Graduate Diploma of the RNCM (‘Joint Course’)

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
Applications open: mid-July
Deadline for on-time applications: 1 October
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

All applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age on 31 December in the year of entry.
  • Have a high level of performing/compositional ability.
  • 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 are normally expected to have achieved ABRSM Grade 8.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent.
  • 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.

Applicants for 2021 entry must submit their RNCM audition by recording via acceptd by 1 October. This will then be assessed by a shortlisting panel. If you’re successfully shortlisted, you’ll be invited to undertake an interview at The University of Manchester (please note that due to Covid-19, interviews for 2021 entry may be delivered online).

All GRNCM 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 application, and contains predicted grades. For advice on auditioning by recording, please click here.

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 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 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 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.

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.