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MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing

The MA programme is designed for practitioners who are looking to refine and develop their skills and experience within the area of Musical Directing. Opportunities will be given for each student to explore and challenge their values and passions within theatre, supported with mentorship and guidance from experienced practitioners. 


We want to work with aspiring musical directors on this exciting MA in Musical Direction at Scotland’s national conservatoire. By allowing each student to choose their individual path, focus is placed on tailoring learning through each Project and Production process. Opportunities will be given for each student to explore and challenge their values and passions within theatre, supported with mentorship and guidance from experienced practitioners.

The programme is designed to offer elevated levels of guidance through the initial projects with both industry and pastoral mentorship. As the projects shift in scale and creative scope, each student will have the opportunity to grow into a fully autonomous and creative practitioner.

One-to-one classes focussing on Keyboard, Conducting, Scoring & Arranging, Voice, Sound Work and Artist in Development are designed to give you space and guidance to build your knowledge and skill as a musician. Focus will be placed on the consolidation of previous skills and the opportunity to progress into new areas with a fresh and renewed insight.

Project work is designed to offer a safe, explorative space for each Musical Director to synthesis their skills. Through these projects, each student will be mentored in building a process which reflects their values and passions as a practitioner.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
29 January 2025

International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
29 January 2025

Institution Code:

Programme Code:

Audition Fee:

Application Fee:

Why Study MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing at RCS?

A musical conductor is directing musicians on stage.

World-Class Training

Our MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing programme offers a full year of intensive training supported by an experienced team of in-house and external industry professionals and mentors. We also offer small class sizes, so you will receive high contact time with our staff.

Actors are performing on stage

Personalised Pathways

You will receive focussed skills sessions for consolidation and growth in all areas, as well as individual pathways designed to support your passions and goals as a Musical Director.

A group of actors are reading lines in a rehearsal room. They are sitting in a circle with desks.


Studying at one of the most multi-disciplinary conservatoires in the world, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to collaborate across art-forms and with students from other programmes, including our School of Music and Production department. 

Two people are playing keyboard in front of actors performing on stage.

Projects and Production Opportunities

As part of your studies, you will have the opportunity to take part in a full season of performances in a variety of roles including Musical Director, Arranger and Orchestrator. You will be able to assist and observe an external Musical Director across two fully produced BA Musical Theatre productions. There is also an opportunity for Industry Placement.

Meet the Staff

Musical Director Mentors

  • David Higham 
  • Pete Woollard 
  • Amy Shackcloth 
  • Sarah de Tute 
  • Stuart Morley 
  • Toby Higgins 
  • Jonathan Gill 

Keyboard Skills

  • David Higham 
  • Thea Panainte 
  • Neil Shaw 


  • Andrew Nunn 

Scoring and Arranging

  • Stuart Morley  
  • Tom Greene 

Sound and Programming

  • Chris Pugh 

Graduate Destinations

All our training is designed towards preparing you for a sustainable and long-lasting professional career. 100% of MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing graduate responses are currently in employment or further study (HESA, 2017/18).


Alumni of the MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing programme include:

  • John Hodgson (MA Musical Directing, 2023) – Musical Director on the UK tour of I Should Be So Lucky.
  • Chris Poon (MA Musical Directing, 2018) – Musical Director on Burlesque, Miss Saigon at the Sheffield Crucible, Legally Blonde at Regent’s Park, Associate Musical Director for Tina The Musical
  • Zach Flis (MA Musical Directing, 2014) – Musical Director on the UK & Ireland Tour of Hamilton, UK Tour of Greatest Days, UK & Ireland Tour of We Will Rock You, Associate Conductor on Only Fools and Horses and Assistant Musical Director of Sleepless in Seattle
  • Yutong Zhang (MA Musical Directing, 2020) – Musical Director on the UK tour of Six
  • Eoin Corcoran (MA Musical Directing, 2022)Mamma Mia! International Tour as 2nd Assistant Musical Director / Keys 2
  • Claire McKenzie (MA Musical Directing, 2010) – Co-founder of Noisemaker, an award-winning writing partnership
  • Shonagh Murray (MA Musical Directing 2017) – Musical Director on The Snow Queen (The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), God Catcher (Prickly Pear Productions & Petrichor Productions,  Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023), The Grand Old Opera House Hotel (Recording Sessions, Traverse Theatre), A Mother’s Song (Macrobert Art Centre & KT Producing), Orphans (Associate Musical Director, National Theatre of Scotland), Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World (Deputy MD, Kick Ass Theatre Productions Ltd, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 & UK Tour 2023)
  • Amy Shackcloth (MA Musical Directing, 2008) – Assistant Musical Director on Company, Pinocchio and Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre), Musical Director of the UK & Ireland Tour of Wicked, Assistant Musical Director of the UK Tours of The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Chris Duffy (MA Musical Directing, 2016) – Musical Director on the UK tour of An Officer and a Gentleman, Deputy Musical Director on Pretty Woman: The Musical, Assistant Musical Director on Cats, Bring it On UK Tour and Starlight Express – Das rasenstate Musical in Universum (Bocham, Germany)
  • Jason Belanger (MA Musical Directing, 2022) – Music Assistant for the Broadway production of How to Dance in Ohio
  • Andrea Grody (MA Musical Directing, 2012) – Olivier Award-nominated music director, arranger, and composer with a focus on developing new work
  • Tara Litvack (MA Musical Directing, 2021) – Musical Director on Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
  • Audra Cramer (MA Musical Directing, 2018) – Musical Director on Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World

Programme Structure

This programme is designed to support the development of Skills and Project work across the full calendar year. There are both skills and project modules across the 4 terms each with an increasing focus, level of responsibility and sense of autonomy within each project and production.

The year will start with a skills-focused term, with high-level taught classes across the 5 key skills areas. These will be supplemented with introductory sessions in repertoire coaching, facilitation of Performance classes and Artist in Development seminars, through which you will be encouraged to work autonomously and collaboratively towards achieving your goals. The first Project of the year to be negotiated in consultation with your Personal supervisor and Industry mentor.

Integration of the 5 core skills will continue alongside project work in Term 2. You will work with both faculty and industry mentors to challenge your process across distinctive styles/forms, with a focus on exploring varying rehearsal environments and creative teams.

Project-work through term 2 becomes the priority with Musical direction opportunities across several area, discussed and chosen in consultation with your mentor. Skills classes, repertoire coaching sessions, performance classes and Artist in Development workshops continue, with an embedded focus on personal sustainability and well-being.

As we begin to consider how we relate our passion to the work of theatre, third term begins to look outwards and how you as individuals want to engage with audiences and industry professionals. There is space created in this term for a more creative and autonomous focus within skills, while musical directing project opportunities are negotiated with an eye on how you progress into the world of musical directing. Preparations will begin for the Term 4 and professional practice will be developed through industry masterclass and panel events.

The final term culminates in the last focus of the programme, an Industry Workshops Series. This module is designed to allow each student an opportunity to synthesis all the learning gained through the programme. The workshops series will offer opportunity to prepare and workshops 4 varying stylistic areas, each with a different balance of skills.

The initial workhops will be supported with skills classes before autonomy and creativity are encouraged as the focus is placed on working with key invited industry practitioners. Space and time will be given to allow for elevated levels of preparation and opportunity to collaborate on material at the highest level prior to moving into employment.

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to hold an appropriate undergraduate degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme. 

English language requirements

The language of study is English. Applicants who first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Level 7.5 (with a score of 7.5 in speaking) is required. 

Fees & Funding

Tuition fees

  • Home: £19,415 
  • Overseas: £28,038 

Funding & Scholarships

You can find out about the funding and scholarships available for studying at RCS by visiting our dedicated page:

Funding & Scholarships

Cost of Living & Programme Costs

In addition to tuition fees, it is estimated that you will need between £11,200 and £15,300 per year to live in Glasgow, plus programme costs. Much will depend on your lifestyle and whether your course runs for three or four terms. 

Programmes within the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film have a range of associated costs related to the specific activities required and advised by the programme team. To ensure fairness and parity of experience in relation to certain core programme activities a one-off payment to cover a proportion of necessary costs is required of the student at matriculation. You can find these costs below: 

MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing Programme Costs

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system.

You can read our guidance about using UCAS Conservatoires on our dedicated How to Apply page. 

We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2025, you must apply next year. 

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58. You will also require the following programme code to apply: 702F

The closing date for on-time MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing applications is 31 January 2024 for UK applicants, and 31 January 2024 for International applicants. If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your application will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications 

Application/Audition fees

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £27.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition/interview assessment administration fee. The interview assessment administration fee is £55.00 for this programme. Fees are not refundable. The fees are paid via the UCAS Conservatoires website and not directly to RCS. 

We recognise that auditioning and interviewing for conservatoires, drama and ballet schools can be costly. The audition assessment administration fee charge allows us to offer a thorough and positive experience to all applicants and we encourage you to get in touch to ask the panel questions and find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to see if it is the best place for you.  

We are committed to ensuring fair access to a conservatoire education for students who have the talent and potential to benefit from it, regardless of their background. In support of this, audition fee waivers are offered to applicants whom financial hardship may be a barrier to auditioning. Please see the audition fee waivers document for more information. 


We have a number of policies and statements which you should read when applying to study at the Royal Conservatoire.

Please select the links below to read each policy.


It is your responsibility to ask two separate referees to write references and ensure that these are sent to RCS.

The references must be written by two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. You can submit your UCAS Conservatoires application form and send your references at a later date, but they must be received prior to your audition date.

UCAS Conservatoires provides reference forms for you to download and send to your referees for completion.

Audition/Interview Information

Applicants who apply on time (before 31 January 2024) are invited by email, approximately three weeks before the audition date, to RCS to undertake an audition/interview. All auditions/interviews will take place at RCS, in Glasgow, unless you have chosen to audition online. We have many years of experience of conducting online auditions and have a well-established format and process in place, so no applicant will be disadvantaged by auditioning in this manner. Please note that RCS is only obliged to offer one audition/interview date per application. Alternative dates will only be provided (subject to availability) in exceptional circumstances. If you are unable to make your allocated audition date, you should email us immediately stating the reason. 

MA Musical Theatre (Musical Directing) and Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction auditions will take place from February to April. 

Recorded audition: 

If you are auditioning via video recording, please read the information in the Audition section before sending us your material. Prior to submitting a recorded audition, you must apply via UCAS Conservatoires. Recorded auditions and other relevant information can be easily submitted online using Acceptd. You will need to create an account, but then you can easily upload the recordings you wish to be considered. Recordings will not be considered until a UCAS Conservatoires application has been submitted. Once you have completed the UCAS Conservatoires application, you should proceed to Acceptd to submit your video recording. We will only accept recordings submitted via Acceptd and will not accept any other format, i.e. DVDs. Recordings should arrive by the 31 January 2024. 

In-person audition: 

Once you apply, you will be emailed in due course with an audition date. All in-person auditions will take place at the RCS campus at Renfrew Street in Glasgow. 

We are aware that some of these processes may be challenging just now, and therefore ask that you complete these tasks to the best of your ability. We have looked to make the audition process as accessible as possible for all applicants and we are happy to answer any queries you have that are specific to your circumstance. Questions can be sent directly to David Higham, Associate Head of Musical Theatre –  


The Audition 

Your Musical Directing audition will be split into 3 parts, details of which are below: 

Part 1 

  • Consultation Piano Lesson – 30 mins 

The candidate will be given a consultation piano lesson working through varying pieces of repertoire chosen by the candidate. This session will explore a range of varying keyboard skills through a one-to-one workshop. In-person candidates will be asked to bring a small selection of song accompaniments for this session. Online candidates will have this lesson on Zoom. 

Part 2 (3 sections) 

  • 2.1 Ensemble Singing Workshop – 25-30 mins 

In-person candidates – you will be asked to lead a vocal workshop with a small group for 25-30 mins, which should include: 

  • A short warm-up 
  • The teaching of a short section of ensemble repertoire of the candidate’s choosing 
  • Elements of vocal guidance 
  • Elements of style and interpretation 

Online candidates – please look to submit a recording on Acceptd of you leading a workshop with the areas highlighted above. Please do try and submit this prior to your audition/interview. 

  • 2.2 Interview – 15 mins 

The candidate will be asked a series of questions in relation to their skills, knowledge, and experience as an emerging Musical Director. Focus will be placed on areas of communication, knowledge, and awareness of style and genre shown by each candidate. 

  • 2.3 Coaching Session: 20 minutes 

The candidate will be asked to coach two songs of varying styles and complexity chosen by the panel. Candidates will be given around a few minutes to scan the piece before the process of sight-reading and coaching the sinher through each song. Candidates may be redirected through this process. 

Part 3 

  • Folio Submission 

Please forward or upload any material that you feel would support your application on Acceptd – this applies to both in-person and online candidates. This should include a CV, any relevant documentation of scoring or arranging work and could include videos or audio recordings of your work. 

Could you also arrange the following extracts and upload your scoring of the set arrangement below. This may be discussed further at your audition. 

  • The Life of the Party (extract) – bar 86 to the end. Please arrange for an instrumental ensemble of 6-10 instruments of your choosing
  • Anthem – Vocal Arrangement (extract) – bar 41 to the end. Please arrange for a vocal ensemble of your choosing

More from the MA Musical Theatre: Musical Directing 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.


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