Music - BMus

UCAS Code:
Full Time (4 years) (three years with direct entry to the second year, subject to ability)
September 2017

You are passionate about the world of music and keen to make your mark professionally. Our undergraduate music course, with its intensive individual tuition and numerous performance opportunities, offers you a brilliant opportunity to do so.

Whether you aspire to perform in the UK or abroad, polish your composition skills or work with the latest technologies this music course will give you a great start. Your studies will also be tailored to fit your individual interests.

In addition to benefiting from individual tuition, you will enjoy a range of activities designed to develop your artistry, musical fluency and personal and professional awareness.

You will find yourself immersed in masterclasses and performance and composition workshops.  Individual ensemble coaching and playing and teaching techniques complete the picture, helping you to become a well-rounded musician.

Top-flight singers and musicians – including soprano Dame Felicity Lott, organist Dame Gillian Weir DBE, cellist Natalie Clein and classical pianist and accompanist Iain Burnside – are among musicians who visit the Conservatoire.

Towards the end of your course, you will carry out a major project, which allows you to explore a specialism and format which matches your professional aspirations. This can be anything connected to music, from performance to business projects and  dissertations to multi-media installations.

Academically, you will explore themes such as musicianship, music history and professional development. As well as getting a thorough grounding in technical and performance skills with an emphasis on harmony and aural training, you will cover topics such as education and outreach work, conducting and world music.

“The best thing about the Conservatoire is the warm atmosphere and brilliant tutors. The college arranged for us to have four different bass tutors throughout the course (all equally amazing) and we really benefited from it.” Emilie Head

  • We are a leading UK conservatoire ranked fourth out of nine in the latest Guardian league table and the best outside of London.
  • Our Performance Coaching Programme – the first of its kind in the UK – uniquely and innovatively applies the principles of sports psychology to elite musical performance.
  • We provide 30 hours of individual specialist tuition per year (increasing to 35 in earfour). This is far more than is typically offered by academic university music courses. You are also allocated five hours a year, to spend with a conservatoire tutor of your choice.
  • We are recognised by the Association of European Conservatoires. All our tutors are professional musicians who bring a lifetime of musical experience and insight to their teaching.

* Please note this course has changed name for 2017/18. The KIS data below relates to the previous course title.

To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate students starting in 2017 or 2018, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid.

This course is open to International students

Birmingham Conservatoire

Discover Birmingham Conservatoire

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Berkshire Maestros
  • Performing Arts Services

And in jobs such as:

  • Double Bass Teacher
  • Music Teacher

Entry Requirements

For insurance purposes, you must be at least 18 years of age by 1 September in the year of enrolment. Normally, you should satisfy one of the following:

UK students

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (grade C or above, including English Language) and 2 passes at A2 Level (each grade E/16 points minimum)

Scottish Certificate of Education/Scottish Qualifications Authority Intermediate/Higher/Advanced Higher in 5 different subjects, of which 3 are at Higher level

Irish Leaving Certificate with 5 different subjects at grade C or above, 4 of which are Higher level

An International Baccalaureate with a minimum of 24 points

All other non-UK applicants should have completed a course of secondary education at a high school/college/conservatoire, including classes in music theory. You should normally possess a qualification which would be required for entry to a university in your home country.

A standard in First Study equivalent to that of the Associated Board’s Grade VIII (Distinction): this may be demonstrated at audition or on your audition recording.

Candidates hoping to satisfy these requirements should note that successful performance at your audition is accepted as the equivalent of one A2 Level/SQA Higher/Advanced Higher/ILC Higher in Music.

English Language Requirements

International Students

Entry requirements here

Audition Requirements

Entry to the BMus (Hons) is by audition (or, for composers, portfolio assessment) only. Our main auditions period for undergraduate places is in November.

In order to be eligible, you must submit your CUKAS application before the on-time deadline (normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry).

For full details, audition requirements and audition advice, please visit the Auditions section of the Conservatoire website.

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (including English Language)

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BMus Sep 2017 FT 4 years £9,250 Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BMus Sep 2017 FT 4 years £15,500 per year Apply via UCAS

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

UK or EU students

Full Time: Apply through CUKAS.
Institution code: B34
Course code: 300F
Apply via CUKAS

The deadline for on-time applications is normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry, followed by auditions in November (for those attending an audition in Birmingham). If you apply between 1 October and 4 January, you may be eligible for our late auditions in February, if places are still available. For detailed information, see our How to Apply section.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Sorry, this course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Years One to Three

First Study Performance, Composition or Music Technology

You will have individual lessons and coaching, plus performance classes, composition and music technology seminars and workshops. Orchestral, ensemble and chamber music, masterclasses, concert performances and performances in music festivals all form part of your first study work.

Professional Portfolio

Here you will develop a range of professional skills in community engagement, pedagogy and critical and reflective thinking about your career development.


In years one and two, you will develop harmony and aural skills. In year three, you choose two options from a range of specialisms including New Music Theatre, Improvising Ornamentation, Baroque Counterpoint, and Composing and Performing Minimalist Music, Keyboard Skills and Free Improvisation.

Performance Traditions

We combine practical and contextual studies over three years, examining issues of performance and notation, musical editions and recordings; studying 20th century and contemporary music through history lectures and practical devising and improvising workshops; and exploring an aspect of performance or notational practice through your own playing and composing.

Contextual Studies

Year one is a survey course of music history with listening/ analysis workshops. Year two examines specific works as historical, analytical and performance practice case studies. In year three, you choose two options from a range of specialisms, which have previously included Film Music, Folk Music, Jazz, 19th Century Symphony, and Baroque or Renaissance Studies.

Year Four

In Year 4 you will be assessed on performance or composition (as appropriate), two projects and some professional development tasks. From early on in the course, you will work towards a major project, which forms an important component of the final year. Allowing for the fact that your ambitions may change during the course of your studies, the major project offers a flexible platform for you to explore a specialism and format appropriate to your professional aspirations. Examples of projects include chamber music, accompaniment, recorded performance and dissertation.

Final Recital/ portfolio

You continue with your individual lessons and coaching, and with other masterclasses, workshops, seminars and performance opportunities, working toward either your final recital or final portfolio.

Final project

You will design and complete your own project in a field relevant to your post-graduation plans. Examples include public performances, charity concerts, organising tours or festivals, recording projects, composing a substantial work, recording an album of new music, setting up a music business, community music, teaching projects and dissertations.

Optional modules

You will take at least one and up to three optional modules in year four. These include:

  • Contextual Studies Project (academic)
  • Professional Development Project (career plan and self-promotional portfolio)
  • Music and Health (community music project at Heartlands Hospital)
  • Further Pedagogy (in association with Birmingham Music Service)

Further Specialism (a more developed form of one of the year three musicianship/contextual studies specialisms)

Course Structure

Years one to three

We concentrate on providing you with a thorough grounding in technical and performance/ composition skills, alongside contextual studies, musicianship and professional development activities such as conducting, pedagogy and community music. Each year, you have more choice and opportunities to specialise in your studies.

Professional development is embedded into our core modules, which focus on self-awareness, understanding your strengths and weakness, goal setting and self-motivation.

The Conservatoire participates in a number of exchange schemes with European and US Conservatoires. Provided that you achieve the appropriate levels of skills, you will be encouraged to spend a semester of year three at a partner institution.

Year 4

You will effectively design your own curriculum based on your career aspirations. You will be assessed on performance, composition or music technology (as appropriate) and design your own final project in any area of music you wish. You will take one or more additional modules in professional development, pedagogy or other specialist areas.

Teaching breakdown

34 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
66 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown

9 Written exams DarkOrange
28 Coursework FireBrick
63 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories

Stephen Willey

Stephen completed his BMus degree in Composition at Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire in 2010. He initially chose the Conservatoire because the composition tutors were so positive about his music and open to different approaches to writing. However, he soon found many good things about studying at the University. He says:

Cosima Yu

Cosima completed her BMus specialising in the Clarinet at Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire in 2010. She auditioned for the Conservatoire in her home country of Taiwan and was awarded a scholarship. This led to her decision to pursue her performance career in Birmingham.

Outside of the Conservatoire, Cosima has been involved in several external engagements (organised through the Conservatoire), mostly orchestral or chamber concerts. In December 2009, she played in the orchestra for Birmingham Opera Company’s production of Othello, which was broadcast on BBC. Cosima also won the Conservatoire’s Woodwind Prize and the Symphony Hall Recital Competition, the latter leading to a recital at Birmingham’s Town Hall, where she performed in February 2010.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Studies

Graduates frequently go on to Masters courses in Performance, Composition or Music Technology either at Birmingham Conservatoire or at other British, European or American universities.

Student stories Laura Mvula

Release of Debut Album 'Sing to the Moon'

Laura Mvula is a singer-songwriter and one of the 2013 Alumni of the Year. She landed her first record deal with Sony Music Entertainment's flagship label, RCA Records, and in March 2013 released her debut album, 'Sing to the Moon', which reached the UK Top 10.

Laura won two MOBO awards in 2013 - Best Female Act and Best R&B/Soul Act - plus nominations for BRIT and Q awards, and she came fourth in the BBC's Sound of 2013 new music list. In September 2013 her album - acclaimed by the Sunday Times Culture as "a masterpiece" - was shortlisted for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize.

She has also featured alongside actress Dame Helen Mirren and singer Ellie Goulding in Marks & Spencer's 'Britain's Leading Ladies', a campaign for the high-street chain's new clothing range.

Trips and Visits

There are no guaranteed trips or visits but there are regular opportunities, according to your chosen discipline. For example, we expect to send some of our students to Brazil and China in the next 18 months.

Enhance Employability Skills

All of the UK's Conservatoires aim to do the same thing: to train students for the music profession, with the emphasis on your first study training, whether that is in performance, composition or music technology.

At Birmingham Conservatoire, we firmly believe that developing a range of complementary skills in other areas such as harmony, aural and critical thinking are just as important for your longer term development and career prospects.

As a vocational programme, all your first study work is aimed at your continuing professional development. Other areas of the course are also part of this: the skills in writing, research, communication and critical thinking you develop in the academic modules are the types of graduate skills that will make you more employable in any area of professional life, musical or not.

Team working and collaborative skills are highly valued in the profession as a whole and are particularly important in any musical context, and you will have opportunities to work as part of team across all areas of the course.

You will equally have opportunities to develop your ability to work under your own direction, whether that is through the individual time spent practising and completing first study work, or researching and writing essays and presentations.

We guide you through these in the early years of the course so that you can work more independently in the later years. In each year of the course, there will also be a module that specifically asks you to reflect on your own learning.

Being able to think about what you have already learned and what you still need to learn is an important skill in taking charge of your own development as a musician, both as a student and as a professional.


There are variety of extracurricular schemes that take students out of the Conservatoire and into the professional world. Numerous professional engagements for students are administered through the Conservatoire’s External Engagements service, which provides direct experience of paid professional work.

We also run a number of placement schemes. These include long-running schemes with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  (CBSO) and the Birmingham Philharmonia, where students participate actively or as observers; collaboration with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), which gives composition students the opportunity to have their music played by experienced professionals who also give feedback; other collaborative schemes exist with organisations such as:

  • Dudley Arts
  • Heartlands Hospital
  • Birmingham Music Service
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Orchestra of the Swan
  • Jazzlines
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

The typical career for a graduate of the Conservatoire is a portfolio career. You will combine freelance composition or performing as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble or orchestra with other sources of income as a self-employed musician, typically in areas such as teaching, arts administration, community music, music retail, and music arranging and transcription services.

This is a particularly common path taken in the first few years after graduation, although as time goes by, one particular area is likely to become your main career. Alternatively a significant number of graduates go on to become full-time teachers in primary or secondary schools and in music services.

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as Berkshire Maestros and Performing Arts Services in jobs such as Double Bass Teacher and Music Teacher.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Studying in the UK is better

Overseas students studying in the UK are happier and have a better learning experience compared to those studying in other countries.

The International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage report asked 365,754 international students studying outside their home country to give their feedback on what it's like to study in this country. And the UK scored top in every aspect.

So if you're looking at studying with us, you'll be making a good choice.

Overall measures: ranked positions
Undergraduate 2014 2014 2014 2013 2014
Recommendation 1 4 3 5 2
Overall satisfaction 1 4 3 5 2
Arrival overall 1 2 4 5 3
Learning overall 1 4 3 5 2
Living overall 1 2 5 3 4
Support overall 1 4 5 3 2

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our music honours course is most popular with international students from:

Our music technology facilities are some of the best of their kind in the country. All of our studios are capable of recording from any of our concert halls or live rooms.

Practice rooms

Our purpose-built site includes over 50 dedicated practice rooms; some of the most heavily used rooms in the entire University!

Additional practice facilities are available after 6pm, including some spacious studios used for teaching during the day. Most practice rooms are equipped with one or two upright or grand pianos and all are fitted with sound-dampening panels.

Conservatoire Café

The Conservatoire Café is open weekdays during term time from 8.30am to around 4.30pm (closing times vary a little, depending on what’s going on in the building). Hot food, freshly prepared, is available at breakfast and lunch times, with sandwiches, snacks, cold and hot drinks available throughout the day.

Coffee Bar

Serving hot and cold drinks and a selection of snacks, the Conservatoire’s Coffee Bar generally opens before and during the interval of concerts in the Adrian Boult Hall, Arena Foyer and Recital Hall.

Conservatoire Bar

Our licensed bar is open before and during the interval of major concerts at the Conservatoire. However, most students prefer the comfort and laid-back atmosphere of the local pubs, many of which have been co-opted as student bars!

Our staff

Our Principal, Julian Lloyd-Webber, is an internationally-acclaimed cellist who brings to his role both his wealth of musical experience and a detailed knowledge of the music profession.

The Heads of Department and their assistants at the Conservatoire are all highly-experienced and respected performers and composers in their own right, who use their expertise to provide engaging and challenging programmes for their students. The wider academic team comprises equally experienced and respected musicologists, whose knowledge and understanding of music complements the practical and creative work being pursued in each of the departments.

Dr Janet K Halfyard

Director of Studies (Undergraduate)

Dr Janet K. Halfyard is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University,where she teaches courses on film and TV music, and on twentieth century and contemporary music. Her publications include Danny Elfman’s Batman: a film score guide (Scarecrow Press, 2004), Music in Cult TV (IB Tauris, 2016) and the edited collections Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Ashgate, 2010) and Music in Fantasy Cinema (Equinox, 2012) as well as numerous essays in collections and journals on film and television music. She has also published on extended vocal technique (which she performs as well as researches) and edited a collection of essays on Berio’s Sequenzas (Ashgate, 2007).

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295