Founded in 1973 through the merger of the Royal Manchester College of Music and Northern School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) is continually recognised as one of the world’s most forward-thinking conservatoires.

Home to over 900 students from more than 60 countries, it is dedicated to providing an outstanding education that propels students into careers as inspiring and versatile musicians, fully-equipped for exciting futures both on and off stage.

Exceptional Education

Alongside the pioneering Bachelor of Music with Honours, the RNCM Undergraduate School includes the ground-breaking Bachelor of Music with Honours in Popular Music (the UK’s first four-year degree in this subject) and the Graduate Diploma of the RNCM (a specialised programme for busy performers and intelligent musical thinkers run in partnership with The University of Manchester).

Revalidated in 2021, these programmes offer flexibility to create bespoke packages that fully support future career aspirations. They also complement the RNCM Graduate School, which provides a stimulating environment for advanced studies in performance (including conducting), composition, musicology, music psychology, and music education.

Additionally, the College is home to Junior RNCM, a vibrant community of gifted young musicians aged eight to 18. Each Saturday during term time, they study with exceptional tutors, perform with like-minded people, learn transferrable skills for life, and create a solid platform for further study at a conservatoire or university.

Performance and Professional Opportunities

Symphony orchestra concert with RNCM and Paris Conservatoire students and conductor Markus Stenz

Housing a fully-equipped Theatre and Concert Hall, the RNCM is one of the UK’s busiest live music venues.

Throughout their studies, students have unparalleled opportunities to perform to public audiences and to work alongside professional musicians and visiting artists. Performance includes everything from large orchestral projects and cross-school collaborations to full-scale opera productions, intimate chamber concerts, solo recitals, and student-led initiatives.

A whole strand of the RNCM undergraduate offer is also dedicated to artist development, helping students to market and promote themselves, develop and deliver independent projects, and manage their finances. All BMus (Hons) students undertake an industry placement during their time at the College, and Popular Music undergraduates complete a module on Professional Engagement, allowing them to work as freelance musicians or gain industry experience as part of their degree.

Worldwide Partnerships

A conductor in a black shirt conducts the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra strings section.

The RNCM has worked hard to forge strong relationships and unique networks with orchestras, ensembles, and organisations worldwide.

As leaders of the innovative International Benchmarking Group and Interplay network and the only UK member of the European Chamber Music Academy, the College strives to enhance the professional and personal development of young musicians through exceptional collaboration and real-world experience.

Recent Awards and Funding Success

Women in shawls stand in a line on stage during a performance of the opera Dialogues des Carmelites.

In 2023 the RNCM was rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework and is recognised internationally as one of the UK’s leading music conservatoires for research. It’s world-class reputation is further enhanced by multiple awards and through the success of significant externally funded projects. These include, amongst others:


MEN Theatre Award: 1990, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2015
NFMS/Sir Charles Grove Prize: 1996
Queen’s Anniversary Prize: 1998, 2000, 2002
Classic FM Red Award (UK’s Premiere Conservatoire): 2002
South Bank Show Award for Classical Music (collaboration with the BBC Phil and Hallé): 2007
Times Higher Education Award: Excellence and Innovation in the Arts (2015)
Times Higher Education Award: Outstanding International Student Strategy (2016)
Times Higher Education Award: Widening Participation and Outreach Initiative of the Year (2020)
Times Higher Education Award: Technological and Digital Innovation of the Year (2022)
Times Higher Education Award: Entrepreneurial University of the Year (2023)
Greater China Award: Education Links (highly commended, 2018)
Greater China Award: Education Links (2021)
Global Teaching Excellence Spotlight Award (2018)
Silver Heist Award (2020, 2022)
Highly Commended Heist Award (2022)

Students talk and laugh in groups as they sit in lecture theatre seating.


Ensemble+ (2017)
Awarded £1.05 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund to establish a significant digital project linking the College with university music departments and professional partners across England

PRiSM (2019)
Awarded £914,000 from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England Fund (E3) to support its ground-breaking interdisciplinary research centre, PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music.

StART Entrepreneurship (2020)
Awarded over £900,000 by the Office for Students and Research England to develop a joint entrepreneurial project (with Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and University of the Arts London) to support the professional development of students within the creative arts.

Studio 8 (2021): 
The UK’s first Meyer Constellation system in higher education, made possible by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund/The Office for Students and generous support from the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Decarbonisation (2021)
Awarded £3.4million from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), working in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and funded by Salix.