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Music - MMus / PgCert / PgDip

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

The principal aim of our Master of Music (MMus) course is to provide you with knowledge, skills, and confidence to succeed in your chosen branch(es) of the music profession, giving you a head-start in addressing the challenges involved in becoming a professional musician....

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

This course is:

Open to International Students

Overview

The principal aim of our Master of Music (MMus) course is to provide you with knowledge, skills, and confidence to succeed in your chosen branch(es) of the music profession, giving you a head-start in addressing the challenges involved in becoming a professional musician.

The course is suitable for both recent graduates and suitably qualified mature students, with a range of support to ensure that you leave Royal Birmingham Conservatoire ready to pursue a musical career.

A distinctive feature of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s postgraduate provision is that it will give you the opportunity to make choices within your course directly relevant to your future career aspirations, both within your Principal Study area and in your supporting studies. All MMus and PgDip routes include a core Career Development module designed to get you thinking about your future professional plans, and a broad menu of optional Professional Development modules designed to help you work towards achieving your personal career aspirations. You will also take a core module designed to develop your skills as a researcher or informed practitioner.

You will have the opportunity to study in one of several Principal Study areas, most of which are also offered at PgDip or PgCert level.

Instrumental Performance (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

This specialism prepares you for a solo, chamber or orchestral career. It is available to students pursuing orchestral instruments, keyboard instruments and other solo instruments such as recorder, guitar, and saxophone, with a route also offered for bowed string and guitar ensembles. We also welcome instrumentalists and singers who are developing fusions of folk music with other genres, students wishing to focus on songwriting, and woodwind players who do not wish to follow the traditional orchestral route but would prefer to pursue a career as a multi-instrumentalist in musical theatre. 

Read more about our instrumental departments:

Vocal Performance (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

This route offers advanced-level training in singing. You're encouraged and enabled to increase your experience as a performer and to broaden your repertoire, though you can also take the opportunity to specialise if you wish. You'll enjoy regular opportunities to sing in a variety of contexts, both as a soloist and in ensembles with other performers. Read more about Vocal Performance.

Orchestral Performance (Strings) (MMus, PgDip)

Developed in partnership with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), this route is for advanced level string players considering professional orchestral auditions and on the brink of a professional career. You will spend a significant amount of rehearsal time in the CBSO alongside one or more dedicated host players who will act as mentors. You may also be offered opportunities to play at the back of the section to gain further experience. In addition to developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills, and stylistic awareness, you will expand your knowledge of orchestral repertoire, learn how to prepare for rehearsal in the most efficient way, develop strategies which will help you to integrate within your section, and build confidence in preparing for orchestral auditions. Read more about Orchestral Performance (Strings).

Conducting (MMus, PgDip)

We offer the following:

All our conducting pathways offer the technical training, collaborative opportunities, and podium time necessary to help you prepare for a career as a professional conductor. You will spend considerable time developing your directing techniques in rehearsals and will also have opportunities to demonstrate your skills in performance. In addition to attending and participating in scheduled ensemble activities, you will be encouraged to explore other opportunities to engage as conductor or observer. Students across all three pathways will also attend classes/workshops of their peers studying other conducting specialisms.

Jazz (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

Designed for recent graduates and suitably qualified mature students, these programmes provide high quality advanced-level tuition, enabling you to specialise either as a Jazz performer or instigator. You will benefit from regular individual specialist tuition from professional jazz musicians active on today’s scene. There will be an emphasis on the art of improvisation as well as regular opportunities to rehearse and perform with small and large jazz ensembles. Read more about Jazz

Experimental Performance (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

Designed for emerging arts practitioners, this route provides you with a unique opportunity to undertake independent artistic projects in a fully supportive environment. Practitioners from a variety of disciplines (including, but not limited to, instrumental/vocal performance, composition, dance, choreography, theatre, visual and performance art, and creative writing) come together with likeminded people. The core of your study will be formed by your own artistic ideas, which are developed, through research and dialogue, into professional practical projects. Read more about Experimental Performance.

Composition (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

Our composition route actively celebrates the diversity of today's musical genres, and fosters artists who challenge, innovate, and transform notions of artistic practice today. You'll spend most of your time writing music for professional and student ensembles, whether you choose to respond to our set briefs or work on your own projects. You'll be encouraged to express yourself in multiple musical and artistic genres. By studying composition within a thriving conservatoire setting, you'll have excellent opportunities to collaborate with performers and to have your works performed. Read more about our Composition department.

Music Technology (MMus, PgDip, PgCert)

This pathway offers 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 will be based in our £57-million Conservatoire building, which features our Concert Hall, 150-seat Recital Hall, more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops, seven recording studios, editing, and mastering suites, and our black-box performance space known as The Lab. All our spaces are acoustically designed to provide a world-class music-making 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. Read more about Music Technology.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

  • Regular individual tuition in your Principal Study area from leading UK and internationally renowned performers, practitioners, teachers, and researchers.
  • Bespoke support classes in musicianship and repertoire.
  • The opportunity to participate in a wide variety of creative projects, including interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Frequent opportunities to perform, both within Departmental activities and in concerts.
  • Access to forums, seminars and masterclasses with distinguished visiting artists, composers, and performers.
  • Access to the Conservatoire’s broad range of ensemble activities, including chamber music, operatic productions, Brass Band, Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, ‘Repertoire’ and ‘Pops’ Orchestras, Thallein (Contemporary Music) Ensemble, and the Folk Ensemble.
  • The opportunity to tailor your course to your individual needs through wide-ranging Professional Development modules.
  • A chance to network with leading professionals from around the world.

The MMus course at RBC has been an invaluable and pivotal step in my journey as a composer and an artist — providing a supportive and nurturing environment in which to experiment with new ideas, and expose myself to unfamiliar and challenging concepts.

The music community at RBC is incredibly tight-knit, with a plethora of opportunities for collaborations with both professional and world-leading ensembles. The individualised focus of the course and the artistic development I received is something I’ll be eternally grateful for.

Zygmund De Somogyi, organiser of Prxludes

Through the flexibility of the curricula and the huge variety of opportunities for collaboration with peers from every department, I’ve grown as a musician in more ways than I ever expected.

I’ve had amazing experiences: conducting and running the Camerata; accompanying and playing continuo in the Historical Performance department; composing for Conservatoire ensembles; playing and conducting contemporary music; even playing in the legendary Conservatoire Folk Ensemble!

Isaac Boulter, MMus Alumnus

Open Day

Join us on campus where you'll be able to explore our facilities and accommodation in person, and chat to staff and students from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Next Open Day: June 2024

Register Interest

Entry Requirements

MMus/PgDip
Essential

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

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

Audition requirements

Applicants for most Principal Study areas will be auditioned live, but some will require you to submit a portfolio in addition to or instead of a live audition/interview. For full 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.

International Students

Entry requirements here

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: MMus

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • £2013 per 20 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

Award: PgCert

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • £2013 per 20 credits
  • Year 1 - 60 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • £2013 per 20 credits
  • Year 1 - 60 credits
  • Year 2 - 60 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

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: MMus

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

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.

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.

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 your own instrument.

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.

*Part-time fees

Your fees are charged per 20 credits, depending on the number of credits studied in each year. The fee table above outlines recommended credit loads in each year; if you choose to study a different credit load, please be aware that your fees will be charged accordingly.

Completing your application

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

*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. However, it is not possible to apply for direct entry to the Professional Placement version of the course since the decision to transfer may only be taken after consultation with your course tutors and after successfully completing at least 120 credits.

Completing a 20-week Professional Placement towards the end of your Masters degree enables you to further 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.

Please note that tuition fees are payable during your placement period.

Course in Depth

MMus

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

  • The Career Development module (20 credits), and
  • Both Principal Study 1 and 2 modules (each 60 credits, chosen according to the specialism – see below).

You must complete one of the Principal Study modules below (Principal Study areas chosen will be dependent upon the specialist pathway chosen by the student):

You must complete one of the Principal Study modules below (Principal Study areas chosen will be dependent upon the specialist pathway chosen by the student):

In order to complete this course, you must also 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)

PG Dip

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete TWO CORE modules (totalling 80 credits):

  • The Career Development module (20 credits), and
  • Principal Study 1 module (60 credits, chosen according to the specialism – see below).

You must complete one of the Principal Study modules below (Principal Study areas chosen will be dependent upon the specialist pathway chosen by the student):

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

PG Cert

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

Course structure

Whichever course you choose, work in the Principal Study area – both individual tuition and Departmental activity – lies at its heart.

Being the exit point for PgCert and PgDip, Principal Study 1 is more prescriptive than Principal Study 2 (MMus only), though both allow scope for you to explore repertoire of your own choice and to develop a specialist area if you wish.

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 list above gives an indication of 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.

Part-time options

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

Employability

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


Our Graduates

Tom Stoneman

Tom Stoneman

"Studying conducting at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has proven to be an invaluable experience for me. Through the opportunities the course provided, I have been able to take my conducting career to higher levels, and the skills that I developed throughout my studies have meant that I am well equipped for anything that's thrown at me.

"I would not be working at my current level if it were not for the support of the conservatoire staff, as well as that of fellow students."


Edward-Leung-piano

Edward Leung

"I would not be where I am today in my career without the support of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. I benefitted immensely from my Principal Study tutor, but I also had the opportunity to work with tutors from the Strings and Vocal departments for chamber music and lieder coaching.

"I believe the openness and collaborative atmosphere is what makes the Conservatoire unique. I have also had many high-profile performance opportunities throughout the United Kingdom, thus broadening my professional network and setting up my performance career."


Arabella Sprot

"The course itself has a very high standard of teaching, and is quite student-led, meaning students are able to design their own study programme.

"There are lots of professional musicians involved in the Conservatoire so it’s really exciting to be able to work alongside them. It’s very good experience and means you get to know people in the industry."

International

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 & Staff

Our staff

Dr Luan Shaw

Director of Postgraduate Studies (Music)

Dr Luan Shaw is Associate Professor: Director of Postgraduate Studies (Music) 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 led the significant...

More about Luan

Beetung Goo

Assistant Director of Postgraduate Studies (Director of International Student Support Programme)

Beetung is a Teaching Fellow at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She joined the staff as International Student Mentor in 2014, soon after completing her master’s degree here. The learning experience of international students is central to Beetung’s work: she has developed Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s International Student Support Programme,...

More about Beetung

Siân Derry

Assistant Director of Postgraduate Studies (MA Musicology Course Director, Professional Performance - AdvPgDip Course Director)

Siân Derry is a Senior Lecturer in Music, and Assistant Director of Postgraduate Studies (MA Musicology Course Director, Professional Performance - AdvPgDip Course Director) at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She joined the Conservatoire in 2015, having previously taught at the University of Manchester. Siân completed her BMus Hons degree...

More about Siân