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Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Directing

This one-year programme is designed to teach you the core skills and processes required to progress into the industry or on to full-time master’s study.  

Studying within a safe and collaborative environment, you will have the opportunity to work closely with key skill practitioners, performers, actors, musicians, and other artists from across RCS. 


We want to work with aspiring Musical directors on this exciting new Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction at Scotland’s national conservatoire. 

This one-year programme is designed to teach you the core skills and processes required to progress into the industry or on to full-time master’s study. Studying within a safe and collaborative environment, you will have the opportunity to work closely with key skill practitioners, performers, actors, musicians, and other artists from across RCS. 

The design of this programme is weighted towards skills, with a focus placed on grounding, developing, and gaining fresh insight.  By allowing space to prepare and learn from each session, students are given the opportunity to ground and develop the essential skills needed as a growing Musical Director.  

These skills are structured into the 5 areas highlighted below:

  • Keyboard skills
  • Conducting skills
  • Scoring and arranging techniques
  • Vocal technique and repertoire coaching,
  • Programming and Sound

Once confidence and consistency are gained in each area, project preparation sessions are then introduced. These sessions are designed to break down and explore the process of Musical Directing out with a larger process, before giving the opportunity to integrate this learning into a small project. 

These sessions will include:

  • Note learning sessions 
  • Voice warm-ups 
  • Keys depping processes
  • Conducting small and large ensembles 
  • Techniques for coaching the voice
  • Working with a creative and production team

You will work with specialist project and Industry mentors to support your individual aims and goals, and to gain insight into how your artistic practice relates to musical theatre more broadly. Opportunities to observe, assist and lead on projects will be explored as you grow in skill and experience, with the aim of supporting the next generation of innovative and highly skilled musical directors. 

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 Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Directing at RCS?

A musical conductor is directing musicians in the pit. The stage is visible behind them.

World-Class Training

Our PG Diploma in Musical Directing 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


The programme is designed to prioritise experiential learning and self-determined pathways. You will also have the chance to take part in new musical development workshops with industry creatives and new collaborative partners.

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. 



Actors are performing on stage. Part of the audience is also visible.


As part of your studies, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a full season of performances. Previous performances include Big Fish and contemporary song-cycle Edges.

Meet the Staff

Musical Director Mentors

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


Keyboard Skills

  • David Higham 
  • Thea Panainte 
  • Neil Shaw 


  • Andrew Nunn 


Scoring and Arranging

  • Stuart Morley  
  • Tom Greene 

Sound and Programming

  • Chris Pugh 


Graduate Destinations


Graduates of this programme have moved into a range of exciting projects and productions or have decided to focus to move onto further study. 


Alumni of the Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Directing programme include:

  • John Hodgson (Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Directing, 2022 and MA Musical Directing, 2023) – Musical Director on the UK tour of I Should Be So Lucky. 

Programme Structure

This programme is designed to support the development of Skills and Project work across a full academic year. There are both core skills and project preparation modules across each the 3 terms, each with a different focus, level of responsibility and degree of autonomy.  

Core Skills  

The focus on skills runs at the core of the programme providing a grounding in technique across the main associated skill areas. 

  • Keyboard skills — explores both the technical and creative challenges of keyboard skills alongside further sessions in harmonic awareness, transposition and sight-reading skills.
  • Conducting — explores the development of the technical and creative skills associated with a range of repertoire and genres. 
  • Scoring and arranging — supports knowledge and understanding of scoring techniques appropriate for a range of varying ensembles and the successful notation of the main sound worlds.  
  • Voice – provides each student with both the technical and anatomical understanding of the voice and the processes of warming-up through both theoretical and stylistic coaching of the voice. 
  • Sound work — allows each MD to engage with the several key programmes used in the world of contemporary musical theatre. 
  • Artist in Development — provides each student with an insight in themselves in relation to the professional world while the exploration of their process through repertoire coaching sessions, performance class and auditions would provide each student with valuable experience in integrated core skill with their professional practice. 

There will be support and guidance offered to ground all the core skills associated with Musical Direction, with flexibility offered for the varying levels of knowledge and experience on entry. There will be an opportunity to gain new insights across all skills, while also striving for more detail and depth through Terms 2 and 3.

The focus of this term is placed on grounding skills in each area. Personal Development Plans will be set identifying key areas of learning, and guidance will be provided to allow for development across the 5 key skills areas. Project Preparation will be introduced to start to explore several of the key processes, initially explored in isolation and in a safe and exploratory environment.

Through term 2, there should be a growth in confident and consistency in each area, allowing for more detailed and autonomous level of work. Focus will be placed on personal practise and preparation with a view to further development in each skill area. Project Preparation sessions will start to explore the more complex of the key processes, alongside an opportunity to integrate these skills in a small project.

The focus of this term would progress onto the tackling more challenging repertoire, usually found in the contemporary area. Keyboard skills will shift to focus on time and chord reading, while scoring and arranging will provide support for band and rhythm section charts. Project Preparation sessions will continue to explore the more complex of the key processes, alongside opportunities to integrate these skills through several key projects.  

Project preparation would be a series of mentor-led sessions exploring the many processes needed as an emerging Musical Director. These would be led by the programme team initially but would progress into sessions with many external Musical directors from across the UK. Sessions would include.

  • Note-learning sessions
  • Vocal warm-ups 
  • Band/orchestra calls and Rehearsal techniques
  • Rep session processes 
  • Performance class and Auditions pianists experience 
  • Creative team relationship etiquette 
  • Creative/Author relationship etiquette 

The Project preparation sessions would naturally lead into exploration of a similar processes within a small project. Focused will be placed on the integration of these processes with opportunity to work within a fuller and more collaborative environment.

  • Musical Director, arranger, and orchestrator of a section from the RCS Commercial Concert 
  • Musical Director or Assistant MD of core BA projects including Sondheim, Actor Musician and New Work
  • Opportunity for Industry placement 

There will be an opportunity to observe many diverse and interesting processes across the RCS (Classical or Jazz Music programme rehearsals) and when relevant assist or lead on specified projects. The growth in contextual understanding would allow each student space and time to establish and refine their process before similar projects within the industry or an MA Programme. 

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 whose 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

  • UK (including ROI): £11,118 
  • International: £17,609 

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: 

PGD 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: TO ADD

The closing date for on-time [Course] applications is UK DEADLINE for UK applicants, and INTERNATIONAL DEADLINE 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 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. 

Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction auditions will take place from February to April. 

Recorded Auditions 

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 March 2023. 

We ask that you complete these below 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 (Music), at 

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

Part 1 

Consultation Piano Lesson: 30 minutes 

You will be given a consultation piano lesson working through varying pieces of repertoire chosen by them. 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: 20 minutes 

In-person candidates will be asked to lead a vocal workshop with a small group, which should include: 

  • The teaching of a short section of ensemble repertoire of the candidate’s choosing – please bring suitable material for the vocal ensemble. 
  • Elements of vocal guidance 
  • Elements of style and interpretation 

Online candidates will be asked to submit a recording of you leading a workshop with the areas highlighted above, uploading to your profile on Acceptd. If you are unable to work with an ensemble in person, we would be happy for you to submit a recording of you working with an ensemble over Zoom. Please do try and submit this prior to your audition/interview but if not possible, please let us know and you can then submit this up to 3 weeks after your interview. 

  • 2.2 – Interview: 15 minutes 

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 – Sight Reading: 15 minutes 

The candidate will be asked to play two songs of varying styles and complexity chosen by the panel. Candidates will be given around 10 minutes to scan the piece before the process of sight-reading each song. Candidates may be redirected through this process. 

Part 3 

  • Folio Submission – including your CV, and the set arrangement 

Candidates will be asked to arrange the following extracts for your choice of ensemble 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

Please forward or upload any further 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. 

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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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.