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Master of Science in Performance Science

Two MSc researchers reading in the RCM Library
The Master of Science (MSc) in Performance Science is an internationally distinctive programme, providing opportunities to examine the art and science of performance in real-world educational and professional contexts. The programme encourages students to engage with key facets of peak performance, musicians’ health and wellbeing, musical development, arts in health and effective learning and teaching.


UCAS code (1 year)
UCAS code (2 years) 715P
UCAS code (modular flexi-route) 715M
Start date September 2020
Duration 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time or modular flexi-route
Timetable All classes are scheduled on Thursdays during RCM term times

Drawing on the expertise and facilities of the Centre for Performance Science, as well as the lively performance environment of the RCM and of London, the MSc in Performance Science will benefit anyone who is motivated to gain a scientific understanding of how music is created, learned, performed and perceived, including performers and teachers aiming to progress their current careers through continuing professional development.

Equally, it serves as an ideal base for those wishing to pursue doctoral research and/or teaching in performance science, music psychology or musicians’ health, or in any area in which knowledge of scientific methods and techniques would be an advantage. 

The programme is taught through a series of seminars and tutorials organised around core study modules.

Additional one-to-one studies are available for an additional fee. If your application is successful you will be eligible to audition when you start your programme at the RCM.

Royal College of Music courses are internationally recognised as full degree courses with successful students awarded their qualifications under the RCM's Royal Charter.

Introduction to the RCM's Master of Science degree

Students and staff discuss the wide variety of experiences and opportunities afforded by the Centre for Performance Science and the supportive atmosphere on the MSc course


We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.

The RCM’s largest performance spaces are the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, which has an illustrious history, and the 400-seat Britten Theatre, which boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. In addition, more intimate spaces include The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall.

As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, 11 Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 140 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.

RCM Studios is a top commercial-grade facility, equipped with the latest audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.

The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 items of printed music, 9,000 CD recordings, extensive music literature, more than 400 music journals, plus an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) and early printed editions.

The RCM Museum holds more than 1,000 instruments dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. The collection is a unique resource and many of the instruments can be studied or played by RCM students.

The public museum is currently closed for refurbishment, but its vital resources are still available to our students. 

Students on the MSc programme also have access to the facilities of the Centre for Performance Science, including the Performance Simulator, statistical analysis software, and a range of performance capture technologies.

Career development

MSc graduates typically go on to further research programmes or careers and/or continue with portfolio careers in the music and performance industries.

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

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Entry requirements

Candidates normally require an undergraduate degree with a 2:1 class or above (or equivalent international qualification) in music, another performing art, or a subject related to performance science, such as education, psychology, sociology, or biology.

The RCM welcomes applicants from all backgrounds and alternative qualifications may be considered. If your qualifications are not listed here, please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to discuss your suitability for the programme.

English language requirements

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 require a visa to study at the RCM, you must meet the English language requirements before the RCM is permitted to sponsor your visa application.

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How to apply

Applications for 2019 entry are now closed.  Applications for 2020 entry will open in July 2019.

You must submit your application for entry through UCAS Conservatoires, where you can apply simultaneously to all the institutions that are members of Conservatoires UK. You can track your application, find out when your interview is and get the results of your application all on UCAS Conservatoires. You can also confirm your decisions online.

Candidates are required to pay an application fee of £50. All application fees are paid online through UCAS conservatoires.

Additional one-to-one studies are available for an additional fee. If your application is successful you will be eligible to audition when you start your programme at the RCM.

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UCAS Conservatoires application fees

Using UCAS Conservatoires incurs a £25 administration fee. This is in addition to our application fees. You cannot use another system. Both the application and administration fees are paid online through UCAS Conservatoires. If you encounter any problems with their payment system please contact their support team.

All late applications are subject to an additional fee of £10.

If you change your mind about applying, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires to cancel and request a refund. To be entitled to a refund you must cancel within 14 days of the date you submitted your application. You can find further details about how to do this, and also information about amending your application details, on the UCAS Conservatoires website.


Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview. The interview gives you an opportunity to explain your interest and motivation for undertaking postgraduate studies in performance science and to discuss any particular areas of interest in the field you may have. The interview also gives you the opportunity to find out more about the programme in particular and studying at the RCM in general.

We appreciate that some candidates may not have prior experience in all areas covered on the programme; however, we expect applicants to be familiar with some of the performance science literature, as well as concepts in empirical research.

The interview will be conducted in person, but in the circumstance where applicants cannot travel to London, we will arrange a phone or video interview. We do not offer interviews for the MSc in Performance Science at our international audition venues.

Interviews will be held in early February 2019.

Suggested Reading

Clarke E, Dibben N, & Pitts S (2009), Music and Mind in Everyday Life, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198525578. (See OUP.)

McPherson GE (2006), The Child as Musician, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198530329. (See OUP.) 

Parncutt R & McPherson GE (2002), The Science and Psychology of Music Performance, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195138108. (See OUP.)

Williamon A (ed.) (2004), Musical Excellence, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198525356. (See OUP.)

Writing sample

As part of the application process, candidates will be requested to submit a short writing sample in advance of their interview. This can be any example of your academic writing, such as an essay you may have completed within a previous degree, and does not need to be directly related to performance science. However, should you feel that you do not have any appropriate previous writing, we can provide a topic on which to write approximately 1,000 words. The aim of the writing sample is to assess your ability to write critically at a postgraduate level.


If you have any questions about studying at the RCM or about the admissions process please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to help you.


Admissions and general audition enquiries