Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Degree level: Postgraduate
UCAS Conservatoires

Master of Arts (Conducting) (Taught)

Course options

Make sure you check on the university, college or conservatoire website for any updates about course changes as a result of COVID-19.

Course summary

The MA degree is designed for students who wish to achieve a Masters level qualification in one year, with 180 SCQF credits at level 11 (90 ECTS credits). The programme runs full-time for three trimesters, 45 weeks in total, with the third trimester being dedicated to a largely independent project. 30 weeks of one-and-a-half hour principal study lessons are offered, to a total of 45 hours. (15 minutes a week extra may be allocated to related study, where appropriate.) Our conducting programmes provide you with the comprehensive and integrated training required of a professional conductor. You will concentrate on the technique and craft of conducting through diverse practical experience with the Royal Conservatoire orchestras, our opera department, and various classical and contemporary ensembles. Our extensive professional links offer unmatched opportunities to work in observation and collaboration with the country’s major orchestras, such as the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the BBC SSO and the RSNO. In fact, the RSNO generously give the conducting cohort a whole day to experience professional demands – a day that the students unreservedly appreciate. Through individual lessons, in-house opportunities and aural classes you’ll develop perception, listening skills, and self-awareness to become a responsive leader in rehearsal and performance. In addition to the MMus/MA programme, the Royal Conservatoire also offers a highly prestigious two-year Leverhulme Conducting Fellowship, and a Joint Principal Study route for Undergraduate conductors.

Course details

Principal study options

During the application and audition process, you must select which instrument(s) you wish to specialise in for the duration of your course. On this course, you can choose from the following options:

Single specialism

Only one instrument is studied. It may be possible to study a further instrument formatively, but this will not contribute towards the qualification.


For all courses, you must select at least one specialism from the 'primary' list. For those studying primary/secondary pathways, two instruments may be selected – one from the 'primary' list and one from the 'secondary' list. Joint pathway students may select any two instruments from either list.

Primary instrument/specialism

  • Conducting


The MMus/MA programme is made up of four modules. The primary focus of your learning will be the Principal Study. This core activity will refine the skills essential to meeting the artistic and technical expectations of the programme. It will equip you with many of the skills needed to exercise independent learning and develop the autonomy necessary for a professional career. As well as regular conducting lessons, the Principal Study offers the opportunity for public performances with ensembles such as the RCS Symphony, Chamber and Concerto orchestras, and new music ensembles such as Music Lab and Red Note. Supporting Studies incorporates many of the distinctive features of conservatoire study, and contributes towards the creation of a near-professional learning environment. In this module, you will have the opportunity to take part in a range of negotiated activities in support both of your Principal Study and your development as an emerging professional. As a conducting student you take part in a range of supporting studies activites that will allow you to work with ensembles ranging from two pianos through to a full orchestra. The philosophy of ‘critical artistry’ underpins all taught postgraduate programmes at RCS. This module will challenge you to critically interrogate an aspect of your arts practice by means of an individually-negotiated portfolio of research, reflection and/or documentation. The delivery is shared across all Masters programmes from both Schools. Options give space within the curriculum for you to engage in studies which enhance your professional versatility, by pursuing areas of interest either close to or far away from your core discipline. The range of modules available is very wide, including otions drawn from the undergraduate programmes in both the School of Music and the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. The design of the programme puts no restrictions on the level of the options/s chosen. There is a significant range of choice available in the amount of credit taken in this way, with students free to choose pathways which place greater weight on Supporting Studies. The MA and MMus programmes share many similarities, with the first three terms of the programme being common to both. The chief differences are in the length and volume of study, and in the pattern of delivery in relation to the four terms that make up the academic calendar. There are also some differences in the programme aims and learning outcomes, and in the proportional number of hours available for principal study lessons. The MA degree is designed for students who wish to achieve a Masters level qualification in one year, with 180 SCQF credits at level 11 (90 ECTS credits). The programme runs full-time for four terms, 43 weeks in total, with the fourth term being dedicated to a largely independent project. 31 weeks of 90 minutes principal study lessons are offered, to a total of 46.5 hours. (15 minutes a week extra may be allocated to additional study of a related instrument, where appropriate).

How to apply

*If you are an international applicant, or you are applying for a postgraduate course, or are choosing certain assessment locations, the 'on time' deadline may be later in the year - please contact the conservatoire directly.

Application codes

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Points of entry

The following entry points are available for this course:

  • Year 1

International applicants

Currently around 20% of our students come from outside the UK. Between them, they represent over 60 different nationalities and add a rich diversity to the Conservatoire. Applications are welcomed from international applicants to this programme.

Entry requirements

Candidates for both the MMus and MA are normally expected to hold a good honours (at least 2:2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme.

Additional entry requirements


After making an application through UCAS Conservatoires, Conducting applicants should submit a video recording by 1 October 2017 for shortlisting. Recorded auditions can be easily submitted online using Decision Desk.The recording should consist of two contrasting works, preferably including both performance and rehearsal time. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an audition at the Royal Conservatoire. Please refer to our Guide for Applicants for more information -

Assessment locations

In the event of a successful assessment, applicants may be invited for a further interview prior to being made an offer.

Remote assessment recordings may be accepted in the event that you cannot attend an assessment in person.

Single specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee

Joint principal specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee
RecordingNot available at this location

Additional information

For more information, please see our website -

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Channel Islands £12945* Year 1
Republic of Ireland £12945* Year 1
England £12945* Year 1
Scotland £12945* Year 1
Wales £12945* Year 1
Northern Ireland £12945* Year 1
EU £22476* Year 1
International £22476* Year 1

*This is a provisional fee and subject to change.

Additional fee information

For more information on fees and funding, please see our website -

Sponsorship information

The Royal Conservatoire is able to offer a number of entrance scholarships which are awarded as part of the audition/selection process on the basis of merit and financial need. Please see our website for more information -

Master of Arts (Conducting) at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - UCAS