Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Degree level: Undergraduate
UCAS Conservatoires

BMus (Hons) Traditional Music

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

This is the UK’s only Bachelor of Music degree dedicated to traditional and folk music. Aspiring performers on this course explore Scotland’s unique and dynamic musical traditions as a conceptual, critical and creative framework within which to achieve a distinctively personal voice as an artist. This is interwoven with a solid basis in contemporary and eclectic performance practice. You will perform in a variety of contexts. Learning opportunities outside of RCS include an Isle of Skye residency, touring, teaching placements and work placements and appearances at high-profile events, including Glasgow’s internationally-renowned Celtic Connections festival, Piping Live!, international occasions of state and a range of UK, European and North American festivals. Supporting these performing opportunities is a solid basis in business skills; practical, theoretical and complementary musicianship; Scots and Gaelic singing; composition; stagecraft; and scholarly, artistic and practice-based research. There’s a great atmosphere in the department and RCS as a whole; it’s a close-knit community where you end up performing and gigging with other students and staff, and making friends for life. As for professional and institutional collaborations, we work closely with the National Piping Centre, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Celtic Connections festival in delivering a varied and vocationally robust experience for its students. We also possess longstanding exchange agreements with a host of European and North American universities, allowing you to study for a trimester or year abroad – including East Tennessee State University’s world-famous bluegrass and old-time music programme, Sibelius Academy (Finland) and the Irish Music and Dance department of the University of Limerick, among many others.

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

  • Button Accordion (Traditional Music)
  • Cello (Traditional Music)
  • Fiddle
  • Flute (Traditional Music)
  • Gaelic Song
  • Guitar (Traditional Music)


Year 1 In your first year, you will consolidate and enhance your performance technique, repertoire and personal style in your principal study instrument or voice, interwoven with development as a critical and creative artist, able to connect and engage critically with your own experience as a traditional musician or piper. An introduction to digital literacy and website design features, as you not only begin to construct your identity as a musician, but interpret it to the world. At the same time, broaden your collaborative musical experience in both a discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary bedrock of practical supporting studies, including group singing, folk ensembles, music theory, studio recording and the consolidation of your skills in programming, performing and calling a ceilidh. Year 2 In second year, you will continue to nurture and extend your knowledge and practical skills as a soloist and collaborative traditional musician through a broadening exploration of technique, repertoire and style relative to your instrument or vocal tradition. You will expand outwards, exploring historic and social contexts and concepts, and draw relationships between practice, perception and context. You will further nurture your soloist and collaborative composition, arrangement and performance skills and expand your entrepreneurial skillset with reference to licencing issues, intellectual property, marketing, digital music distribution and the option of organising your own tour. You will also begin to tap into the wider array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond. Year 3 Year three will see you develop a solid musical persona through fluent knowledge and expertise informed by your principal study and a consolidation of your critical artistry in research and reflection. You will do this whilst developing your skills in teaching traditional music in a range of environments. You will address essential vocational issues in greater detail, such as self-assessed taxation, contract negotiation, creative arts funding and administration and the option of a formal work placement, in addition to an ongoing array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond; thereby continuing to nurture your own distinct artistic specialisms in a traditional, folk, piping or broader arts context. Year 4 Year four – the Honours year – occasions a synthesis of your critical, technical and creative development as a traditional musician or piper. In addition to engaging in your own substantial project work, deeply rooted in both tradition and innovation, toward an independent and original contribution to the field, you will continue to take advantage of the array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond. The Honours year is student-centred: working to achieve a distinct identity and musical voice within your own established parameters, culminating in a themed final public recital.

How to apply

This course is closed for the 2020 academic cycle. Please contact the provider or view the 2021 courses.

Application deadlines

If your application is completed by the following date, it’s guaranteed to be considered:

1 October

*If you apply after this deadline, universities or colleges don’t have to consider your application if they’ve filled their spaces, so the sooner you apply, the better!

*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

You will need these codes when you add a choice to your application.

Course code250F
Institution code R58
Campus nameMain 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 53 different nationalities and add a rich diversity to the Conservatoire. The Conservatoire holds auditions at the locations below. If you wish to audition at any of the locations listed, please submit your application at least one month in advance of the audition date. For further information, please see our website -

Entry requirements

Qualification requirements

QualificationOfferFurther information
A level Passes in two subjects at GCE Advanced level Subjects recommended are: • History at Advanced level • English at Advanced level • The study of Gaelic and/or another European language at least to GCSE
Scottish Higher Passes in three subjects at Higher level Subjects recommended are: • History at Higher • English at Higher • The study of Gaelic and/or another European language at least to National 4/5 or Standard Grade

Additional entry requirements


Please refer to our Guide for Applicants for what to prepare for audition -Please refer to our Guide for Applicants for what to prepare for audition -

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
New York£65£65

Joint principal specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee
SingaporeNot available at this location
RecordingNot available at this location
RCSNot available at this location
New YorkNot available at this location
GuangzhouNot available at this location
BeijingNot available at this location
ShanghaiNot available at this location
SeoulNot available at this location

Additional information

For more information on what to prepare for the audition, please see our website -

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £9250 Year 1
Scotland £1820 Year 1
Wales £9250 Year 1
Northern Ireland £9250 Year 1
EU £1820 Year 1
International £16827 Year 1

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 -

BMus (Hons) Traditional Music at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - UCAS