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Recognition of prior learning

Get credit for your previous study or work experience
Related study or work experience can be credited towards your degree so that you can graduate sooner.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is when your previous studies and/or work experience are recognised and counted towards your degree as credit.

The University may recognise prior learning by granting specific credit, non-specific credit, reduced volume of learning (RVL) or waivers.

The way in which your prior learning may be recognised will be determined by the course you enrol 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

For domestic students, credit may affect your study load, which can affect your eligibility for government assistance such as Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy.

For international student visa holders, 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.

International articulation pathways

The University has international articulation pathway arrangements with selected overseas universities, polytechnics and colleges. These formal arrangements can help fast-track your studies by providing you with credit towards your degree. If your institution and program is listed, credit may be awarded as part of the application for admission. A separate application for credit is not required.  

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, and how, your prior learning will be recognised until you have submitted an application. Prior learning is assessed by the Student Administration Services team in conjunction with our faculties/schools.

What you can seek recognition for

  • Units of study taken at another university or higher education institution.
  • Approved qualifications from a higher education institution or certain vocational education and training institutions.
  • Relevant work experience (only available in certain postgraduate degrees).

There are various rules and limits that apply to credit or recognition of prior learning. Find out when credit will not be granted

For more information about credit rules and criteria, refer to the faculty handbook for your course and part 11 of our Coursework Policy.

How to apply

To apply, applicants need to follow the credit application process detailed on the How to apply for credit page.

If your previous studies are part of a recognised international articulation pathway, you will not be required to submit a separate credit application.

Credit for previous study

Undergraduate

If you have already completed university-level or equivalent subjects, or in some cases a recognised qualification leading into a bachelor's degree, you may be able to apply for credit for previous study. 

For international students, we have a number of international articulation pathway arrangements with selected overseas universities, polytechnics and colleges. These formal arrangements can help fast-track your studies by providing you with credit towards your degree. 

Refer to the faculty handbook for more information. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

For students applying to transfer into a combined law degree after completing at least one year in a bachelor's degree, the credit policies of the Law School and its partner faculties are used when determining the amount of credit for previous studies. It may not be possible to complete combined Law within the standard course duration years if you transfer after more than one year of university study.

Refer to the faculty handbook for more specific RPL information including relevant disciplines. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

Postgraduate coursework

For some postgraduate courses, if you have completed previous studies in a relevant area or relevant work experience, you may be eligible to reduce the length and cost of your studies through reduced volume of learning (RVL). The reduction in course length may vary based on units of study, course structure and your enrolment.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of courses and areas of study where you may be able to apply for RVL and is provided as a guide only. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 1.5 years to 1 year, if you have completed:

  • an honours degree in a relevant discipline or
  • a bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) and relevant work experience or
  • the embedded graduate certificate or graduate diploma
  • relevant professional experience that is considered equivalent to the embedded graduate certificate may be considered

Examples of courses to which the above reduced volume of learning applies, subject to a successful application are:

*Master of English Studies is only eligible for reduced volume of learning with an honours degree in a relevant discipline.

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points (1 semester)

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 2 years to 1.5 years, if you have completed:

  • a bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a relevant discipline or
  • a bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) and relevant work experience or
  • the embedded graduate certificate or graduate diploma

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 48 credit points (2 semesters or 1 year)

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 2 years to 1 year in the below courses, if you have completed: 

  • an honours degree in a relevant discipline

Courses to which the above reduced volume of learning applies, subject to a successful application are:

Refer to the faculty handbook for more specific information including relevant disciplines. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

Master of Commerce (Extension) and Master of Commerce

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 12 credit points (two foundational units of study) may be awarded to candidates who have:

  • completed a bachelor's degree or equivalent with a credit average (65 percent), with completed study deemed equivalent to foundational units of study
  • completed some postgraduate business study but not yet counted to a qualification, you may be eligible for additional credit
  • prior studies that are relevant to the Master of Commerce specialisations, regardless your degree has a name in business or not, you are encouraged to submit a credit application to have your credit eligibility assessed along with your course application

View our Master of Commerce FAQ page for further information. 

Master of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations 

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 12 credit points may be awarded to candidates who have:

  • both the equivalent of an Australian bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a related discipline, and 2 years of relevant professional work experience.

Refer to the faculty handbook for more specific information. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

Master of Engineering (all streams)

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester.

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 1.5 years to 1 year, if you have completed:

  • the equivalent of an Australian Bachelor of Engineering degree with a distinction average (75 percent) in the same area of your discipline, e.g. civil or mechanical engineering.

Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) - all streams

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 48 credit points or 2 semesters

If you have completed an equivalent of an Australian Bachelor of Engineering degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a related discipline, you are eligible to apply for the accelerated version of the Master of Professional Engineering which is two years in duration instead of the three-year Master of Professional Engineering. This is the equivalent of 48 credit points of RVL.

Master of Professional Engineering (all streams)

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 3 years to 2.5 years, if you have completed:

  • the equivalent of an Australian Bachelor of Engineering degree with a credit average (65 percent) in an unrelated engineering discipline (e.g. if your bachelor's degree was in civil engineering and you wish to study mechanical engineering for the Master of Professional Engineering), or
  • the equivalent of an Australian Bachelor of Applied Science or similar (in a related discipline).

Note: If you have an equivalent of an Australian Bachelor of Engineering degree with a 65 percent average in a related discipline, apply for the relevant two-year Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) degree.

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 72 credit points or 3 semesters.

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 3 years to 1.5 years, if you have completed:

  • a postgraduate engineering degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a related discipline.

Master of Data Science

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester.

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 1.5 years to 1 year, if you have completed:

  • the equivalent of an Australian AQF Level 8 degree, i.e. an honours degree, graduate certificate or graduate diploma or above in a major or minor in IT or computer science areas which have solid foundations in programming, statistics, ethics and IT innovations.

Master of Cybersecurity

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester.

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 1.5 years to 1 year, if you have completed:

  • the equivalent of an Australian AQF Level 8 degree, i.e. an honours degree, graduate certificate or graduate diploma or above with a major or minor in IT or computer science areas which have solid foundations in programming, security, ethics and IT innovations.

Master of Complex Systems

Reduced volume of learning (RVL) of up to 24 credit points or 1 semester.

You may be able to reduce your course duration from 1.5 years to 1 year, if you have completed:

  • the equivalent of an Australian bachelor's degree with a credit average (65 percent) in a cognate discipline. Cognate disciplines incorporate computational or complex systems modelling at a senior level, e.g. engineering, computer science, mathematics or physics.
  • the equivalent of an Australian AQF Level 8 degree, i.e. an honours degree, graduate certificate or graduate diploma or above in a quantitative discipline.

Refer to the faculty handbook for more specific information. Your eligibility will be assessed by the faculty once you apply.

Postgraduate Research (HDR)

Students who have completed at least six months as a candidate for a higher degree by research at the University of Sydney or at another recognised institution may be able to receive credit for all or any part of the previous higher degree candidature. Learn more about the Higher Degree by Research Rule.