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Vocal Performance Department (Postgraduate)

Underlying the performing, teaching and coaching activities within vocal performance is a simple idea: that each singer must find the mode of learning and developing which really works for them.


The Vocal Performance department is ambitious on your behalf and seeks to find ways for you to discover and fulfil your potential as a singer and independent, distinctive artist. The department numbers around 100 first-study singers on BMus and MMus courses, with further singers taking the advanced Opera route. Our team of tutors and coaches aim to help you find and release your true unique voice, establishing a technique which can serve you reliably, with a sense of freedom. 

From April 2024, the department will be led by international opera soprano and educator, Jane Irwin. Working closely with the Head of Opera, Philip White, it has an excellent and committed team of tutors, many of whom have worked and continue to work at the highest international performing levels and who can offer a range of specialisms. 

Underlying the performing, teaching and coaching activities within vocal performance is a simple idea: each singer must find the mode of learning and developing which works for them. Our approach is student-centred and we aim to respond to the differing learning styles and needs of individual singers.  

These elements are taught via 40.5 hours of principal study tuition and supporting studies classes each academic year, with a special class called ‘Basis of Vocal Technique’ where students work as a group on the ideas and skills which they are encountering in the one-to-one lessons. We are practical and we use what works!”

Our team of tutors and coaches aims to help you find and release your true unique voice, establishing a technique which can serve you reliably, with a sense of freedom.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2024

International Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2024

Institution Code:

Programme Code:
MMUS: 890F/MA: 801F

Audition Fee:

Application Fee:

Why Study Vocal Performance With Us?

One-to-One Tuition

You will be encouraged to explore your imagination and hone your artistry through one-to-one lessons. The programme offers 40.5 hours of principal study tuition and supporting studies classes each academic year. Our unique classes designed for in-depth vocal technique learning will help you understand the mechanisms influencing your singing. 

Musicians practice for the Christmas Orechestra event in the Stevenson Hall.

Performance Opportunities

Throughout your studies, you will participate in diverse performance opportunities. The department will connect you with choral and ensemble activities such as RCS Choir and RCS Chamber Choir. 

Masterclasses & Partnerships

You will learn from industry professionals in regularly scheduled masterclasses. Our previous classes featured renowned artists like Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Catriona Morison, Malcolm Martineau and Karen Cargill. Additionally, you will benefit from networking with industry partners like Scottish Opera, the Bayreuth Festival, British Youth Opera, and the Samling Academy.

Meet the Staff

Teaching Staff

  • Singing Tutors

    Christina Dunwoodie

    Margaret Izatt

    Scott Johnson
    Helen Lawson, ARCM (Hons)
    Wilma MacDougall
    Elizabeth McCormack
    Kathleen McKellar Ferguson
    Linda Ormiston
    Iain Paton
    Stephen Robertson
    Clare Shearer
    Julian Tovey

    Lorna Anderson

    Mhairi Lawson

    Andrew McTaggart

    Jessica Leary

  • Repertoire Coaches

    Cameron Burns
    Michael Bawtree
    Geoffrey Tanti
    Ingrid Sawers

    J. Javier Ucendo

    Marianna Abrahamyan

    Michal Gajzler

  • Language Tutors

    Héloïse Bernard
    Geoffrey Tanti
    Dr Svetlana Zvereva
    Helen Lawson, ARCM (Hons)


  • Dame Gwyneth Jones
  • Dame Felicity Lott
  • Karen Cargill
  • Catriona Morison
  • Nicky Spence
  • Patricia MacMahon
  • Sir Thomas Allen CBE
  • John Treleaven
  • Malcolm Martineau
  • Lisa Milne MBE
  • Rosalind Plowright
  • Barbara Bonney
  • Roderick Williams
  • Jane Eaglen
  • Christine Brewer
  • Dame Ann Murray
  • Simon Lepper


In addition to the expected range of well-equipped teaching studios, singers have the benefit of the Alexander Gibson Opera School — including the Opera Studio. The professional venues, the Stevenson Hall, and the New Athenaeum Theatre are also used by the Vocal Performance students. 

The Ledger Recital Room is used for many classes and competitions. Other venues which have housed opera and concert performances outside the RCS campus include the splendid early Gothic Glasgow Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, Paisley Abbey, and the concert halls in Perth and Aberdeen. 

Students also have access to expertise amongst staff in Spectrographic Analysis of resonance and vowels, with the ancillary information that can be utilised using Electroglottogram information. These two advanced software-based tools can often make yet clearer what is being studied and understood using excellent traditional methodologies. 

Graduate Destinations

Many undergraduates choose to go on to further study once they have completed their four-year course. Whilst some like to take advantage of the fact that we offer a complete journey through BMus and MMus Performance and our Artist Diploma in Opera, others go on to postgraduate study at a multitude of other institutions. Recent graduate destinations include:

  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama 
  • The Jacobs School of Music
  • Konservatorium Wien  
  • Covent Garden Jette Parker Scheme 
  • Welsh International Academy of Voice 
  • International Opera Studio Staatsoper Berlin 
  • Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project 
  • Opera Studio Bregenz Festivals 
  • Verbier Academy 
  • Royal Opera Den Norske

 Alumni include: 

  • Beth Taylor (Cardiff Singer of the World Finalist, 2023) 
  • Catriona Morison (Cardiff Singer of the World Winner, 2017) 
  • Svetlina Stoyanova (Neue Stimmen Winner, 2017)  
  • Anush Hovhannisyan (Cardiff Singer of the World Finalist, 2017)
  • Dominic Barberi (Cardiff Singer of the World Finalist, 2017)

Programme Structure

The programme structure for your studies will depend on whether you choose to undertake Vocal Performance principal study as part of an MMus or an MA in Performance. Further information is available on the MMus/MA Performance page:

MMus/MA Performance

How to Apply

More information about how to apply, including entry requirements and tuition fee & funding information, is available on the MMus/MA Performance page. The specific audition requirements for this principal study are detailed below:

Audition Information

Specific audition dates and locations will be updated here when available. 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: 

Through audition, applicants will be required to demonstrate:  

  • A high degree of technical competency on the instrument or voice in the service of specific repertoire 
  • An ability to demonstrate a considerable degree of understanding of the repertoire performed 
  • An ability to perform specific repertoire convincingly 
  • A considerable degree of self-confidence and creativity with respect to the repertoire performed 
  • A degree of self-sufficiency, initiative and independence in selecting, preparing and performing a particular programme 
  • A developing musical personality

Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition/recorded submission can be found below: 

The panel are keen to hear you perform at your best, so choose music that suits your voice and enables you to show your individuality as a performer. 

Candidates should prepare: 

  • Four contrasting classical pieces, at least one of which should be in English and one in a foreign language 
  • A short poetry or prose reading in English lasting no longer than 2 minutes 

One of the items should be an aria from an oratorio or opera, preferably with the recitative; another should be a German Lied or French mélodie. Candidates will be asked to choose their first piece, and the panel will then choose a further one or two pieces. 

A typical programme may include a recitative and aria from an oratorio or opera, a German Lied, a French mélodie, an English Art Song and a short poetry reading. 

Once you submit your recording, this may be followed up with a live online interview.

The interview will be held by members of the audition panel. It will explore your understanding of the demands of the programme, knowledge of repertoire, aspects of performance practice, performance experience and attitudes, and professional aspirations. You may also be invited to talk about the recording you have submitted. You may also be given a sight reading as part of this process, depending on your principal study department(s).

Successful candidates will show potential to develop their beliefs and skills through the programme.

More from the Vocal Performance 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.