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Bachelor of Science in Physics & Music Performance

Violinist performing in the Britten Theatre
The Physics and Music Performance degree programme provides students with an opportunity to achieve a degree level education in both physics and music performance, delivered jointly by Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music.


UCAS code
Start date September 2020
End date July 2024
Duration 4 years full-time

Students cover all the core material from the first two years of the Imperial BSc Physics degree, complete a project and take some elective modules, thus ensuring that they graduate as well-qualified physicists. In parallel students complete the main performance elements of the RCM BMus(Hons) degree on one Principal Study instrument.

The programme aims to prepare students for a professional career or further Masters level study in both disciplines.

Please note the BSc in Physics and Musical Performance programme is only available to instrumentalists and composers.

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

Learning and teaching hours

BSc students can expect 6,180 hours of learning and teaching hours split between self-directed study and contact hours with tutors. Contact hours include performances, one-to-one tuition, larger group tuition, seminars, academic classes and lectures at Imperial College, faculty and academic classes at the RCM, directed rehearsals, masterclasses, competitions and supervised study. Rehearsal and performance contact time will vary according to each student’s discipline and chosen study options.

For more information about learning and teaching on the Imperial College component of the course, please visit their website.

Programme overview

Students undertaking the BSc(Hons) in Physics and Music Performance will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • The fundamentals of physics, which all students need to cover, including electromagnetism, optics, quantum and classical mechanics, relativity, statistical physics and thermodynamics, wave phenomena and the properties of matter.
  • The application of the fundamental principles to particular areas. These include nuclear and particle physics, condensed matter physics and atomic structure.
  • A few subjects which students study in greater depth and appreciate current developments at the frontiers of the subject.
  • Repertoire and stylistic studies in music.
  • Selected optional studies in music in greater depth.

Learning outcomes


  • Formulate and tackle problems in physics, including the identification of appropriate physical principles and the use of special and limiting cases and order-of-magnitude estimates, to arrive at a solution which is presented with an explicit statement of assumptions and approximations.
  • Use mathematics to describe the physical world, selecting appropriate equations, constructing models, interpreting mathematical results and critically comparing them with experiment and observation.
  • Participate, under supervision, in an extended physics investigation.
  • Research and collate musical information and ideas.


  • Make informed and mature musical judgments.
  • Present historically and analytically informed musical performances.
  • Plan, execute and report the results of a complex extended experiment or investigation, using appropriate methods to analyse data and to evaluate the level of its uncertainty.
  • Use appropriate software such as programming languages and packages in a physics investigation.
  • Perform music with high levels of technical command and interpretative insight in a variety of contexts: as a soloist; in a small/large ensemble; at short notice; to an intensive schedule.

Transferable skills

In addition, you will develop the following transferable skills:

  • Solve open-ended problems and problems with well-defined solutions by formulating problems in precise terms, identifying key issues and trying different approaches in order to make progress.
  • Carry out an independent investigation using textbooks and other available literature, searching databases and interacting with colleagues and staff to extract important information.
  • Communicate effectively by listening carefully and presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner orally, on paper and using ICT.
  • Use analytical skills, paying attention to detail and using technical language correctly, to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, and to construct logical arguments.
  • Use ICT skills for communication and analysis.
  • Work independently with self-motivation, determination and emotional resilience, use your initiative, organise yourself to meet deadlines, plan and execute a project.
  • Work in groups, interacting constructively with others.
  • Approach tasks with adaptability, enterprise, resourcefulness and realism.
  • Act entrepreneurially, identifying customer needs, using skills of self-promotion, networking and negotiation.

Course reviews

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.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A*, A*, A in Mathematics, Physics and another subject.

Find out more

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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All offers for performers are made on the basis of their performance at audition.

How to apply

The application deadline for September 2020 is 15 January 2020.

All candidates for the BSc in Physics and Musical Performance must apply to Imperial College London through UCAS (not UCAS Conservatoires)The Royal College of Music is unable to accept applications directly.

First you must apply to Imperial College through the UCAS system, addressing Physics in your personal statement. If your application is strong for Physics you will be invited in for an interview at Imperial College and an audition at the Royal College of Music. Imperial College Physics Department will liaise with the RCM to organise your audition and interview on the same day. We will then request you provide a personal statement outlining the following information:

  • whether you are an instrumentalist or a composer (and if an instrumentalist, which instrument you play)
  • when you started playing/composing
  • any music qualifications you have achieved so far
  • recent repertoire

More details, including current entry requirements, are available on the Imperial College website.

Visit Imperial College website

Application Fees

Applicants are required to pay standard UCAS application fees. At present, UCAS charges £13 for a single choice or £24 for multiple courses and applications.


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).

In the event that you are not shortlisted for audition at the RCM but demonstrate on your UCAS form that you are a strong candidate for physics study, Imperial College will automatically consider your application for other undergraduate courses within their Physics Department.

If you are unsuccessful in your application for the joint programme, but the RCM considers your performance at audition to have been of the required standard, you may be encouraged to submit an application for the BMus(Hons) programme through UCAS Conservatoires.