Music / Instrumental and Vocal Performance / Composition / Music Technology - BMus

UCAS Code:
300F / 301F / 302F
Full Time (4 years) (three years with direct entry to the second year, subject to ability)
September 2019

Please choose how and when you would like to attend the course...

See the UCAS website for help and guidance with your application.

Achieve the extraordinary. Study at the conservatoire of the future.

We have invested £57 million into our impressive state-of-the-art music facilities with the aim of creating functional spaces that combine tradition with cutting edge technology. The focus of our undergraduate music course is to help you realise your potential and become the best musician that you can be, with the support of an encouraging creative environment. 

With 30 hours of individual specialist tuition per year, increasing to 35 in year four, you will get the individual attention you need to prepare for a successful career in the music profession. Our students benefit from the individual care and attention of our highly qualified professional team of tutors and support staff, who are dedicated to supporting and developing the potential of each student.

Students studying on our BMus degree in music apply to one of three pathways; either BMus (Hons) Performance (instrumental or vocal), BMus (Hons) Composition, or BMus (Hons) Music Technology. 

Concert hall- BMus overview page

Subject to Updates

As part of BCU’s commitment to providing excellent student experience, the content and structure of this course is being refreshed to ensure that it continues to meet the highest educational standards. This page will be updated with the revised course documentation by 31 January 2019.

What's covered in the course?

In addition to benefiting from individual tuition, you will enjoy a range of activities designed to develop your artistry, musical fluency and personal and professional awareness.

You will find yourself immersed in masterclasses and performance and composition workshops.  Individual ensemble coaching and playing and teaching techniques complete the picture, helping you to become a well-rounded musician.

Top-flight singers and musicians – including baritone Roderick Williams, violinist Tasmin Little OBE, cellist Ben Davies, soprano Danielle de Niese and pianist Stephen Hough – are among musicians who have worked with and inspired our students.

Towards the end of your course, you will carry out a major project, which allows you to explore a specialism and format which matches your professional aspirations. This can be anything connected to music, from performance to business projects and  dissertations to multi-media installations.

Academically, you will explore themes such as musicianship, music history and professional development. As well as getting a thorough grounding in technical and performance skills with an emphasis on harmony and aural training, you will cover topics such as education and outreach work, conducting and world music.

Alistair Rutherford

Why Choose Us?

  • Students are satisfied with this course! We scored 94.6 per cent for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2018.

  • Our performance health programme – including performance coaching, physiotherapy and movement workshops and Alexander technique – allows students to develop as confident and effective performers.
  • We provide 30 hours of individual specialist tuition per year (increasing to 35 in year four). This is far more than is typically offered by academic university music courses. You are also allocated five hours a year, to spend with a conservatoire tutor of your choice.
  • We are recognised by the Association of European Conservatoires. All our tutors are professional musicians who bring a lifetime of musical experience and insight to their teaching.

Similar Courses

Jazz - BMus

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Thursday 24 January 2019. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2018 or 2019, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid. Terms and conditions apply.

Find out more

This course is open to International students

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • CBSO
  • Bergen National Opera
  • RSC
  • Presto Classical
  • Welsh National Opera
  • Glyndebourne Festival
  • Les Arts Florissants

And in jobs such as:

  • International Tutor
  • Music Teacher
  • Freelance performer
  • Principal Singer
  • Running their own business

Entry Requirements

For insurance purposes, you must be at least 18 years of age by 1 September in the year of enrolment. Normally, you should satisfy one of the following:

Essential Requirements

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (grade 4 (C) or above, including English Language) and 2 passes at A2 Level (each grade E/16 points minimum)

Scottish Certificate of Education/Scottish Qualifications Authority Intermediate/Higher/Advanced Higher in 5 different subjects, of which 3 are at Higher level

Irish Leaving Certificate with 5 different subjects at grade C or above, 4 of which are Higher level

An International Baccalaureate with a minimum of 24 points

All other non-UK applicants should have completed a course of secondary education at a high school/college/conservatoire, including classes in music theory. You should normally possess a qualification which would be required for entry to a university in your home country.

A standard in First Study equivalent to that of the Associated Board’s Grade VIII (Distinction): this may be demonstrated at audition or on your audition recording.

Candidates hoping to satisfy these requirements should note that successful performance at your audition is accepted as the equivalent of one A2 Level/SQA Higher/Advanced Higher/ILC Higher in Music.

English Language Requirements

International Students

Entry requirements here

Audition Requirements

Entry to the BMus (Hons) is by audition (or, for composers, portfolio assessment) only. Our main auditions period for undergraduate places is in November.

In order to be eligible, you must submit your CUKAS application before the on-time deadline (normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry).

For full details, audition requirements and audition advice, please visit the Auditions section of the Conservatoire website.

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (including English Language)

UK or EU students

Pathway Award Start Mode Duration Fees
Composition BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS
Music Technology BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS
Performance BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS

International Students

Pathway Award Start Mode Duration Fees
Composition BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS
Music Technology BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS
Performance BMus Sep 2019 FT 4 years
Apply via UCAS

Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

The deadline for on-time applications is normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry, followed by auditions in November (for those attending an audition in Birmingham). If you apply between 1 October and 4 January, you may be eligible for our late auditions in February, if places are still available. For detailed information, see our How to Apply section.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Years One to Three

First Study Performance, Composition or Music Technology

You will have individual lessons and coaching, plus performance classes, composition and music technology seminars and workshops. Orchestral, ensemble and chamber music, masterclasses, concert performances and performances in music festivals all form part of your first study work.

Professional Portfolio

Here you will develop a range of professional skills in community engagement, pedagogy and critical and reflective thinking about your career development.


In years one and two, you will develop harmony and aural skills. In year three, you choose two options from a range of specialisms including New Music Theatre, Improvising Ornamentation, Baroque Counterpoint, and Composing and Performing Minimalist Music, Keyboard Skills and Free Improvisation.

Performance Traditions

We combine practical and contextual studies over three years, examining issues of performance and notation, musical editions and recordings; studying 20th century and contemporary music through history lectures and practical devising and improvising workshops; and exploring an aspect of performance or notational practice through your own playing and composing.

Contextual Studies

Year one is a survey course of music history with listening/ analysis workshops. Year two examines specific works as historical, analytical and performance practice case studies. In year three, you choose two options from a range of specialisms, which have previously included Film Music, Folk Music, Jazz, 19th Century Symphony, and Baroque or Renaissance Studies.

Year Four

In Year 4 you will be assessed on performance or composition (as appropriate), two projects and some professional development tasks. From early on in the course, you will work towards a major project, which forms an important component of the final year. Allowing for the fact that your ambitions may change during the course of your studies, the major project offers a flexible platform for you to explore a specialism and format appropriate to your professional aspirations. Examples of projects include chamber music, accompaniment, recorded performance and dissertation.

Final Recital/ portfolio

You continue with your individual lessons and coaching, and with other masterclasses, workshops, seminars and performance opportunities, working toward either your final recital or final portfolio.

Final project

You will design and complete your own project in a field relevant to your post-graduation plans. Examples include public performances, charity concerts, organising tours or festivals, recording projects, composing a substantial work, recording an album of new music, setting up a music business, community music, teaching projects and dissertations.

Optional modules

You will take at least one and up to three optional modules in year four. These include:

  • Contextual Studies Project (academic)
  • Professional Development Project (career plan and self-promotional portfolio)
  • Music and Health (community music project at Heartlands Hospital)
  • Further Pedagogy (in association with Birmingham Music Service)

Further Specialism (a more developed form of one of the year three musicianship/contextual studies specialisms)

Course Structure

Years one to three

We concentrate on providing you with a thorough grounding in technical and performance/ composition skills, alongside contextual studies, musicianship and professional development activities such as conducting, pedagogy and community music. Each year, you have more choice and opportunities to specialise in your studies.

Professional development is embedded into our core modules, which focus on self-awareness, understanding your strengths and weakness, goal setting and self-motivation.

The Conservatoire participates in a number of exchange schemes with European and US Conservatoires. Provided that you achieve the appropriate levels of skills, you will be encouraged to spend a semester of year three at a partner institution.

Year 4

You will effectively design your own curriculum based on your career aspirations. You will be assessed on performance, composition or music technology (as appropriate) and design your own final project in any area of music you wish. You will take one or more additional modules in professional development, pedagogy or other specialist areas.

Teaching breakdown

34 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
66 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown

9 Written exams DarkOrange
28 Coursework FireBrick
63 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories

Stephen Willey

Stephen completed his BMus degree in Composition at Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire in 2010. He initially chose the Conservatoire because the composition tutors were so positive about his music and open to different approaches to writing. However, he soon found many good things about studying at the University. He says:

Cosima Yu

Cosima completed her BMus specialising in the Clarinet at Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire in 2010. She auditioned for the Conservatoire in her home country of Taiwan and was awarded a scholarship. This led to her decision to pursue her performance career in Birmingham.

Outside of the Conservatoire, Cosima has been involved in several external engagements (organised through the Conservatoire), mostly orchestral or chamber concerts. In December 2009, she played in the orchestra for Birmingham Opera Company’s production of Othello, which was broadcast on BBC. Cosima also won the Conservatoire’s Woodwind Prize and the Symphony Hall Recital Competition, the latter leading to a recital at Birmingham’s Town Hall, where she performed in February 2010.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Studies

Graduates frequently go on to Masters courses in Performance, Composition or Music Technology either at Birmingham Conservatoire or at other British, European or American universities.

Student stories Laura Mvula

Release of Debut Album 'Sing to the Moon'

Laura Mvula is a singer-songwriter and one of the 2013 Alumni of the Year. She landed her first record deal with Sony Music Entertainment's flagship label, RCA Records, and in March 2013 released her debut album, 'Sing to the Moon', which reached the UK Top 10.

Laura won two MOBO awards in 2013 - Best Female Act and Best R&B/Soul Act - plus nominations for BRIT and Q awards, and she came fourth in the BBC's Sound of 2013 new music list. In September 2013 her album - acclaimed by the Sunday Times Culture as "a masterpiece" - was shortlisted for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize.

She has also featured alongside actress Dame Helen Mirren and singer Ellie Goulding in Marks & Spencer's 'Britain's Leading Ladies', a campaign for the high-street chain's new clothing range.

Trips and Visits

There are no guaranteed trips or visits but there are regular opportunities, according to your chosen discipline. For example, we expect to send some of our students to Brazil and China in the next 18 months.

Enhance Employability Skills

All of the UK's Conservatoires aim to do the same thing: to train students for the music profession, with the emphasis on your first study training, whether that is in performance, composition or music technology.

At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, we firmly believe that developing a range of complementary skills in other areas such as harmony, aural and critical thinking are just as important for your longer term development and career prospects.

As a vocational programme, all your first study work is aimed at your continuing professional development. Other areas of the course are also part of this: the skills in writing, research, communication and critical thinking you develop in the academic modules are the types of graduate skills that will make you more employable in any area of professional life, musical or not.

Team working and collaborative skills are highly valued in the profession as a whole and are particularly important in any musical context, and you will have opportunities to work as part of team across all areas of the course.

You will equally have opportunities to develop your ability to work under your own direction, whether that is through the individual time spent practising and completing first study work, or researching and writing essays and presentations.

We guide you through these in the early years of the course so that you can work more independently in the later years. In each year of the course, there will also be a module that specifically asks you to reflect on your own learning.

Being able to think about what you have already learned and what you still need to learn is an important skill in taking charge of your own development as a musician, both as a student and as a professional.


There are variety of extracurricular schemes that take students out of the Conservatoire and into the professional world. Numerous professional engagements for students are administered through the Conservatoire’s External Engagements service, which provides direct experience of paid professional work.

We also run a number of placement schemes. These include long-running schemes with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  (CBSO) and the Birmingham Philharmonia, where students participate actively or as observers; collaboration with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), which gives composition students the opportunity to have their music played by experienced professionals who also give feedback; other collaborative schemes exist with organisations such as:

  • Dudley Arts
  • Heartlands Hospital
  • Birmingham Music Service
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Orchestra of the Swan
  • Jazzlines
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

The typical career for a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire is a portfolio career. You will combine freelance composition or performing as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble or orchestra with other sources of income as a self-employed musician, typically in areas such as teaching, arts administration, community music, music retail, and music arranging and transcription services.

This is a particularly common path taken in the first few years after graduation, although as time goes by.

Where our students go

Many of our student go on to be musicians, often with varied portfolio careers as detailed above. Another popular destination is music teaching, and other professional roles in the education sector such as working with local Music Services. 

Conservatoire Employability Feature Box

‘What next?’ music careers conference

We hold an annual careers event involving leading industry professionals who take part in panel discussions about the future of the profession and the opportunities available to Conservatoire graduates.

Read more 

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.

The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our music honours course is most popular with international students from:

Concert Hall - Copyright Hufton +Crow

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s £57 million music building opened in September 2017, and is located on Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus in the Eastside ‘learning quarter’ of the city.

This brand new music facility include five public performance venues – a 500 seat Concert Hall, 150 seat Recital Hall, Organ Studio, Eastside Jazz Club and the experimental black box performance venue known as The Lab. As well as these stunning performance venues, we have nearly 100 practice spaces; including 70 small practice rooms and larger ensemble rooms and workshops.

Our new home is the first conservatoire built in the digital age, and as such it has been vital to ensure that the technical infrastructure installed is on par with any advanced commercial facility. We have seven recording studios, a mastering suite, a distance learning hub, and all of our performance venues feature high specification audio-visual equipment that enables interconnectivity and advanced functionality throughout the building.

These impressive modern facilities guarantee that we are excel in our unique dual purpose of providing the highest standard of music education deserved by our students, as well as meeting our role as a concert and performance venue for the people of Birmingham; taking our place in the vibrant cultural landscape of the UK’s second city.

South entrance of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from the North East
North entrance to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Eastside Jazz Club Copyright Hufton + Crow
Eastside Jazz Club Gallery 2
Workshop spaces
Organ Studio Gallery
500 seat Concert Hall
150 seat Recital Hall
Recording control room
The Lab
Gallery Bar - Copyright Hufton + Crow

Our staff

Our Principal, Julian Lloyd-Webber, is an internationally-acclaimed cellist who brings to his role both his wealth of musical experience and a detailed knowledge of the music profession.

The Heads of Department and their assistants at the Conservatoire are all highly-experienced and respected performers and composers in their own right, who use their expertise to provide engaging and challenging programmes for their students. The wider academic team comprises equally experienced and respected musicologists, whose knowledge and understanding of music complements the practical and creative work being pursued in each of the departments.

Dr Janet K Halfyard

Director of Studies (Undergraduate)

Dr Janet K. Halfyard is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University,where she teaches courses on film and TV music, and on twentieth century and contemporary music. Her publications include Danny Elfman’s Batman: a film score guide (Scarecrow Press, 2004), Music in Cult TV (IB Tauris, 2016) and the edited collections Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Ashgate, 2010) and Music in Fantasy Cinema (Equinox, 2012) as well as numerous essays in collections and journals on film and television music. She has also published on extended vocal technique (which she performs as well as researches) and edited a collection of essays on Berio’s Sequenzas (Ashgate, 2007).

Read Janet K's full profile