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Guitar and Harp Department (Undergraduate)

Learning from a team of distinguished professional performers, you will develop into a successful, well-rounded musician, entering the profession fully-equipped with all of the necessary skills to succeed. 


The Guitar and Harp Department at RCS is structured to directly reflect musical realities in the 21st century. It is our desire to prepare you for the profession and we feel you must acquire a broad range of skills, in order to become excellent musicians and expressive artists.  

Weekly individual and group tuition alongside chamber music and orchestral performance are central to the department. Integral to your development are regular collaborations with composers in creating new repertoire, side-by-side opportunities with all of Scotland’s national orchestras, classes in technique and performance practice, history and repertoire, improvisation, business skills, techniques of teaching, alongside regular masterclasses with visiting international soloists. 

The Guitar and Harp department consists of an exciting, forward-looking team of lecturers, who are all experienced soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players and teachers. They are on hand to give invaluable advice, drawing from their own experience of life in the music profession.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2024

International Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2024

Institution Code:

Programme Code:
Performance - 300F OR Joint Principal Study - 301F

Audition Fee:

Application Fee:

Welcome to the Guitar & Harp Department

Watch our short video for an introduction to the Guitar & Harp department at RCS.

We spoke to some current guitar students about what makes RCS special and how their time here has prepared them to graduate into a career in the industry.

Why Study Guitar & Harp at RCS?

The Guitar & Harp department at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers unique opportunities to learn, perform, and develop as an artist. Our dedicated approach sets us apart, with benefits including:  

A lecturer and guitarist smile during a classroom demonstration.

Individual Lessons

During your studies, you will receive an unparalleled 40.5 hours of principal study tuition and supporting studies classes each academic year.

A backlit image of a student playing an electric guitar during a Collaborations Showcase.

Collaboration & Performance

You’ll study in one of the most multi-disciplinary conservatoires in the world, with opportunities to collaborate with performing artists from across RCS. We’re one of the busiest performing arts venues in Scotland, and you’ll have a vast number of performance opportunities each academic session.

RCS Symphony Orchestra plays in Stevenson Hall at the RCS campus.

Professional Partnerships

We have excellent partnerships and links to industry; including Celtic Connections, Classical Guitar Retreat, Ullapool Guitar Festival, European Mandolin and Guitar Youth Orchestra, NECGS Concert Series, Sphere Concert Series, National Youth Guitar Ensemble and International Guitar Festivals (London) 

Several harp students prepare to play.

Side-by-Side Schemes

We run side-by-side schemes with national companies, enabling harpists to play alongside the professionals, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 

A close up picture of a guitar

Guitar Masterclasses

Learn from an expert teaching team, recent masterclasses include David Russell, Thomas Viloteau, Sean Shibe and Ian Watt.

A close up picture of a harp

Harp Masterclasses

Experience regular and numerous harp masterclasses; recent guests have included Karen Vaughan, Isabelle Perrin, Sioned Williams and Lucy Wakeford 

A harp student practices for the Celtic Connections Trad performance.

Broad Repertoire

Undergraduate music students can take advantage of learning within our unique Scottish conservatoire and undertake a module in traditional music, enabling you to broaden your repertoire, musicality and ensemble arrangement practices.

Meet the Staff

Ian Watt

Lecturer in Guitar


The Royal Conservatoire owns:

  • 3x seven course lutes
  • 1 David Rouse Concert guitar
  • 1 Ramirez 1E Concert guitar
  • 1x Altamira Classical guitar
  • 1x Manual Contreras Classical Guitar
  • 1x theorbo
  • 1x electric bass
  • 1x DPA contact microphone
  • 1x 19th century guitar
  • 2x AER compact 60 acoustic amplifiers
  • 4 concerts harps — 2 Salvi, 1 Camac & 1 Horngacher.
  • A large collection of sheet music forming a guitar-specific library

All the instruments are kept in either the guitar room or in the AV Store and RCS students are welcome to borrow all of them. Please note students are responsible for care of the instruments when they are using them.

Guitar and Harp students also have access to RCS’s facilities and resources. This includes a library and several computer suites, as well as a purpose-built recording studio with the use of an expert recording producer. Recordings can be made for course assessments or audition purposes as approved by the Head of Department.

Big Guitar Weekend instruments on display in the RCS Cafe.

Graduate Destinations

Guitar and Harp graduates have gone on to further study in the US and Europe, become heads of university departments, international concert solo artists, orchestral principal harpists, teachers in private practice and festival directors.  

Guitar alumni include:

  • Sean Shibe – the first guitarist to be admitted to the prestigious BBC New Generation Artists Scheme and the only solo guitarist to have received a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship. In 2009 Sean won first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and in 2011 he became only the second guitarist ever to win the Royal Over-Seas League first prize and gold medal. Nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award for his recent album Dreams and Fancies, which debuted at No.3 in the Classical Album Chart. In 2018 he received the RPS ‘Young Artists Prize’.
  • Laura Husbands received a full scholarship to complete an Artist Diploma at Lamont University, Colorado 2009. In June 2011 she received an Artist Diploma in classical guitar performance as well as Lamont’s Outstanding Graduate in Performance Award. Laura Husbands was the winner of the Denver Classical Guitar Society 2010 Debut Competition and the 2011 Portland International Guitar Competition.  
  • Marek Pasieczny is one of the most popular contemporary polish composers and guitarists of his generation. He completed a Masters in Guitar Performance with distinction as well as in Composition, first studying at Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw under Professor Piotr Zaleski, and then RCS. Established as a successful performer, composer and teacher, his career has taken him all over the world. 
Sean Shibe performing at RCS’s Big Guitar Weekend, 2023
A performer plays guitar for a full audience in the Stevenson theatre.

Programme Structure

The programme structure for your studies will depend on whether you choose to undertake [instrument] principal study as part of BMus (Hons) Performance or BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study. The content and modules for each programme are available on their respective pages:

BMus (Hons) Performance

BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study

How to Apply

More information about how to apply, including entry requirements and tuition fee & funding information, is available on either our BMus (Hons) Performance page, or BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study page, depending on which pathway you are interested in. The specific audition requirements for this principal study are detailed below:

Audition Information

All auditions are planned to take place in-person at our campus in Glasgow in November 2024.  Should you apply on time, you will be e-mailed directly with details of your audition date and time, and your UCAS Conservatoires track will be updated with this information.

International applicants are welcome to submit a recorded submission via Acceptd.

Recording Guidelines:

  • When setting up for your video recording, your body (typically, from about the waist up) and instrument should be the focal point of the frame. The committee wants to be able to see not just your face but how well you navigate your instrument.
  • The video recording should be provided in ONE continuous shot without separate tracks for different musical pieces.
  • Please begin the recording by introducing yourself to camera and stating what you will be performing. You can take a little time between pieces so long as your body must remain in the frame.
  • For any pieces that were written for your instrument and piano accompaniment, you are encouraged to perform with piano accompaniment (whether live or pre-recorded) if practical for you. Be assured, however, that if this is not possible for you, then you will not be disadvantaged in any way.

For more information on recording a video audition, Guitar Lecturer Matthew McCallister reveals his top tips on recording your music audition online:



Performance of two contrasting pieces of ABRSM Grade 8 standard or equivalent (maximum of eight minutes each).


Performance of two contrasting pieces, one of which must have been composed after 1900. Additionally, one study and one orchestral cadenza e.g. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker or Ravel’s Piano Concerto.

More from the Guitar & Harp Department

Why RCS?

We are the only place in Europe where you can study all of the performing arts on the one campus. There is a distinctive creative energy at RCS and you’ll be made to feel part of our inclusive and diverse environment from the very beginning of your studies.

Our graduates are resourceful, highly employable and members of a dynamic community of artists who make a significant impact across the globe.

At RCS, students develop not just their art but their power to use it.


A ballerina wearing a teal dress jumps over the Kelpies monuments in Scotland during a grey day.

World Top Ten

We were voted one of the world’s Top Ten destinations to study the performing arts (QS Rankings) in 2024, the eighth time we have been placed in the top ten since the ranking was established in 2016.