Classical Specialist Study - Composition

Discover more about specialising in Composition on the Classical programme.

Back to BA (Hons) Music (Classical)

The composition programme at Leeds Conservatoire is focused on the key skills, learning and overall mindset that is needed to in order to thrive in the climate of today’s industry. The course combines the traditional Classical curriculum with elements that cater for a more diverse career choice, incorporating an autonomous and open-minded approach.

The programme partners with professionals from Opera North to offer orchestral expertise, alongside inviting a diverse range of guests from across the composition world. 

Some of our Specialist Composition Tutors


Our composition students benefit from a varied programme of masterclasses, featuring successful musicians from around the world. Some recent masterclasses have included:

  • Opera North
  • Sally Beamish
  • Gavin Bryars

Students can also attend guest masterclasses from any of our music programmes, from Jazz to Music Production, to broaden their musical understanding.

  • Performance Spaces
    350-seat auditorium
    120-seat recital room
  • Bespoke Rehearsal Spaces
    Specialist practice rooms and bespoke ensemble rehearsal spaces, most with Steinway pianos
  • Instrument and Equipment Loans
  • Industry Standard Recording Studios
    Production students can book our specialist recording and mixing studios, with others accessing them through collaborations with Production students
  • Facilities Open Until Late
Explore our facilities

Previous composition opportunities have included:

Opera North ‘Make A Scene’ project

Each year, students have been given the opportunity to write for Opera North artists and hear their opera scene performed in a workshop. Students received a recording of their work following the workshop.

Leeds International Piano Competition

Leeds International Piano Competition commissioned three composers to write solo piano pieces for performance during the competition period.

Leeds Festival Chorus Commission

Students were offered the chance to write for the Leeds Festival Chorus, one of Leeds top choirs and hear their work premiered at a recognised venue, to a sold-out audience.

Writing for Professional Ensembles

Visiting professional ensembles have visited Leeds Conservatoire during the year to perform student compositions. Recent guests have included RIOT Ensemble, Ligeti Quartet, Rarescale, Gildas Quartet, Juice Vocal Ensemble.

Our 3 year BA (Hons) Music (Classical) is designed for musicians who know they want to specialise in Classical Music. 

All Specialist Study and Specialist Group Study modules are Classical focused, with the option to apply as either a Performer or Composer.

As with all our Classical courses, studies in your specialist area will be supported by a broader curriculum designed to prepare you for your career in the Classical Music industry.

If you know that conservatoire study is for you, but you don’t think that you’ll meet the academic or musical entry requirements, our four-year courses are an excellent opportunity to start studying your degree while you focus on your musical development.

An extra year of access to our creative and collaborative environment, excellent facilities, expert staff and rich performance opportunities will build your confidence as a conservatoire musician.

Find out more about BA (Hons) with Foundation Year.

Classical Music can also be taken as part of a Combined Honours degree.

We are the only UK conservatoire to offer this type of combined degree where you will study both areas of music throughout all three years.

You will take specialist study modules (e.g. your 1:1 tuition) in your first area and specialist group study (e.g. ensembles) in your second.

For Classical with Jazz, you would have 1:1 Classical instrumental or vocal tuition and also be in a Jazz ensemble.

Course Options:

What You Will Study (See Modules and Specifications)

Each year of the course is structured into three distinct strands:

  • Specialist Study – One-to-one tuition and group study in performance or composition
  • Contextual Studies – Develop your composition, musicology and critical listening skills
  • Professional Studies – Develop your skills for working in the creative industries

As part of your Specialist Study programme regular classes like Performance in Context, Composition in Context and Concert Performance give you regular opportunities to share your developing performance and composition work with peers and Leeds Conservatoire tutors in a friendly, supportive, confidence-boosting environment.

Some examples* of Contextual Studies and Professional Studies modules:

  • Working in the Creative Industries
  • Collaborative Composition
  • Composition and Production for Film and Television
  • Arranging and Orchestration
  • Musical Direction
  • Self-Promotion & Music Marketing
  • Working with Music in the Community
  • Instrumental Music Tuition
  • Music Journalism
  • Songwriting
  • Software Environments - Performance and Sound Creation

*The above examples are chosen to represent a selection of the kind of mandatory and elective module options offered, so you can tailor your degree to your area of interest. See the full list of modules currently available for this course, including mandatory and optional modules, plus detailed module specification documents.

Module specifications are for applicants choosing to start their course in the 2021/22 academic year. In compliance with University of Hull regulations, the conservatoire retains the right to make minor amendments and improvements to course, programme and module content year on year. This may result in minor changes to these specifications by September 2022.

If you choose to study  the 4 -year Classical with Foundation Year programme, your first year will focus on developing your principal study through specialist one to-one tuition, and strengthening your music theory and academic skills, as well as your creativity and artistry.

You will also have access to a weekly programme of workshops and masterclasses, as well as regular individual tutorials with academic staff. Upon successful completion of the Foundation Year, you will automatically progress to year one on your chosen BA pathway

If you choose a Combined Honours programme (e.g. Classical with Jazz), your Specialist Study (e.g. one-to-one tuition) would be in Classical and your Specialist Group Study (e.g. ensemble/band) would be in Jazz.

Classical with Jazz

  • Specialist Study - Classical
  • Specialist Group Study - Jazz

In addition to your principal instrument/voice, you can also choose to have additional 1:1 tuition in a second instrument/voice (for students at Grade 6 standard or higher in their second instrument/voice).

This is not part of your course, but there are a limited number of Instrumental, Vocal & Composition Bursaries available, or tuition can be arranged at additional cost.

Academic Requirements

BA (Hons) - 3 Years

96 UCAS tariff points from level 3 studies or equivalent, which normally include A Level Music or a BTEC Extended Diploma in a Music-related subject.

A minimum of three GCSEs including English Language at Grade C / Grade 4 or above or equivalent international qualification, eg IELTS 6.0 (5.5 in each component).

BA (Hons) with Foundation Year - 4 Years

64 UCAS tariff points from level 3 studies or equivalent, which normally include A Level Music or a BTEC Extended Diploma in a Music-related subject.

A minimum of three GCSEs including English Language at Grade C / Grade 4 or above or equivalent international qualification, eg IELTS 6.0 (5.5 in each component).

Performance and Musical Theory Standard

Read our full entry requirements to see more detail on musical performance and theory standards.

Applicants will need to audition, interview and/or submit a portfolio of work. 

Exact requirements vary depending on which programme you are applying for.

Find more detailed audition information for applicants.

Leeds Conservatoire does not charge audition fees for any Undergraduate or Postgraduate course.

Visit our Fees and Funding section to find out more about Fees & Funding for International Students.

If you are an international applicant, visit our dedicated International section of the website for information on:

  • How To Apply
  • Auditions
  • International Entry Requirements
  • Fees & Funding

Study Mode: Full Time
Apply via: UCAS Conservatoires (not Undergraduate)
UCAS Institution Code: L31
Validated by: University of Hull*

*Note for applicants and offer holders for 2022/23 entry onwards:

Leeds Conservatoire plans to apply to the Office for Students for Degree Awarding Powers. If we are granted Degree Awarding Powers, your degree may be awarded by Leeds Conservatoire rather than validated by the University of Hull.

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours
Duration: 3 years
UCAS Course Code: 305F 

Course Key Information Document 2021/22

Course Type: Undergraduate, Single Honours
Duration: 4 years
UCAS Course Code: W30F

Course Key Information Document 2021/22 

BA (Hons) Music (Classical with Jazz)

Course Type: Undergraduate, Combined Honours
Duration: 3 years
UCAS Course Code: 412F

Course Key Information Document 2021/22


Graduate Profile: Markus Siegel

Markus believes his grounding as both a classical musician and producer has enabled him to pursue his passion for creating music for moving image.

Markus Siegel Photo

Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Classical with Production)

Year of Graduation: 2017

 Top Career Highlights:

  • This might seem like a really simple and insignificant achievement but getting paid for the music I have written for the first time was a big milestone in my career and an incredibly proud and encouraging moment
  • Writing the music for a feature film for the first time and having it released across the UK and US
  • Making the first step towards Los Angeles by being accepted onto the MFA Music Composition for Film/TV/Video Games programme at Columbia College in Chicago

Read Markus' Profile

Graduate Profile: Matt London

Recently nominated for the British Composers Awards and Ivors Composers Awards, Matt has a unique approach to composition, designing works that channel free improvisation.

Watch a Playlist of our Classical Tutors' Work

Open Days (On-Campus, Live Online & On-Demand)

Find out what it's like to study at Leeds Conservatoire by coming along to one of our Open Days. 

As well as talks and tours specific to the courses you're interested in, you can also chat to our staff and students.

Plus, get immediate access to our On-Demand Open Day.

Find out more
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