Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) policy

Guiding principles underpinning the accreditation of prior learning (APL) policy.

The following principles are fundamental to the achievement of awards that meet nationally recognised standards of achievement.


  1. Learning shall be recognised irrespective of the context in which it is achieved. 
  2. It is the achievement of learning, or the outcomes of that learning, and not just the experience of the activities alone that shall be accredited. 
  3. Learning must be evidenced in writing and authenticated at the appropriate level. 
  4. All claims for APL shall be considered with the same degree of rigour and shall be comparable in terms of evidence and effort. 
  5. Decisions regarding the accreditation of prior learning are a matter of academic judgement, informed by professional bodies and other stakeholders. 
  6. The entire APL process shall be transparent to all stakeholders and demonstrably rigorous and fair. 
  7. All staff associated with the accreditation of prior learning shall have their roles clearly and explicitly defined, and underpinned by appropriate staff induction/development. 
  8. Limitations to APL shall be clearly defined.
  9. Policy and procedures for the accreditation of prior learning shall be subject to regular monitoring and review every five years.


Aims of the policy

  • To ensure that applicants who can show that they have passed the appropriate assessments at accredited colleges (or colleges of similar standing in other countries) can gain exemption from the equivalent modules of the degree course.
  • To ensure that applicants who require exemption from level 5 credits can show that their prior learning at these levels is sufficiently close in its curriculum, learning outcomes and assessment to those offered by the College. No exemptions are given for level 6 credits.
  • To ensure that applicants who have been admitted onto the course at any stage other than the beginning are oriented adequately into the course and College.

Given that there is no standardisation of syllabus or assessment in UK or overseas colleges, it is not possible to formulate a policy to cover all possible cases. The College is guided in its deliberations by the British Acupuncture Council’s Standards of Education in Training for Acupuncturists. The College has therefore formulated procedures to assist it in evaluating the merits of each individual in respect of the stage at which it is appropriate for the student to enter the course.  These are:

  • Formally asking for a written academic and personal reference from the previous college.
  • Assessing the applicant’s prior learning in respect of the College’s curriculum. This is done by the Dean and the Academic Director and may or may not include asking the applicant to sit one or more of the College’s formal assessments. The applicant must be able to provide written evidence that they have passed assessments comparable to the College’s for each of the modules undertaken prior to the point of entry of the applicant onto the course.
  • Interviewing the applicant and assessing whether s/he is suitable to be a student of acupuncture and ultimately a practitioner of acupuncture.
  • The Executive Committee is consulted before the student is admitted.


Initial contact

The applicant in the first instance fills in the College’s application form.  This asks for an outline of the applicant’s educational background and whether s/he thinks s/he may be eligible for an exemption in any area of Conventional Medical Sciences or Chinese medicine.

If the applicant wishes to apply for exemption the Dean will ask them to complete the APL exempt application form.  The Dean will seek approval from the Executive Committee and if they approve the application the Dean will then undertake due diligence.  The applicant will be asked to send a copy of the curriculum that they have studied and written evidence of their assessment record.  Before admission to the College the applicant must provide detailed results of all coursework and examinations taken at their previous college.  Once this has been examined by the Dean and the Academic Director one of 3 decisions may then be made:


  1. To provisionally approve the application. The applicant may be invited to take an assessment to evaluate their competence. Their performance in the assessment or assessments forms part of the evaluation of the appropriate stage for them to join the course. The applicant is invited to attend the College for an interview with the Dean and/or the Academic Director.
  2. Not to approve the application when the applicant may be invited to attend an interview as a new entrant.
  3. To request more information either from the applicant or from the applicant’s previous college/institution.


CICM will notify the Kingston University’s liaison officer and Faculty student support officer for Collaborative provision of the application and of CICM’s provisional decision. 


The University liaison officer will be responsible for ensuring that any such prior learning complies with the University regulations and will, in conjunction with CICM, monitor the impact on assessment outcomes of such students.

If accepted onto the course, the applicant is given the following in order to orient them within the College.

  • A timetable for the class s/he is joining.
  • The address and phone number of a regional tutor in their area.
  • Copies of all course materials previously given to the class.
  • An individual timetable (if appropriate) detailing the sessions they are expected to attend.
  • Assessment calendar.
  • An Enrolment Agreement.
  • A Student Handbook.
  • An invoice for fees owing.

Each new student who has joined the course at any stage other than at the commencement has their progress monitored by the Dean and by their personal tutor.



  • "I wanted to become an acupuncturist because I had experienced its amazing benefits…studying acupuncture at CICM was one of the best decisions in my life.”

    Ehsan Salout

  • "I love the teaching at CICM, it is varied, interesting and extremely inspiring and the teachers all have a wealth of experience to draw on.”

    Keeley Farrington

  • “CICM was suggested by an acupuncturist I know and recommended for its high-quality tuition and professional approach. I knew I wanted to explore a degree course and after my open day experience I knew it had to be CICM.”

    Michelle Patrick

  • "I recently joined CICM and there are so many things I love about the place. The teachers are genuinely helpful and want us to do well. The place has a calm, harmonic feel and studying has already had a tangible benefit to my lifestyle and health."

    Erica Chen

  • "I was an electrician before I started studying acupuncture. It might not seem like it but there are overlaps between them, you look at a circuit and work out where the problem is coming from and then rectify it. The difference is with acupuncture I’ll help people to get better!"

    Jack Keeping

  • "Since embarking on this course, I have been astounded every day by the passion that this subject has sparked in me. I realised very quickly that I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I can only describe it as finally finding my place in the universe and becoming part of something much bigger than myself."

    Sally Connelly

  • "I wanted to become an acupuncturist as I prefer to use natural remedies which are in line with my faith and cultural background. I have witnessed the profound effects treatment can have on patients. CICM has an excellent reputation and I love the whole package here, especially the staff and supportive teachers."

    Bev Holder

  • "I appreciated the integrated style of TCM and the five elements as being the most profound way to reach and help people. This was the best possible start to a long acupuncture career that I could possibly wish for."

    Bethan Morgan

  • "My years at CICM will always hold a special place in my mind. It was like entering Hogwarts. The subjects are mind-expanding, the teachers and tutors really passionate and always keen to answer questions and give guidance. It has transformed me as a person and changed the way I see people, emotions, relationships, disease and health."

    Efthymios Fotenios

  • The teachers are really supportive and make every effort to tailor how they teach to suit the different styles of students. I like to question things and look at things from different angles - and the teachers have always supported me by being there to answer things by email after class, recommend further reading, or even being there to support me when I set up a Chinese medicine society for the college.

    Helen Reid

  • The course covers a huge range of topics, angles and perspectives, and whilst so much of it is new, unfamiliar and challenging at times- especially the 'hands on practical aspects- I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing, or anywhere else I’d rather be doing it. CICM is a hub of connection, commitment and energy, and something I am honoured to be part of.

    Ellie Farnfield

  • All of my teachers are practicing therapists with a library of information and experience to reinforce their words and the lectures. I have gained a lot of insight into myself and I often find myself reflecting on what we learned in class and applying it to life. I am recommending the course to everyone I know!

    Jacob Marley

  • As I was in my late forties I was concerned that I was too old, however the Open Day dispelled any doubts that I had as the age range of students and staff spanned from 18 to 80. The beautiful building was a joy to explore and I felt immersed in the world of Chinese Medicine. It was a cocoon of learning in the heart of Reading and only ten minutes’ walk from the train station.

    Samanthan Roderick