Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Degree level: Postgraduate
UCAS Conservatoires

Master of Arts Composition (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

Our context is the contemporary international scene and our composers share some of the best facilities in Europe with their performing contemporaries. Our critically acclaimed annual festival, Plug, has become a renowned platform for new work and this year includes exciting collaborations with the Paris Conservatoire. Professional groups, including Red Note and Hebrides Ensemble, have also premiered over 30 student compositions as part of our ongoing public masterclass programme. As a student composer you’ll also benefit from our excellent cohort of student performers. Capable of a range of professional performance, you won’t be limited to composing in a certain way for certain types of players, but will be free to develop your own compositional ideas. We offer high contact time of 90 minutes one-to-one tuition each week. As working artists with various areas of expertise, our tutors bring live projects into lessons helping you to explore your own compositional voice. Together with your tutor your end of year portfolio will be negotiated, not prescribed. Every student embarks on their own learning journey; you can pursue a second study, work in the superb electroacoustic and recording studios, or devise new work in our purpose-built performance venues. There’s also a real sense of a community among our students, staff and PhD cohort. The Composers Forum meets every Thursday and might include visiting composers and poets or perhaps a chance to discuss your work. Involving the full department, it’s an opportunity to listen to styles of music which you may not have heard or considered before and can help to challenge the orthodoxy and even your own ideas. You may also discuss work by PhD students who are engaged in larger works not experienced in earlier years of study. Our students have also set up their own Composers Collective which meets every two weeks to discuss different musical influences. Composition can be a solitary existence and at the Royal Conservatoire we develop the skills to work with other artists. One of the best things about the Royal Conservatoire is our diversity, not just among musicians but across the whole institution. Due to differing artistic influences our students have developed a number of stand-alone projects in dance, theatre, film, and musical theatre. Different work in a range of different contexts makes us exciting and continually challenges our work. As Scotland’s national conservatoire we’re also approached countrywide with requests for new commissions and students often arrange their own performances of new work across Glasgow’s vibrant city centre. By studying here you’ll be working with our diverse and talented performing community and will enjoy outstanding facilities and professional partnerships. Creative artists create because they have something in them they want to say. At the Royal Conservatoire we not only help you do that but also prepare you for the realities of professional life.

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.

Instrument/specialisms

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

  • Composition

Modules

The Composition MMus degree course shares many attributes with the BMus degree and this facilitates the cross fertilisation of ideas from a similar discipline across degree structures. By design there is strong dialogue between composers of all levels of experience at the Conservatoire from undergraduate, postgraduate through to research, which creates a strong and supportive learning environment. In addition to a weekly ninety minute lessons, the Masters composers is encouraged to develop their own personal directions and these are taken into account when learning journeys are agreed at the beginning of each academic year. There is the choice for collaboration across the Conservatoire’s Schools and weekly Composers Forums and seminars. In addition to 1:1 lessons, composers also have access to a diverse and comprehensive diet of classes each year, such as:

  • Masters Studies Classes (focused, Masters-level seminars, led by Composition Department staff)
  • Composers’ Forum (talks from visiting composers and practitioners)
  • Cowcaddens Gramophone Society (a composers’ weekly record club)
  • Music for Media (composition for TV and film)
  • Orchestration
  • Analysis
  • Sonic Arts
  • Interactive Composition (composing for mixed media)
  • Contemporary Repertoire
The primary focus of your learning will be the Principal Study. This core activity – and in particular, the individual lesson – 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. For the MMus Composition, Principal Study is the practice of composition, within which you may specialise in acoustic or electroacoustic composition. 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. The emphasis is on working with your peers, whether through the presentation of performance classes or collaborative activities such as chamber music, orchestra or ensemble work. The module also incorporates a series of cohort-wide graduate seminars, addressing such areas as research skills, critical thinking, professional development, reflective practice, health and wellbeing, and equality and diversity. 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 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.


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

Course code:
820F
Institution code:
R58
Campus name:
Main Site
Campus code:
-

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.

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

Portfolio

After making an application through UCAS Conservatoires, Composition applicants should submit a substantial portfolio of recent compositions together with recorded performances wherever possible. Explanatory notes can, if appropriate, be submitted. Portfolios must be submitted online using Acceptd and must be received by 15 October 2021.


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
Recording£65£65

Joint principal specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee
RecordingNot available at this location

Additional information

For more information what to prepare for the audition and portfolio, please see our website - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/postgraduate/masters-music-mmus/composition/.


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 - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/apply/finance/feesandfunding/

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 - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/apply/finance/scholarships/

Master of Arts Composition at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - UCAS