Credit points and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

You gain credit points each time you successfully complete a module. You need to attain a certain number of credits in order to complete an award.

If you accumulate credits through university study, it may be possible to transfer them to another institution from Birkbeck or to Birkbeck from another institution.

Awards offering credit points

  • We currently offer the following certificates, with standard credit point values: 
    • Certificate of Higher Education - 120 credits 
    • Certificates of Continuing Education - 60 credits. 
  • You will be awarded 30 credits per completed full module. It is also possible on some programmes to take half-modules, allowing you even more flexibility. You will be awarded 15 credits for each completed half-module. 
  • We also offer stand-alone short courses that are not assessed and are not part of award-bearing programmes. These are called 'non-credit bearing courses' and carry no credit points. 

What do these points equate to?

  • Most of our certificates of higher education start at Level 4, which is at the same level as a first-year undergraduate degree. As you continue your studies at Birkbeck, the level of difficulty will increase and become more challenging. With each level you complete, you will gain a further 120 credit points, which can build up to a full degree (360 credit points). 
    • Level 4 (certificate): equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree 
    • Level 5 (intermediate): equivalent to the second year of an undergraduate degree 
    • Level 6 (honours): equivalent to the third year of an undergraduate degree 
    • Level 7 (master’s): level of study during a Master’s degree. 
  • Check the UK Government's information website for more information.

Transferring credits to Birkbeck - Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

  • If you have previously studied at university level, or you have equivalent experience, you may be able to get credit for this on your course at Birkbeck. 
  • For example, if you have previously passed a module with similar content on a programme of study taken elsewhere, you may be awarded 30 Accredited Prior Learning (APL) credits for this module. You would then be exempt from the requirement to complete this module within your new programme.
  • The maximum number of APL credits accumulated at another institution that may be credited towards a Birkbeck award is usually as follows:
    • Certificate of Higher Education: 60 credits
    • Diploma of Higher Education: 120 credits
    • Foundation Degree: 120 credits, of which none may be at level 5 or above
    • Honours degree (BA/BSc/LLB): 180 credits (minimum of 120 credits at Level 6 [H] must have been studied at Birkbeck)
    • Graduate Diploma: 60 credits
    • Postgraduate Diploma: 60 credits
    • Master's programme (MA/MSc/LLM): 60 credits.
  • You cannot get Accredited Prior Learning credits if you are studying for the following:
    • Certificate of Continuing Education
    • Graduate Certificate
    • Postgraduate Certificate.
  • How to apply: To find out more about whether you qualify for APL credits, please contact the relevant department. You must apply for exemption in writing, with supporting documents. The outcome of any application will be decided in consultation with an appropriate academic member of staff or, where appropriate, referred to the relevant Awards Committee for resolution.

Transferring credits to another institution

  • In most instances you will need to provide a transcript of the results you have obtained at Birkbeck to the institution you are applying to. You can find the full transcript request procedure here. Please note that there is a charge for this service.
  • The Open University will usually provide you with forms to forward to us to request the transcript. We require the payment to be made before we can start processing your request and we treat these requests the same as all other transcript requests. The transcript will be returned directly to the Open University Credit Transfer Centre, unless you clearly specify otherwise.