All About UsAllAboutCareers is a social careers information website for everyone who wants to find out more about graduate schemes, apprenticeships, internships and other job-related shenanigans.
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) is the UK’s fifth conservatoire of the performing arts, and it was awarded its royal title upon the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. It began life as the Cardiff College of Music in 1949, then occupying a wing of Cardiff Castle. Its exclusive location remains; although with new, state-of-the-art College buildings in the castle’s grounds, Cathays Park.
The prestigious Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is notoriously difficult to get into. It regularly receives over 1,500 applications for the 20 places on its undergraduate Acting course. The College’s courses are validated by the University of Glamorgan, and it is one of just two All-Steinway conservatoires in the UK, as well as being the only institute in Britain to provide specialist conservatoire training in music, acting, theatre design, stage management and arts management. Whilst the College only offers eight undergraduate courses, there’s far wider range of postgraduate courses.
So, royal name; royal setting; and right royal facilities. You can easily see how the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama produced such stars as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones (writer and star of Gavin and Stacey) and Keith Allen.
Wow. A pity it’s not in the castle itself anymore; but as it is, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is one of the more stunning complexes in the Welsh capital’s cultural quarter. It’s located betwixt and between the Norman castle, the Town Hall, the National Museum and one of the largest city-centre parks in Europe.
The main building has had an ultra-modern facelift (a lot of glass with a giant surfboard for a roof), and houses teaching and rehearsal rooms, the Bute Theatre, Caird Studio and Sir Geraint Evans recital room, plus a courtyard performance space.
Elsewhere on campus is the fantastic Anthony Hopkins centre, an award winning restoration of a former castle mews building. The centre has three performance spaces of its own, as well as housing the Weston Gallery, the Corus Recital Room, the S4C studio, a professional recording room and 25 practice rooms.
The list of campus facilities is endless: a £22.5m investment has contributed the new Richard Burton Theatre; four double-height rehearsal studios; the Dora Stoutzker Hall; the Linbury Gallery; and a café bar and terrace overlooking Bute Park.
All of this and the campus is only 5 minutes’ walk from the city centre. Shopping? Got it. Thriving arts scene? Yes. Buzzing nightlife? There’s plenty.
Excitingly, all new students are guaranteed places in Severn Point, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s halls of residence, which is just ten minutes away from campus. Rooms cost approximately £90 per week, on a 42-week contract, including all bills (plus Sky digital and internet!)
If you want to rent privately, private sector rents cost around £250 per month, plus bills. Cardiff has all sorts of areas with all sorts of vibes; from the student dominated area of Cathays, to the more grungy and down to earth Canton. The city itself is very compact with fine public transport, so you needn’t have any worries at all about getting around.
Tuition for all undergraduate courses will be £9,000 per year, while postgraduate courses range from £6,900 to £11,500 for taught programmes.
Living costs are relatively cheap. According to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 2006 Student Living Index, Cardiff was the most cost-effective place to study for “financially savvy undergraduates”.
The British Tourist Authority, too, named Cardiff as one of the best-value cities in the world, after considering food, entertainment, accommodation and generic day-to-day costs. The University of Cardiff reckons that students will need to budget at least £8,460 in yearly living costs.
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is part of the National Scholarship Scheme – so that’s a means-tested bursary that you’re put up for automatically. The national bursary scheme in Wales means students who qualify for a full grant get another £310 per year.
Judged on entry-auditions, there is a competitive range of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Scholarships (for up to the full cost of tuition) awarded to the best candidates. These range from £500 to £15,000. RWMCD scholarships are supported by both charitable and private organisations.
Not only does the College Bar host live bands, promotions and events nights (all arranged by the Students' Union), but the city has lively and varied club scene too. Two of the best are the Welsh Club (four floors, four genres of music) and Metros (classic cheap student club), guaranteed to become favourites before a year is out. Bars, pubs and clubs galore are dotted around Cardiff, and all relatively cheap.
Elsewhere, the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay is home to the Welsh National Opera, and plays host to all of the biggest touring shows hot off the West End stages. St David’s Hall hosts regular classical music performances, and is said to be one of the top three venues in Europe for acoustics, as well as being home to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales too.
The cultural thrills don’t stop there. The Sherman Theatre (Sherman Cymru) regularly puts on productions from top local writers as well as hosting performances from visiting companies, such as the RSC and National Theatre. Big music acts are frequent crowd-pullers at both the Cardiff University Student Union and the Millennium Stadium. So there’s enough to keep you entertained then!
Cardiff University and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama share sports, clubs and facilities. As well as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Students’ Union nurturing a growing list of their own societies, links with SU at Cardiff University mean “students with specific interests can also benefit from the complete range of sporting, cultural, religious, political and international societies on offer just across the road.”
Meanwhile, the Students’ Union manages the college bar, running weekly events such as the weekly quiz, regular live music nights, and the ever popular Bavarian Night. The social life of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s academic year culminates in the annual Summer Ball.
Throughout Freshers’ Week, the Students’ Union organises plenty of daily (and nightly) events, giving new students plenty of time to get to know the place – and each other.
Preparing students for professional life is BIG business at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. As well as offering the standard advice and career workshop services, there are more than 300 performances a year across the various disciplines of dramatic and musical art. Furthermore the college aims to collaborate with “leading arts and cultural organisations and visiting professionals” to align its teaching, as accurately as possible, with the “current practices and conditions of the working world.”
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama enjoys strong links and working relationships with the Welsh National Opera and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. At the end of their course, student actors display their work to agents in the Cardiff, Manchester and London showcases. There are also plenty of chances for music students to showcase their talent too, from ensemble work to playing in the College’s festival series. Furthermore, every undergraduate instrumentalist is assigned to a chamber group; brass groups collaborate with, for example, Onyx and Fine Arts Brass, and string ensembles with the Emperor String Quartet.