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Music Performance PG Dip

UCAS code
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Music »
Main Campus
Egham »


Already a strong musical performer, but looking to further your qualifications towards a career in performance and/or teaching? This course is ideal if you're looking to further your performance skills in the intellectual and creative environment of a university, rather than a conservatoire.

You will be able to study individually either with our excellent Royal Holloway-affiliated performance teachers, or an external teacher of your choice, subject to agreement with the Music department.

You will work towards a final recital performance, with the support of group seminars and individual tuition on your instrument or voice. You'll also be able to take two courses from the MMus Advanced Musical Studies syllabus.

  • Join one of the largest postgraduate Music communities in the UK (with more than 50 research students and 20 MA students each year)
  • We are ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship.
  • You will have access to well-equipped studios and recording facilities, including a Disklavier, as well as incredible performance spaces including the Windsor Auditorium, Boilerhouse Theatre, Victorian Picture Gallery and College Chapel.
  • Be a part of our creative campus.  You will have many opportunities for performance, including the Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonietta (for new music), an Andean Band, a Korean percussion band, and a Gamelan Orchestra (Gamelan Puloganti). We support and encourage students to take the initiative in forming your own performance groups.

Core modules

Special Study - Performance

In this module you will develop your technical abilities as a performer or conducter. You will make interpretative decisions based on an informed knowledge and analysis of performance, practising conventions and an understanding of specific musical styles. You will work closely with your chosen instrumental, vocal, or conducting teacher to prepare for a final recital lasting up to one hour. You may focus on a specific repertory, for example the music of the Second Viennese School, or cover a broader range of styles with an emphasis on contemporary music. You will gain confidence and experience as a performer or conductor through weekly seminar work, regular performances and recitals. Conductors will benefit from opportunities to conduct the Royal Holloway Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. In addition, you will be expected to keep a reflective diary and produce scholarly programme notes. You will perform 50 minutes of a full recital programme.

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

You will take two from the following:

Historical Musicology 1

In this module you will be introduced to methodologies in source studies, editing, archival study, historiography, iconography, social history, and critical epistemologies. You will examine contemporary debates within these specified sub-areas of the discipline, considering issues and methodologies applicable to the study of music in its various historical contexts.

Historical Musicology 2

In this module you will look at a series of case studies to examine the cultural, intellectual and social history of music. You will consider issues of canon, music and text, aesthetics, cultural history, music and politics, critical musicology and hermeneutics.

Topics in Multimedia and Film Music

In this module you will look at the musicological and theoretical literature on multimedia and film music and sound.  You will examine contemporary debates within film and television, opera, musical installations, and music videos, drawing out issues and methodologies applicable to the study of musical multimedia in its various historical and media contexts. 

Topics in World Music

This module will introduce you to the ethnographic, theoretical, and practical aspects in the study of world music cultures, considering a range of issues and perspectives. You will look at regional case studies, exploring critical perspectives relating to the exploration and generation of knowledge about the world’s musical traditions.

Techniques in Ethnomusicology

In this module you will explore a range of issues, perspectives and techniques relevant to the practice of ethnomusicology. You will examine how fieldwork is undertaken within different geographic contexts, considering a variety of theoretical outlooks and debates, such as ethnographic representation.

Documenting Performance

In this module you will develop specific performance skills on an instrument or in a chosen musical style learnt, possibly from scratch. You will work closely with a consultant performer, who will act as your teacher, documenting and critically reflecting upon the music learning processes. You will consider the ethnographic dimensions of learning to perform, including analysis of teaching methods, techniques, cultural expectations and learning strategies. 

Music of the Americas - Politics, Indigeneity and Performance

In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of musical forms, practices and contexts from the Americas, examining the social and political dynamics of their creation, performance, dissemination and reception. You will look at the historical and social processes and contexts that have shaped these musics, and consider how they, in turn, have been shaped by them.

Issues in Popular Music

In this module you will look at the musics of India, considering the complexities of the relationships between popular styles and their socio-cultural contexts. You will examine themes such as media and film, the commodification and globalisation of popular music, the relationship of popular styles with traditional musics, leisure and tourism, space and place, ethnic and national identity, and social and political protest.

Studies in Musical Sources, 850 to 1450

In this module you will examine a group of musical sources from the medieval period. You will consider the transcription and interpretation of those sources, bibliographic analysis, including study of their notation, handwriting and physical structure, and the comparison of their musical texts. You will also look at music‐theoretical texts from the same time and milieu, exploring the relationship between notated sources and contemporary music theory. You will have the opportunity to view medieval manuscripts first‐hand in one or more collections, such as those held at the British Library or the University of London Library.

Techniques in Theory and Analysis

In this module you will develop an understanding of the principal methodologies in accepted use for analysing music today as well as the theoretical foundations on which they are based. You will consider the major trends in musical analysis since the end of the Second World War, examining analytical methods, theoretical issues, and musical repertory.

Short Recital

In this module you will develop your interpretative, analytical and technical abilities as a performer at an advanced level. You will design an intellectually coherent and aesthetically satisfying concert programme based on specialist repertory, and manage the occasion of performance at a professional level, including the writing of scholarly programme notes.

Techniques of Performance Studies

In this module you will look at the methods and approaches used in performance studies research, including the philosophies of performance and historical performance practices. You will examine the practice of Western music between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, considering the multi-faceted components of the art of performance and the philosophical, historical and stylistic issues that underpin it.

Fusion, Electronics, and Sonic Art

In this module you will develop an understanding of fusion and cross-genre composition, electronics and sonic art. You will look at the history and repertoire of these genres, and explore the compositional possibilities where these types of music meet. You will examine the combination of live music and computer performance, and the production of purely computer-based compositions, covering commercial electronica though to contemporary classical approaches. You learn to write music that falls under these definitions using contemporary techniques in music software, such as Logic, Reason, and Abelton Live, combined with industry-standard written notation.

Media and Commercial Composition

In this module you will develop an understanding of the composition of film scores for several genres of film. You will learn to compose traditional notated music for orchestral scores, and how to use modern music software and programming techniques. You will examine contemporary issues surrouding production, orchestration, compositional techniques, and the business of music, including production libraries, television, advertisements, computer games and other visual media. You will also look at the working practices of commercial and film composers and current industry standards.

Practical Composition Projects

In this module you will explore the advanced techniques of musical composition, considering the idea that there is more than just inspiration to the act of composition. You will look at a range of current trends in compositional techniques, learning to manipulate these in sophisticated, creative and personal ways. You will examine the possibilities of instrumentation, including the exploitation of instrumental capabilities, and the practical compositional issues facing composers today.

Composing for Ensemble

In this module you will examine a broad range of contemporary vocal and instrumental concert repertoire from a variety of perspectives. You will look at compositional theory and thought across a wide body of modern musical styles, examining different ways of thinking about composition for ensemble and the working practice of a stylistically diverse range of composers. You will examine how to incorporate some of these elements in to your own creative work.

Formative assessment will be provided during the programme, in the context of one-to-one performance tuition and seminars, as well as classes and individual tutorials.

Summative assessment will be made of the final recital, and of further submissions as part of the electives (a combination of further performances and written work).

Entry criteria:

A Bachelor's Honours degree in Music with a mark of Upper Second Class Honors (2:1) in the Performance component. Candidates will only be offered places following a successful audition.

All applicants must submit a  recent video recording of at least 3 contrasting pieces, each piece should be 15-20 mins long.

Alternatives will not normally apply, however the department welcomes all enquiries.

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.


If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you to study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

A successful applicant will usually have the following qualities:

  • wide performance experience
  • an interest in creating innovative concert programmes

Our recent graduates have gone into careers as music teachers, composers and musicians. Others have gone into PhD studies at Royal Holloway or other leading universities, and then into academic careers, with some working in the highest-rated research departments in the country.

Many Royal Holloway alumni are now making careers as professional musicians and composers, including:

  • Helen Reid
  • Dame Felicity Lott
  • Tansy Davies
  • Richard Baker
  • KT Tunstall
  • Joby Talbot
  • Michael Zev Gordon
  • Deirdre Gribbin
  • Jonathan Cole
  • Paul Newland

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £4,800

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £9,935

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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