Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance
The Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance 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.
This one-year course is normally intended to be taken on a full-time basis in order to reinforce its equivalence to final year undergraduate study.
During your time on the Graduate Diploma you will develop your linguistic and dramatic skills and build or reinforce a solid vocal technique. Singers who demonstrate potential for significant vocal achievement, but who lack appropriate formal grounding, will have the opportunity to develop their repertoire knowledge.
By the end of the year you will have a vocal technique capable of sustaining the increased demands of more advanced study and assisting the voice to mature satisfactorily. You will have a broad familiarity with the nature of the vocal repertoire, coupled with a core of works known in some detail. In addition you will have facility in the principal European languages of the vocal repertoire and an informed awareness of the main national types. 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.
Crucially, you will foster a realistic perception of your suitability for further study and/or future professional career prospects, based upon 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 a Masters degree in vocal performance – leading to either the MPerf or MMus(Perf) qualification. This allows for intensive technical work to be undertaken without interruption for audition preparation.
Learning & teaching
Learning and teaching hours are calculated as 100 learning hours per ten credits studied. For GradDip students this equates to 1,200 learning hours, which are split between self-directed study and taught contact hours. Contact hours include 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 LSO, 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.
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 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.
We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.
The RCM has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals. It boasts a retractable stage, a Fazioli grand piano, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.
In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall.
As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, and a recently opened Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner pianos, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.
RCM Studios is a commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.
The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives. Our musicians also have access to thousands of scores online through our partnership with nkoda, and Henle digital sheet music.
The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 instruments, portraits, images and engravings dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. These items offer fascinating insight into the past, present and future of music and provide a coherent and comprehensive resource for the documentation, research and representation of the history of musical performance and instrument-making in London, particularly between the 18th and 20th centuries. Collection items regularly feature in academic and popular publications, television and radio programmes and as loans to major international exhibitions in Europe and beyond.
As part of a £3.6 million National Lottery Heritage Funded project, the Museum collection has been greatly enhanced and revitalised in a suite of purpose-built spaces that include accessible permanent display and temporary exhibition galleries, a ‘hands-on’ discovery area, a climate-controlled performance space and a dedicated research facility.
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 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
Applications for entry in September 2022 will open on 15 July 2021. The application deadline is 1 October 2021. We are hoping to be able to audition at our overseas audition venues which may have later deadlines, but this is being reviewed.
Late applications may be considered for some principal studies. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org before submitting a late application.
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 - 2022 entry
Using UCAS Conservatoires incurs a £26.50 application fee. This is in addition to our assessment fees. You cannot use another system. 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.
Late applications are subject to an additional fee of £10.
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.
Video auditions for 2022 entry
We are planning to audition in London for 2022 entry but applicants who would prefer not to travel due to coronavirus may submit a video audition instead. This option is open to all Principal Study specialisms, with the exception of Conducting, for which we hope to hold final round auditions live in London in Spring 2022.
We are hoping to be able to audition at our overseas audition venues, but due to the current situation we are reviewing the latest government guidance and will shortly confirm whether our overseas auditions will be going ahead.
Further information on deadlines and submission requirements for video auditions can be found here.
All candidates will automatically be considered for scholarships on the basis of their audition, including those who audition by video.
Video auditions are assessed on the basis of the video submission and UCAS Conservatoires application. Some applicants may be asked to participate in a short video interview after their audition recording is assessed.
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.
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