Choral Conducting - MMus / PgDip

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2019
  • Study mode: MMus - Full Time, Part Time
    PgDip - Full Time, Part Time
  • Course cost: £8,100 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)
  • Location: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

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Designed for recent graduates and suitably qualified mature students, our taught Master of Music (MMus) and Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) Choral Conducting courses provide the technical training, collaborative opportunities and podium time necessary to help you prepare for a career as a professional conductor. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is currently the most exciting destination for choral conductors, with an active recording and concert schedule.

Our established Choral Conducting specialism allows you to work with a dedicated chamber choir, rehearsing and performing a variety of works throughout your training. You'll be offered tailored individual tuition from our principal conducting tutor Paul Spicer (Finzi Singers), and will also come into contact with Jeffrey Skidmore (Ex Cathedra) through the Conservatoire’s Chamber Choir.

You'll work across the whole spectrum of the Conservatoire’s music making, from core contemporary repertoire and student composition projects, through the central romantic and classic masterpieces back to period performance techniques. 

It's normal for conducting students to be proactive in presenting performances of projects that they've generated themselves. You'll receive support and professional advice in pursuing such projects, which should be viewed as an essential element of your studies. Both PgDip and MMus courses provide excellent opportunities to develop other skills relevant to a future career in the music profession. 

You'll have full access to our superb £57 million facilities, including our Concert Hall, 150-seat Recital Hall, our black box performance space known as The Lab, and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is world class.

What's covered in the course?

  • Regular individual specialist tuition. 
  • Vocal lessons. 
  • Opportunities to join orchestral conducting classes. 
  • A dedicated chamber choir, ‘Camerata’, managed and nurtured by students on the course. 
  • Involvement in rehearsals of the Conservatoire’s highly acclaimed Chamber Choir, which has a regular and highly successful recording programme. 
  • Many other choral singing opportunities within the Conservatoire. 
  • Bespoke support classes in musicianship and repertoire.
  • A core career development module designed to get you thinking about your future professional plans. 
  • The flexibility to choose from a broad menu of Professional Development Option modules designed to help you work towards achieving your personal career aspirations.
  • In MMus, a core module designed to develop your skills as a researcher or informed practitioner.
  • The possibility of transferring from PgDip to MMus once you have begun your studies (but before completion of the PgDip course). 

Why Choose Us?

At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we provide a friendly and supportive environment in which you can pursue your postgraduate studies. This is a time when you need to think particularly carefully and strategically about the direction of your developing career as a musician. We therefore encourage you to be ambitious in pursuing your aspirations, and endeavour to provide you with the flexibility to mould your course to your individual needs, both within your Principal Study area and in complementary modules.

Similar Courses

This course is open to International students

Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Director of Postgraduate Studies: Luan Shaw.

Email Luan

Alternatively, you can register for our next open day.

Entry Requirements

MMus/PgDip
Essential

UK students should normally hold an honours degree, ideally but not necessarily in Music.

Non-UK students should hold a Bachelor's degree or a similar degree-equivalent diploma, ideally but not necessarily in Music.

Audition requirements

All applicants for this course will be auditioned.

Home student auditions will be scheduled live in Birmingham.

Further details about the audition will be supplied once we have received an application.

English language requirements

You must have a minimum of IELTS 5.5 or equivalent in all four skills areas to secure a visa. 

You must have IELTS 6; or alternatively must have studied and completed a Bachelor’s degree in the UK.

International Students

Entry requirements here

International Students

Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.

Apply now

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MMus Sep 2019 FT 2 years £8,100 per year Apply via UCAS
PT 3 years £5,400 per year Apply via UCAS
PgDip Sep 2019 FT 1 year £8,100 per year Apply via UCAS
PT 2 years £4,050 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MMus Sep 2019 FT 2 years £19,500 per year Apply via UCAS
PgDip Sep 2019 FT 1 year £19,500 per year Apply via UCAS

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.

Auditions for this course will take place in February 2019

Completing your application

Further information on writing your personal statement can be found on the UCAS Conservatoires website.

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 your course. 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. 

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

View additional costs for this course

Additional costs

The additional costs listed at the bottom of the page are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Financial Support

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

Did you know that you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

PG Dip

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete the following CORE module (totalling 60 credits):

Principal Study 1: Choral Conducting
60 credits

As a postgraduate choral conductor, the Principal Study 1: Choral Conducting module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area.   As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a choral conductor, you will spend considerable time developing not only conducting and gestural techniques in rehearsal and in performance, but also skills in administration, management (including self-management, management of other people individually and in a group, and of rehearsal and performance situations), communication (including interpersonal skills), interpretation and musicianship (aural skills, score reading, sight reading, ability to sing to demonstrate), and ability to mould voices into a cohesive group.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition in choral conducting and a variety of related activities in the Principal Study area. These will normally include taking weekly rehearsals of the Conservatoire’s second chamber choir, Camerata; a weekly support class focusing on both developing musicianship skills and enhancing knowledge of the repertoire; masterclasses from visiting experts; seminars on choral conducting issues; and some 1:1 vocal tuition. You should also expect to attend classes/workshops of your peers studying orchestral conducting. You will be encouraged to take part in other vocal/choral activities scheduled within the Conservatoire (and elsewhere), and to engage in language provision provided by the Department of Vocal and Operatic Studies. You are also encouraged to form your own groups, to participate in external groups and to find external choirs to conduct. Chorus master/assistant conductor possibilities may also arise in the context of the Conservatoire operas and Chorus.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete the following CORE module (totalling 20 credits):

Career Development
20 credits

Members of the music profession require not only high-level specialist skills but also the ability to target those skills strategically to different circumstances. This module focuses on a range of different aspects of a musician’s professional development that directly relate to the music industry and their preparation for it: from self-promotion and self-management, to funding and wellbeing. It is thus central to a programme which aims to prepare you for a career as a musician in the 21st century.

It requires you, near the beginning of your postgraduate studies, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. Weekly workshops, delivered by internal staff and external professionals, will focus on the practicalities of a career in music, providing you with a better insight into the industry you will be entering, as well as encouraging you to be self-reflective about your own personal and professional development needs.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Optional modules
40 credits

Each module listed is worth 20 credits.

Conservatoire based

  • Concepts in Musicology
  • Contemporary Music Concepts and Practice
  • Creative Interactive Music Technology Performance
  • Critical Editing Techniques
  • Documentation
  • Experimental Performance in Context(s)
  • Historical Instrument Performance
  • Historical Performance Practice
  • Independent Scholarship in Music
  • Music and Ideas
  • Music Technology Contexts
  • Orchestration
  • Performing and Producing in the Studio
  • Professional Music Criticism
  • Self-Promotion Project
  • Teaching Matters: Principles and Practice
  • Work Placement
  • Writing Music for Media
  • Music, Community and Wellbeing (BMus module)

School of Art based

  • Art and Ecologies
  • Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
  • Discourses in Art and Design
  • Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
  • Queer Strategies in Practice
  • Small Arts Business Set Up
  • Social Practice in the Visual

School of Media based

  • Live Events and Festival Management
  • Social Media as Culture and Practice
 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

MMus

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete THREE CORE modules (totalling 140 credits):

Career Development
20 credits

Members of the music profession require not only high-level specialist skills but also the ability to target those skills strategically to different circumstances. This module focuses on a range of different aspects of a musician’s professional development that directly relate to the music industry and their preparation for it: from self-promotion and self-management, to funding and wellbeing. It is thus central to a programme which aims to prepare you for a career as a musician in the 21st century.

It requires you, near the beginning of your postgraduate studies, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. Weekly workshops, delivered by internal staff and external professionals, will focus on the practicalities of a career in music, providing you with a better insight into the industry you will be entering, as well as encouraging you to be self-reflective about your own personal and professional development needs.

Principal Study 1: Choral Conducting
60 credits

As a postgraduate choral conductor, the Principal Study 1: Choral Conducting module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area.   As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a choral conductor, you will spend considerable time developing not only conducting and gestural techniques in rehearsal and in performance, but also skills in administration, management (including self-management, management of other people individually and in a group, and of rehearsal and performance situations), communication (including interpersonal skills), interpretation and musicianship (aural skills, score reading, sight reading, ability to sing to demonstrate), and ability to mould voices into a cohesive group.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition in choral conducting and a variety of related activities in the Principal Study area. These will normally include taking weekly rehearsals of the Conservatoire’s second chamber choir, Camerata; a weekly support class focusing on both developing musicianship skills and enhancing knowledge of the repertoire; masterclasses from visiting experts; seminars on choral conducting issues; and some 1:1 vocal tuition. You should also expect to attend classes/workshops of your peers studying orchestral conducting. You will be encouraged to take part in other vocal/choral activities scheduled within the Conservatoire (and elsewhere), and to engage in language provision provided by the Department of Vocal and Operatic Studies. You are also encouraged to form your own groups, to participate in external groups and to find external choirs to conduct. Chorus master/assistant conductor possibilities may also arise in the context of the Conservatoire operas and Chorus.

Principal Study 2: Choral Conducting
60 credits

As a postgraduate choral conductor, the Principal Study 2: Choral Conducting module builds on the skills acquired in the Principal Study Project 1 module, encouraging independent and appropriate decision-making based on secure musicianship skills and self-reflection, the development of an individual musical personality, and a professional approach to rehearsal and performance, including effective leadership and communication skills.  The module clearly provides professionally-relevant experience, and you will spend considerable time further developing not only conducting and gestural techniques in rehearsal and in performance, but also skills in administration, management (including self-management, management of other people individually and in a group, and of rehearsal and performance situations), communication (including interpersonal skills), interpretation and musicianship (aural skills, score reading, sight reading, ability to sing to demonstrate), and ability to mould voices into a cohesive group.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition in choral conducting and a variety of related activities in the Principal Study area. These will normally include: taking weekly rehearsals of the Conservatoire’s second chamber choir, Camerata; a weekly support class focusing on both developing musicianship skills and enhancing knowledge of the repertoire; masterclasses from visiting experts; seminars on choral conducting issues; and some 1:1 vocal tuition. You should also expect to attend classes/workshops of your peers studying orchestral conducting. You will be encouraged to take part in other vocal/choral activities scheduled within the Conservatoire (and elsewhere), and to engage in language provision provided by the Department of Vocal and Operatic Studies. You are also encouraged to form your own groups, to participate in external groups and to find external choirs to conduct. Chorus master/assistant conductor possibilities may also arise in the context of the Conservatoire operas and Chorus.

In order to complete this course, a student must successfully complete at least 100 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

  • THREE Professional Development modules (20 credits each), and

  • ONE MMus optional module (40 credits)

Optional modules
100 credits

Professional Development modules (20 credits each)

Conservatoire based

  • Concepts in Musicology
  • Contemporary Music Concepts and Practice
  • Creative Interactive Music Technology Performance
  • Critical Editing Techniques
  • Documentation
  • Experimental Performance in Context(s)
  • Historical Instrument Performance
  • Historical Performance Practice
  • Independent Scholarship in Music
  • Music and Ideas
  • Music Technology Contexts
  • Orchestration
  • Performing and Producing in the Studio
  • Professional Music Criticism
  • Self-Promotion Project
  • Teaching Matters: Principles and Practice
  • Work Placement
  • Writing Music for Media
  • Music, Community and Wellbeing (BMus module)

School of Art based

  • Art and Ecologies
  • Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
  • Discourses in Art and Design
  • Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
  • Queer Strategies in Practice
  • Small Arts Business Set Up
  • Social Practice in the Visual

School of Media based

  • Live Events and Festival Management
  • Social Media as Culture and Practice

MMus optional modules (40 credits each)

  • Research Project
  • Critical Edition
  • Lecture-Recital
  • The Reflective Practioner
    • There are two pathways through this module: 1. Professional Placement, and 2. Creative Interdisciplinary Artist.
 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Course structure

Whichever course you choose, work in the Principal Study area lies at its heart, and this involves the experience of managing rehearsals and directing performances, as well as developing essential musicianship skills. These modules will enable you to become self-directed in tackling, and capable of solving, technical and musical problems, and working autonomously in planning and presenting performances at a high artistic level. You'll be supported both by the specialist individual tuition you receive and by your experiences as a conductor throughout the course.

You will take a Career Development module, which will require you, near the beginning of your course, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. You will also choose, in addition, some Professional Development Options from a varied list. The following gives an indication the kind of optional modules which may be offered in a given year, including some offered by Birmingham City University’s Schools of Art and Media (note, not all will run every year):

MMus students will additionally choose a 40-credit option from one of two categories: ‘The Emerging Researcher’ or ‘The Reflective Practitioner’.

Part-time options

There is some room for negotiation in how the course unfolds for a part-time MMus student over three years, or in the case of part-time PgDip students, over two years.

Download the course specification

MMus

PG Dip

OpportUNIty

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.

Birmingham Conservatoire has a growing community of international students from across the world.

We appreciate the challenges of moving to a new country to live and study, and aim to be as supportive as possible.

Aside from being friendly and welcoming, we have various support mechanisms in place to help you settle in as an international student, including:

  • An international students' 'orientation week', including a special Conservatoire welcome event

  • A dedicated international student admissions administrator

  • A full-time staff member employed as international student mentor (who speaks Mandarin)

  • A pastoral mentoring system in which you, as a new postgraduate international student, are mentored by continuing postgraduate international students

  • Additional academic skills support provided by expert tutors from the University's Centre for Academic Success, and by postgraduate academic mentors from among continuing postgraduate students

Further information for prospective international students is available on the University's international pages.

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

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 conducting course is most popular with international students from:

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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.

Luan Shaw

Associate Professor; Director of Postgraduate Studies

Luan is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Head of Pedagogy at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where she has taught since 2011. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was made an Honorary Member of RBC in 2001. She is passionate about helping students to build their portfolio careers and having recently completed research in this area via the MEd in Academic Practice at Birmingham City University, her doctoral research also focuses on facilitating the transition from student to professional through instrumental teacher education in conservatoires. 

An alumna of RBC, Luan became a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and recipient of the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal soon after graduating in 1994. She freelanced with the CBSO and other UK orchestras for over 20 years and played principal clarinet for numerous Longborough Festival Opera productions including Wagner’s Ring Cycle. As a chamber musician, Luan has performed throughout the UK, on BBC Radio and at the Banff International Festival, and her research on Members’ Roles in Wind Quintets was published shortly after completing an MA in 'Psychology for Musicians' at the University of Sheffield.