Application FAQs

Below are some of the most common questions we’re asked by RNCM applicants each year.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please get in touch with our Student Recruitment Team and they’ll be happy to help.

About the RNCM

Can you tell us a bit about the RNCM?

The Royal Northern College of Music is one of the world’s most forward-thinking conservatoires.

We’re proud to have won numerous awards in recent years (including three Times Higher Education Awards, a Global Teaching Excellence Award and two Greater China Awards) and that we’re ranked the UK’s top conservatoire for music (The Times/Sunday Times University League Table 2020).

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) we were rated the UK’s leading conservatoire for research and in 2017 we received Gold in the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s first Teaching Excellence Framework.

For information on our courses, please scroll down or click here.

Where are you located?

You can find us in the heart of Manchester, which is in the North West of England, UK.

What facilities do you have?

The RNCM Concert Hall (745-seat) and Theatre (670-seat) are two of  Manchester’s largest performance and recording spaces. Our Concert Hall has undergone a multimillion pound redevelopment to include a balcony and the most advanced technical facilities and lighting, and both venues benefit from a purpose-built backstage area. We also house the Carole Nash Recital Room (117-seat) with outstanding acoustic properties and an on-site recording studio, seven large studio spaces (including the world’s largest BOXY pod for Popular Music students) with an eighth in development, and over 70 tutorial and practice rooms.

Study With Us

What programmes do you offer?

For undergraduates, we offer a Bachelor of Music with Honours in both classical and popular music.

These are four-year full-time programmes and students on each receive worldclass training through a mixture of solo tuition, workshops, ensembles and masterclasses, supported by lectures, seminars, individual academic tutorials and real-world experience via professional placements.

At postgraduate level, we have a range of masters programmes to choose from alongside taught research degrees and professional and vocational courses.

What specialisms can I choose?

Studying at the RNCM provides opportunities to engage in cross-school collaborative activities and to learn more about the specialisms you may be interested in. These include choral singing, chamber music, historical performance, and jazz.

Will I get performance opportunities during my studies?

Yes! Performance opportunities are a key part of studying with us.

They include everything from large orchestral projects and cross-school collaborations, to full-scale opera productions, intimate chamber concerts and solo recitals.

Varying in size and focus, our orchestras and ensembles cover genres from classical to contemporary, and our thriving and energetic chamber music programme provides valuable opportunities to develop your skills through expert tuition, masterclasses and performance. You’ll also have the chance to gain an understanding of early performing styles, repertoire and technique, and if you have an interest and passion for jazz or choral singing, you’ll have the freedom and support to explore this throughout your studies too.

In addition, all students can audition for a place on one of our highly regarded Professional Experience Schemes for the chance to work with a number of renowned orchestras and arts organisations worldwide.

How many academic classes does the BMus (Hons) include?

Academic Studies is a key component of this degree.

You’ll attend classes in musicianship, historical and contextual studies, performance and repertoire, and language of music, all of which are designed to support the components of Principal Study tuition.

As the course progresses, you are offered a series of electives by leading researchers in music. These include exploring issues in historical and contemporary performance practice, composition, notation, orchestration, music and other arts (painting, architecture, cinema), music for the stage and, among others, arranging. Combined, the modules provide you with the highest quality teaching underpinned by cutting-edge research, while complementing your practical work and future career aspirations.

What's the difference between conservatoire and university study?

Conservatoires are much smaller than universities and are ideal if you want to develop your artistic and technical skills in a specific discipline. University degrees often focus more on academic studies, and while conservatoire courses do cover this within their programmes, it’s done alongside intensive Principal Study training (that’s your instrument of choice, such as violin or piano) and professional/career development.

Make an Application

What is the level you require for entry to your programmes?

In brief, all applicants must be over 18 years old by 31 December in the year of entry, demonstrate a high level of performing/composition ability at audition, and meet the minimum academic standards and English Language requirement for the course of choice.

For guidance, undergraduate applicants are expected to be of at least Grade 8 standard in their Principal Study instrument, with at least Grade 5 knowledge of music theory. Detailed entry requirements for each programmes can be found here.

How can I make an application?

Applications for most RNCM programmes open in July each year and are completed via UCAS Conservatoires. Here, you’ll be asked to provide a personal statement (so that we can get to know you a little), your education history, any qualifications you’ve achieved and your academic and practical references. You’ll also need to pay your UCAS assessment fee for the audition.

UCAS Conservatoires deadline for on-time applications for September 2025 entry is 2 October 2024.

How do I attend an audition and what are the requirements?

Audition processes vary between schools of study, and more information (including audition requirements) are outlined here.

Do you offer scholarships and any other financial support?

Yes, we provide over £1m in the form of student scholarships and bursaries each year.

Scholarships are offered to applicants who demonstrate outstanding ability and potential at audition. There’s no separate application process for these as everyone is automatically considered. Scholarships are usually for the first year of study only, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Bursaries are also available for international students and postgraduates, allocated on the basis of need and merit. If you’re successful in gaining a Bursary, this will be deducted from your tuition fees, leaving you with a net balance to pay.

Living in Manchester

How expensive is it to live in Manchester?

Manchester is generally considered relatively cheap to live in. For reference, the UK’s Home Office currently sets a maintenance requirement of £1,023 per month for most cities in the UK (including Manchester).

What accommodation options do I have?

New students can choose to live in Sir Charles Groves Hall of Residence, right next door to the College.

Managed by Unite Students, our students occupy a large number of its 612 rooms, which are all en-suite and grouped in four, with a shared fully-equipped kitchen/lounge. Residents can practise in their room between 9am and 9pm, and pianists can request a loan piano if required. There are also two senior residents and one member of staff on hand to provide support and assistance if needed.

Alternatively, you may wish to rent a flat or share a house privately. Manchester has a huge selection of affordable accommodation within easy distance of the RNCM. Many of these are available via Manchester Student Homes, an agency owned and managed by the city’s universities.

What's Manchester like?

Manchester is a fantastic city to live in. It’s the second most visited city in the UK after London, with over 100,000 students calling it their home.

It’s a truly vibrant city with a rich and varied music scene, a proud history of science and industry, nightlife, culture and politics, and a host of famous sports venues.

With brilliant transport links across the city, it’s also ideal for local, national and international travel.