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Applicants who have earned credits in theological studies at university level may be able to transfer those credits to the BTh and MA programmes. If granted, exemptions reduce the overall time, number of modules and tuition fees required to complete a programme. Exemptions based on previous studies is known as Accreditation of Prior Credited/Certified Learning (APCL).

In special circumstances it may also possible to secure exemptions based on previous ministry or teaching experience, known as Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

Rules for APCL

1. APCL is only granted for previous theological, or theologically-related studies. Studies in subjects other than theology but which contain a theological/religious element will be considered (e.g. a history module covering some aspect of Church history). Previous studies must be also pitched at Higher Education level, so A-levels, High School diplomas, or training or vocational qualifications pitched below HE level do not count for APCL purposes.

2. When considering APCL applications we make our recommendation to the university on the basis of like-for-like studies. For example, previous church history studies would secure exemptions against similar modules we offer. Applicants cannot choose which modules they are applying for APCL. 

3. Exemptions may be granted against modules, and in special cases, entire levels (thus permitting direct entry to, say, the Diploma stage of the BTh. Direct entry to the final stage of the BTh degree is possible only in circumstances where an applicant has completed sufficient accredited studies elsewhere. 

4. APCL applications are based on previous formally accredited studies. Thus while studies at unaccredited institutions may be accepted as evidence of satisfying entrance requirements on to a KEDS course, unaccredited studies cannot be used to for APCL purposes.

5. Credits from previously-completed awards (eg a Master's degree in Theology, or another Bachelor degree in religious studies) cannot be accepted, as this would entail credits being used twice. Applications must be based on credits (or credit hours) earned from incomplete programmes. Where an applicant has completed an early exit or lesser award (eg Certificate, Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Associate Degree etc)m for the purposes of APCL these count as incomplete programmes and can be claimed against a full award.

6. At undergraduate level, the maximum APCL (or combined APCL-APEL) is 240 credits (i.e. direct entry to Level 6, the last stage of the BTh degree. For the MA the maximum that can be granted is 120 credits (i.e. two-thirds of the degree, the full taught element excluding the dissertation).

7. The 50% rule. For early exit awards (e.g. Certificate/Diploma of Higher Education) at least 50% of credits must be completed through Chester for an early exit award. So a student with APCL of 50 credits at Certificate Level 4 completing the remaining 70 credits through Chester qualifies for a Certificate award, as at least 50% of credits were completed through the university. However, APCL of 70 credits and 50 credits completed through the university (i.e. less than 50%) would not be entitled to a Certificate award. Meanwhile, APCL of, say, 150 credits (120 credits at Certificate level and 30 Diploma credits), together with 90 credits through Chester does not earn an early exit Diploma. In such cases the student receives a university transcript detailing modules completed. Alternatively, they may continue on the BTh programme and earn the full award, or else exit at the next exit stage where the 50% rule is satisfied. The 50% rule does not apply to direct entry to Level 6, where APCL of 240 credits at Diploma level is permitted (see above).

8. Applications for APCL for studies more than five years ago must demonstrate currency of credit. This means evidence must be produced to demonstrate that the student has kept up-to-date with current developments in their field since completing those studies. In such cases APCL applicants must supply a statement demonstrating how they have remained current with developments in the field. The statement should consist of no more than 1-2 sides of paper listing evidence to prove a continued interest in and interaction with the field since completing studies. The assessor from KEDS may seek to discuss your statement with you by telephone or Skype. Examples of evidence to list include the following:

  • Books and academic publications read since completing studies
  • Conferences, seminars, workshops, presentations, lectures attended
  • Any additional studies, courses, programmes attended (whether accredited or unaccredited)
  • Additional training
  • Ministry
  • Any other evidence demonstrating you remain current with developments in Theology

Rules for APEL

1. APEL applications are based on work experience specifically in the field of religious work, such as church ministry, theology, biblical studies and so on. Non-theological work experience cannot be used to apply for APEL.

2. Previous work experience must be at a level which properly earns exemptions from studies at Higher Education level. This might include pastoral ministry, lecturing etc, while administrative roles or or work not involving critical theological reflection (e.g. Sunday School teaching of children) will not normally secure APEL. As such, APEL exemptions towards the BTh tend to be modest, typically 10-20 credits at Certificate level unless the applicant can demonstrate substantial critical theological reflection. APEL exemptions for the MA are rare.

3. At undergraduate level an application for both APCL and APEL can be made together. at the same time. Both forms need to be completed and returned to the school office. Please note that onced enrolled on a degree programme applications for APCL/APEL must be made within a month of enrollment. It is not possible to apply for exemptions once your studies are well underway.

How to Apply

To make an application for APCL/APEL please download and complete the form below, returning it by email to the school office. Be sure to include all the relevant sections and attach copies of any supporting documentation. This form is to be used for both BTh. and MA applications.


The fee for assessing credit exemptions is set out in the current year fee sheet.

To make payment visit our eShop and select “Other Fees and Payments”. If applying for exemptions at more than one level add extra payments to your shopping cart.

King's APCL application form

Please note that although KEDS will prepare a recommendation for the university based on the documentation supplied, the final decision concerning the award of APCL or APEL lies with the University of Chester.



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