Bachelor of Music with Honours

The RNCM Bachelor of Music with Honours (BMus Hons) degree supports the education of creative, inquisitive, well-rounded musicians, complementing your passion for performance or composition with academic and professional training to the highest standard.

In addition to Principal Study, your artistic and technical expertise will flourish through group tuition, classes and masterclasses with high-profile artists, and a range of performance opportunities. You’ll also be encouraged to follow your own path, developing specialisms, connections and a personal musical style as the programme progresses. And with a clear emphasis on success, fulfilment, and musical wellbeing, the course will help you master the skills necessary to build and enjoy a musical career in the 21st Century.

Programme Overview

Duration: 4 years, full-time/3 years full-time intensive
Credits: 480
UCAS Conservatoires Code: 300F
Applications open: mid-July
Deadline for on-time applications: 1 October
Tuition Fees

The BMus (Hons) comprises of 480 credits over four years and is made up of three complementary components:  Principal Study, Career Development (including Placements and Projects), and Academic Studies.

A three-year intensive pathway is available for applicants who can demonstrate outstanding academic and practical ability, as well as exceptional maturity, at audition and interview. This option includes all of the same content as the standard BMus, but is completed in a shorter time frame.

Ten places are normally available for the intensive pathway, and all students must have the DipABRSM (HE, Level 4) qualification before they begin the course.

Entrance Requirements

Age, Qualifications and Standards (4 years)

All applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age on 31 December in the year of entry.
  • Have passes at GCE A level (A2) in a minimum of two subjects at grade E or above, normally including music, and passes in three different subjects at GCSE level (grades A*-C/9-4) or acceptable equivalent.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have IELTS 5.5 or equivalent in each and every component (or CEFR B2).
  • Pass an RNCM audition in the year prior to entry, demonstrating a high standard of performance (or composition ability for composers) and potential, of at least ABRSM Grade 8 standard.

Age, Qualifications and Standards (3 years)

Applicants for the three-year pathway should apply for the standard four-year BMus (Hons) on UCAS Conservatoires.

All applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age on 31 December in the year of entry.
  • Have passes at GCE A level (or equivalent) in at least three different subjects, normally including music, at grades AAB.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent in each and every component (or CEFR B2).
  • Pass the Diploma in Music Performance of the ABRSM (DipABRSM) (HE, Level 4), normally in the Principal Study instrument. This must be achieved either by 30 April prior to September entry or by means of the annual special DipABRSM examination. This is usually held at the RNCM in April/May with results in June.

Alternative Qualifications and Direct Entry (accreditation of prior learning)

Candidates with Scottish or Irish qualifications and those with alternatives such as a BTEC or NVQ, should contact Admissions on 0161 9075 465 or email International students should also refer to the international student entry requirements.

Candidates who have undertaken relevant qualifications/modules at a recognised Higher Education Institution, and who wish to be considered for direct entry into Year 2 onwards of the BMus programme, should contact Admissions for guidance before submitting an application. In the first instance, please email details of your prior learning (summary of educational background and copies of transcripts) to

Programme Details

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 individual tuition, group classes, masterclasses and many additional creative and performance opportunities.

Over four years you will learn how to critically evaluate and perform a broad range of repertoire, inspiring a cultural connection between historic, contemporary and progressive material. You will also be encouraged to develop your own musical voice through composition and performance, as each module culminates in a recital or portfolio of original works.

Principal Study Techniques

60 credits

Modules in Principal Study Techniques are designed to develop your technical skills and enhance your versatility and ability to manage challenging professional situations – such as an orchestral audition or orchestration task – with confidence.

Throughout Years 1, 2 and 3 you will be assessed in a range of technical and applied performance or composition skills in order to consolidate capabilities developed through the Principal Study modules.

Small Ensembles

20 credits

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

Chamber groups are formed in collaboration with the Head 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.

Practical and Performance Electives

20 credits

The programme provides a number of optional activities that you can undertake in Years 3 and 4, connected to your personal musical interests. Some are School-specific, while others are open to all third and fourth year undergraduates. Recent options include jazz improvisation, opera scenes, individual and whole-class instrumental teaching, accompaniment, conducting and arranging.

Career Development

Artist Development

20 credits

A whole strand of our undergraduate programme is dedicated to artist development, teaching you how to market and promote yourself, develop and deliver independent projects and manage your finances.

During Years 1 and 2, you will receive tuition in conducting, recording and editing, website design, teaching skills and musicians’ health, providing industry-relevant skills. Training in entrepreneurship, including copyright law, tax, and accounting for freelance musicians, is delivered by experienced RNCM staff and visiting experts, who bring the latest industry insight.

Professional Placement

20 credits

All BMus 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.

Academic Studies

Music, Culture and Performance

40 credits

The BMus expands your creativity, knowledge and capacity to talk from an informed perspective about composers, performing, repertoire and more.

Across two core modules, first and second year students are introduced to debates about performance, musical style and cultural context, while developing a secure knowledge of the chronological development of Western art music. Lectures and seminars with specialist staff provide numerous opportunities to explore significant works, artistic movements, reception-histories and issues of performance, style and interpretation.

Theory and Musicianship

40 credits

Innovative modules in Years 1 and 2 deepen your knowledge of music theory and develop your ability to apply your expertise in practical settings.

During your first year you will explore tonal harmony and counterpoint together with basic techniques in music analysis before putting music theory into practice via aural skills, improvisation and arrangements. This approach is developed during your second year, as you examine musical forms and large-scale harmonic structures. You will also be introduced to analytical approaches useful to performers and will be given the opportunity to apply your knowledge in arrangements for small ensembles or portfolios of analysis.

Performing Contemporary Music

10 credits

Music composed or conceived after 1950, and the particular challenges it poses to performers (and composers working with performers) the focus of the Year 3 Performing Contemporary Music module.

Plenary lectures concentrate on different aspects of recent music, such as notational systems, extended techniques, analytical challenges and, among others, technological developments in composition. In addition, small group seminars will develop your critical skills and personal musical interests by investigating specific topics drawn from contemporary repertoires. The final seminar is student-led, and features presentations on topics chosen by you.

Performance Studies

10 credits

During Year 4 you will working in mixed Principal Study seminar groups to exchange perspectives on relevant performance materials, techniques, practices and issues with others students and tutors. The final seminars are devoted to individual presentations on topics chosen by you.

Research Electives

20 credits

All third and final-year students can select two Research Electives each year from a rich diversity of subjects. Encouraging lateral thinking, individual research, and contextual approaches to music making, as well as the study of art, theory, history, and different cultures, these Electives offer the chance to engage with high-level musicologists and practice-led research at the College.

Recent module choices include acoustics, aesthetics, Beethoven’s symphonies, the concerto, early music studies, film music, metal, music psychology, music therapy, perception, Stravinsky and Wagner. New for 2020 is the introduction to music and computing elective, delivered by PRiSM, the RNCM’s Centre for Practice and Research in Science and Music.

Exchange Opportunities

During your time at the RNCM you can broaden your horizons further by studying abroad for a term or full academic year.

Exchanges usually take place in Year 3 and we currently have links with institutions across Europe, and in Asia, Australia, Canada, South America and USA. Exchanges in Europe are offered through the Erasmus exchange programme. You can visit the pages of the British Council and the Association of European Conservatoires for further information and useful advice.

Additional Qualifications

Throughout your degree studies you will be offered opportunities to work towards other externally-recognised qualifications at reduced cost. These qualifications will give you additional accreditation when you graduate and are very important to enhance your employability.

LRSM and FRSM opportunity

The RNCM has negotiated a scheme with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) whereby Year 3 students may enter for the award of Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM), and Year 4 students may enter for the Fellowship of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM).

Special arrangements are made for the practical examination so that your end-of-year recital can be assessed concurrently by the RNCM (towards your degree) and also by the examiner of the ABRSM.


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