Accessing the Performing Arts

Performing arts such as music, drama, dance, and film have a reputation for being hard to get into. It's true that applying to study in these fields involves a bit more than a standard college or university application. But there's plenty of advice out there to help you pursue your dream career. 



What are the performing and production arts? 

Music Performance / Sound production / Music business
Acting Stage / Screen / Musical theatre
Dance Contemporary / Street / Jazz / Ballet / Hip hop
Theatre Production Lighting / Sound / Set / Props / Costume / Make-up / Stage management
Film and Television Writing / Editing / Producing / Directing / Camera and sound operation


Where can I study?

There are many different courses you can study in the performing and production arts, at college and university level. FOCUS West's 'Entry to the Creative Industries' programme has put together a list of all the colleges and universities in Scotland that offer these courses:

Performing and Production Arts Courses

You'll see that the list is divided into the different subjects you could choose to study, from Music Performance to Theatre Production. Have a look at the university and college websites and read about what their courses involve. You'll be able to check entry requirements on there too.


How do I apply?

The application process varies depending on the type of course you want to study:

If you want to study sound production, theatre production, film and television, or music business at college, the application procedure is the same as for any college course.

You need to complete an application form online and attend an interview. See How to Apply to College.

As well as completing an application form, if you want to study a course in acting, music performance or dance, at college or university, you'll also be required to attend at least one audition.


Applying to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow is the only specialist performing arts university in Scotland. It offers highly prestigious degrees in dance, acting, music, production arts, and film and television.

The application process for the RCS is a bit different to other universities. If you want to apply to the RCS or one of the other eight 'conservatoires' in the UK, you must apply via UCAS Conservatoires (formerly known as 'CUKAS').


If you're applying to study a Music course, the closing date for UCAS Conservatoire applications is OCTOBER 1st (in the year before you would be starting the course).

Other courses

If you're applying for any other course (acting, dance, etc.), the closing date is the same as for other UCAS applications: January 15th.


At the RCS, strong academic qualifications are less important than practical talent, ability and potential. 

  • For every course except Modern Ballet, you need a minimum of three passes at Higher level (grade C or above).
  • For Modern Ballet, you need five passes at National 5 level (or equivalent).

If you're applying for a Music degree, it's expected that your playing will be at a standard at least equivalent to Grade 8 in your chosen instrument.


Visit the RCS website for specific details.


How can I prepare for the audition?

Most performing arts courses require you to attend at least one audition. This is the most important part of your application so it's important to prepare as well as you can.

If you're a musician, you're probably used to preparing for practical exams and recitals. For aspiring actors though, the audition process might feel a bit less familiar. So FOCUS West and the RCS have put together some advice on acting auditions:

Acting Audition Top Tips


Where else can I get advice?

FOCUS West runs a programme for school pupils interested in pursuing a career in the performing and production arts. If you're a pupil at one of the many schools we work with, you can take part in the Entry to the Creative Industries programme.

Run by the RCS, Entry to the Creative Industries (ETTCI) offers:

  • Practical workshops
  • Open Days and Family Days at the RCS
  • School talks
  • Theatre and film trips
  • Audition and interview preparation courses
  • Individual mentoring

Entry to the Creative Industries FAQ

No! Entry to the Creative Industries is about supporting pupils to find the right destination for them. Whether this be college, university or the Conservatoire.

Absolutely. We run subject-specific audition preparation courses throughout the year. But if you'd like some one-on-one support with your pieces, we can offer that too.

If you attend a FOCUS West school then you're entitled to a 25% discount off any short course at the RCS. Just contact the Short Courses department and they will organise the discount for you. You can contact them on

Yes! As long as you have a passion and an interest in drama, music, dance, theatre production or film and television, you can participate in the programme.

We understand that schools are busy places and that teachers have a lot on their plate! Therefore, if you haven’t been told about the opportunities available to you via Entry to the Creative Industries, just get in contact with us. We’d be delighted to work with you.

Who can I contact?

To find out more about Entry to the Creative Industries, or to book a place on an activity, get in touch with the team:

  Cressida Maher
0141 270 8319

What advice would current students give?