Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance
This specialist one-year full-time programme is primarily intended for graduates from three-year degree programmes. It provides a learning experience equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate performance degree at the RCM.
During your time on the Graduate Diploma you will build or reinforce a solid vocal technique, while developing your skills in languages and movement. Singers who demonstrate potential for significant vocal achievement, but who lack formal grounding, will have the opportunity to develop their repertoire knowledge.
By the end of the year you will have developed a vocal technique suitable for the demands of Masters level study at a conservatoire. You will be familiar with a broad range of vocal repertoire, coupled with a core of works known in more detail. In addition, you will have a strong grasp of the principal European languages of the vocal repertoire, and an informed awareness of style in performance. Your movement skills and knowledge of stagecraft will have advanced and you will begin to develop the ability to combine these with vocal accomplishment in operatic performance.
Through this year of intensive study you will develop an understanding of potential routes for further study and/or career development, based upon your own critical self-evaluation and an awareness of the demands and opportunities of the profession.
If you achieve a result of 65% or more at the end of the course, you will automatically have the opportunity to progress to RCM Masters study (MMus or MPerf) in vocal performance. This progression route allows you to focus on your technical development during the Graduate Diploma without interruption for Masters audition preparation.
Learning & teaching
You will learn through performances, one-to-one tuition, larger group tuition, seminars, faculty and academic classes, directed rehearsals, masterclasses, competitions and supervised study. Rehearsal and performance contact time will vary according to each student’s discipline and chosen study options.
One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. The RCM’s impressive list of professors includes renowned instrumental and vocal soloists, distinguished repertoire and operatic coaches, prominent composers and conductors, plus principal players in major London orchestras such as the as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra. Our world-class professors offer students not only first-rate teaching, but also mentorship and networking opportunities.
All principal studies are delivered through a combination of one-to-one tuition complemented by performance classes, workshops, masterclasses, lessons from visiting professors, ensemble activities, seminars and lecture series as appropriate.
For the GradDip course overview, please read the information for year four of our BMus course:
Royal College of Music courses are internationally recognised as full degree courses with successful students awarded their qualifications under the RCM's Royal Charter.
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 GradDip 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 vocal and opera faculty, please visit the vocal and opera page.
Meet our vocal 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.
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).
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 performers are made on the basis of their performance at audition.
Applicants require an undergraduate degree or equivalent international qualification in any subject, 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.
How to apply
The main application deadline for 2024 entry is 2 October 2023.
Please note that there is a later deadline for some overseas auditions. Information on audition locations can be found here.
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.
All application fees are paid online through 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.
The Royal College of Music normally holds auditions in London, Asia and the USA. Auditions for all courses and all principal studies can be undertaken in London. Auditions for most courses and principal studies can also be undertaken in Asia and the USA. International applicants who cannot travel to the UK or other Overseas audition venues may submit a video audition instead.
Application deadlines, application fees, audition dates and the availability of RCM accompanists varies between locations.
Most auditions will last approximately 20 minutes. You should ensure that you are familiar with the audition requirements as stipulated by the Vocal and Opera Faculty.
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.
Admissions and general audition enquiries
+44 (0)20 7591 4362