Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is designed to support access to higher education for candidates who have gained degree-related knowledge and skills through informal study or experiential means. In the academic context, it is the acknowledgment that academically significant and socially-useful knowledge is acquired through multiple formal, informal and non-formal means. This includes knowledge gained through non-formal study, paid work and unpaid work, community and organisational involvement, and individual enquiry. 

What is the purpose of RPL?

  1. To recognise and, where appropriate, grant advanced standing for the expertise gained by skilled individuals in non-academic contexts.
  2. To contribute to the holistic assessment and self-assessment of people embarking on a learning path.
  3. To enrich the academy and the curriculum by facilitating dialogue across sites of knowledge and practice.
  4. To facilitate access to higher education and provide redress for historical inequities.
  5. To promote and facilitate lifelong learning.


The process typically applies to applicants who have been outside of formal education for several years and, who have gained experience in a work environment which they now wish to supplement with a formal higher education qualification. To qualify for Recognition of Prior Learning, applicants must be able to demonstrate that:

  • The knowledge gained is relevant to the degree programme for which they are applying
  • The knowledge or experience is equivalent to the normal entrance requirements

Applicants with prior learning need to demonstrate that their experience is equivalent to the formal entry requirements of the degree programme and that they are capable of understanding academic studies. The 7 step RPL application process is designed to guide applicants through this.

Please take careful note of the process and stages involved in the pre-screening, assessment and selection of RPL candidates. For queries relating to RPL in the Faculty of Humanities, please email the Faculty's Student Recruitment Officer.

Step 1

Click the link to download the RPL pre-screening form.

Step 2

Return the completed RPL pre-screening form to: by 31 July of the year prior to admission.

Step 3

Upon receipt of your completed pre-screening form, the Faculty will provide you with feedback regarding the outcomes of your RPL consideration request. This should take approximately two weeks from the date of receipt of your pre-screening form.

Step 4

Should your RPL consideration request be successful,  you will be sent a non-transferable RPL questionnaire to complete together with the following documents: a UCT application (access from: + registration for the National Benchmark Test (NBT) (access from:

Step 5

The completed RPL questionnaire should be returned to the Humanities RPL email address or to the Humanities reception desk.  together with your UCT applicant number.

Step 6

Upon receipt of your completed RPL questionnaire and UCT application form, the Faculty will forward your application documents to the respective academic department for a formal evaluation and assessment of the relevance of the experiential knowledge to the degree programme.

Step 7

The department will assess your level of readiness and suitability for your preferred field of study. In evaluating your application, you may be invited to an interview with the department, or to take a test to evaluate academic readiness.

Following the above 7 steps, the Faculty Admissions Committee will make the final decision based on the department’s recommendations, any test results and the overall strength of your application in relation to the availability of spaces. You will receive Faculty correspondence informing you of the final decision via email.

  • You will be contacted directly once your application has been considered.
  • Please allow at least one month for processing.

For applications to the General Degree programmes, the earliest possible admissions decision can only be made from September.


Enquiries concerning the postgraduate RPL process should be directed to

What would normally be required is evidence of your prior experience in the tasks that would be expected at postgraduate level. Some evidence of the capacity for conceptual and analytical thought at an advanced level would be expected. For example: analytical writing such as prior publications, research reports or essays, or creative works (as part of a creative programme). In addition to your formal application to UCT, a portfolio of evidence together with a letter of support from the Head of Department, must be submitted to the Humanities Postgraduate Office for consideration by the relevant committee.

A condition of admission might include completion of prescribed undergraduate or postgraduate coursework prior to admission.




Tel: 021 650 5235

Physical Address: 

Student Recruitment Office

Room 105, Beattie Building

University Avenue, UCT Upper Campus