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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 in order for their application to be accepted.

If you are not a UK national, you will have to provide evidence of your English ability. This includes students from other EU countries, even if you do not need a visa to study in the UK.

The deadline to submit proof of your English language ability is 1 May prior to starting your course.

Check the English language requirements for your course

Please refer to the 'Proving your English language ability' section below, which details the required standard of English for each of the RCM's courses, along with our accepted English language tests and required scores. You can also find out whether or not your circumstances make you exempt from having to sit an English test.

Proving your English language ability

Candidates requiring a Tier 4 (General) Student visa

If you require a visa to study at the RCM, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires proof of your English language abilities as part of your visa application.

Please ensure you leave yourself enough time to gather proof of your English language abilities.

The RCM’s entry requirements comply with the minimum levels set by UKVI for Tier 4 (General) 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 Tier 4 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.

Applying for visas

Proving your English language ability

Most non-UK candidates are required to submit an approved English language test certificate.

English Language Tests

If you do not fall into one of the exception categories 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

Exceptions apply to the following candidates:

Candidates from a majority English speaking country or holding a degree awarded by a majority English speaking country

You do not need to sit an English test if you have a valid passport from an English speaking country or if you have completed an academic (not vocational) qualification at least equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree in an English speaking country.

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

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

Please note: this list does not include Singapore, Hong Kong or South Africa.

*Canada is only considered an English-speaking country for the purpose of nationality.  Non-Canadian nationals who have been educated in Canada must provide other evidence of their English language ability.

Candidates educated in the UK, Singapore or South Africa

The Home Office recognises the RCM as a Higher Education Institution, which means we have the right 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.
  • You are a national of any country and you have obtained a degree qualification taught in English in Singapore or South Africa. This includes graduates of the RCM/NAFA Bachelor of Music programme at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore.

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

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

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

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.

Tier 4 child visa holders

You do not need to sit a separate test if you successfully completed a course as a Tier 4 (Child) student which was both:

  • At least six months in length


  • Ended no more than two years before the start of your RCM course

Please note, however, this does not apply if you have been studying in the UK on a different type of visa.

Further advice

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


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