The vocal 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 a further 20 singers taking the advanced MMus Opera route. Our team of tutors and coaches aim to help you find and healthily release your own true unique voice, establishing a technique which can serve you reliably, with a sense of freedom.

The department is led by Scott Johnson, and Elizabeth McCormack. 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 are able to offer a range of specialisms.

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. This means that though much of the department activity will be comparable to what happens in other conservatoires throughout the world, here in Glasgow our approach is student centred and we aim to respond to the differing learning styles and needs of individual singers. In practice this means that we are a holistic and highly inclusive department.

So, if you learn best by example and demonstration (a very common way of teaching singing), that will be available to you from our team of internationally experienced singer-tutors. If you really want to understand more of the detail of how the classical voice functions and what constitutes healthy, sophisticated singing via a good working knowledge of the physiology and acoustics of the voice that is also available. If you sing better and reach artistic and technical progress via imaginative and emotional concepts this is also a proven way of accessing professional levels of singing, which is much used in the teaching and classes here. And of course, the truth for many students is that they benefit from the mixture and depth which combining these approaches can achieve.

In one session you might be refining the detail of a language and exploring the full emotional depth and connection with text. In the next you could be working on your breath technique to secure a better supported appoggio. Or you might be refining the precision and quality of resonance in your vowels using the latest analytical equipment showing precisely what your voice is doing. These elements are taught via the two singing lessons given each week and the additional classes for repertoire and performance, with also 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, we use what works!

In addition to this very full and rounded approach to developing your voice, we believe that quick and valuable learning takes place via a multiplicity of varied performance opportunities. Each year therefore we devise a programme of concerts, operas, recitals, competitions and master-classes that enable students to participate at appropriate levels.

Institution Code:


Programme Code:

MMUS: 890F / MA: 801F

UK Deadline:

2 October 2023

International Deadline:

1 December 2023

Programme Structure

The Master in Music in Performance (singing) and for advanced students, the Master of Opera, share some aspects. Students on both courses receive regular singing lessons, which enables them to feel that they are in frequent contact with the expert tutor who is guiding their vocal and artistic development. Whilst students who enter at this level will have already developed a level of sophistication in their singing and vocal technique, many know that they need further work and refinement to help them towards entering the profession successfully. We think this generous provision for one to one study is essential in building the advanced progress required for this level of study.

There is a wide range of ancillary work undertaken in classes (‘Supporting Studies’) for both courses. Languages taught in classes include Italian, German, French and Russian, with Sung Diction taught by native-speakers. There are in addition associated repertoire classes for each language coached by an expert who has specialised in that area of repertoire. The weekly classes in Performance offer coaching in a master-class-type situation where any aspect of the performance may be discussed and developed.

Each student is allocated a coach for the year for them to work with on a one to one basis. There are also classes specifically in audition skills, Alexander technique, movement, acting technique and French phonetics (for those who need the latter). The range and variety of performing opportunities is extensive; oratorios, song recitals, and special projects which are unique to a particular year – often associated with a particular anniversary. These often bring students into contact with a range of external visiting conductors, directors, singers and coaches.

For those on the MMus Performer course there is a very wide variety of assessment options —mostly conducted at the end of each year. These include, Solo Performance, Opera Scenes, Chamber Performance, Lecture Recital, Opera Audition, Studio Recording, Song Performance, and New Work. In Year 2 in addition is the possibility of undertaking an Independent Project. In both years, if a student is cast in a role or as a soloist in a main production/concert, this can be used for formal assessment.

MMus Stage 1 / MA Stage 1

Principal Study 1 – 80 credits

  • Individual lessons
  • 2-3 negotiated performance assessments

Supporting Studies 1 – 30/20/10 credits

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as performance classes, coaching, languages and masterclasses

Practice Research – 10 credits

  • Research project

Options – 0/10/20 credits

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

MA Stage 2

Negotiated Study – 60 credits

  • Individual composition, performance or academic project

MMus Stage 2

Principal Study 2 – 90 credits

  • Individual lessons
  • 2-3 negotiated performance assessments

Supporting Studies 2 – 30/20/10 credits

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as performance classes, coaching, languages and masterclasses

Options – 0/10/20 credits

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

The MMus is the standard two-year programme undertaken by most students.

The MA is a shortened version of the programme for students who wish to get a Masters degree in a single year of study.

The first three terms of the MMus and MA are identical: MA students complete a further module in term 4 in order to complete the degree in a single year. There is no difference in the nature of the degrees: both concentrate mainly on performance rather than academic work.

Our internationally renowned programme provides students with the artistic and academic skill set to forge a singing career at the highest level.  The Vocal Performance department will be headed by a new collaborative team consisting of Scott Johnson, and Elizabeth McCormack for the Academic Year 22/23. The programme benefits from the combination of each Head of Department’s area of expertise, creating a nurturing environment that not only encourages development, but also allows every student to discover their individual musical voice.

Vocal Performance Staff

Repertoire Coaches
Recent Masterclasses
  • Dame Gwyneth Jones
  • Dame Felicity Lott
  • 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

Graduate Destinations

As RCS is Scotland’s only Conservatoire, many students are involved in professional music making in the busy artistic activity outside the Conservatoire, which may range from something simple such as solo singing for a choral society or small Cathedral ensemble, or a main work with the BBC or RSNO, or at the Edinburgh Festival. The Song Studio recital series is extremely popular with audiences and provides a fully professional outlet for this repertoire.

The department has an enviable record in achieving scholarships and places on courses beyond our own doors. In recent years these included the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, the Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington), Indiana University and the Konservatorium Wien (Vienna).

In 2017, three alumni were finalists in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition — Catriona Morison, Anush Hovhannisyan and Dominic Barberi — with Catriona winning both the song prize and the overall competition first prize, becoming the first British singer to ever win. Svetlina Stoyanova won the prestigious German competition, Neue Stimmen, whilst still a student with RCS.

Recent graduates have been offered places on the Covent Garden Jette Parker scheme, the National Opera Studio, the Welsh International Academy of Voice, the International Opera Studio Staatsoper Berlin, the Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project, Opera Studio Bregenz Festival, the Verbier Academy, as well as contracts in fully professional houses including the Royal Opera House, Staatsoper Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera North, Welsh National and Royal Opera Den Norske.

Masters of Performance

A short film about studying Vocal Performance at the RCS.

Why Choose Us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is consistently ranked in the World Top 10 for performing arts education (QS World Rankings 2023)

  • Regular one-to-one singing lessons
  • Unique classes specifically on the basis of vocal technique
  • Students are taught how to understand the vocal mechanism
  • Imagination and artistry are seen as crucial components in the curriculum
  • Numerous diverse performance opportunities
  • Extensive choral and ensemble activity including RCS Voices, the RCS Chamber Choir and BBC Choir of the Year, Les Sirènes
  • Regular masterclass schedule featuring renowned artists; recent artists include Sir Thomas Allen CBE Dennis O’NeillSusan GrahamBarbara BonneyChristine BrewerMalcolm Martineau and Dame Gwyneth Jones
  • Strong industry partnerships including Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Bayreuth Festival, British Youth Opera, and both the Samling and Britten Pears School, all of whom regularly visit RCS to audition

Virtual Tour

Explore the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in our 360 virtual tour. You’ll be able to see our rehearsal and practice rooms, professional performance venues, production workshops, editing suite, ballet studios and more.

Entry Requirements

Our Admissions Process

Our admissions processes are designed to be fair, transparent and efficient. The audition/interview approach serves the dual nature of allowing the panel to assess first-hand an applicant’s suitability for their chosen programme and it also affords the applicant the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the nature of that programme and the opportunities offered by the RCS.

In arriving at its recommendation, the audition/interview panel will take account of all aspects of the applicant’s profile i.e.:

  • Performance at audition/interview
  • Commitment to the particular programme
  • Potential to benefit from the programme
  • Academic qualifications
  • Personal statement
  • Performance qualifications
  • Performance/practical experience
  • References
  • Contextualised data
Academic Entrance Requirements

Candidates for both the MMus and MA are normally expected to hold a good honours (at least 2:2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme.

Language of Study

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 6.0 (with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component) is required of applicants to the School of Music.

Direct Entry

Applications for direct entry beyond Year 1 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the Royal Conservatoire’s Recognition of Prior (Experiential) Learning policy. If you wish to apply for direct entry, please mark the point of entry on UCAS Conservatoires application as 2 or 3.

Non-Standard Entry

We welcome applications from individuals whose academic qualifications or English language qualifications do not match (in terms of equivalence) or fall short of the normal entrance requirements, where specified*. Having satisfied the Audition Panel that they meet the selection criteria and demonstrated that they have the capacity to pursue the proposed course of study, such applicants will be considered through examination of contextualised data provided in accordance with the Non-Standard Entry Policy. The appropriate Head of Department/ Programme will make a case in support of the applicant for consideration by the Directors of the Schools and Convener of the Quality and Standards Committee.

*Note that UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) imposes minimum English Language qualifications in respect of international (non-EU) applicants who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK.

Mature Students

RCS welcomes applications from mature students, i.e. students over the age of 21 at entry to the programme. Whilst the selection procedures will still be applied, consideration will be given to appropriate artistic experience not normally expected in school leavers, which is deemed to compensate for any lack of traditional entrance qualifications. Successful mature applicants, as for all other applicants, must convince auditioning panels that they have the ability and potential to cope with the demands of the programme. Their progress, especially in the early stages of the programme, will be closely monitored and appropriate advice and support given.

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system. If you wish to apply to conservatoires and universities within UCAS, you will need to register for both services. There is a UCAS application fee of £27.50 to register to use UCAS Conservatoires.

To begin a new UCAS Conservatoires application, you will need to register. You can read the UCAS Conservatoires’ advice on completing the UCAS Conservatoires application. If you need assistance with your application, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires team by telephoning (Monday to Friday, 8.30 — 18.00). Phone 0371 468 0470 from within the UK or +44 330 3330 232 if you are calling from overseas.

Application deadline date

The deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below –

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your application/audition recording will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications. Late applications will be considered on a case by case basis and may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.

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.

MMus Performance (2 years) – 890F

MA Performance (1 year) – 801F

Book an advice lesson with one of our Music tutors

An advice lesson gives you the chance to experience having a lesson at the Conservatoire and provides a great opportunity for you to gain some expert advice and insight. Advice lessons normally take place from late August to early October and are dependent on staff availability. Book your advice lesson here or e-mail our team for further information at hello@rcs.ac.uk.

Application Fee

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 £65 per programme applied for. Fees are not refundable. The fees are paid via the UCAS Conservatoires website and not directly to RCS.

Audition Assessment Administration fee

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £65 per course.

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.


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.

Selection Process

Applicants are selected first and foremost on the basis of merit and potential. However, due attention is also paid to the range of Principal Studies accepted in order to ensure the optimum experience for each student and to sustain the critical mass required for curricular activities, such as the symphony orchestra and choral activities.

Please note that the Conservatoire is obliged to offer one audition date per application. If you are unable to submit your application/audition recording by the deadline date above, you must email us immediately stating the reason. We have a specific period allocation to audition and all on time applications will receive a decision before Christmas. If your audition recording is delayed, there is a risk that places will already have been taken and your application may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.


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. For those submitting a recording, the deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below:

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

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 below:

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition or recorded submission via UCAS Conservatoires track (you will need your username and password). We aim to post outcomes before Christmas.

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.

Following your Audition

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition via UCAS Conservatoires Track,  (you will need your username and password). You will also receive notification from UCAS Conservatoires when decisions on all your choices are available.

Please see below for an explanation of UCAS Conservatoires codes:

Guaranteed Unconditional (GU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry. Unless your application and/or qualification are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, a guaranteed unconditional offer is binding.

Guaranteed Conditional (GC) RCS has made the offer subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Unless your application and/or qualifications are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, the offer is binding if you accept the offer and meet the conditions. You must meet the conditions of the offer by 31 August 2024, unless an earlier date is specified. If your conditions include obtaining IELTS (English Language test), you must meet this condition by 31 May 2024.

Reserve Unconditional (VU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry and you have been offered a place on our reserve pool.

Reserve Conditional (VC) RCS has offered a place on its reserve pool subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track.

Unsuccessful (R) RCS does not wish to offer you any type of a place.

Reserve Outcomes

If you have received a ‘reserve’ outcome, it means that RCS is not able to offer you a guaranteed place at the time of making our decision. A ‘reserve’ outcome indicates that RCS would like the opportunity to review its outcome to you in the light of acceptances/declines to its guaranteed offers. You will become part of a ‘pool’ of ‘reserve’ candidates and RCS may choose to make you a guaranteed offer if a suitable place becomes available.  Reserve does not mean that a place has been ‘reserved’ for you. If RCS chooses not to make you a guaranteed offer, you will not have a place to start at RCS.

If you have been given a ‘reserve’ outcome, in order to be considered for a guaranteed place (should one become available) you will need to accept the outcome (and meet any conditions if applicable).

Reserve outcomes remain active until the end of August.  The decision to wait and see whether a guaranteed place becomes available, or to accept an offer at another conservatoire is entirely at your discretion. As soon as your situation changes, this is updated on UCAS Conservatoires.

Replying to Offers

As soon as a decision is made, UCAS Conservatoires will let you know. You must reply online via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Your reply date is displayed on Track. If you do not reply by the date given, your offers will be declined automatically. The reply date may be different to other applicants as it is based on when you receive your last decision.

Last decision by Your reply date is
3 January 2024 1 February 2024
15 March 2024 10 April 2024
15 May 2024 5 June 2024
10 July 2