"If you want to work creatively, you study composition at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire." - Louis Andriessen, Composer

Now, more than at any other time in history, composers can express themselves in any number of musical and artistic genres.

At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we celebrate this diversity and make it our mission to foster artists who challenge, innovate and transform notions of artistic practice today.

Our approach

From the outset, we encourage students to explore their own ideas both within the context of specific musical genres and using genres as a jumping-off point for the creation of new artistic concepts.

We support and encourage a diversity of styles and approaches, such as contemporary art music, pop, jazz and fusion, experimental and conceptual music, film and theatre music, Queer art, electroacoustic and studio-based composition.

Our courses

Composition courses at Birmingham City University:

We also offer research opportunities in composition, covering a a wide aesthetic and performative spectrum.

The student experience

  • Work closely with performers and getting your music performed
  • Have opportunities to write for orchestras and large ensembles
  • Have weekly 1-2-1 sessions with industry professionals
  • Engage in collaborations with projects involving theatre, galleries and media (film, TV, animation, radio, podcasts, gaming)
  • Learn the nuts and bolts of composition
  • Have the space to create ambitious and self-defined work


Find out more about the audition process and requirements for the department.

[00:00:02] Riadh Use your box analogy, it's really good. Please use it.

[00:00:06] Cat Its a paper bag analogy isn't it? I can't remember. 

[00:00:10] Riadh Wasn't there a box and a paper bag? 

[00:00:12] Cat Dude, I've said this too many times now. I've lost the plot. 

[00:00:17] Ziggy From my experience at the Conservatoire, pretty much every day is different.

[00:00:21] Millicent I like to experiment with jazz... 

[00:00:23] Victoria Electronic music... 

[00:00:24] Kunling Collaboration with other departments from the Conservatoire... 

[00:00:27] Millicent Cinematic/soundtrack music...

[00:00:27] Victoria Musical theatre...

[00:00:33] Millicent Gospel... 

[00:00:33] Kunling Music for short films... 

[00:00:34] Cat You do have this level of creative freedom that's just endless and it's wonderful.

[00:00:47] Ziggy Conservatoire is not what I expected at all. But in the absolute best way.

[00:00:51] Millicent You definitely learn a lot of things here. Definitely learn to have an open mind for one.

[00:00:57] Ziggy When I first came here, I was slightly worried that it was going to be very classical minded. Oh, you have to compose like this, but it's not like that at all. Whatever ideas you have in here, it's the development of them and how to get this out there. And that's what matters, I think. 

[00:01:18] Millicent Here at the Conservatoire, you definitely can tailor your degree to what you want to do, but you're not being forced to write Bach chorales, for example, every week, which is fine, but you know it's nice to switch it up every now and then..

[00:01:33] Ziggy This course can be whatever you want it to be. And the tutors are there to support whatever decisions you want to make. 

[00:01:40] Millicent The teachers here are really supportive and wanting you to grow as a composer yourself. 

[00:01:48] Kunling We get criticism, but it's it's always constructive criticism.

[00:01:59] Millicent Coming here was the first time that I'd ever had my music performed by real musicians. There's a lot of fun working with the musicians here. They're also really cool and very open to trying new things.

[00:02:16] Ziggy Everyone here is here to help you and everyone here is supporting you on your compositional journey. Because of that, like there is this real push to develop yourself and be the best version of yourself as an artist that you can be.

[00:02:33] Ziggy I don't feel like I have found a community before that's as supportive as the community at the Conservatoire. 

[00:02:45] Cat We're like a little family. That's very cringy.

[00:02:48] Millicent We all support each other. There's like a little group chat that we have. It's great.

[00:03:00] Ziggy There is a very, very diverse range of styles and backgrounds and perspectives. 

[00:03:07] Millicent In my year I don't think any of us write the same style.

[00:03:11] Ziggy Everyone kind of takes influence from each other and everyone kind of learns from each other's perspectives, and that, I'd say, is kind of where the strengths of Conservatoire study are.

[00:03:23] Victoria This is this is a place where I can find joy in the process of making music, definitely.

[00:03:31] Ziggy Being at the conservatory been absolutely life changing. 

[00:03:33] Cat You are valued for being you and you are valued for creating what you want to create.

[00:03:39] Ziggy It's probably the best decision you'll ever make.

Studying Composition at RBC

Teaching staff

We have a variety of tutors who provide specialist teaching and advice within the Composition department at RBC.

Teaching staff


Whilst studying with us you participate in a great range of Composition classes and tutorials.

Our classes and tutorials

Staff and student work

Our students share their experiences and examples of work from across the Composition department.

Staff and student work


See how we've been fostering artists who challenge, innovate and transform notions of artistic practice today.

View gallery


The Conservatoire Composition Cluster challenges traditional institutional preconceptions regarding the nature, content and presentation of new music.

Research cluster

Experimental performance

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s MMus in Experimental Performance is designed for emerging arts practitioners.

Experimental Performance

Staff spotlight

Joe Cutler is the Head of Composition at RBC, as well as a Professor in Composition and coordinator of research and PhD supervision. 

His music has been performed in over 40 countries and on six continents, he has worked both in the concert hall and outside and has released three full-length albums.

Music courses

We offer a wide range of music performance degree courses and programmes at Birmingham Conservatoire at undergraduate, postgraduate and short course level.

More music courses

Open Days

When possible, the best way to explore what's on offer is to come and see us in person, and we host a number of Open Days throughout the year. Come and be taught by our trailblazing academics and study in our innovative facilities.

Open Days


We give our students lots of opportunities to develop their performance skills in front of a public audience.

Come along to an RBC performance to see our current students in action, alongside some of the biggest names in classical and contemporary music.

See upcoming performances

Social Media

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