Vocal Performance - MMus / PgCert / PgDip

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2019
  • Study mode: MMus - Full Time, Part Time
    PgCert - Part Time
    PgDip - Full Time, Part Time
  • Course cost: £8,100 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)
  • Location: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

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Advance your skills as a singer with a postgraduate programme in Vocal Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Whether you're a recent graduate or returning to study after a break, our postgraduate programmes in Vocal Performance provide you with 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.

Alongside your vocal studies, our courses 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 Jazz vocalists.

You'll receive specialist vocal tuition from leading UK and internationally renowned performers and teachers. In addition, you'll enjoy regular opportunities to sing in a variety of contexts, both as a soloist and in ensembles with other performers. Such opportunities include not only classes and masterclasses (these last being led by distinguished guest performers), but also in concerts and on the operatic stage.

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. 

What's covered in the course?

  • Regular individual specialist vocal tuition from leading UK and internationally renowned performers and teachers.
  • Regular vocal classes, including song classes, repertoire classes, and historical performance practice classes.
  • Bespoke language, stagecraft and dance classes.
  • Access to masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest artists.
  • Frequent chances to perform, including solo and ensemble
  • The chance to audition for our operas and musicals, which are fully staged productions in a professional venue, and frequently double-cast to allow the maximum number of students to benefit from the experience.
  • In PgDip and MMus, a core career development module designed to get you thinking about your future professional plans. 
  • At PgDip and MMus levels, 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 PgDip and/or MMus (as appropriate) once you've begun your studies (but before completion of your original course). 

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.

Similar Courses

Conservatoire Open Day Feature

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.

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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 Director of Postgraduate Studies: Luan Shaw.

Email Luan

Alternatively, you can register for our next open day.

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

All applicants for this course will be auditioned.

Home student auditions will be scheduled live in Birmingham.

EU/international students outside the UK at the time of application may submit a recording or may travel to one of our International Audition Centres.

Please prepare four classical songs or arias, at least two of which should be in two different languages other than English. You may choose which item you sing first; thereafter the panel will choose as they feel appropriate. You will also be given a piece of sight reading.

As part of your audition there will be an informal interview. 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 also an opportunity for you to ask the panel questions about your Department and what life will be like as a musician in Birmingham. The audition and interview together will last for about 40 minutes.

You will be invited to arrive before the audition for a warm-up that will last 35 minutes. An official accompanist will be arranged for your audition and you will be given the opportunity to rehearse with them, but please note that that rehearsal time will be limited to about 15 minutes. If you are bringing your own accompanist, please inform us in advance: you will be able to rehearse during your warm-up period.

Full details of audition requirements are available from the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

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

PgDip, MMus: You must have IELTS 6; or alternatively must have studied and completed a Bachelor’s degree in the UK

PgCert: You must have IELTS 5.5; 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 or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MMus Sep 2019 FT 2 years £8,100 per year Apply via UCAS
PT 3 years £5,400 per year Apply via UCAS
PgCert Sep 2019 PT 1 year £4,050 per year Apply via UCAS
PgDip Sep 2019 FT 1 year £8,100 per year Apply via UCAS
PT 2 years £4,050 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MMus Sep 2019 FT 2 years £19,500 per year Apply via UCAS
PgDip Sep 2019 FT 1 year £19,500 per year Apply via UCAS

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.

For any candidates who demonstrate an exceptional level of achievement in their audition, an audition 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.

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

Additional costs

The additional costs listed at the bottom of the page 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.

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: Instrumental & Vocal Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

PG Dip

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

Principal Study 1: Instrumental & Vocal Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

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: Instrumental & Vocal Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

Principal Study 2: Instrumental & Vocal Performance
60 credits

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

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. 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. The possibilities are too numerous to list here, but usually include the potential to be assessed in an operatic role (if available, and subject to successful audition), as well as in other types of repertoire.

Preparation for the Principal Study Project modules is supported by individual specialist tuition, as well as by departmental activities throughout the course.

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.

Further study

Our postgraduate course in Vocal Performance could help prepare you for our Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Music (Professional Performance). Meanwhile, our MMus course may help prepare you for a research degree.

Download the course specification

MMus

PG Dip

PG Cert

Sophie Pullen Student stories - Sophie Pullen

Sophie Pullen completed a postgraduate diploma in Vocal and Operatic Studies and now works as a freelance soprano, as well as being a freelance Project Manager and running a research project on the first English female racing car driver with a secondary school in Sussex.

"As a freelance soprano I have worked with Clapham Opera Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival, Barefoot Opera Young Artists, Philharmonia Chorus, The Orchestra of St John’s – St John’s Smith Square, King’s Place, Dorchester Abbey, Hampstead Garden Opera, Cameo Opera, Warwick Arts Centre, Bexhill Choral Society, Buxted Symphony Orchestra and Benson Choral Society. I recently won the Förderpreis der Stadt Torgau at the Internationale Sängerakademie Torgau in Germany and will be singing Adina, Damon, covering Musetta, and 1st Trio member in Trouble in Tahiti in the coming months. Studying for the Postgraduate Diploma gave me confidence in myself and contacts within the profession. It also improved my technique, educated me on musicianship and prepared me for auditions and performance. One of the best things about being at Birmingham Conservatoire was the opportunity to perform in full-scale operas, playing Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi was probably the highlight for me. In the future I plan to audition for the festival operas and get onto a young artist programme somewhere in Europe."

Meet our Head of Vocal

Dr Simon Hall is Head of the Music Technology Department at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Take a look at how he came to his current role and what he thinks prospective students can look forward to when they join.

Read more 

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.

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 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.

Our international students

Beibei Wang

Beibei Wang

Operatic soprano Beibei Wang, from Shenzhen in China, graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, with an MA in Music in 2012.

Since then, Beibei has set up her own organisation called East-West Arts Initiative, which aims to introduce classical musicians to wider audiences through artist management, promotions and touring opera productions.

As the name suggests, her Initiative also provides a conduit for artists who are wishing to develop their career more widely abroad, especially between China and the UK – echoing Beibei’s own heritage and where she is now based.

As part of East-West Arts Initiative, Beibei is actively discovering new markets for singers, by introducing western singers into China and ensuring Chinese performers are receiving exposure in the UK.

To date, East-West Arts Initiative has led and participated in a range of activities within The O2 – the world’s busiest music area – Trafalgar Square and Cadogan Hall.

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 vocal performance course is most popular with international students from:  

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.

Paul Wingfield

Paul Wingfield

Head of Vocal and Operatic studies

British conductor, Paul Wingfield took up the post as Head of Vocal and Operatic Studies in September 2017, having previously worked in the department as a Visiting Lecturer. He has worked as a conductor and assistant conductor at the Royal Opera House, where he was a Jette Parker Young Artist from 2012 to 2014. He has worked for many of the UK’s leading companies including Birmingham Opera Company, the Royal Ballet, Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Opera Holland Park. He has also worked as a repetiteur for English National Opera.

He was mentored by Sir Antonio Pappano and has worked with leading conductors including Semyon Bychkov, Nicola Luisotti, Paul Daniel, Dan Ettinger and Alex Joel. At the Royal Opera House, he conducted Mozart and Salieri (Rimsky-Korsakov) and El gato con botas (Montsalvatge) in the Linbury Studio Theatre. He also conducted the orchestras of the Royal Opera House and of Welsh National Opera in critically-acclaimed main stage performances including Die Zauberflöte and La Favorite, and lunchtime concerts with Southbank Sinfonia and CHROMA.

Recent work includes Turn of the Screw (Bury Court Opera) – ‘Paul Wingfield drawing almost tactile instrumental sonorities from the Chroma Ensemble, is faultless’ and a newly-commissioned opera, Goldilocks and the Three Pigs by Vahan Salorian (The Opera Story) – ‘The tiny orchestra, conducted by Paul Wingfield, is phenomenal’. Paul has acted as assistant conductor at ROH on Carmen, Gloriana and Le Nozze di Figaro and joined the Royal Opera music staff for numerous productions including, Die Walküre, The Minotaur, La Bohème, Tosca, Don Carlo, La Rondine, Capriccio, Parsifal, Don Giovanni, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Manon Lescaut. Paul read Music at Oxford University, and trained as a conductor and repetiteur at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio.

Read Paul's full profile

Luan Shaw

Associate Professor; Director of Postgraduate Studies

Luan is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Head of Pedagogy 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. She is passionate about helping students to build their portfolio careers and having recently completed research in this area via the MEd in Academic Practice at Birmingham City University, her doctoral research also focuses on facilitating the transition from student to professional through instrumental teacher education in conservatoires. 

An alumna of RBC, Luan became a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and recipient of the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal soon after graduating in 1994. She freelanced with the CBSO and other UK orchestras for over 20 years and played principal clarinet for numerous Longborough Festival Opera productions including Wagner’s Ring Cycle. As a chamber musician, Luan has performed throughout the UK, on BBC Radio and at the Banff International Festival, and her research on Members’ Roles in Wind Quintets was published shortly after completing an MA in 'Psychology for Musicians' at the University of Sheffield.