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Vocal Performance Department (Undergraduate)

The Vocal Performance Department’s nurturing environment will encourage your development and the discovery of your musical voice. 


The Vocal Performance department’s internationally renowned programme provides students with the artistic and academic skills to forge a singing career at the highest level. Headed by Jane Irwin, the syllabus benefits from the Head of the Department’s area of expertise, creating a nurturing environment that allows every student to discover their musical voice. 

Our 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 more singers taking the advanced Opera route.

We work closely with the Head of Opera, Philip White, and have an excellent and committed team of tutors, many of whom have worked at the highest international performing levels and can offer a range of specialities.

A central ethos underlies the performing, teaching and coaching activities within vocal performance: each singer must find a mode of learning and developing that works for them. Our approach is student-centred — we aim to respond to the learning styles and needs of the individual.

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 practical solutions to scaffold any challenges they encounter in the one-to-one lessons.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2023

International Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2023

Institution Code:

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

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 during your 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 the Scottish Opera, the Bayreuth Festival, the 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

  • 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, 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 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 2023.  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 the 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:

Details of the repertoire requested for your audition and 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. 

You should prepare: 

  • three classical pieces in contrasting styles and moods, 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 

You will be asked to choose the first piece you wish to sing, the panel will then choose a further one or two pieces.

A typical programme may include an English art song or Folksong setting, an Arie Antiche and a German Lied or French mélodie; and a short poem in English. 

Candidates may be asked to respond to some simple aural skills tests. 

We do not issue specimen aural tests before the audition. 

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.

Find out more 

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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.