Graduate Diploma of the RNCM (‘Joint Course’)

The College will not be accepting applications to the Graduate Diploma of the RNCM (‘Joint Course’) for 2024 entry. Applications for the Bachelor of Music remain unaffected.

This unique and competitive programme offers those with outstanding musical and academic ability the opportunity to study two degree courses simultaneously: the Graduate Diploma of the RNCM (GRNCM) and the Bachelor of Music (MusB) at The University of Manchester.

Known informally as the ‘Joint Course’, it’s designed for students who are not only busy performers with a wide variety of professional experience, but extremely intelligent musical thinkers.

Programme Overview

Duration: 4 years, full-time
S Conservatoires code: 399F
Tution Fees

The GRNCM comprises of 340 credits and study includes the entire three-year MusB (Hons) programme at The University and approximately two-thirds of the RNCM’s four-year BMus (Hons). Your time at the RNCM involves intensive one-to-one tuition, specialist classes and masterclasses, performance opportunities and a series of modules dedicated to artist development, including conducting, recording, editing, musicians’ health and wellbeing, and a professional industry placement. This is complemented by a strong academic foundation gained through your studies at The University.

Entrance Requirements

Age, Qualifications and Standards

Entrance to the ‘Joint Course’ is dependent on the following:

  • All applicants must be at least 18 years of age on 31 December in the year of entry.
  • All applicants must have a high level of performing/compositional ability and are expected to have achieved ABRSM Grade 8.
  • All applicants must have a high profile of grades in GCE A levels (e.g. AAA), normally including music. Equivalents to A levels (as determined by The University of Manchester Admissions Department) are allowed where such examinations are not normally available.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent.
  • All applicants must pass an RNCM audition (and an interview at The University of Manchester) in the year prior to entry demonstrating a high standard of performance (or composition ability for composers) and potential.


The audition process for the Joint Course is split into two stages: a practical audition at the RNCM and an interview at The University of Manchester.

Applications are made via UCAS Conservatoires in the first instance. All applicants should follow the specific undergraduate audition requirements for your chosen Principal Study and ensure that your academic reference is submitted on time as part of your UCAS Conservatoires application, and contains predicted grades.

Shortlisting Procedure

Unless Admissions is otherwise notified in writing at the time of application, applicants not shortlisted for the GRNCM/MusB will automatically be invited to audition for the BMus (Hons) programme with the RNCM only. As such, it is not necessary to make a second application for the BMus (Hons) programme. Candidates will only need to pay one non-refundable audition fee via UCAS Conservatoires to be considered for both the GRNCM/MusB (‘Joint Course’) and BMus (Hons).

If you have any queries, please email [email protected] or call 0161 907 5465.

Programme Details (RNCM only)

Principal Study

Principal Study Options

Double Bass
French Horn
Tenor Horn
Euphonium/Baritone Horn

Principal Study

180 credits

Forming the foundation of the programme, Principal Study focuses on enabling you to realise your true potential, both technically and creatively, through one-to-one tuition, group classes, masterclasses and many additional creative and performance opportunities.

Whether you’re studying one Principal Study discipline or choosing to divide your tuition between two areas of specialism, you’ll work closely with your tutor(s) to develop a learning pathway that’s right for you. This will include personal goals, areas of strength, areas for development, repertoire planning, study materials, and methodologies tailored to challenge and develop you to the appropriate level.

You’ll also learn how to critically evaluate and perform a broad range of repertoire, inspiring a cultural connection between historic, contemporary and progressive material. And – with an emphasis on peer learning and peer support – you’ll be encouraged to develop your own musical voice through composition and performance, to reflect, analyse and draw on your wide scholarly activities, and engage in constructive critique.


40 credits

Delivered during Years 1 and 2, our Ensembles modules foster creative musical collaborations and are designed to develop initiative, teamwork, and commitment.

Chamber groups are formed in collaboration with the Head and Deputy Heads of Chamber Music (for instrumentalists) and Deputy Head of Opera (for singers), and composers develop their collaborative skills through working with creative artists in art forms such as dance and film.

In addition to regular tuition delivered by a designated tutor and masterclasses with visiting artists, students are expected to rehearse together weekly. All ensembles are given frequent opportunities to perform and, where appropriate, compete in the College’s chamber music prizes.

Principal Study Elective

20 credits 

This optional module is designed to develop your artistry, technique and professionalism in aspects of Principal Study. It will enable you to execute to a high-standard a range of applied performance, composition or pedagogy skills in professional and proto-professional contexts.

Through individual or group activities you’ll demonstrate independence, motivation, self-discipline, resilience, collaboration and time-management. And you’ll build the confidence to perform, compose or teach to the standards demanded by the music and pedagogical professions in various settings.

Please note that Year 3 students must take at least one Principal Study Elective option.

Practical and Performance Electives

20 credits

During Years 3 and 4 you’ll have the chance to choose practical and performance electives relating to and complementing your Principal Study work. These include conducting, chamber music, jazz improvisation, opera, and historical performance.

Once you’re in your final year, you’ll also have the option to take an additional elective in an area of emerging specialism.

Please note that credits also include options for Vocational Electives (see below).

Career Development

Artist Development

40 credits

Through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops, you’ll engage with relevant themes for your development as a musician, artist, and global citizen, with a view to supporting a sustainable and rewarding career. You’ll also examine the different situations facing today’s musicians and the role of skills such as creativity within a holistic outlook, encompassing reflection on all areas of your RNCM activity.

Areas to be explored may include: creativity and its social, cultural, and financial values; how to reflect on personal skillsets and imagine future career options; the practicalities of being a professional musician, such as personal budgeting and generating an income; and the role of health and wellbeing in a rewarding professional life. You’ll also develop practical skills useful to a career in music, such as self-recording techniques and the production of audition or social media videos.

Professional Placement

20 credits

All GRNCM students undertake a Professional Placement during their third year, with preparation beginning towards the end of Year 2.

Working alongside industry professionals in a range of jobs, possible career choices can be explored through placements with organisations such as the BBC Philharmonic (Learning and Digital Department), Hallé (Youth Orchestra and Choral Management), One Education Music, LIME Music for Health (Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital), Manchester Camerata (Music in Mind), National Children’s Orchestra (Mentor), Northern Ballet (Repetiteur), Streetwise Opera, The Bridgewater Hall (Arts Administration) and TiPP (Theatre in Prisons and Probations).

Creative Project

20 credits

Year 4 students undertake a substantial Creative Project, allowing you to concentrate on personal interests and consolidate specific strands of the programme. Supported by a professional mentor, the opportunity enhances your initiative and employability, while building a portfolio of career-focused experiences. You will also benefit from parallel workshops on topics such as project management, curating an online presence, marketing and PR, and business skills including record-keeping and accounting.

In the past, students have promoted and organised their own concerts, competitions, masterclasses and workshops, commissioned new works, and studied Music for Health at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Vocational Electives

20 credits

During Year 3 and 4 you’ll choose specialist areas of study from a range of electives, including options exploring education, health and wellbeing, psychology, history, theory and analysis, technology and the music industry.

Once you’re in your final year, you’ll also have the option to take an additional elective in an area of emerging specialism.

Please note that credits also include options for Practical and Performance Electives (see above).