Glossary of RPL Terms

Exemptions are awarded where the lecturer is satisfied the learning outcomes for the current module are met, at the required level or higher from previously certified or experiential learning.   

Formal Learning takes place through programmes or courses of study that are delivered in an organised, formal way by education providers and that attract awards or credits. Formal learning is sometimes referred to as certified or accredited learning.

Informal Learning takes place through life and work experience.  Typically, it does not lead to certification.

Learning Outcome is a statement of what a learner should know, understand and be able to demonstrate at the end of a process of learning, e.g. after completing a module.

Lifelong Learning this term encompasses all purposeful learning activity, whether formal, non-formal or informal, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills, and competence.

National Framework of Qualification The Irish NFQ is a 10-level system used to describe qualifications in the Irish education and training system.  The NFQ shows how General Education Awards, Further Education and Training and Higher Education Awards are mapped against the 10 levels of the framework. It describes what learners need to know, understand and be able to do to achieve a qualification. 

Non-formal Learning takes place alongside or outside the mainstream systems of education and training. It may be assessed but does not normally lead to formal certification. Examples of non-formal learning are planned learning and training activities undertaken in the workplace, voluntary sector, or in community-based settings.

Prior learning is learning that has taken place before starting a programme or a module.  Some prior learning – for example formal learning, may already have been assessed, measured, and assigned credit whereas other learning may not have – for example informal learning.  

Programme Entry Requirements are formal entry criteria which must be met to be considered for entry to stage 1 of a programme of study.

Recognition is a process by which prior learning is given a value by being formally identified, assessed, and acknowledged.  Recognition makes people aware of their existing knowledge, skills and competencies and better able to take the next step in their learning journey.