Experimental Performance - MMus / PgCert / PgDip

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2020
  • Study mode: MMus - Full Time, Part Time
    PgCert - Part Time
    PgDip - Full Time, Part Time
  • Location: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

If you want to study experimental performance in the UK, with or without a focus on sound, then these are the ideal courses for you.

Designed for emerging arts practitioners, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s brand new PgCert, PgDip and MMus courses in Experimental Performance provide you with a unique opportunity to undertake independent artistic projects in a fully supportive environment.

Available for the first time in September 2019, they enable practitioners from a variety of disciplines (including, but not limited to, instrumental/vocal performance, composition, dance, choreography, theatre, visual and performance art, creative writing) to come together with likeminded people.  This course doesn’t ask you to justify yourself against the background of tradition, but gives you agency. People from every discipline are treated equally with emphasis placed on rigorous conceptual thought and idea-development. By focusing on these non-discipline-specific aspects of performance you will contribute to a collaborative, discursive and interdisciplinary working environment.

The core of your study will be formed by your own artistic ideas, which are developed, through research and dialogue, into professional practical projects.

You will be allocated a mentoring team comprising a personal tutor who has experience in collaborative and conceptual approaches alongside additional specialist support according to your individual needs. Your mentoring team is there to help you realise your ideas into fully developed performances in the best possible way.

Our Experimental Performance courses will equip you with the skills you need to engage successfully with diverse contemporary creative practice. While our PgCert focuses exclusively on Experimental Performance work, complementary modules on the PgDip and MMus are intended to enhance your wider professional development. These will be chosen, in discussion with your personal tutor, from a varied list shared with other postgraduate Principal Study disciplines.

What's covered in the course?

  • In depth examination of your current artistic practice.
  • Development of your ability to turn artistic ideas into effective performance material.
  • Mentoring from specialist practitioners.
  • Study within an interdisciplinary working environment that promotes collaboration and discussion.
  • Regular group critique sessions.
  • Using the wide range of spaces offered by BCU with privileged use of our new experimental performance space called The Lab.
  • Understanding the context of your work and placing it in artistic and socio-political discourses.
  • In PgDip and MMus, a core career development module designed to get you thinking about your future professional plans.
  • In PgDip and MMus, the flexibility to choose from a broad menu of Professional Development 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.
  • In PgCert, the ability to focus wholly on the Principal Study area.
  • The possibility of transferring between PgCert, PgDip and/or MMus (as appropriate) once you have begun your studies (but before completion of your original course).

Why Choose Us?

This course has been created by artists who actively work with an interdisciplinary mind-set. Working in an interdisciplinary way to us means that you don’t settle for a particular artistic genre but you are interested in finding the best way of expressing an artistic idea. What form your realisation takes, what genres it borrows from would always depend on the particular idea.

We know how frustrating it can be when, instead of discussing your work in depth, you have to start by justifying why you work in the way that you have chosen to work. We understand that you might want to perform text on stage without being trained as an actor, or you might want to dance without having had lessons. We are interested in your ideas. We will listen to you, help you to think ideas through and find appropriate concepts for successful realisations in performance. We have considerable experience in this area and enjoy discussing people’s work and ideas.

This is a course that supports people who want to advance their artistic practice, whether this will ultimately lead to an advancement of your professional artistic career or to prepare yourself for PhD study with an emphasis on practice-as-research.

In addition to our significant expertise within Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, we are also able to work closely with colleagues in areas of artistic practice outside music – for instance, in theatre, visual art and media.  

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Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Thursday 23 January 2020. Visit us to get a real insight into student life at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

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

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Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Dr Michael Wolters.

Email Course Director

Entry Requirements

MMus/PgDip
Essential

UK students should normally hold an honours degree.

Non-UK students should hold a Bachelor's degree or a similar degree-equivalent diploma.

Audition requirements
  • A portfolio presented as one single pdf document. This portfolio should show us all the aspects of your artistic practice that you find important.
  • The single pdf document can contain descriptive or artistic text and images but also links to other websites (for example of video/audio recordings of your work).
  • The nature of the work submitted and its presentation is up to you. However, please bear in mind that we need to clearly understand your personal approach to creating performances and making art. Make thoughtful decisions about specific elements of your work that you absolutely want us to see, for example by highlighting important sections through smart video editing or giving us timecodes so that we can easily locate essential moments within the documentation.
  • The portfolio also must contain a motivational statement, explaining your reasons for applying. This can be delivered in the form of written text (max one side of A4) or via a link to a video or audio recording (or equivalent).
International Students

Entry requirements here

 

* If your first language is not English, then please refer to our English requirements for more information.

International Students

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

Apply now

  • UK/EU students
  • International students

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgCert

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

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.

Please note that generally auditions take place in February and May before the September start of the course each year. Although it states an application deadline of 1 October on UCAS, we will consider applications throughout the year. Applicants should make sure that their portfolio arrives at least a month prior to their audition. If you have any questions please contact Michael Wolters.

An intensive 12-month MMus route may be proposed by an audition panel for any candidates who demonstrate an exceptional level of achievement in their audition and who can provide evidence of a consistently strong previous academic record. It is not possible to apply for direct entry to this intensive programme.

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

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 Cert

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

Principal Study 1: Experimental Performance
60 credits

As an experimental performer, this module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area. For MMus students, it provides a prelude to the further advancement of your training in the Principal Study 2: Experimental Performance module. 

Given that this module is focused entirely on your continued growth as an experimental performer, it will focus on developing such aspects as follows: the realization of ideas and concepts, creative thinking, critical approach to art making, the use of space and structure, interdisciplinary collaboration, self-reflective working, aesthetic awareness and aspects of presentation, including the use of relevant technology.

PG Dip

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

Principal Study 1: Experimental Performance
60 credits

As an experimental performer, this module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area. For MMus students, it provides a prelude to the further advancement of your training in the Principal Study 2: Experimental Performance module.

Given that this module is focused entirely on your continued growth as an experimental performer, it will focus on developing such aspects as follows: the realization of ideas and concepts, creative thinking, critical approach to art making, the use of space and structure, interdisciplinary collaboration, self-reflective working, aesthetic awareness and aspects of presentation, including the use of relevant technology.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (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: Experimental Performance
60 credits

As an experimental performer, this module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area. For MMus students, it provides a prelude to the further advancement of your training in the Principal Study 2: Experimental Performance module.

Given that this module is focused entirely on your continued growth as an experimental performer, it will focus on developing such aspects as follows: the realization of ideas and concepts, creative thinking, critical approach to art making, the use of space and structure, interdisciplinary collaboration, self-reflective working, aesthetic awareness and aspects of presentation, including the use of relevant technology.

Principal Study 2: Experimental Performance
60 credits

As an experimental performer, this module enables you to continue to advance your training in your specialist area and thus provides professionally-relevant experience. It builds on the technical and creative skills acquired in the Principal Study 1 Experimental Performance module, encouraging greater ambition, the development of an individual voice and personal aesthetic, and a consistently professional approach to presentation.

In addition to continuing to develop the practical and critical skills fostered in Principal Study 1 Experimental Performance, it will seek to enhance your ability to deal with more ambitious ideas/concepts/projects (including the creation of large structures), and to be reflective, especially in how you write about and discuss your own work.

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. For Experimental Performers, the Principal Study modules each culminate in a portfolio of original work. Preparation of this is supported by individual specialist tuition, as well as by a variety of related activities,including sessions with performers, workshops with artists, professional development sessions, discussion-led seminars and a regular group critique session, which will provide an opportunity for discussion of each other’s work.

If you are a MMus or PgDip student 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

PG Cert

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.

Experimental Performance taped upRoyal 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 put 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 composition course is most popular with international students from:

Experimental Performance course page image

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.

Dr Michael Wolters

Deputy Head of Composition

Michael Wolters was born in 1971 in Mönchengladbach, Germany and grew up in Niederkrüchten, a small German village on the Dutch border. After working as a care worker in a children's home and a runner at several theatres in Germany and Scarborough he studied Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany and Composition at the University of Huddersfield (BA, MA) and the University of Birmingham (PhD). His teachers include Christopher Fox, Heiner Goebbels, Patric Standford and Vic Hoyland.

His works have been performed at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the ISCM World Music Days in Manchester, Spitalfields Festival, the Barbican Centre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Purcell Room, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Tate Liverpool and various other concert halls, festivals, supermarkets, art galleries, shoe shops, theatres, banks, opera houses, in cafes, on beaches, on ice rinks, in cinemas, on the radio, on TV; in Europe, Russia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.

He works in close relationship with the German theatre artist Marcus Droß and he’s a founding member of the artists’ collective New Guide to Opera.

He joined the composition department in 2004 as a visiting tutor and was awarded the title of Associate Professor in Composition in 2015.

His recent commissions include Ava’s Wedding – An English Tragedy: a full-length opera written for and performed by Birmingham Conservatoire; Requiem: his fifth commission from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Danserye and chorus/groove space: two collaborations with choreographer Sebastian Matthias.

Read Michael's full profile

Andy Ingamells

Dr Andy Ingamells

Andy Ingamells is an experimental musician who develops unusual methods of composition that blur the line between composer and performer. He has dispersed brief instructions via the internet to be interpreted and performed in over 30 different countries during a single day, played gold-painted pianos filled with buckets of red wallpaper paste, been tickled by improvisors playing his ticklish body as an instrument, and completed a marathon five-day performance-journey across Europe inspired by organ music.

His work has been performed in the National Portrait Gallery, the Handel & Hendrix House Museum and Café Oto in London, the Orgelpark and Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Lapidarium of Kings in Copenhagen, Walled City Festival in Derry, Wunderbar Festival in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Cheltenham International Music Festival.

Andy is a graduate of the Master Artistic Research programme at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and completed his bachelor study at Birmingham Conservatoire, winning the BMus Prize and the Orchestral Composition Prize, in addition to the Composition Department Prize for his destructive Piano Recital. He has recently completed a PhD supported by the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, with the aim of his research being to develop an expanded compositional practice that can serve as a blueprint to equip composer-performers with invaluable skills to question existing orthodoxies within a changing music world.

Paul Norman

Dr Paul Norman

Paul Norman’s composition practice places emphasis on ideas and concepts and includes visual and performative elements in both the composition process and performance.

 Norman has produced solo projects and interdisciplinary collaborations together with dance, fine art and theatre, showing his work across Europe, including: Frankfurt LAB, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt, Theatre Freiburg, Kampnagel, Hamburg, Tanzhaus NRW, Düsseldorf and Sophiensäle, Berlin in Germany, Gessnerallee, Zurich and Tingueley Museum, Basel in Switzerland, Post-Paradise, Fluid, Coda and Frontiers Festivals, Birmingham in the UK.

Norman was recently awarded a PhD in composition that explored the effects that decisions made in the composition process have on what is communicated to an audience during performance. Titled UNPROTECTED PRACTICE: Including Process as Compositional Material the PhD was awarded by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and fully funded by AHRC Midlands3Cities.

Read Paul's full profile