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English language requirements

A page from an English dictionary
All applicants must be able to demonstrate that their level of English language ability meets the Royal College of Music’s minimum requirements as a condition of entry to their course.

If you are not a UK national, you will have to provide evidence of your English ability. Most students prove this by sending the RCM an IELTS certificate, or other acceptable language qualification, although there are some other ways to meet the requirements. You do not have to already hold an English language qualification at the point of application.

In most cases the deadline to submit proof of your English language ability is 1 May prior to starting your course. If you are submitting a previous degree or A level qualification as evidence of your English, you must submit this as soon as you receive it.

Candidates requiring a Student visa

If you require a Student visa to study in the UK, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires the RCM to obtain evidence of your English language ability before we can sponsor your visa application. Please ensure you leave yourself enough time to obtain the required qualification.

The RCM’s entry requirements comply with the minimum levels set by UKVI for Student visa applications. For some courses, such as the MMus, the RCM's English language requirements are higher than the CEFR B2 level set by UKVI.

UKVI regularly reviews the English requirements for Student visas, and in the event of any change, visa nationals will be required to meet both the RCM and UKVI minimum requirements to obtain a visa for their course.

Check the English language requirements for your course

The RCM requires applicants to the following courses to speak English to B2 standard on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in all four components (reading, writing, speaking, listening). This is equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 5.5 in all four components.

  • Bachelor of Music(Hons)
  • Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance
  • Master of Performance
  • Master of Composition
  • Artist Diploma in Performance
  • Artist Diploma in Composition
  • Artist Diploma in Opera

The RCM requires applicants to the following courses to speak English to an overall standard of CEFR C1, with a minimum standard of CEFR B2 in all four components. This is equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum of 5.5. in all four components. Students on these courses are also required to provide one or more pieces of written work as part of the application process. Please see the relevant course page for further details.

Proving your English language ability

The RCM accepts the following evidence of English language ability:

English Language Tests

If you do not fall into one of the exception categories listed below, you will need to submit a certificate for an approved English language test.

We have published lists of the accepted tests and scores for entry.

Applicants beginning courses in September 2021 onwards

RCM approved English language tests and scores – 2021 entry onwards

RCM approved online English tests and scores 2020 and 2021 entry only

The qualification must be valid on the course start date. Applicants requiring a Student visa must have passed the English language test within two years of the date they submit their visa application (this includes qualifications with longer periods of validity).

National of a majority English speaking country

You do not need to sit an English test if you can provide a valid passport from an English speaking country

The UK Home Office defines the following countries as majority English-speaking:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Academic degree from a majority English speaking country

You do not need to sit an English test if you have completed an academic (not technical or professional) degree equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree or above in a majority English speaking country.

The UK Home Office defines the following countries as majority English-speaking for this purpose:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Note that Canada is not classed by the Home Office as a majority English-speaking country in this category.

Academic degree taught in English from a non-majority English speaking country

You do not need have to sit an English test if you have completed an academic (not technical or professional) degree equivalent to a UK bachelors degree or above that was taught in English in a non-majority English speaking country, or Canada. This includes graduates of the RCM/NAFA Bachelor of Music programme at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore.

Evidence must be provided that the degree was taught in English.

GCSE or A level in English

You do not need to sit an English test if you have been awarded one of the following qualifications in either English Language or English Literature:

Courses requiring English at CEFR B2

  • GCSE at grade 4 or above
  • Scottish National 5 qualification at grade C or above
  • A Level at grade E or above
  • Scottish Higher at grade D or above

Courses requiring English at CEFR C1

  • GCSE at grade 6 or above
  • Scottish National 5 qualification at grade B or above
  • A level at grade C or above
  • Scottish Higher at grade C or above

For applicants requiring a Student visa to study at the RCM, the qualification must have been awarded following education undertaken at a school in the UK while they were under the age of 18. Applicants do not have to be under 18 on the date they sat the exam. The RCM will use your UCAS Conservatoires application to verify your age. GCSEs studied for through adult education or correspondence courses are not accepted by UKVI, nor are IGCSEs, International A Levels, the International Baccalaureate or qualifications studied for outside the UK.

Other school level qualifications in English are not accepted other than the exceptions in the category below.

Candidates educated in the UK, Singapore or South Africa

The Home Office recognises the right of the RCM, as a Student sponsor with a track record of compliance, to set some of our own rules to assess English language. We will assess you as meeting the requirement to speak English at CEFR B2 level in all four components if:

  • You are a national of any country and you have completed your secondary education at a school in the UK. You must have been taught in English and have obtained either A Levels, Scottish Highers or the International Baccalaureate Diploma to the RCM’s required academic standard for admission.
  • You are a national of Singapore or South Africa, who has completed their secondary education through the medium of English in Singapore or South Africa, and has successfully been awarded either international A Levels, Scottish Highers or the International Baccalaureate Diploma at the RCM’s required academic standard for admission.

The RCM will verify that your school/university course was taught through the medium of English.

The exemptions for candidates educated in the UK, Singapore or South Africa are only sufficient for courses requiring English at CEFR B2 level. If your course requires CEFR C1 level (eg the Master of Music or Doctoral Studies), you will be required to submit further proof of English at CEFR C1, such as a Secure English Language Test.

English Language Tests

School leaving qualifications from other countries are not accepted by the RCM.

Current RCM students continuing on the same course

If you are already studying at the RCM and need to extend your visa to complete your current course, your English language ability will be assessed based on your academic progress, so you do not need to sit a test.

Further advice

If you require any further advice on how to meet our English Language requirements, please contact our Admissions team.

Admissions

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk