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The overriding aim of undertaking PhD and MPhil study is to make an original contribution to knowledge. The programmes do not follow a prescribed course of study but benefit from close supervision and a range of research training that is designed to support the project being undertaken, and provide wider opportunities for professional development as a researcher.

Our vibrant multidisciplinary environment includes performance and new work in dance, drama and music, performing arts education and policy, Scottish music, historically-informed performance, musicology, and a range of other specialist areas.

Following a historic agreement between RCS and the University of St Andrews, we offer research degrees leading to the awards of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil). These programmes are validated and awarded by the University of St Andrews.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers opportunities for suitably qualified students to work towards the achievement of research degrees in appropriate areas of enquiry. Applications will only be successful if it is clear that the proposed research can best be undertaken within a Conservatoire context, in which performance and/or creation is held central.

The specific areas for research degrees are:

  • The processes and methodologies of developing new performance work (music/drama/music theatre), including collaborative and devised performance
  • Performance
  • Musical composition, in all genres, for live, electro-acoustic and mixed media
  • Scottish music
  • Methodologies of specialist performance training, including the use of IT
  • Socio-cultural studies of performance
  • Performance education and pedagogy

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
29 January 2025

International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
29 January 2025

Institution Code:

Programme Code:
Doctor of Philosophy Full-time: 555F, Part time: 555P / Master of Philosophy Full-time: 500F, Part time: 500P

Audition Fee:

Application Fee:

Programme Structure

Research degree students do not follow a prescribed course of study, but benefit from close supervision and a range of research training that is designed to support the programme of research being undertaken, and provide wider opportunities for professional development as a researcher. In addition, an external supervisor is normally appointed to provide further support for, and an additional perspective on, your research.


The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is housed in a modern, specially designed building and has some of the best performance and rehearsal facilities of any conservatoire in Europe.

The Royal Conservatoire library contains one of the most comprehensive performing arts collections in the UK. The collections feature extensive print and online material covering all Conservatoire subject disciplines and wider multi-disciplinary research materials. The RCS Archives is also a unique research resource, rich in both the depth and diversity of holdings. ICT facilities and a study lab for research students are available.

Conservatoire research students also have access to the extensive library resources held by the University of St Andrews. Students also have access to the specialist academic training through the University’s Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD).

All research students undertake training within the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland through participating in a number of study days held throughout the academic year and engaging in The Exchange Talks series. The resources of the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), of which the Conservatoire is a member, can also be accessed.

Head to our Campus and Facilities page to find out more.


Dr Laura Bissell
Athenaeum Research Fellow/Lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practice

Laura Bradshaw
Lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practice

Professor Stephen Broad
Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange

Professor Joshua Dickson
Head of Traditional Music

Dr Emily Doolittle
Athenaeum Fellow

Dr Rachel Drury
Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts

Professor Celia Duffy

Dr Laura Gonzalez
Athenaeum Fellow

Professor Roy Howat
Senior Research Fellow

Deborah Keogh
Knowledge Exchange Manager

Professor Alistair MacDonald
Lecturer in Composition”

Dr Stuart MacRae
Composition Lecturer

Professor Rita McAllister

Dr Karen McAuley

Helen McVey
Director of Business Development

Dr Jill Morgan
Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts

Professor Arnold Myers
Senior Research Fellow

Dr Oliver Searle
Head of Composition

Dr Marc Silberschatz
Interim Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

Dr Lori Watson
Lecturer in Traditional Music

Dr Bethany Whiteside
Research Lecturer and Doctoral Degrees Co-ordinator

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

Admission to doctoral level programmes is normally on the basis of a first degree at 2(i) level or higher (or the overseas equivalent) in the relevant subject or a relevant postgraduate qualification. However, where a prospective student lacks a suitable first degree, alternative mechanisms for assessing qualifications and preparedness, reflecting professional or other work experience, may be used. Increasingly the UK research councils in several disciplines require that funded students on doctoral programmes have first completed an approved masters programme that prepares the student for doctoral work. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is committed to the principles of the Accreditation of Prior Learning, including experiential learning, and will bring those to bear on the admissions process for its doctoral students.

Applicants for whom English is a second language must demonstrate an IELTS score of 7.0.

We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact us at

Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2024/25


  • Scotland, RUK and ROI: £9,362
  • International (including EU): £21,787


  • Scotland, RUK and ROI: £4,683
  • International (including EU): £10,896

Sources of external funding

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

Funding & Scholarships

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applicants for doctoral study should apply through UCAS Conservatoires. Please then submit your proposal online via Acceptd. The Guide for Applicants and template of the online proposal form can be found on our How to Apply – Research 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 programmes codes to apply: Doctor of Philosophy — Full-time: 555F / Part-time: 555P OR Master of Philosophy — Full-time: 500F / Part time: 500P

The closing date for on-time applications for UK students is 2 October 2023 and for International students is 1 December 2023.  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 assessment administration fee. For RCS, the audition assessment administration fee is £55 per programme applied for. 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 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.


Those applicants who meet the admissions criteria and whose proposed research projects accord with the Royal Conservatoire’s research priorities and context will be interviewed/ auditioned. All interviews will take place online.

An interview/audition panel will be chaired by a specialist member of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland staff and will include other members of staff or external advisers as appropriate. An interview panel will normally be chaired by the Head of Research and will include at least one other member of staff or external adviser as appropriate. At the conclusion of the interview/audition process, the panel will formulate a recommendation to the Research Degrees Committee regarding the application.