Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding conservatoire training.
Two students are sitting on the floor with books, whilst looking at each other
LAMDA – Photo credit: Alex Brenner

Which is best for me – university or conservatoire?
It depends on the individual. There is no rule that says one type of musically or artistically gifted person should study at a university, and another at a conservatoire. Remember both conservatoire and university courses can lead to a Bachelor’s degree, so wanting a degree is not a reason for choosing a university.

As a general guide, if your interests are focused on a practical discipline, such as dance, acting, instrumental or vocal performance, a conservatoire is likely to be your best option. If your prime interest in music or theatre, for example, is more academic, with a focus on such things as history, analysis, criticism, harmony and counterpoint, and the philosophy and psychology of the performing arts, a university course may suit you better. All these disciplines are also taught at CUK conservatoires, but as you would expect, the emphasis is more on practical and vocational performance with academic courses providing an important underpinning.

If you want to study music, drama or dance as part of a combined degree with another subject, a university may be your best option, but bear in mind that many CUK conservatoires now offer either joint degrees or shared modules with universities. Please refer to individual websites for details.

How long do courses last?
Like most European conservatoires, first degrees at Bachelor level normally last four years, as compared with three years for a typical Bachelor course at a University. Higher degrees at Masters level generally last two years at both conservatoires and universities, though some institutions offer intensive Masters courses lasting one calendar year. Postgraduate Diplomas lasting one academic year are also on offer.

How is a conservatoire organised?
Conservatoires are divided into faculties or departments, such as Strings, Piano, Vocal, Opera, Acting, Dance, Screen, etc. When you arrive at a conservatoire you will be assigned to a department, depending on your discipline. The department is responsible for providing your training, both individual and ensemble. Some of this will be compulsory, some will be optional. You will also be expected to take other subjects as part of your broad academic training.

How much will it cost?
Every course at CUK conservatoires will generally have two different fees, one for home students, one for international students.

  • The ‘home’ student fee applies to UK-based students *There are different fees and funding structures in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for UK/EU students. Please check the individual conservatoire websites for more details.
  • The ‘international’ student fee applies to students based in all other countries.
  • The typical fee for undergraduate degrees for ‘home’ students is £9,000 per year. Fees for postgraduate Masters degrees range between £8,500 and £12,500. Full details of the costs of any course can be found on the appropriate conservatoire website.

Do CUK conservatoires provide accommodation?
All CUK conservatoires provide some accommodation. Typically students live in college accommodation for the first one or two years of their course, and then move into private rented accommodation. This often takes the form of a shared flat with other students.

How is the academic year organised?
Like UK universities, most CUK conservatoires follow a three-term academic year, beginning in mid-September. Each term is approximately 12 weeks in length, with a four-week break over Christmas between terms 1 and 2, another four-week Easter break between terms 2 and 3, and a long 8-week break during the summer.

Do CUK conservatoires provide medical services?
All ‘home’ students, and most international students, are entitled to free medical treatment from the UK National Health Service. The first step is to register with an NHS doctor near to where you live during term-time, or through the conservatoire’s own health service, where there is one. In addition CUK conservatoires provide a range of counselling services for students and also help to provide specialist therapies of particular relevance to performing artists, such as osteopathy and Alexander Technique.

Will I get a job when I have completed my studies?
There can be no guarantee of your finding a job. But your chances are good. On average over 94% of CUK graduates found employment within six months of gaining their degree.

The world of the performing arts is a competitive one. Jobs in the traditional sense are usually not the norm. However, many musicians and performers use the wide range of skills they develop at conservatoires to establish successful careers which often comprise a portfolio of activities – including performing, teaching and coaching.

Much depends on your willingness to be flexible in the way you pursue your career. If you leave a conservatoire with very fixed ideas of what work you are willing to do, you will reduce your chances. This is not to say you should not pursue definite long-term goals, but you should be prepared to accept that your path to that goal may not be a straight one; indeed, showing a willingness to be flexible may actually help you to reach it.

Is there a minimum age for applicants?
Some CUK conservatoires expect students to have reached their 18th birthday by the first day of their first term. But individual conservatoires vary, so check the websites.

For applicants younger than 18, CUK conservatoires run Junior Departments, which take young students from as young as 8 on courses to develop their performing skills. Please check individual websites for more details.

Can I study if I am disabled?
We make every effort to welcome students with disabilities, and are required by law to provide certain facilities, e.g. wheelchair access. We also provide specific support for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. If you qualify as a home student for funding purposes you may be eligible for help from the government’s Disabled Students’ Allowances.

Is there an upper age limit?
No. We welcome applicants from mature students. For advice on studying as a mature student please visit the UCAS Conservatoires website.