institution that you were excluded from.

More information on eligibility

For more information about credit rules and criteria, see our Coursework Policy 2014.

Each faculty or school also has its own credit transfer policy. Before applying you should consult the resolutions in your handbook for the year you started your course.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018

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