Bachelor of Music
Undergraduate study at the Royal College of Music balances high-level training in solo, chamber and ensemble performance with critical enquiry into music past and present. Students investigate music in context and how it operates in contemporary cultures. The RCM also provides a range of options for developing practical and applied skills.
The nature of your undergraduate experience at the RCM depends on your principal study specialism. In essence, it includes individual lessons with distinguished musicians; core units in historical, technical, practical, and vocational subjects delivered in small groups; and a variety of performances.
The information on this page is for people applying to start courses in September 2021. If you have recently started at the RCM, please view our FAQs below regarding the current coronavirus situation or contact our friendly admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Learning & teaching
Our undergraduate programme is designed to be flexible, especially in years 3 and 4, ensuring you can undertake study directly relevant to your needs and aspirations. A variety of options helps every student develop their interests during their time at the RCM.
One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. The RCM’s impressive list of professors includes renowned instrumental and vocal soloists, distinguished repertoire and operatic coaches, prominent composers and conductors, plus principal players in major London orchestras such as the LSO, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra. Our world-class professors offer students, not only first-rate teaching, but also mentorship and networking opportunities.
All principal studies are delivered through a combination of one-to-one tuition complemented by performance classes, workshops, masterclasses, lessons from visiting professors, ensemble activities, seminars and lecture series as appropriate.
Each module in the RCM's undergraduate programmes is assigned a level within the National Qualifications Framework.
Assessment for undergraduate students is grouped into subject, general and key skills. The assessment tasks within the RCM's undergraduate courses are varied, including technical assessments, performance exams, take-away assignments and practical assessments in performance or practical modules; unseen written exams, essays, individual and group presentations in academic or theoretical modules; and reflective diaries, workshops, and vivas in skills-based modules.
Royal College of Music courses are internationally recognised as full degree courses with successful students awarded their qualifications under the RCM's Royal Charter.
The majority of students focus on a single principal study instrument or specialism. Single study students may want to pursue additional related or second study tuition alongside their principal specialism, but this is not a requirement.
Single study: principal & related study
Related study allows instrumentalists to receive tuition on an instrument closely related to their principal study, such as oboe and cor anglais or flute and piccolo.
Related studies are approved by the relevant Head of Faculty once a student has started their course. No audition is required and you do not need to let us know about your interest in related study before you arrive at the RCM.
Single study: principal & second study
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. Examples include piano and violin, or trumpet and composition.
Students wishing to undertake second study should submit only one application and indicate their interest on that application. You will be auditioned for your principal study specialism only. If your application is successful you will be eligible to audition for second study when you start your programme at the RCM.
Joint principal study
Students with an equally high level of ability in two areas may undertake joint principal study, in which their two specialisms are taught and assessed with equal weight. This is a demanding option, requiring a very high level of practical skill.
Due to the large number of scheduled vocal classes it is not possible for singers to undertake Joint Principal Study.
If you wish to undertake joint principal study you should submit only one application and select joint principal study on your application form. You will be auditioned for and may be offered a place to study two specialisms at equal intensity. Depending on your performance at audition, the RCM may decide to offer a place on only one of the two principal studies.
You will be taught by a team of world-class professors, many of whom hold principal positions in major ensembles and some of whom are the biggest names in their field. Contextual studies are taught by a range of academics, including those undertaking active research, who are regarded as experts in their disciplines. You may also be taught by external specialists and have the chance to learn with visiting artists.
The staff listed below oversee important areas of learning and teaching on our undergraduate programme.
Head of Undergraduate Programmes
Head of Brass
Head of Composition
Head of Conducting
Head of Historical Performance
Head of Keyboard
Head of Percussion
Head of Strings
Head of Vocal & Opera
Head of Woodwind
Area Leader in Musicianship and Stylistic Studies
Area Leader in Aural Training
Area Leader in Music Education
Area Leader in Historical Studies
Area Leader in Performance Science
Area Leader in Alexander Technique
The relationship with your one-to-one teacher will be one of the most important during your studies. For a full list of one-to-one teaching staff in your area of study, please refer to our individual faculties.
Contextual studes & academic teaching
A wide range of staff provide tuition in contextual and other academic studies.
From the very beginning of the course you will be able to draw on exceptional resources and opportunities, such as the RCM Library, the Centre for Performance Science, Creative Careers Centre and RCM Sparks – our outreach and education programme.
RCM students enjoy a wide variety of performance opportunities including orchestral and choral projects, chamber music and solo opportunities, performance in jazz and historical instrument ensembles. The RCM runs a busy events calendar of more than 500 events every year, the vast majority of which feature RCM students.
Faculty-based performance activities include chamber music and duo performance coaching, orchestral training, performance classes, acting and language classes (for singers), music technology (for composers), reed making (for double reed players) and improvisation (for organists).
Composition at the RCM fosters partnerships with the College's large body of gifted instrumentalists. Composers will hear performances of their own works in a variety of contexts and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of collaborations, which we host regularly with artistic organisations in London and beyond.
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 has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals, and boasts a retractable stage, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.
In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and 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, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 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 commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional 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 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives.
The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 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 in the collection 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.
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.
Exchanges are an excellent opportunity for Royal College of Music students to broaden their horizons by getting to know another city, its language and its culture. They also provide an opportunity to study with a new teacher and to develop new contacts that can help advance your future career as a musician.
We have a large number of exchanges available with leading European, American, Japanese and Australian music conservatories and universities. These exchanges provide an excellent opportunity to study abroad at other revered institutions as part of your RCM studies.
Many students who take advantage of such opportunities make connections that enable them to work overseas when they graduate from the RCM, often launching international careers. Most outgoing exchanges are for a period of one term during the Autumn term, although there is an option for BMus students to undertake exchanges in the USA and Australia for a full year.
BMus students who choose to take part in exchange programmes usually go abroad in the third year of study.
RCM courses are reviewed annually in response to student and examiner feedback, which sometimes results in minor changes, such as the availability of particular modules. A more thorough review is undertaken every five to six years, after which more substantial changes may be made while maintaining the ethos that underpins the course. Our review process is part of the RCM’s continued commitment to provide the best possible education and music training. The information provided here reflects the official course outline as it currently stands. In the event of alterations following a review, we will update this page as soon as possible.
The BMus curriculum was last reviewed in Spring 2020.
All offers for performers are made on the basis of their performance at audition.
All offers for composers are made on the basis of their portfolio and interview.
Applicants from the UK
- Two A Levels at grade E or above, or
- One A Level at grade E or above and two AS Levels (in different subjects from the A level), one at grade D or above and one at grade E or above
Most UK applicants will take A Level music or equivalent and achieve a Grade A or B. If you are choosing your subjects now, we recommend that you choose music if possible.
Other UK qualifications
Alternative qualifications which are accepted instead of A Levels include:
- Three Scottish Higher grade passes at grade D or above
- Cambridge Pre-U certificate in at least two principal subjects at P3 level or above
- BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (formerly BTEC Level 3 Diploma)
- International Baccalaureate Diploma (at least 24 points)
- Welsh Baccalaureate (accepted as equivalent to one A Level)
- RSL Level 3 Diploma for Music Practitioners
If your academic qualifications are not listed here, you are welcome to contact our Admissions team to discuss your suitability for the course.
Most applicants to the RCM will study music as part of their pre-conservatoire academic qualification(s). If you are choosing your subjects now, we advise that you choose music if possible. However, if music is not available to you as an academic subject, we recommend undertaking studies that equip you with an appropriate level of musical knowledge, theory and literacy, in addition to your practical studies.
Applicants from other countries
Please see the list of international qualifications below for details of qualifications that are commonly accepted by the RCM as equivalent to our UK entry requirements. This list is not exhaustive and other qualifications will be considered.
The RCM will verify the level of your qualification using the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC).
Transfer between institutions
The RCM is happy to consider applicants for entry into Year 2 or 3 of the BMus programme where equivalent prior study has been completed. Entry for performers is subject to audition; composers need to submit a portfolio and may be invited for interview. Students wishing to transfer should apply via UCAS Conservatoires, stating the year of study you wish to be considered for. You will need to provide full transcripts from your current university or conservatoire to demonstrate that you have successfully completed studies equivalent to the first year(s) of the BMus programme.
The RCM is also willing to facilitate transfer from the RCM to other institutions.
To discuss transfer options please contact our Admissions team.
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.
How to apply
The application deadline is 1 October 2020 for most audition locations. Some overseas audition venues have later application deadlines.
All applicants (including international applicants) should apply online through the UCAS Conservatoires admissions service, where you can apply simultaneously to all the institutions that are members of Conservatoires UK. You can track your application, find out when your audition is and get the results of your audition all on UCAS Conservatoires. You can also confirm your decisions online.
Applicants interested in joint principal study or second study are reminded to submit only one application. If you submit two applications you will be charged twice.
Guidance on completing your application form is available on the UCAS Conservatoires website. As part of your application you will require two references: one practical (normally from your current principal study teacher) and one academic (normally from someone at your current/previous educational institution who can comment on your academic ability). You must enter your referees’ details into the application, and an automated e-mail will be sent to them requesting a reference. Only once your referees have responded will your application be forwarded to the RCM, so it is important to begin your application in good time. Further guidance is available from UCAS Conservatoires if you think your referees may not be able to provide a reference in time.
All application fees are paid online through UCAS conservatoires.
UCAS Conservatoires application fees - 2021 entry
Using UCAS Conservatoires incurs a £26 application fee. This is in addition to our assessment fees. You cannot use another system. Both the application and assessment fees are paid online through UCAS Conservatoires. If you encounter any problems with their payment system please contact their support team.
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.
Availability of video auditions for those unable to audition in person
Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, any applicant who is unable to travel to an audition venue will be allowed to submit a video audition for courses due to commence in 2021. This applies to all Principal Study specialisms. The submission deadline for video recordings is 19 October 2020, but the deadline for submitting applications to UCAS Conservatoires depends on the audition venue and course. Candidates auditioning by video will automatically be considered for scholarship.
Video auditions are assessed on the basis of the video submission and UCAS Conservatoires application; there is no live interview or second round.
For those who are able to attend an audition in person, please note that arrangements may be subject to alteration. The safety of our audition candidates is paramount and the RCM is closely monitoring the latest guidance from the UK Government and the authorities in our overseas audition locations.
The Royal College of Music holds auditions in London, Asia and the USA. Auditions for all courses and all principal studies can be undertaken in London. Auditions for most courses and principal studies can also be undertaken in Asia and the USA. In some cases, candidates may be able to apply by recording instead.
Application deadlines, application fees, audition dates and the availability of RCM accompanists varies between locations.
Most auditions last approximately 20 minutes, but there are exceptions for some specialisms and at some venues. You can find out how long your audition will be by reading the full set of requirements for your chosen discipline(s).
Audition requirements are set by each faculty. Further information can be found by following the links below.
Conducting audition requirements (postgraduate level only)
Candidates for who have applied for joint principal study will be auditioned in both specialisms. The two auditions may or may not be on different dates.
All UK Colleges and Universities are required by the Office for Students (OfS) to publish information on applications received and offers made to UK domiciled applicants only. The data provided in the spreadsheet below meets the requirements and format defined by the OfS, who provide further information on the data they collect.
The information published here shows:
- The number of applications for admission on to recognised, undergraduate higher education courses that we have received from UK domiciled applicants.
- The number of offers we have made in relation to those applications.
- The number of those offers accepted and the number of those who have registered with us.
- The number of students who attained a particular degree or other academic award, or a particular level of such an award, on completion of their course with us.
It also shows these numbers by reference to:
- The gender of the individuals to which they relate.
- Their ethnicity.
- Their socio-economic background.
It is important to note that the data presented has not been contextualised. This means, for example, that you will not be able to see from this data how many of those applying to courses met the entry criteria. It is also the case that universities and colleges will often receive many more applications than they have spaces on courses and so offer rates will necessarily be lower than application rates in those circumstances.
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