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Study options & audition requirements

Composer with bassist in Britten Theatre
We understand that auditions are a significant milestone on every applicant’s journey towards a career as a conservatoire musician. The guidance below will help you prepare to the best of your abilities and make you aware of what will happen at your Royal College of Music audition.

Composers audition by submitting a portfolio of work to the RCM for consideration. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview. 

Composition interviews take place at the RCM in London and are not available at our overseas audition venues. However, candidates unable to travel to London can choose to have a live video interview instead.

Applications to the Composition Faculty are reviewed during the first few weeks of October. Therefore, please ensure that your references reach the RCM by the application deadline to ensure that they are considered along with your portfolio.  

You are advised to read the information below carefully.

Principal studies

Every student undertakes principal study in their main specialism, which lies at the heart of their RCM experience. You can audition for the following principal studies. Please note that research degrees have their own set of requirements.

Expand the options below to find out the audition requirements for each principal study. 

Video interviews for composers

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, candidates for Composition and Composition for Screen for 2021 who have been selected for the second stage of the audition process are invited to participate in an interview via video conferencing. You will still be considered for a scholarship using this method.

Find out more

Composition

Undergraduate & taught postgraduate

All applicants must submit a portfolio of at least two, but not more than five, contrasting examples of their compositions.

We are looking for evidence of both a talent for composition and, depending on the level at which you wish to study, the ability to realise effectively, or to start to realise, your ideas in a variety of forms and media.

Candidates whose portfolios demonstrate potential will be invited to interview. The interview will include a series of simple aural tests. 

Typical questions you may be asked during your interview include:

  • Why do you want to study at the RCM?
  • What are your musical interests?
  • What do you think you need to do most to improve your writing?

Composition for Screen

Taught postgraduate only

All applicants must submit a portfolio of at least two, but not more than five, contrasting examples of their compositions.

In addition to the normal academic and musical standards expected for entry to the RCM's MComp or MMus course, Composition for Screen applicants will be expected to demonstrate:

  • A command of musical gesture and expression.
  • Instrumentation and orchestral skills.
  • Proficiency in music technology applications such as sequencing and score processing. 
  • Experience in the use of Logic or similar software.
  • A keen awareness of music's narrative and dramatic functions within and beyond film, television and multimedia.

Candidates whose portfolios demonstrate potential will be invited to interview. Prior to interview Composition for Screen candidates will be sent a short vocational task to complete (such as composing a short excerpt to accompany an image or scenario).

Second study

Most undergraduates on the BMus course and postgraduates studying for MPerf, MComp or MMus have the option of undertaking a second study specialism. Second study allows students to receive tuition in a second specialism, taught and assessed at a lower intensity than their principal study, in an area that does not qualify for related study.

Second study specialisms are subject to successful audition and the agreement of the relevant Head of Faculty. Auditions take place during the first few weeks of the course, and students will have the opportunity to register for these auditions shortly before the start of the academic year. There is no need to inform the RCM at the point of application.

Please note that second study is not available to Composition for Screen students.

Submitting your portfolio

The application deadline has now passed for Composition courses for September 2021 entry. The Faculty is not currently accepting any further applications.

What to expect at interview

What to bring

You do not need to bring anything to your interview with you.

What not to bring

You cannot bring a teacher or a translator into your interview. The only people in your interview room will be you and the interview panel. As our courses are taught in English we expect you to be able to communicate in English at your interview.

Composition & Composition for Screen interviews in London

You should plan to arrive at the RCM at least 15 minutes before your scheduled audition time. We advise allowing plenty of extra time for travelling into or across London.

If you are caught in an unavoidable delay, please telephone the Admissions team on +44 (0)20 7591 4362 immediately so that, wherever possible, alternative arrangements can be made.

Changes to audition availability

We have been closely monitoring the ongoing situation with coronavirus in the UK, as the safety of our applicants is paramount. As a result, the majority of our auditions that would normally take place in November and December 2020 in London will now be conducted via submission of a video recording. This affects applicants auditioning for courses that begin in September 2021.

For the latest information on audition options, please refer to our Choosing where to audition page.

When you arrive at the RCM, you should find out from the steward in the entrance hall where your interview will take place.

Composition and Composition for Screen interviews last approximately 20 minutes.

Composition & Composition for Screen video interviews

Candidates can choose to have a video interview instead of an interview in-person at the RCM. Please select this option in your application on UCAS Conservatoires.

Composition and Composition for Screen interviews last approximately 20 minutes.

Scholarships

Every student who applies for a place on one of the RCM's performance or composition courses commencing in 2021 will be considered for scholarship, whether you have applied by video or attended an audition or interview in person.

There is no separate application process.

Eligibility for scholarships is based on merit, which is determined by performance at audition (or by submission of video) or the strength of portfolio and interview for composers.

If you are offered a scholarship or study award you will receive a letter, normally sent by email, confirming this and the conditions of your award.

In exceptional circumstances, an applicant may be offered a scholarship on the day of their audition.

After your audition

You will be informed of the result of your audition as soon as possible. The RCM cannot enter into correspondence over the results of auditions. 

Find out more

Audition queries

Please double-check that you are available at the time and date of your audition. If there are any special circumstances the RCM needs to be aware of before your audition, please let us know in advance.

Find out more

If you have any questions about auditions or the application process please contact our Admissions team.

Admissions

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk