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Music and Theatre

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  1. Royal Holloway's institution code: R72
  2. Make a note of the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for:

    • Music and Theatre BA - WW43
  3. Click on the link below to apply via the UCAS website:
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Music and Theatre


Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: WW43

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

The course

Music and Theatre (BA)

This Joint Honours course combines the study of two major and complementary performing arts, Drama and Music, within a campus community recognised for its creativity.

Choosing to study Drama at Royal Holloway will put you at the centre of one of the largest and most influential Drama and Theatre departments in the world. You'll create performances, analyse texts, and bring a range of critical ideas to bear on both. On this course the text and the body, thinking and doing, work together. There's no barrier between theory and practice: theory helps you understand and make the most of practice, while practice sheds light on theory. By moving between the two, you'll find your place as an informed theatre-maker, and by studying a variety of practices, by yourself and with others, you'll get knowledge of the industry as a whole, and learn how your interests could fit into the bigger picture.

Our staff cover a huge range of theatre and performance studies, but we're particularly strong in contemporary British theatre, international and intercultural performance, theatre history, dance and physical theatre, and contemporary performance practices.

Studying Music at Royal Holloway allows you to tailor your studies to your own interests and passions.

We have expertise spanning traditional, modern and world music. Through studying musical texts, practices, cultures and institutions you will explore issues in history, sociology, ethnology, and philosophy covering an exceptional geographical and chronological range. You will also be able to gain practical skills in composition, music technology and performance.

You will join a music department that is among the very best in the country, the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship.

  • Join a music ensemble and Student Workshop, the Drama department’s own student society.
  • Increase your confidence as a performer.
  • Understand the wider history, sociology, ethnology, and philosophy of both disciplines.
  • Get involved as a performer, conductor or director in music and theatre productions.
  • Choral, organ, orchestral and music scholarships available.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

Year 1

You will take the following modules in Drama:

  • Theatre and Performance Making 1
  • Theatre and Text 1
Year 2
  • The encounter between music and theatre goes back to the origins of both music and theatre. The origins of music are intertwined with ritual and play, just as the origins of theatre are accompanied by music and dance, as in the Choruses of classical tragedy. Over the last hundred years, musical theatre has become one of the most popular and successful performing art forms. This is a practical, creative module in which you will learn about musical theatre by creating a short musical theatre performance in groups, for which you will be responsible for the story, the dialogue, the direction, performance, music, lyrics and movement direction. You will engage with existing musical theatre and music theatre practices and be encouraged to craft and experiment, inhabit and challenge existing practices, to work collaboratively, finding music, words and movement together in generating a new piece of musical theatre work.

Year 3
  • All modules are optional

Optional Modules

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

Year 1

Optional modules in Music may include:

  • This course aims: 1. to develop basic music-analytical literacy, 2. to introduce basic concepts concerning counterpoint, harmony, melody and form that underpin the analysis of music, 3. to put these concepts into practice in the analysis of pieces from a variety of repertories. The course addresses the contrapuntal, melodic, harmonic and formal elements of tonal music. Weekly lectures, in which students are introduced to analytical concepts and then practise deploying them, through listening, score study and the completion of practical exercises, are supplemented by private study based on Moodle and recommended readings, to consolidate concepts learnt in the lectures and provide further opportunities to practise new skills.

  • The aim of this course is to develop students' awareness of music theory through practical exercises and musical analysis. Through practical exercises that focus on musical literacy as well as aural awareness, students develop the ability to identify and analyse the musical parameters of metre, rhythm, pitch, harmony, counterpoint and form. In-class exercises may focus on listening, whereas exercises for self-study or small-group work may include written exercises. Tasks set for private study between classes provide a basis for students to continue their own practical training throughout their musical careers.

  • This course introduces students to some fundamental techniques of music composition. The precise topics taught may change depending on the research interests of the staff responsible for teaching the course, but typically include:

    • Soundworlds and scale formations

    • The vertical dimension: chords and simultaneities

    • The horizontal dimension: melody and voice leading

    • Developments in rhythm

    • Developments in harmonic vocabulary and tonalities

    • Form in contemporary composition

    • Acoustic timbre and texture

  • This course gives students the opportunity to practise the art of musical composition and develop skills in independents creative work. The precise topics taught may change depending on the research interests of the staff responsible for teaching the course, but typically include:

    • Writing for solo instrument or voice with accompaniment

    • Writing for small chamber ensemble

    • Introduction to media and film music

    • Studio techniques

  • This course introduces a wide range of repertories within the history of music. It stimulates students to relate features of musical compositions and performances to their wider historical contexts and gives students a fundamental knowledge of specific musical cultures. It provides students with opportunities to develop skills in research and information retrieval and in critical reading of primary and secondary literature, to receive formative feedback on those skills, and to build a foundation for higher-level study. The course will offer students a conceptual map of musical styles, composers and practices by introducing them to a wide chronological range of repertories, from early music to music of the twentieth century. It will emphasise questions of change, interaction and transmission through the study of specific forms and repertories in their historical context. Lectures will be designed around major repertorial moments (e.g. Stravinsky in 1910) or problems (e.g. the post-Beethovenian symphony), to bring together questions of form, style, performing practice and historical context.

  • This course introduces concepts underlying the historical and critical study of music. It enables students to begin thinking critically about the priorities that underlie historical texts from different intellectual traditions and stimulates them to relate features of musical compositions and performances to wider historical contexts. It provides students with opportunities to develop skills in research and information retrieval and in critical reading of primary and secondary literature, to receive formative feedback on those skills, and to build a foundation for higher-level study. This course introduces students to the different kinds of historical question that we can ask about music, and interrogates some of the terminology and categories frequently used in the secondary literature (e.g. canonisation, reception, tradition, nationalism, exoticism, the work concept). Case-studies are used to illuminate specific topics and problems in the historiography of a wide variety of musics.

  • This course introduces students to the socio-cultural contexts, functions, philosophies, techniques, and organising principles of a variety of musics of the world; musics from at least three continents will be studied. These musical traditions will be approached from both theoretical and practical perspectives, also giving a variety of opportunities for hands-on experience. Course content will vary from year to year according to staff interests, availability of musicians to provide workshops, and to ensure freshness of approach. A typical curriculum might cover the following regions and theoretical themes:

    • World Music - Introduction (culture, contact & concepts)
    • South America: Andes to Amazon (exchange)
    • Africa: Jaliya and Mbira (the musician)
    • Indonesia: Sundanese Gamelan (temporal organisation)
    • North India: The Classical Tradition (improvisation)
    • Papua New Guinea: The Kaluli (music and ecology)
    • Iran: The Persian Classical Tradition (music & religion).
  • This course introduces students to a range of key debates and issues in contemporary musicology and to a range of key issues concerning music in the contemporary world. It encourages students to think about music’s relation to social and cultural contexts and introduces them to unfamiliar musical styles and repertoires as well as broaden understanding of those closer to home. It hones students’ skills in reading a wide variety of critical and theoretical writing about music. This course will survey some of the key contemporary issues in music that have arisen from the changes of the modern world, as well as contemporary debates in musicology. The twentieth century in particular has seen a transformation of musical cultures across the world, and this course looks at a range of the issues and controversies that have emerged as a result. The study of music has broadened to include many more social, cultural and political. This course will introduce students to truly contemporary ways of studying music, combining approaches and issues traditionally associated with musicology, ethnomusicology and popular music studies, divisions which are becoming increasingly blurred. Lecture topics may include:

    • Ideas of ‘authenticity’ in music

    • Value judgements about music

    • Protection and preservation of music

    • Heritage and revivals

    • Music and tourism

    • New forms of fusion and hybridity

    • The idea of ‘world music’.

    • Music and identity

    • Music and gender

    • Music and race

    • Music and nationalism

  • This course aims to further students’ skills as performers through regular (typically weekly) one-to-one vocal/instrument lessons with an approved visiting teacher.  Students will be offered opportunities to perform in practical seminars where matters of interpretation and stage manner will be discussed.  Constructive critical feedback given as well as developing students' skills in delivering feedback. 

    Students’ will develop the capacity to reflect on what constitutes good programming and fine performance.  Participation in College music events is fostered through ensemble and other activities. 

     The course consists of regular individual instrumental or vocal lessons with a teacher approved by the Department.  A series of practical seminars is run in which students perform and discuss suitable repertory under the supervision of the course co-ordinator, develop skills in the writing of programme notes to a high standard as well as concert reviews and  engage with  'professional preparation’ consisting of the development of stage presence and other relevant concerns.

  • The module aims to develop a broad range of innovative, practical, creative and collaborative musical skills. It promotes student initiative and creativity, while developing focused, critical, technical and context sensitive perspectives on selected musical repertoires/traditions/genres. It seeks to explore, reflect upon, extend and/or challenge specific musical performance conventions. The module will commence with at least two plenary lectures/seminars at the start of term one, when the module aims will be clarified, followed by fortnightly workshops and plenary meetings through terms 1 and 2. A list of student performance interests/skills will be circulated immediately after the first meeting. Students will then be requested to form their own groups. Flexibility in membership will be permitted until the end of term one when students must commit to a group with whom to be examined. Any student not integrated in a group will be allotted to one by the module tutor. All students will be required to regularly document their experience of group participation and creative practice in a performance diary.

Year 2

Optional modules in Drama may include:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of non-traditional approaches to performance making that constitute the broader term ‘devised’ practice. You will look at methods of engaging with contemporary life, focussing on a number of key areas of devised practice, including their contexts, forms, and modes of documentation. You will consider the generative roles played by autobiography, the body, political activism and everyday life and use theoretical and practical research to develop your own performance pieces.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the methods of theatre directing. You will look at the role of the director from preparing a play text to staging a successful production, considering the collaborations between actors, designers, playwrights and producers. You will exmaine a variety of approaches to classic texts and new writing, and hone your skills by directing your peers in short scenes from a play of your choice.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the difference between stage acting and acting for camera. You will learn techniques for 'translating' your stage acting skills to mediated performance. You will collaborate through the year with directing students in the Department of Media Arts on an internal monologue film, a silent film, and a short scene, and these can later be used as part of an audition reel.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of theatre forms that integrate dance and drama. You will look at the variety of ways that practitioners have chosen to bring text and movement into creative dialogue, using scores, play texts, choreography and movement processes. You will examine the values and principles that drive such experimentation and reflect on the historical, political and cultural contexts within which these practitioners worked. You will consider the work of practitioners such as Pina Bausch, DV8, Frantic Assembly, Complicite, Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp, and develop a small group performance devised in response to selected texts and styles of movement/dance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of spatial design in a performance context. You will look at how designers respond to and make space for theatre to happen, and through the study of visual composition and visual langauge, will explore the role of spatial design in a performance context. You will consider the the work of a variety of practitioners and will test out your design ideas in a series of practical and performance workshops focusing on textual analysis, space and place, object, performer and the spectator.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how theatre practitioners have frequently sought to represent social reality in order to critique it. You will look at the naturalist stage of the late nineteenth century through to contemporary verbatim performance, and explore the methods and implications of theatre’s 'reality-effects'. You will consider why so many theatre companies and practitioners in the twenty-first century have turned to documentary, tribunal, verbatim and other forms of reality-based performance, and examine a range of contemporary plays and performance texts from around the world, building an awareness of the politics, possibilities and limitations of 'staging the real'.

  • In this module you will look at the work of debbie tucker green, one of the most exciting black playwrights of the early twenty first century, who's critical acclaim has recognised her original experimental linguistic virtuosity. You will explore the the performance possibilities of her playtexts, considering writing form alongside the topical social and political human rights issues she portrays, such as genocide, urban teenage violence, sex tourism and mental health. You will consider tucker green’s impact as a black British woman playwright by situating her plays in relation to trends in plays by other contemporary black British women playwrights, and examine her work within the context of 21st Century black British new writing.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the wide-ranging discussions of ecology and environmentalism in Shakespeare's plays. You will look at the relations between humans and the natural world, and consider contemporary environmental debates and theatre practices. Guest speakers, such as David Haygarth, Head of Energy and Sustainability at Royal Holloway, will address scientific and commercial topics such as the UN 15 sustainable development goals, and the Caryl Churchill Theatre’s green credentials. You will explore a range of plays by Shakespeare which stage the natural world, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, King Lear, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. You will also examine how environmentalism can impact both theatre and Shakespeare in performance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of children's theatre and the current success of theatre for young audiences. You will look at the innovative performance styles of theatre companies such as Oily Cart and Theatre-rites, and consider how their work has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary theatre. You will examine the Unicorn theatre, the first purpose-built theatre for children in London; playwrights such as Charles Way, Philip Ridley, Neil Duffield, Mark Ravenhill and David Greig; and the work of theatremakers such as Mark Storor and Sue Buckmaster, who bring a blend of visual art, puppetry and live art to performances for children. You will critically analyse how performance installations can excite children’s imaginations, focusing on the visual, tactile and aural elements of theatre and performance.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the diverse art forms that investigate memory in dynamic conversation and the nature of art, history, and humanity. You will look at the disruption to the purpose, value, and nature of art in the aftermath of the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust, and move through the twentieth century to consider different cultures of memory, memorialisation, trauma, and witnessing. You will examine a wide range of cultural textual and performative genres, including first-hand testimony, plays, films, graphic novels, museums, and public monuments.

  • In this module you will develop an embodied understanding of culture. You will look at different cultural contexts for dance production, considering the context of where, when and how you dance. You will examine the cultural production and consumption of dance, exploring theories grounded in cultural studies and their implications on dance and dancing bodies, such as Marxism, post-modernism, feminism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, gender and sexuality, and psychoanalysis. You will focus on popular dance, global popular culture, and dance on screen, and investigate the relationship between dance practices and the social, political and economic context in which they emerge. You will be encouraged to devise performances which creatively engage with cultural studies.

  • Theatre and Ideas: Ideas of Gender and Sexuality
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Tragedy
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Adaptation
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of the Musical
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Acting
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Money
  • Theatre and Ideas: The Idea of Casting

Optional modules in Music may include:

  • The module introduces a range of important concepts for analysing music, and of the published secondary literature in music analysis. It puts these concepts into practice in increasingly sophisticated analysis of score-based and recorded pieces from the Western musical tradition and in the reading of more complex analyses. It lays foundations for further analytical and technical work in options modules and in final-year special studies. The analytical systems and repertories to be studied will vary from year to year, but students may expect to build on theoretical and analytical foundations established in the first year, by broadening their knowledge (through scores and recordings) of a wide range of Western musical repertoire, to learn and then apply standard analytical methods in order to gain a deeper understanding of the music's construction and expressive effect, and to learn the vocabulary and technical proficiency necessary for reading and evaluating analyses of music by scholars from those traditions. The module may address pre-tonal, tonal or post-tonal music.

  • This module will: develop your knowledge of a range of fundamental techniques of musical composition with particular focus on structure, harmonic control and the manipulation of rhythmic and melodic material provide an opportunity to practise the art of musical composition and to develop skills in creative work. Developing on areas covered in first-year Composition modules, this module will provide a framework in which you will be introduced to a number of techniques from diverse schools of composition in order to encourage you to explore and develop your own creativity. Key works from the past few decades will be studied and used as models or springboards for your own musical invention. You will create a portfolio of technical exercises and a short composition written in response to a given brief.

  • This module furthers students’ understanding of music history, by exploring two case-studies defined chronologically or thematically. It develops students’ ability to critically think and write about music in historical contexts that are both familiar and unfamiliar and explores more advanced concepts underlying the historical and critical study of music. It encourages students to put these concepts into practice in increasingly sophisticated historical and critical writing about music and it lays the foundations for further historical and critical writing in options modules and in particular for final-year special studies. This module will probe moments of music history that expose the complex relationship between musical repertories and historical contexts, or the nuanced processes of historical continuity, change, and cause and effect. The case-studies will vary year by year, but sample topics include: The Rise of Musical Notation in Medieval Europe; Music and the Reformation; Monteverdi: Between Renaissance and Baroque; Nationalism in Late Romantic Music; Popular and Art Music of the 1960s.

  • This module expands students’ knowledge of concepts characteristic of ethnomusicology and equips them with stimulating approaches to understanding, enjoying and studying their own music as well as that of others. It broadens students’ understanding of the possibilities of music as human activity and of the wider contexts in which music exists in the world. It raises issues concerning the political and ethical challenges involved with studying and writing about music across the globe, whether historically or in the contemporary world, and develops students’ ability to critically think and write about music in contexts that are both familiar and unfamiliar.

    This module will involve a combination of the study of musical repertoires from different parts of the globe and introduction to a range of methodologies that might be applied to a broad range of musics and contexts. Particular repertoires and areas will vary, but approaches and issues may include: the idea of music as culture/society; looking at music beyond concepts of ‘art’; understanding the strengths and problems of fieldwork as a methodology; looking at musical change and hybridisation; issues relating to music and gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity or religion; studying musical instruments; mapping music geographically, socially and historically; and the colonial legacy of ethnomusicology and ethical issues of contemporary research.

  • This module explores ways that electronic media and technology have brought about change in and opened up new possibilities for musical production, consumption, sounds, practices, experience, contexts and meanings. It considers the role of electronic media and technology in preserving and documenting musical culture as well as in changing it, and it examines how developments in electronic media and technology have affected and continue to affect dynamics of power in musical production and consumption across the world. The module explores the effects of electronic media and technology on popular, traditional and classical musics and introduces concepts and techniques for the study of the interaction of music, media and technology. It also encourages a deeper and more critical understanding of music, music making and musical culture through study in both familiar and unfamiliar cultures and contexts. The module will introduce students to a range of ways in which electronic media and technology have affected and transformed musical cultures across the world through their fundamental ability to: record and store musical sound; create new sounds, new ways of combining sounds and new ways of synching sound with other media; turn musical sound into a commodity; separate musical sound from live performance context; amplify music; mass produce music; mass disseminate music; and greatly alter dynamics of power in the production and consumption of music. The module will cover a range of key phenomena and issues in contemporary musical culture that are inextricably linked to electronic media and technology. Exact topics will vary, but may include: popular and mass-mediated music; recorded music; electronic music; the impact of technology on compositional practices; music industries; piracy; film music, video and multimedia; music and the Internet; globalisation; debates on the value of mass mediated music; and questions of power and representation.

  • This course will require the student to undertake the study of an instrument or voice, with the aim of developing technical ability and musical interpretation expressed through performance.  The student will consciously and actively address concerns such as the acquisition of technical competence in performance, the development of powers of interpretation, strategies of practice and performance, effective communication and so on.  These skills are further developed through the writing of programme notes, concert reviews and developing critical feedback skills in performance seminars.

    The course consists of the study of appropriate repertory with an individual instrumental or vocal teacher approved by the Department, the writing of programme notes and concert reviews, the development of ensemble musicianship and/or music-administrative skills through membership of college ensembles and/or the in-house concert administration team.

  • Solo Performance
  • Ensemble Performance
  • Composition Portfolio
  • Practical and Creative Orchestration
  • Practical Conducting (Choral and Orchestral)
  • Composing with Technology 1
  • Introduction to Jazz: Theory, Practice and Contexts
  • Popular Music and Musicians in Post-War Britain and North America
  • Korean Percussion Performance
  • Practical Ethics
  • Musical Aesthetics
  • Mozart's Operas
  • Issues in Sound, Music and the Moving Image
  • Intercultural Performance: Theory and Practice
  • Music and Society in Purcell's London
  • Contemporary Music Performance
  • Music, Power and Politics
  • Ideas of German Music from Mozart to Henze
  • Music and Gender
  • Hearing the Orient: Critical and Practical Approaches to the Middle East
Year 3

Optional modules in Drama may include:

  • Love, Gender and Sexuality
  • Race Relations in Theatre, Film and Television
  • Shakespeare
  • Naturalist Theatre in Context
  • Creative Learning and Theatre
  • Physical Theatre
  • Shakespeare on Camera
  • The Actor's Voice
  • Actor Training in a Globalised World
  • Group Project
  • Final Year Project - Special Study
  • Final Year Project - Dissertation
  • Taught Dissertation

Optional modules in Music may include:

  • Solo Performance
  • Ensemble Performance
  • Composition Portfolio
  • Practical and Creative Orchestration
  • Practical Conducting (Choral and Orchestral)
  • Composing with Technology 1
  • Introduction to Jazz: Theory, Practice and Contexts
  • Popular Music and Musicians in Post-War Britain and North America
  • Korean Percussion Performance
  • Practical Ethics
  • Musical Aesthetics
  • Mozart's Operas
  • Issues in Sound, Music and the Moving Image
  • Intercultural Performance: Theory and Practice
  • Music and Society in Purcell's London
  • Contemporary Music Performance
  • Music, Power and Politics
  • Ideas of German Music from Mozart to Henze
  • Music and Gender
  • Hearing the Orient: Critical and Practical Approaches to the Middle East
  • Practical Performance 2
  • Composing with Technology 2
  • In this module you will carry out independent research providing specialist insights into a topic of your choice from the field of ethnomusicology, film studies, historical musicology, performance studies, or theory and analysis. You will look at digital sources, secondary literature, and archive material on your chosen theme, and critically engage with new thinking in musicology. You will be guided by a supervisor who will advise on the planning, organisation, development and presentation of your dissertation, which will be between 13,000 and 15,000 words in length.

  • The learning objective is to write a detailed essay on a topic of a technical, analytical or theoretical nature relating to music.

    You will undertake an extended piece of academic work at the level appropriate to the final year of an undergraduate degree programme, carried out independently under the guidance of a supervisor, and laying the foundations for possible further work in the field at postgraduate level.

  • This course will develop and refine students’ abilities as solo performers at an advanced level through weekly seminars in which performances will be subjected to critical scrutiny by the course tutor and members of the class.  Students will develop the ability to manage the occasion of performance at a professional level and will engage in the study and performance of music by twentieth-century or contemporary composers writing in particularly challenging or complex musical styles.

    The course consists of regular instrumental or vocal lessons with a teacher approved by the Department, regular two-hour practical seminars in which students perform suitable repertory according to a rota that requires appearance in front of their peers at least twice a term, thereby gaining platform experience in preparation for the final recital.  ‘Professional preparation’, consists of the development of stage presence and other relevant concerns, such as preparation for an audition, performance practice, interpretation and communication.  Students share participation in a public lunchtime recital.  The dates of the recitals are arranged by the Concert Office in the preceding summer vacation.

    The writing of programme notes and concert reviews to professional standard as well as the development of ensemble musicianship and/or music administration and concert management skills are key requirements.

  • This module develops students' knowledge of advanced compositional techniques with particular focus on structure, harmonic control and the manipulation of rhythmic and melodic material. It provides opportunities to practise the art of musical composition and to develop skills in independent creative work and increases students' awareness, knowledge and understanding of issues related to contemporary composition practice in a variety of contexts. Developing on areas covered in MU2213 Composition Portfolio, the module will provide a framework for you to further explore the possibilities in your own compositional method. You will complete a structured portfolio that will properly demonstrate your increased awareness, knowledge and understanding of contemporary art music and related compositional issues. You will be assisted in acquiring a deeper confidence in experimenting with a range of compositional methods and techniques whilst being encouraged to explore the possibilities of your own compositional voice in the hope that this trend will continue into your professional life. During workshops you will be given the opportunity to have your work rehearsed and recorded by professional musicians. It is hoped that through these workshops you will discover more about the possibilities of instrumentation and the many practical compositional issues facing composers today. You should also seek to develop your own opportunities for the performance of your music in order to develop your confidence and professional activity.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory, while others are elective, thereby offering flexibility and some choice.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminar/workshops, and for Drama, presentation of your research and practical experimentation, with or without written texts. For Music, you will also have vocal or instrumental lessons. IT applications are used to explore many aspects of the subject, and we support your capability in this area through an Information Technology Skills course. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of musical and performance activities supported by the departments, including performances by orchestras, choirs and other ensembles. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle.

You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

All undergraduate degree courses at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system. This system provides an effective and flexible approach to study, while ensuring that our degrees have a coherent and developmental structure.

Assessment methods match the course content. For most Drama course units, you will be assessed on two pieces of work, one of which is usually an essay, while the other might be an assignment such as a seminar presentation or a performance. You will sometimes be assessed as part of a group, and a portfolio of practical work.

A Levels: ABB-BBB

Required subjects:

  • A-level grade or pass in grade 7 Music Theory
  • Applicants without A-level Music or pass in grade 7 Music Theory may be eligible for the Intensive Theory entry. This requires Music GCSE grade A/7 or equivalent, plus performance at ABRSM Grade 7 level. In term 1 you will be required to take Fundamentals of Music Theory, an intensive music literacy course.
  • Students wishing to take Solo Performance options will need to be of Grade 8 ABRSM level, or equivalent, on the selected instrument at point of entry.
  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Maths.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.


We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Our graduates go into a wide variety of careers, as well as further academic study. Many go into acting, stage management, broadcasting (including at the BBC), arts administration, journalism, teaching, health, marketing, and PR. Lots of our graduates also start their own performing arts companies.You'll be familiar and confident in performance situations – skills which are vital for leading meetings and make you viable for visible leadership roles. 

You'll also walk away with considerable experience of technical, intellectual, imaginative, and practical skills, valued by most employers. Aside from these performance skills, you'll also get skills in research and project management from the academic side of the course. Find out more about what our graduates are doing now.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,800

Other essential costs***: Music - £50. Drama - There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item. It is a requirement to purchase a pair of safety boots in the first year, for which a range of cost options are available. Ticket costs for mandatory theatre trips are capped at £10.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

**The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. The fee for the academic year 2024/25 is £9,250 and is provided here as a guide. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2025/26 has not yet been set, but will be advertised here once confirmed.

**This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, and is included as a guide only. The fee for EU and international students starting a degree in 2025/26 has not yet been set, but will be advertised here once confirmed.

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2025/26 but will be advertised here once confirmed.  For further information see fees and funding and the terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this specific degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. General costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.


in the UK for performing arts

Source: QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023 (Drama, Theatre and Dance)

Top 15

in the UK for Drama

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024


in the UK for research quality

Source: Complete University Guide, 2024

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