You’ve made the decision that you want to study at a Conservatoire rather than a university, but how do you apply and when?
You can study specialist performing arts degrees at a Conservatoire which focus on the practical; with small class sizes, public performances in recording studios and live theatres, and masterclasses from leading industry experts.
It sounds like a sales pitch, but just look at the extremely long list of famous and successful alumni from all these Conservatoires and you can see why they are so very popular.
There are 11 Conservatoires in the UK focusing on practical courses in dance, acting, musical instruments or singing and these 11 Conservatoires can be broken down into three separate groups when you’re considerimg how to apply to them.
What can you find in this article?
- Conservatoire Open Days
- Applying to conservatoires through UCAS
- Applying directly to UK conservatoires
- Applying to the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama
- International students
- After you've submitted your application
Conservatoire Open Days
To help you explore prospective conservatoires and choose the right one for you, we recommend you pay a visit in person.
By attending an open day, you can meet students and staff, ask questions, and see if you think you’d be happy there.
If you can't make one of the dates, don’t worry – get in touch with the conservatoire and see if they’ll arrange a different day for you that is more convenient.
To prepare for your visit, it's a good idea to put together a shortlist of the ones you'd most like to see (going to all of them might involve a lot of time, hassle and cost!). Once you've decided which ones to visit, check out their websites for more information on what to expect on the day. This will give you a chance to ask questions that might not be answered on the tour.
In particular, think about any specific departments you'd like to visit or tutors you'd like to speak to. You should also try to talk to current students at the conservatoire, to help you get some honest feedback on what it's like studying there.
For more advice, take a look at 10 Reasons To Go To A University Open Day and How To Make The Most Out Of A University Open Day.
Group One: Applying online at UCAS
You can apply through UCAS Conservatoire (part of UCAS) for 10 of these Conservatoires using the one UCAS application. These conservatories are as follows:
- Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
- Leeds Conservatoire
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
- Royal Academy of Music
- Royal College of Music
- Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- Royal Northern College of Music
- Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
- Trinity Laban Conservatoires of Music and Dance
- Royal School for Speech and Drama.
If you want to apply for a 2023 course it is theoretically possibly until the end of August 2023, but you’ll need to phone and chat with the individual Conservatoire to see if they have any places left and can organise a last minute audition. There may be potential places but there is no guarantee.
If you’re thinking of applying for 2023 entry you can start in mid July 2022 as the deadline dates for music courses are 3 October 2022 18:00 and for dance and drama are 25 January 2023 18:00 .
To apply for a convservatoire course through UCAS, you'll need to:
1. Register with UCAS
2. Complete your profile
3. Add your previous education and qualifications
4. Select which courses you'd like to apply for
5. Write your personal statement
6. Ask for two references
7. Read and agree to the declaration
8. Pay your application and assessment fees.
As well as attending an interview once you’ve applied, you will also need to attend an audition whether that is for dance, singing, acting or playing a musical instrument. Please note you will be charged an audition fee.
It's best to be organised and apply as early as possible, as auditions start from 15 October 2022.
Group Two: Conservatoires UK, applying direct
CUK (Conservatoires UK) represents all 11 of the UK Conservatoires; the 9 in group one above and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, for which you need to apply directly to the school and not through UCAS. .
Their deadline dates for drama courses are 18 January 2023, 3 October 2023 for music, and 18 January 2023 for Production Arts courses. Please note that all applications close at 4.30pm London time on the date advertised for each course.
There will again be both an application and an audition, with fees, which you pay in advance but the schoold offers a Supported Application Scheme where your fee will be waivered, so it’s worth checking out the full details on their website.
Group Three: Conservatoire for Dance and Drama
This is a free standing Conservatoire that has 8 different specialist member schools, including 2 affiliate schools across the UK.
Although the Conservatoire is one entity you have to apply to each of the 8 schools directly via the individual school website and not through UCAS. However if accepted you can still apply for government funded student finances.
They all charge fees for the application and audition process but each individual school has slightly different deadline dates for applications so please visit their websites, which you can find below:
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
- Central School of Ballet
- London Contemporary Dance School
- National Centre for Circus Arts
- Northern School of Contemporary Dance
- Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance
- Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
UK conservatoires are great places for international students to gain access to high quality training in music, dance, drama and musical theatre.
International students can benefit from a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a wide range of subjects – all based around individual tuition and opportunities to perform in bands, orchestras, choirs, operas, dance and musical theatre.
Studying in the UK, international students can develop a great mix of valuable skills, experience diverse cultures, gain exposure to innovative industries, and sample academic excellence.
They are all amazing places to study and you need the right one which will showcase you and shine a light on your talents.
To apply for a course at a UK conservatoire, you'll need to register with UCAS Hub, and decide which course(s) you'd like to apply for. Starting an application via the UCAS Hub is simple, although be careful to fill out all the necessary sections and check the deadlines to make sure you submit it on time.
You'll then need to research finance and funding so you can support yourself in the UK, and possibly arrange a visa too.
Costs you'll need to cover include:
- tuition fees
- living expenses, e.g. food, rent, bills, etc.
- instruments or costumes
It's important you can comfortably afford all of the above if your studies are to be successful, so budget carefully, and try to ensure you have a little money left over at the end of each month in case of an emergency.
After you've submitted your application
Once you've sent your application form off to UCAS, or directly to the conservatoire, depending on where you're applying to, it will be processed and you should receive a welcome or acknowledgement email.
UCAS should email you if there are any updates to your application.
Before the conservatoires can make a decision on whether to offer you a place, you'll have to demonstrate your ability through a practical assessment. This could either be a live audition or sending off a video or recording. In other cases, you may be asked to send across your portfolio.
It's worth checking if the conservatoires you've applied to have an assessment centre overseas that you could attend for this part of this application, but whatever happens, they will let you know where you need to go.
We know it's difficult waiting to hear about assessments and decisions once you've sent off your application, but remember that they will have hundreds of applications to look through, so try to be patient!
Confused? We hope not. There really is a lot of choice and before you apply please remember to research, research, research and visit the open days for these Conservatoires. Have fun and good luck applying!
For more tips and advice on applying for music, dance or drama courses, please see:
- Dance Personal Statement Examples
- Drama Personal Statement Examples
- Music Personal Statement Examples
- Choosing a university
- Personal statement writing guide
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