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Music - BMus

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The BMus (Hons) degree at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will help you to realise your potential and prepare you for a career in the music profession, whether that is in performance, composition, or music technology....

  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media


[00:00:01] Speaker 1 When you start your time here at RBC (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), you'll be surrounded by people who have similar aspirations to you and or want to just make great music together. So this leads to really great friendships that will last a lifetime, but can also lead to the forming of chamber ensembles with your mates and networking opportunities that you can call upon all throughout your career. Being part of the arts, design and media faculty here at BCU gives you the chance to play on video game soundtracks, film soundtracks and even art exhibitions. I was lucky enough to get my first professional seat in an orchestra called The Chineke Orchestra at the end of my second year, and RBC managed to tailor my course to allow me to go around the world and perform as a professional trumpet player. As School rep for the Conservatoire, this has  given me the opportunity to have meetings with senior staff and other students to discuss how we make the curriculum more inclusive and even how we program concerts to make sure it's as diverse as possible.

[00:01:04] Speaker 2 So I'm a music tech student. Wherever your interest lies, there is a specific room designed for that purpose. Whether that be recording, mixing, mastering or editing. We have several studios with incredible control rooms, with SSL mixing desks and live rooms with a variety of very nice mics. My confidence has risen to levels I didn't know I could reach. I think one of the greatest experiences of being a RBC has been the opportunity to join the Folk Ensemble. Once a week we meet up and we get the opportunity to tour across the UK. It's also a great place to meet people and feel integrated in the RBC community. Primarily, we play folk music, but we take influence from music all around the world and it's all fused with elements of rock, metal and jazz. The course is designed in a way that means that we get a lot of 1 to 1 time with professionals in the industry. The insights I've been given have been so amazing.

[00:02:08] Speaker 3 I have spent most of my final year looking at music education. I've focussed my major project on looking at strategies behind music education in schools and school projects, as well as delivering a music workshop in schools, in a care home and in hospitals. As the course has gone on, I've been given more chances to learn about how I best learn because of the independent study. The University facilities are right on the doorstep of the Conservatoire, and the Curzon Library is only a five minute walk away. The library is great for sheet music and it's also great for any research books we need for our projects. Every student has access to the support services at BCU and the mental health team have been a great support to me throughout my time at university. I've been president of BCUSU's LGBTQ+ Society for the last two years, where we work on improving the student experience for LGBTQ+ students and offering a safe space on campus. My time at university has helped me grow as a musician and as an individual. I'm excited to build my career using the skills that I've learned. 

The BMus (Hons) degree at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will help you to realise your potential and prepare you for a career in the music profession, whether that is in performance, composition, or music technology.

The programme will develop your specialist musical skills as well as developing your theoretical, historical, and practice-based knowledge, all the while encouraging your individual creativity. As a result, you will become an independent learner, a critical interpreter, and a reflective practitioner.

You will have the opportunity to study in one of three Principal Study areas:

  • Performance (Instrumental or Vocal)
  • Composition
  • Music Technology

You will graduate with a named award that reflects the Principal Study area chosen.

During your time at the Conservatoire, you will study within a particular Department that is determined by your Principal Study area. Our departments are arranged by both instrument and specialism and include: Brass; Composition; Historical Performance; Keyboard; Music Technology; Percussion; Strings (bowed and plucked); Vocal and Operatic; and Woodwind.

With specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course, you will get the individual attention you need to prepare for a successful career. You will benefit from the care and attention of our highly qualified professional team of tutors and support staff, all of whom are dedicated to supporting and developing the potential of each student.

You will be based in our £57-million Conservatoire building, which features the 440-seat Bradshaw Concert Hall; the smaller Recital Hall; our black-box performance space known as The Lab; our dedicated Eastside Jazz Club; seven recording studios, editing and mastering suites; not to mention a large number of practice rooms, ensemble rooms and teaching workshops. All our spaces are acoustically designed to provide a world-class music-making environment.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a friendly, welcoming, and highly supportive environment. We also benefit from being part of Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, which provides many opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary projects.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

  • In addition to benefiting from individual tuition in your specialist area, 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 regular masterclasses and performance or 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 the many musicians who have worked with and inspired our students.
  • In terms of Professional Development, you will also explore themes such as musicianship, history and performance practice, education, and outreach work, not to mention other topics such as health and wellbeing for performers, community music-making, conducting skills and other musical traditions.
  • Towards the end of your course, you will embark on a final project that allows you to explore your personal musical aspirations. This can range from live performances to business projects; musicological dissertations to multi-media installations; educational events to professionally marketed recordings.
Alistair Rutherford

Studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was a life changing experience for me, one which has shaped me as a musician and person. The BMus degree has given me the skill, knowledge and know-how to propel me into the beginning of my career as a musician. I chose to study at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire because the wealth of knowledge of the tutors was inspiring. Being part of the Conservatoire has allowed me to be involved with many differing projects and meet many different people from different walks of musical life.

Alistair Rutherford, BMus (Performance)

Why Choose Us?

  • Our performance health programme — including performance coaching, physiotherapy, movement workshops and Alexander technique classes — allows students to develop as confident and effective performers.
  • Individual specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course – far more than is typically offered by academic university music courses.
  • 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.
  • We have countless partnerships and long-established professional relationships with organisations including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • You will have full access to our superb £57 million facilities. These include our wonderful performance spaces: the 500-seat Bradshaw Concert Hall, the 150-seat Recital Hall, our black-box performance space known as “The Lab”, the Organ Studio, and our fabulous Eastside Jazz Club. We’ve not even mentioned our seven recording studios and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops in addition; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is absolutely world-class.
  • Top 20 for Music (Guardian League Tables 2023)

Open Day

Join us on campus at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where you'll be able to explore our campus, facilities and accommodation in person. You’ll also have the chance to chat to staff and students about course content and performance opportunities.

Next Open Day: Thursday 8 June 2023

Book Now

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2024/25.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

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

Applications for this course are made via UCAS Conservatoires

Entry to the BMus (Hons) is by audition only. Applicants will be required to demonstrate general musical knowledge and musicianship skills, including harmony and aural. Audition requirements differ per instrument/specialism applied for.

Composition - Composers must send a portfolio of at least three compositions and a high-quality recording of at least one of these works at least two weeks before their audition date.

Level 2 qualifications
GCSE GCSE English Language or English Literature and GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above. If you do not have these or are not undertaking them, we accept other Level 2 equivalents, or we may ask you to pass BCU's GCSE equivalency tests.
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry requirements under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details.
Scottish National 5 English Language or English Literature and Maths at grade C or above. If you do not have these or are not undertaking them, we accept other Level 2 equivalents, or we may ask you to pass BCU's GCSE equivalency tests.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • EE / 32 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 3 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.
AS and AS VCE Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 32 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media) Pass
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 8 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 32 pts
International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 32 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma PPP
Scottish Higher/Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 32 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).
T-Levels Pass overall (D or E on the core)
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts Pass overall

We are committed to encouraging diversity within our student community and welcome applicants with non-standard qualifications to apply and audition for our BMus (Hons) Music course. In addition to the academic qualifications listed above, we will also consider UCAS tariff points obtained through the following music qualifications:

  • Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) qualifications at grades 6 to 8 in Music Theory and Practical & Performance.
  • Trinity College London’s Level 3 qualifications (Grades 6 to 8) in Music Performance and Theory.

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

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

Whilst access to large instruments (e.g. pianos, drum kits) is provided, it is assumed that all students will have their own "portable" instrument (e.g. saxophone, trombone, etc.) with them.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

DBS Certificate (optional)

You will need to cover the cost of a DBS Certificate should you need one for the optional pedagogy modules.

Instrument maintenance (optional)

Musicians are expected to cover day to day costs relating to their Principal Study discipline, e.g. keeping your instrument in good working order, replacing consumables, e.g. strings/reeds. It may also be necessary to purchase software or scores, for example.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

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.

Worried about Personal Statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

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

Course in Depth

Year one

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete one of the following principal study modules and all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year two

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete one of the following principal study modules and all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year three

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete one of the following Principal Study modules and all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete a further 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year four

In Year four, all students will select a total of 120 credits which must include one module from List A (Principal Study), one module from List B (Project) at least 20 and no more than 40 credits from list C (indicative list of optional modules).

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Download course specification

Download now

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.

Student stories


Samantha Oxborough

Lancashire born twenty-five year old Mezzo Soprano Samantha Oxborough is a recent graduate from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a Post-Graduate Certificate and a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours under Christine Cairns and David Wilkinson. In 2019, Samantha moved to London and joined the Young Artist Programme at the National Opera Studio.


Emily Abdy

Emily graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a degree in music composition in 2019 and has continued at RBC to study for her Master’s. As well as creating new music, she runs a YouTube channel and researches film music.

Find out more about Emily


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 firmly on your principal study, whether that is in performance, composition or music technology.

As a vocational programme, it is easy to see how all your principal-study work adds to your professional development. Yet Royal Birmingham Conservatoire believes other areas of the course are just as important: the skills in writing, research, communication and critical and reflective thinking that you develop in the academic modules are exactly the types of graduate skills that make you more employable in any area of professional life, musical or otherwise.

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 and ensembles across all areas of the course. Equally, you will have opportunities to develop your ability to work under your own direction, whether that is through the individual time spent practising, researching and writing essays and presentations, or working on personal development projects.

The course is designed so that we can guide you through these developments in the early years, give you the ability to reflect on what you have already learned and, most importantly, what you still need to learn. Taking charge of your own development as a musician enables you to work more independently in the later years and provides an employability skill set vital to your continuing professional life.


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 Book a Musician 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), the Orchestra of the Swan, and the Welsh National Opera where students participate actively or as observers; a 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; and many other partnerships with organisations including:

  • BBC Radio 3
  • Welsh National Opera
  • Arco Project
  • Leamington Festival
  • THSH
  • Birmingham Cathedral
  • St Chads
  • Birmingham Opera Company
  • Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Dudley Arts
  • Heartlands Hospital
  • Birmingham Music Service
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Jazzlines
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall

and for pedagogy/education specific projects:

  • Music in Hospitals and Care
  • Air Arts, Derby Royal Hospital
  • Birmingham Children's Hospital
  • Elmhurst Ballet School
  • Services for Education Music Service
  • Sandwell Music Service
  • Warwick School
  • Calthorpe Academy
  • In Harmony


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:

Facilities & Staff

RBC concert hall

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 state-of-the-art music facility includes five public performance venues – a 440-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 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 able to 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.