The Artist Diploma (ArtDip) in Composition is designed for students wishing to work intensively on the technique and practice of composition as a prelude to professional activity as a composer. It provides time for concentrated study with a principal study composition teacher, or teachers, and enables sustained focus on one or more specific projects leading to final examination in the form of a portfolio submission of work.
We also offer Composition for Screen as a principal study specialism for students looking to hone their skills and develop professional connections in this rewarding and competitive field. Our alumni work across the world, including Hollywood and London, winning BAFTAs, Grammys, Golden Globes, Academy Awards and other accolades for their work in film, television and video games.
Find out more about Composition for Screen
The Royal College of Music's Artist Diploma (ArtDip) programmes represent the highest level of taught postgraduate study. They are aimed at musicians who want to hone their skills by working intensively on particular areas of their artistic development. Places on our Artist Diploma programmes are only offered to students who have already demonstrated a high level of ability at Masters level.
The ArtDip in Composition may be studied for up to two years. The duration for individual students will depend on their individual progress and readiness for assessment. Most students will complete the programme within one year and it will be assumed that a student will complete within one year, unless they discuss a wish to complete within two years with their Head of Faculty.
Learning & teaching
All our Artist Diplomas focus on one-to-one provision and practical project work, tailored to your particular career aspirations.
At the RCM, you will be taught by a team of world-class vocal professors, many of whom hold principal positions in major ensembles and some of the biggest names in their field. In addition, contextual studies are taught by a range of academics, including those who undertake research and are regarded as experts in their field. You may also be taught by specialists external to the College. The key staff listed below oversee important areas of learning and teaching on our ArtDip programme.
The relationship with your one-to-one teacher will be one of the most important during your studies. For a full list of one-to-one teachers in the composition faculty, please visit the composition page.
Meet our composition staff
Contextual studes & academic teaching
A wide range of staff provide tuition in contextual and other academic studies.
From the very beginning of the course you will be able to draw on exceptional resources and opportunities, such as the RCM Library, the RCM Museum, the Centre for Performance Science, Creative Careers Centre and RCM Sparks – our outreach and education programme.
Composition at the RCM fosters partnerships with the College's large body of gifted instrumentalists. Composers will hear performances of their own works in a variety of contexts and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of collaborations, which we host regularly with artistic organisations in London and beyond.
RCM students enjoy a wide variety of performance opportunities including orchestral and choral projects, chamber music and solo opportunities, performance in jazz and historical instrument ensembles. The RCM runs a busy events calendar of more than 500 events every year, the vast majority of which feature RCM students.
Faculty-based performance activities include chamber music and duo performance coaching, orchestral training, performance classes, acting and language classes (for singers), music technology (for composers), reed making (for double reed players) and improvisation (for organists).
The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.
Explore our facilities with a video tour of the RCM
Key facilities at the RCM include:
- The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall - our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles.
- Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving International Opera School.
- A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics.
- Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms.
- Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice.
- A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube.
- Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms.
- A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos.
- Instrument surgeries including luthier services.
- RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world.
- Digital Innovation Lab: advanced recording and mixing suite.
- RCM Library with more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals.
- Recently refurbished RCM Museum, holding more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and the associated Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture | Royal College of Music (rcm.ac.uk)
Find out more about RCM facilities
The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.
The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.
Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.
Find out more about the Creative Careers Centre
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RCM courses are reviewed annually in response to student and external examiner feedback, which sometimes results in minor changes, such as the availability of particular modules. A more thorough review is undertaken every five to six years, after which more substantial changes may be made while maintaining the ethos that underpins the course. Our review process is part of the RCM’s continued commitment to provide the best possible education and music training. The information provided here reflects the official course outline as it currently stands. In the event of alterations following a review, we will update this page as soon as possible.
All offers for composers are made on the basis of their portfolio and interview.
Candidates require a postgraduate diploma or a Masters degree in music, or equivalent experience.
The RCM welcomes applicants from all backgrounds and alternative qualifications may be considered. If your qualifications are not listed here, please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to discuss your suitability for the programme.
English language requirements
All applicants must be able to demonstrate that their level of English language ability meets the Royal College of Music’s minimum requirements in order for their application to be accepted.
If you require a visa to study at the RCM, you must meet the English language requirements before the RCM is permitted to sponsor your visa application.
Find out about English language requirements
How to apply
The application deadline for 2024 entry is 2 October 2023.
All applicants (including international applicants) should apply online through the UCAS Conservatoires admissions service, where you can apply simultaneously to all the institutions that are members of Conservatoires UK. You can track your application, find out when your audition is and get the results of your audition all on UCAS Conservatoires. You can also confirm your decisions online.
Guidance on completing your application form is available on the UCAS Conservatoires website. As part of your application you will require two references: one practical (normally from your current principal study teacher) and one academic (normally from someone at your current/previous educational institution who can comment on your academic ability). You must enter your referees’ details into the application, and an automated e-mail will be sent to them requesting a reference. Only once your referees have responded will your application be forwarded to the RCM, so it is important to begin your application in good time. Further guidance is available from UCAS Conservatoires if you think your referees may not be able to provide a reference in time.
If you are a current RCM student applying for a postgraduate performance or composition course, we only require a practical reference as we can verify your academic record. To enable you to submit your application, for the academic reference, tick the option to submit an offline reference. You will still need to enter details of a referee, but ticking the box will enable you to submit your application without UCAS sending them a reference request. However, note that if you are also applying to other conservatoires, you are likely to need an academic reference too.
All application fees are paid online through UCAS conservatoires.
Visit UCAS Conservatoires
UCAS Conservatoires application fees - 2024 entry
Using UCAS Conservatoires incurs a £27.50 application fee. This is in addition to our assessment fees. You cannot use another system and both the application and assessment fees are paid online through UCAS Conservatoires. If you encounter any problems with their payment system please contact their support team.
RCM Audition fee waivers (59 kb)
If you change your mind about applying, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires to cancel and request a refund. To be entitled to a refund you must cancel within 14 days of the date you submitted your application. You can find further details about how to do this, and also information about amending your application details, on the UCAS Conservatoires website.
Interviews for composers
We are planning to hold live interviews in London in 2023, although applicants who cannot travel may submit a video audition instead. You will still be considered for a scholarship using this method.
This applies to candidates for Composition and Composition for Screen who have been selected for the second stage of the audition process.
Composers audition by submitting a portfolio of work to the RCM for consideration. Composition interviews take place at the RCM in London but video interviews are available.
If you have any questions about studying at the RCM or about the admissions process please contact our Admissions team, who will be happy to help you.