TPSO Newsletter Edition 1: Recognised prior learning, an explanation by Dr Alison Wakefield, Chairman of the Security Institute

Recognised prior learning (RPL) is a process that supports career progression and professional development. It enables people’s previous qualifications, training and/or experience to be counted towards further studies, shortening the time (and money) required to gain an advanced qualification such as a degree.

The Security Institute has partnerships with Buckinghamshire New University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of South Wales whereby those universities will award credits to holders of the Institute’s Diploma or Advanced Diploma qualifications in Security Management. Details can be found on the Institute website: Similar arrangements may apply to vocational courses with other training providers, and other university courses.

‘Learning outcomes’ are statements describing the knowledge and skills that students are expected to achieve by the end of a module or course. If a student can demonstrate that they are able to meet the learning outcomes of one or more modules of a course, they may be eligible for RPL credits.

This is easiest to put into practice when a student holds qualifications at an equivalent level and of equivalent credits (essentially, equivalent study hours). The Security Institute’s Diploma is a one-year, Level 5 vocational course, which may be considered by an RPL assessor (normally the director of the course to which the student is applying) as being equivalent to up to one year’s study on a university security course. The UK government provides a useful guide to what the qualification levels mean: Other countries use similar scales that can be mapped against the UK’s.

RPL assessors may also consider training (certificated or otherwise) and professional experience as evidence to support the awarding of course credits, normally evidenced in the form of a portfolio. It is always worth seeking advice from the RPL assessor before starting to work on this.

A vocational course can be a good place to commence your studies if you have been out of education for some time, in order to gain confidence before investing the time and, most importantly, money in a university education.

Dr Alison Wakefield

……is Chairman of the Security Institute , and an academic criminologist at the University of Portsmouth, where she runs the Professional Doctorate programme in Security Risk Management. She represents the Security Institute on the board of the Chartered Security Professionals Registration Authority, and serves on the Advisory Councils for the International Security Expo and the International Disaster Response Expo run annually at Olympia. Alison is also an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute. Alison is a regular author and public speaker on security topics, and her contributions include the books Selling Security: The Private Policing of Public Space (Willan Publishing, 2003), The Sage Dictionary of Policing (Sage, 2009, edited with Jenny Fleming), and Ethical and Social Perspectives on Situational Crime Prevention (Hart Publishing, 2000, edited with Andrew von Hirsch and David Garland).