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Music Technology - MMus / PgCert / PgDip

Our postgraduate courses in Music Technology provide an opportunity for composers and composer-performers to experiment with and develop expertise in the creative application of established and new music technologies. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is an internationally important centre for performance and composition with technology, especially live electronics....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  

 

Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

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

Overview

Our postgraduate courses in Music Technology provide an opportunity for composers and composer-performers to experiment with and develop expertise in the creative application of established and new music technologies.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is an internationally important centre for performance and composition with technology, especially live electronics. An example of its work is the highly acclaimed Integra Live project, an application that makes it easy to use interactive audio processing to create new music.

As you might expect, in this context, our postgraduate courses in Music Technology provide an exciting opportunity for composers and composer-performers to experiment with and develop expertise in the creative application of established and new music technologies.

You'll have full access to our superb £57 million facilities, including our Concert Hall,  Recital Hall, seven recording studios, editing and mastering suites, and our black-box performance space known as The Lab. Alongside your focus on Music Technology, our courses provide opportunities for you to develop other skills relevant to a future career in the music profession.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

  • Regular individual tuition in Music Technology from world-leading practitioners and researchers
  • A chance to develop a distinctive creative voice within the context of a broad-based course, enhancing your employability.
  • The opportunity to participate in a wide variety of creative projects, including interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Access to state-of-the-art hardware, software, recording studios and performance spaces including our experimental black-box performance space called The Lab. 
  • Regular forums, seminars and masterclasses with distinguished visiting composers and performers.
  • A chance to network with leading professionals from around the world through our leading role in Integra Live.
  • By studying Music Technology in the setting of a thriving conservatoire, you'll benefit from opportunities to work with professional ensembles and musicians, as well as student performers, including our contemporary music group, Thallein Ensemble.
  • 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 to and/or MMus (as appropriate) once you have begun your studies (but before completion of your original course).

Students at Royal Birmingham Conservative are benefiting from an innovative new scheme which will allow them to gain hands-on experience working alongside an experienced recording artist.

Sara Colman

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 – for PgDip and MMus students – in complementary modules.

Entry Requirements

MMus/PgDip/PgCert
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

 You should be prepared to discuss a portfolio of recordings, productions,   compositions or other material, which must be submitted on CD or DVD at least two weeks before the audition.*

 

Portfolios should be sent by Recorded Delivery to: Senior Administrator, Admissions, Birmingham Conservatoire, 200 Jennens Road, Birmingham B4 7XR, UK

The panel will be interested to hear you talk about your artistic influences, your inspiration to be a musician and your career objectives.

This is an opportunity for you to ask the panel questions about the Music Technology Department and what life will be like as a musician in Birmingham.

The audition and interview together will last for about half an hour.

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

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 30 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £12,430 per year
  • Apply via UCAS

Award: PgCert

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 30 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £26,510 per year
  • Apply via UCAS

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

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.

Printing

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.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

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 options selected.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment, including high quality headphones and portable hard disks.

Excess printing (optional)

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

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.

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.

*Professional Placement option

The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.

This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

For any candidates who demonstrate an exceptional level of achievement in their audition/interview, a panel may identify them as a potential contender for our 12-month MMus, with credit for advanced standing. If the candidate expresses interest in pursuing this option, this will trigger a follow-up interview to explore their suitability further. However, it is not possible to apply for direct entry to this 12-month programme.

Completing your application

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

Course in Depth

PG Cert

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

This module enables you, as a postgraduate Music Technologist, 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: Music Technology module.

This module is focused entirely on your continued growth as a Creative Music Technologist. The skills developed will be specific to your own interests, but are likely to include a combination of composition utilising technology, performing with technology, interactive music technology, programming, recording, production, mixing and mastering.

PG Dip

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

This module enables you, as a postgraduate Music Technologist, 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: Music Technology module.

This module is focused entirely on your continued growth as a Creative Music Technologist. The skills developed will be specific to your own interests, but are likely to include a combination of composition utilising technology, performing with technology, interactive music technology, programming, recording, production, mixing and mastering.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 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.

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
  • Conference Paper
  • Preparation for Research
  • 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 Arts

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):

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.

This module enables you, as a postgraduate Music Technologist, 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: Music Technology module.

This module is focused entirely on your continued growth as a Creative Music Technologist. The skills developed will be specific to your own interests, but are likely to include a combination of composition utilising technology, performing with technology, interactive music technology, programming, recording, production, mixing and mastering.

This module enables you, as a postgraduate Music Technologist, 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: Music Technology module, encouraging a greater maturity of approach, the development of an individual voice and personal aesthetic, and a consistently professional approach to presentation.

This module is focused entirely on your continued growth as a Creative Music Technologist. The skills developed will be specific to your own interests, but are likely to include a combination of composition utilising technology, performing with technology, interactive music technology, programming, recording, production, mixing and mastering.

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)

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
  • Conference Paper
  • Preparation for Research
  • 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 Arts

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 Music Technologists, the Principal Study modules each culminate in a portfolio of original creative music technology work. Preparation of this is supported by individual specialist tuition, as well as by departmental activities.

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.

Student stories – Luke Aziz

I made the decision to return to education to study a Masters in Music Technology in order to strengthen my portfolio and gain more experience in the area. The Conservatoire has some of the most talented musicians in the country working there as well as excellent facilities, so I felt it would be a brilliant place to help me move forward in the field and hopefully make some contacts for the future!

I'm studying a one-year intensive course, so I get a lot of one-to-one sessions with the tutors which is really helpful. All the lecturers have such a huge enthusiasm for the subject, it makes it really interesting and really brings Music Technology to life. It’s obvious that the staff really love their subject and are very knowledgeable in the area, so it's great for me to be able to learn from them. There are also opportunities with external lecturers who are currently working in the Music Industry, which means I actually learn straight from the people that are directly involved in the field I want to end up working in.

Employability

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.

International Students

Royal 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 Support Programme Director (who speaks Mandarin)
  • A mentoring system in which you, as a new postgraduate international student, are mentored by continuing postgraduate international students who will be supporting you both pastorally and academically though weekly workshops
  • Additional supporting classes for international students that are particularly designed to help you further develop your English reading, speaking and comprehension skills
  • Additional academic skills support provided by expert tutors from the BCU's Centre for Academic Success

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

Facilities and Staff

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.

Our staff

Simon Hall

Head of Music Technology

Simon's musical interests are wide-ranging, which is reflected in his variety of work. He is an active composer, producer, recording engineer and bass trombone player as well as educator.

He has worked across a range of genres in a range of capacities, with artists as diverse as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, Louis Andriessen and Heiner Goebbels to Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow and Jamelia; and organisations ranging from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Big Band, to the Royal Shakespeare Company and Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre.

More about Simon

Ben Markland

Ben is widely known and much admired, not only for his playing, but for his writing and arranging. He gained an MA in Composition from Birmingham University before embarking on a freelance career. Ben is also active in education, regularly running composition and improvisation workshops. He lectures in music technology, though his fine bass playing has brought him most prominence.

More about Ben

Luan Shaw

Interim Vice Principal, Music (Learning and Teaching) and Director of Postgraduate Studies

Luan is Director of Postgraduate Studies 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. In her former role as RBC’s first Head of Pedagogy (2011-2018), she significantly expanded provision for instrumental teacher education across the RBC curriculum. Luan is passionate about helping students to build their portfolio careers and her doctoral research focuses on facilitating the transition from student to professional through instrumental teacher education in conservatoires.

More about Luan

Lamberto Coccioli

Professor of Music and Technology, Associate Principal, Director of the Integra Lab

Coccioli is originally from Italy, where he studied composition with Edgar Alandia and then Azio Corghi at Conservatorio G. Verdi in Milan. Of lasting formative influence were also his journeys to remote areas of Colombia to record music and sounds of indigenous and mestizo communities.

In a career spanning over 30 years Coccioli has lectured and performed all over the world in his different roles as composer, researcher and electronic performer. From 1995 to 1999 he was Luciano Berio’s assistant and in 1998 his opera Magma was premiered to wide critical acclaim.

In 2000 Coccioli became Head of Music Technology at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) where he directed the €3.1m EU-funded Integra – Fusing Music and Technology project to support and promote composition and performance of music with live electronics (2005-2012), including the development of the Integra Live software. As a spin-off of the project in 2009 Coccioli co-founded with Jamie Bullock Integra Lab, the music interaction design research centre based at RBC.

In 2012 he became Professor of Music and Technology and two years later Associate Principal, playing a key role in the development of RBC’s international strategy and the design and construction of the new Conservatoire building with its innovative digital infrastructure.

Coccioli is currently the PI on the £485,000 AHRC-funded project Augmented Vocality: Recomposing the Sounds of Early Irish and Old Norse. His most recent journal article, “From nature to culture and back. A personal journey through the soundscapes of Colombia”, has been published by the Journal of Sonic Studies.

More about Lamberto