BMus (Honours) Jazz - BMus

Full Time (4 years) (three years with direct entry to the second year, subject to ability)
September 2016, September 2017

This course is perfectly compatible with the requirements of the modern jazz musician, especially if refining your performance is a top priority. We focus heavily on practical work and you will greatly benefit from spending the majority of your time in dedicated one-to-one lessons.

You will graduate as a versatile, professional musician who is aware of the entrepreneurial opportunities available to you. We also ensure that you know about the commercial realities for musicians joining today’s thriving UK jazz scene.

What's covered in the course?

You will be taught by performers, band leaders and composers, who are ideally placed to share their professional experience, insights and connections. With their guidance, you will hone both your performance skills and your professional awareness.

“My musical approach is greatly indebted to the time I spent studying on the jazz course. Simply being around like-minded people in a culture of practice and study, with guidance from musicians I greatly respected, was extremely beneficial.” Tom Chapman

Why Choose Us?

  • You will work with some of the greatest musicians and study on modules that  have been specifically and skilfully designed for jazz musicians.
  • You will experience significantly more one-to-one tuition time than on a typical academic university music course – or indeed any other conservatoire courses.
  • Your course is professionally supported by Birmingham Jazz, a leading jazz promoter and key contact for international masterclasses.
  • We achieved 93 per cent student satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey.
  • Our course prepares you for a portfolio career on the contemporary music scene, with performance at its centre. It will also give you transferrable skills, including team-working, adaptability, self-promotion, time management and critical thinking.
Visit our open day

Birmingham Conservatoire Open Days

Our next Conservatoire Open Day is Thursday 26 January 2017.

More about our Open Days

This course is open to International students

Birmingham Conservatoire

Discover Birmingham Conservatoire

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

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

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Beats City

And in jobs such as:

  • Musician
  • Director of Events Company

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:

UK students

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (grade C or above) and 2 passes at A2 Level (each grade E/40 points minimum)

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

An Irish Leaving Certificate with 5 subjects at grade C or above, 4 of which are at 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.

Audition Requirements

You will be required to perform two contrasting pieces with a rhythm section (provided), one of which must be chosen from a list of standards, and one of their own choice.

You will also be asked to perform a short transcribed solo (drummers and vocalists excepted) and sight-read.

Pianists, bassists and drummers audition by taking their place in the rhythm trio.

Drummers and vocalists will be asked to play through the chord changes of any of the listed standards at the piano.

Drummers must also take part in an interactive test, joining in with various grooves indicated by the piano and bass.

All candidates will be interviewed at audition.

Full details of our audition requirements can be found here.

English Language Requirements

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

GCSE passes in 5 subjects

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BMus Sep 2016 FT 4 years £9,000 per year Apply via CUKAS
Sep 2017 FT 4 years TBC Apply via CUKAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BMus Sep 2016 FT 4 years £15,500 per year Apply via CUKAS
Sep 2017 FT 4 years £15,500 per year Apply via CUKAS

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

UK or EU students

Full Time: Apply through CUKAS.
Institution code: B34
Course code: 310F
Apply via CUKAS

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.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It 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.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

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 and two

First Study Performance
  • Individual lessons
  • Group Coaching
  • Repertoire Class
  • Masterclasses
Technical 1 & 2
History 1 & 2

Year one

  • Keyboard and Ear Training

  • Composition (Basic Techniques)
  • Jazz and the music industry

Year two

Jazz praxis
Option choice

Choose from:
Media 2: Jazz in the Digital Age
Pedagogy: Education, Community & Outreach Music

Year three

First Study Performance
  • Individual lessons
  • Own Small Group
  • Performance Platform
  • Masterclasses
Transcription Project
Studio Project
Professional Development
Composition (Large ensemble concepts)
Option choice

Choose from:
Media 3: Enterprise
Pedagogy: Art of Teaching

Year four

First Study Performance
  • Individual lessons
  • Own Small Group
  • Performance Platform
  • Masterclasses
  • Final Performance
Major Project

A project, created around your choice of specialism, which can be one of four types:

  • Studio Project
  • Dissertation
  • Teaching
  • Student Defined
Composition and Arranging: Portfolio
Contemporary Issues in Jazz

Course Structure

We tutor you in several different areas of musicianship. You will get 30 hours of individual tuition in your first study area, plus five allocated student hours, which you choose to ‘spend’ how you wish.  This rises to 35 hours, plus five hours in your final year.

With the help of your tutor, you will develop a productive practice regime and lay down a foundation for technical skills and  improvisation processes.

Using a typical group of two or three frontline instruments, plus a rhythm section, you will receive intensive weekly coaching in your core repertoire. You will then go on to run your own small group, using your choice of repertoire and performers.

We encourage you to explore in depth the relationship between improvisation and composition, which is central to developing an individual voice.

You will also work towards a major project of your own devising, such as a recording, performance or  dissertation. This will need to reflect your specialist interests and career aims.

You can look forward to masterclasses and workshops led by acclaimed performers.

Teaching breakdown

32 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
68 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown

3 Written exams DarkOrange
41 Coursework FireBrick
56 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories

Chris Mapp and Percy Pursglove

We graduated from Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire in 2004 and 2003 respectively. We both received a BMus (Hons) in Jazz but while Chris specialised in the bass, Percy specialised in the trumpet. As well as being Jazz alumni, we are co-directors of Harmonic, a three day jazz festival launched in Birmingham in 2010.

Conservatoire’s memberships

Birmingham Conservatoire is a member of Conservatoire’s UK (CUK) and Association Européene des Conservatoires (AEC).

CUK is the voice of Conservatoire education in the UK.  It represents the collective views of nine UK conservatoires and aims to develop the best training and education in the performing arts.

The AEC is a European cultural and educational network, which looks after the interests of institutions concerned with training students for the music profession.

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 study

We offer an exciting postgraduate jazz course, which is designed to take you one step nearer to achieving your professional goals and aspirations.

Student stories Harry Lightfoot

Composed the Theme Tune for Britain's Big Wildlife Revival

Harry Lightfoot is a music composer for film and television. The five years since his graduation have seen his career in composition go from strength to strength, acquiring a contract with Accorder Music and working on projects for big names including BT, Olay, MaxFactor, Milka, Sony, Ford and Hyundai.

His recent work has seen him creating sound design for the BBC's Original British Drama logo and composing the theme tune for Britain's Big Wildlife Revival. As well as TV work, Harry has composed for BAFTA-winning film production companies and game developer Namco Bandai.

Employment Opportunities

One of the central aims of the course is to launch jazz performers into the music profession. You will have a chance to document your work as a jazz musician through a studio project in the third year. You will also design a major project in the fourth year around an area of professional practice of your choice.

As further professional development, you will look at contemporary role models in jazz performance, undertaking in-depth case studies of their careers. There are also classes providing advice on how to manage a freelance portfolio career in music, covering topics such as personal finance and tax, publicity and events promotion, applications to funding bodies, and bidding for commissions.


We have a  number of musical partners including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan, Birmingham Music Service, Jazzlines, and Town Hall Symphony Hall, with whom opportunities to perform occur.


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+

Trips and visits

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

International Students

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:

Studying in the UK is better

Overseas students studying in the UK are happier and have a better learning experience compared to those studying in other countries.

The International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage report asked 365,754 international students studying outside their home country to give their feedback on what it's like to study in this country. And the UK scored top in every aspect.

So if you're looking at studying with us, you'll be making a good choice.

Overall measures: ranked positions
Undergraduate 2014 2014 2014 2013 2014
Recommendation 1 4 3 5 2
Overall satisfaction 1 4 3 5 2
Arrival overall 1 2 4 5 3
Learning overall 1 4 3 5 2
Living overall 1 2 5 3 4
Support overall 1 4 5 3 2

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 jazz honours course is most popular with international students from:

Norway Flag


Our music technology facilities are some of the best of their kind in the country. All of our studios are capable of recording from any of our concert halls or live rooms.

Practice rooms

Our purpose-built site includes over 50 dedicated practice rooms; some of the most heavily used rooms in the entire University!

Additional practice facilities are available after 6pm, including some spacious studios used for teaching during the day. Most practice rooms are equipped with one or two upright or grand pianos and all are fitted with sound-dampening panels.

Conservatoire Café

The Conservatoire Café is open weekdays during term time from 8.30am to around 4.30pm (closing times vary a little, depending on what’s going on in the building). Hot food, freshly prepared, is available at breakfast and lunch times, with sandwiches, snacks, cold and hot drinks available throughout the day.

Coffee Bar

Serving hot and cold drinks and a selection of snacks, the Conservatoire’s Coffee Bar generally opens before and during the interval of concerts in the Adrian Boult Hall, Arena Foyer and Recital Hall.

Conservatoire Bar

Our licensed bar is open before and during the interval of major concerts at the Conservatoire. However, most students prefer the comfort and laid-back atmosphere of the local pubs, many of which have been co-opted as student bars!

Our staff

We have an outstanding team of tutors, all of whom are highly respected artists in their field. The fact that they come not only from the UK but also from the USA and Europe gives a real breadth and depth to the range of jazz music represented here, as well as greater scope for you to find a suitable mentor to watch over your individual development.

View the full list of Jazz Tutors and Guest Lecturers

Jeremy Price

Head of Jazz

Jeremy Price (born 1970) studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has since followed a career as a freelance trombonist and jazz educator. Jeremy has been Head of Jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire since the Jazz Department was established in 1999 and wrote the Conservatoire's first ever BMus (Hons) Jazz programme in collaboration with Mark Racz, now Vice Principal of the Royal Academy of Music.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295