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. And with a clear emphasis on success, fulfilment, and musical wellbeing, you’ll have the freedom to focus on areas key to your progression, helping you to master the skills necessary to build and enjoy a career in the 21st century.

RNCM students holding stringed instruments wait in a line backstage.

Programme Overview

Duration: 4 years, full-time/3 years, full time (direct entry to Year 2)
Credits: 480
UCAS Conservatoires Code:

Applications open: 12 July 2023
Deadline for on-time applications: 2 October 2023

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. Within its core structure, students also have the chance to develop emerging specialisms through optional practical and vocational electives.

Direct entry to Year 2 is available to a limited number of exceptional candidates who demonstrate outstanding academic and practical ability during their audition and interview and hold a HE Level 4 qualification in music performance on entry (such as DipABRSM).

Entrance Requirements

Age, Qualifications and Standards (4 years)

Entrance to the RNCM BMus (Hons) programme 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 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).
  • All applicants must 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 (direct entry to Year 2)

Applicants for direct entry to Year 2 should apply for the standard four-year BMus (Hons) via UCAS Conservatoires.

Direct entrance to Year 2 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 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).
  • All applicants must pass an HE Level 4 Diploma in Music Performance, normally in the Principal Study instrument. This must be achieved by 30 April prior to September entry. Diplomas will be assessed as to suitability for credit transfer and must contain elements that reflect Year 1 of the programme. Performance-only diplomas with no musicology or musicianship elements, such as detailed programme notes or viva, will not be eligible for credit transfer.
  • All applicants must 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 BMus Year 1 standard.
  • All applicants must pass an RNCM Online Test (pass mark 40%).
  • All applicants must pass an RNCM Interview of 20 minutes.

Alternative Qualifications and Direct Entry (accreditation of prior learning)

International applicants, 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 [email protected].

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 [email protected].

Programme Details

Principal Study

Principal Study Options

Double Bass
French Horn
Tenor Horn
Euphonium/Baritone Horn

Principal Study

180 – 200 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

40 – 60 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 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 in Context

40 credits

Students are inspired to contextualise, review, and diversify their knowledge of Western art music and related music traditions through weekly lectures on a range of works, narratives, and moments of historical and cultural significance.

The module balances the contemporary conservatoire’s need to embed students’ pre-existing knowledge of Western art music in a more comprehensive overview of repertoire and traditions with the equally vital need to engage with major issues in diversity, inclusivity, purpose, and cultural meaning confronting all musicians today.

Additionally, online components in study strategies and academic integrity will support your preparation for assessment and careers. These include referencing and avoiding plagiarism, source types in music studies, and a library introduction to searching and sourcing knowledge.

Theory and Musicianship

40 credits

Through taught seminars (streamed according to both aural ability and Principal Study), you’ll develop your aural training, improvisation skills and the theoretical knowledge that underpins them, along with analytical techniques that will inform and enhance interpretation. At the same time, a range of practical skills in notation, composition, music analysis and arrangement will be deployed in a free-choice theory project in the second term.

Performance Studies

20 credits

During Year 3 you’ll join cohort lectures which introduce key aspects of performance studies informed by practice and research at the forefront of the discipline. These comprise materials relevant to a variety of repertoire and performance practices, providing context for discussions and directions pursued in mixed School, smaller seminar groups.

During the first term you’ll be encouraged to consider a spectrum of approaches relevant to your own practices while engaging with ideas and topics outside your immediate area(s) of specialism. Additionally, diversity and inclusion, cross-cultural awareness and intersectionality will be discussed, including their implications for programming, audience engagement and artistic creation.

In term two, you’ll take part in more focused seminar groups, led by specialist staff who’ll encourage you to apply concepts, methods and techniques to the advancement of different areas of musical practice. You’ll then extend and apply your knowledge and understanding within a diversity of bespoke performance studies projects.

Vocational Electives

40 – 60 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).