Orchestral Performance (Strings) - MMus / PgDip

Developed in partnership with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), our MMus and PgDip courses in Orchestral Performance are for advanced level string players considering professional orchestral auditions and on the brink of a professional career. 

In addition to one-to-one specialist tuition, 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.

You will also participate in additional performance activities within the Conservatoire’s String Department and the wider Conservatoire, including performance classes, masterclasses, orchestra and chamber music.You'll have full access to our superb £57 million facilities, including our Concert Hall, 150-seat Recital Hall, our black box performance space known as The Lab, and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is world class.

Both PgDip and MMus courses also provide excellent opportunities for you to develop other skills relevant to a future career in the music profession.

A separate postgraduate pathway is available for Instrumental Performers, which includes both solo and chamber music routes for string players (the latter for existing ensembles). 

What's covered in the course?

  • Specialist individual tuition.
  • One or two dedicated CBSO mentors.
  • Regular opportunities to rehearse within the CBSO.
  • Access to a range of departmental activities and to masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest artists within the Conservatoire. 
  • Frequent chances to perform within the Conservatoire, including solo, chamber and orchestral opportunities. 
  • A core career development module designed to get your thinking about your future professional plans. 
  • 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 researchers or informed practitioner. 
  • The possibility of transferring from PgDip to MMus once you have begun your studies (but before completion of the PgDip). 

Why Choose Us?

The opportunity to learn while playing alongside professional players in one of the UK’s leading orchestras is clearly an extremely valuable one. Furthermore, 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.

Similar Courses

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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.

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This course is open to International students

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If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Director of Postgraduate Studies: Luan Shaw.

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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

Entry level is very high and auditions will be conducted by Section Leaders from CBSO and the Head of Strings at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Home student auditions will be scheduled live in Birmingham, while special arrangements will be made for EU/international students unable to travel to the UK.

You will present an extended piece such as the first movement of a concerto, play specific orchestral excerpts, and undertake some sight-reading.

Further details about the audition will be supplied once we have received an application.

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

English language requirements

You must have a minimum of IELTS 5.5 or equivalent in all four skills areas to secure a visa. 

You must have IELTS 6; or alternatively must have studied and completed a Bachelor’s degree in the UK.

International Students

Entry requirements here

International Students

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

Apply now

  • UK students
  • EU and International students

Award: MMus

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.

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 Dip

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

Principal Study 1: Orchestral Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate string player following our Orchestral Performance pathway at postgraduate level, the Principal Study 1: Orchestral Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as an orchestral string player, you will spend a significant amount of rehearsal time with the CBSO alongside one or more dedicated host players who will act as mentors, as well as opportunities to play at the back of the section. 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, both musically (in terms of blend, intonation and so on) and socially, and build confidence in preparing for orchestral auditions.

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

As a postgraduate string player following our Orchestral Performance pathway at postgraduate level, the Principal Study 1: Orchestral Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as an orchestral string player, you will spend a significant amount of rehearsal time with the CBSO alongside one or more dedicated host players who will act as mentors, as well as opportunities to play at the back of the section. 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, both musically (in terms of blend, intonation and so on) and socially, and build confidence in preparing for orchestral auditions.

Principal Study 2: Orchestral Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate string player following our Orchestral Performance pathway at postgraduate level, the Principal Study 2: Orchestral Performance module builds on the performance skills acquired in the Principal Study Project 1 module. The focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as an orchestral string player, and especially on developing your capacity to develop your own playing within the orchestral context. The module clearly supports you in adopting an ever- increasing degree of professionalism in all aspects. Further experience within the CBSO will lead not only to the enhancement of your individual playing skills but to greater confidence in developing your own playing within the orchestra and a fuller awareness of the professional context. You will continue to advance your technical facility, musicianship and interpretative skills, and to further enhance, through research, your stylistic awareness and knowledge of the repertoire. A sound knowledge of standard orchestral repertoire in particular, familiarity with the typical orchestral audition process and experience of playing within a professional orchestra are all likely to improve your chances of progression into the profession.

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 – both individual tuition and Departmental activity – lies at its heart.

Both Principal Study modules (PgDip students take one, MMus students take two) comprise two parts: an orchestral audition (there are different requirements for each module), and an assessment of your work in the orchestra. Preparation for these modules is supported by your individual tuition and mentoring sessions, as well as by your time in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and by additional experience you derive from taking part in Conservatoire departmental activities.

The Career Development module 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

While we do not offer the MMus part-time, there is some room for negotiation in how the course unfolds for a part-time PgDip student over two years.

Download the course specification

MMus

PG Dip

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.

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've put various support mechanisms in place to help you settle in as an international students, 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

Concert Hall - Copyright Hufton +Crow

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

Around 50 full-time members of staff (including support staff) and nearly 200 visiting specialist tutors work at the Conservatoire. This means that for roughly every two students there is one member of staff.

The vast majority of our tutors are active professional musicians, dividing their time between performing or composing and teaching. All are dedicated and experienced musicians with a passion for inspiring and training the next generation of professionals.

For a full list of staff in each department or area, as well as selected biographies, please go to Departments and Tutors.