Opera Studies Music Route BA (Hons)  (by online learning)

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About this course


3-10 Years (Online Learning)

Term Start

January 2018 and September 2018

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements: none

For applicants who do read and have musical qualifications, it is possible to apply for exemption from some of the Level 4 modules.

The route involves the core modules from the Opera Studies route as these contain material beyond the province of just opera (covering baroque and Romantic aesthetics, the tonal melting pot of the early twentieth century with pieces such as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire,  Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring)  together with other compulsory modules dealing with the orchestra and conductor  (the historical development of the various instruments and the emergence of the role of the conductor); the genesis of the symphony from the operatic overture touching on abstract forms such as the concert overture, the concerto grosso and  the classical solo concerto, and Lieder – various verse and song forms throughout Europe and America from the seventeenth century to the present day. Analytical techniques are also taught such as harmonic and Schenkerian analysis.

There is the opportunity through electives at Levels 5 and 6 to delve into the relationship between composer and librettist, the nationalist movement and Wagner’s heirs.

The programme is offered online with free access to many online study resources such as the finest music dictionary in the world, Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, JSTOR the online journal archive with articles on all aspects of composers and music, full usage (subject to international country permissions) of the Naxos music CD, Video and Film libraries – enabling you to study anywhere anytime, allowing you to tailor your studies to fit with the rest of your life. There is a maximum of ten years for the programme so you can go at whatever pace is best for you.

Each module has its own Tutor who will hold monthly online tutorials. The programme is open access – so we will teach you to read music if you don’t already.

Why choose this course?

  • A specialist Music route through our BA (Hons) Opera Studies programme
  • This is a unique and bespoke route offering a balanced view of the history of music

"It was the BA (Hons) Opera Studies course that set me on the road to my PhD and now the book! When I first went to university back in the 1960's. I didn't think that I would one day have a PhD! Long live the Opera Studies course and Rose Bruford College!" Julie Tretchikoff, Opera Studies student.

"I have really enjoyed the academic challenge of studying to degree level, and the opportunity to finally indulge a life-long passion. What I find particularly nourishing about the Rose Bruford course is getting to understand the relationship between the composers and their music.  Opera in particular seems to me to be an outpouring of the soul. Exploring the lives and backgrounds of the composers within their historical and socio-political context is giving me a much better understanding of the depth and beauty of the human condition and it has enhanced my life in so many ways."  Gillian Callow, Opera Studies student

Employability & Industry

This route has been designed for those wishing to continue their studies elsewhere with a PGCE in music in order to teach the national curriculum.

Fee and Application Information


  • Mode of Study: Online Learning (flexible from 3-10 years)

How to Apply

UK/EU Applicants

International Applicants

Please e-mail international@bruford.ac.uk  to apply.

2017/2018 Course Fees

The programme can be taken at a flexible pace of progression, thus spreading the cost and making this a truly viable option to full time study.  If you are a UK citizen taking this as your first degree and are able to do at least 30 credits each year of study, you may be eligible for the loan with Student Finance England. Please watch the video below for guidance or click here for more details.


Fees for 2017-18 are £186.40 per month for five months for each 20 credit module and £93.20 per month for five months for each 10 credit module. All fees can be paid over five months by Standing Order or credit card.

Fee totals:
20 credits = £932
10 credits = £466.
The full degree is 360 credits.

As a guide (using 17/18 fees), if you are looking at completing the degree in three years, it will currently cost you £5,592 per year (£16,776 in total) compared to £9000 per year (£27,000 in total) for a full-time degree.

Once you have completed one module you would be able to apply for one of the competitive bursaries (£850.00 p.a.) from the Edith Gray Rudinger Trust. A dedicated trust fund for RBC opera students only. 

Please contact us for more information.


Course content

Module List 2014-15 (all modules in bold are compulsory)

Music Route

Level 4

OS401 Opera at work - 20 credits – how opera companies function
OS402 Mastering the Basics of Music - 20 credits - how to read music
OS403 Mastering the Basics of Analysis Part 1 - 10 credits - form structures
OS404 Mastering the Basics of Analysis Part 2 - 10 credits - basic harmonic analysis
OS405 Opera in Context - 20 credits - social history of opera
OS406 Ways of Talking about Opera - 20 credits - critical frames for deconstructing performance
OS407 The Singer - 20 credits – history of the singer

OS407A The Singer in Practice (starting January 2014) – 20 credits – combining OS407 (50%) with practical sessions on vocal technique, repertoire, acting etc.

Level 5

OS501 Baroque Part 1 20 credits
OS502 Baroque Part 2 - 20 credits
OS503 Romanticism Part 1 - 20 credits

OS504 Romanticism Part 2 - 20 credits
OS510 The Development of the Operatic Overture and its relationship to the Symphony - 20 credits

OS511 The Orchestra and Conductor - 10 credits – the development of the orchestra and the role of the conductor
OS505 Monteverdi – 20 credits
OS506 Verdi – 20 credits
OS507 Wagner – 20 credits
OS508 Mozart – 20 credits
OS509 Libretto - 20 credits – includes famous composer-librettist collaborations
OS512 Opera in France - 10 credits – Lully and Rameau
OS513 The Musical  - 20 credits

Level 6

OS601 Birth of the Modern Part 1 - 20 credits – post Wagnerian developments
OS602 Birth of the Modern Part 2 - 20 credits
OS603 Independent Research Project - 40 credits (for Honours degree only)
OS613 Lieder - 20 credits

OS604 Wagner’s Ring: An Introduction - 10 credits – philosophical foundations
OS605 Wagner’s Ring: The Operas - 20 credits – the music
OS606 Women in opera: The Theory - 10 credits – social history of gender
OS607 Women in opera: The Practice - 20 credits – how women are portrayed in opera
OS608 Opera Since WWII - 20 credits
OS609 Nationalists - 20 credits
OS610 Shakespeare in Opera - 20 credits
OS611 Production, Design and Direction - 20 credits
OS614 Berg - 10 credits
OS615 Britten - 10 credits
OS616 Myth in opera - 10 credits
OS617 Puccini - 10 credits


You will be taught by:

Dr Nicholas Clapton

Born in Worcester, England, Nicholas Clapton studied Music at Oxford, and singing privately in London, most recently with Diane Forlano. He made his debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1984, since when he has enjoyed a wide-ranging career across six centuries of repertoire, including nearly forty world premieres, while breaking every “counter-tenor rule” imaginable. He has also written three books: Alessandro Moreschi and the Voice of the Castrato, Budapest, City of Music and Thoughts on Singing, as well as numerous articles and reviews on voice-related subjects. He is a professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music, London, a Visiting Professor at the Music University of Budapest, and a faculty member for the renowned Si parla, si canta summer programme in Urbania, Italy. He has given masterclasses at the Dartington International Summer School since 1995, in Hungary since 1996, and recently taught alongside Dame Emma Kirkby on a new course on early bel canto, held at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. http://www.nicholasclapton.com/ 


Dr Victoria Vaughan

Dr. Victoria Vaughan trained as an orchestral and choral conductor before pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Analysis at the University of Southampton. Throughout her musical studies she has always been involved in music/theatre, but when the balance of her time and energies began to tip towards the practical and away from academia, she decided to take the plunge and re-train as an Opera Stage Director at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in the USA.

In 2000 Vaughan became the Assistant Director of Opera Theatre at the Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she continued to write and publish research while building up a repertory of the operatic canon, delving into the chamber operas of Benjamin Britten, and exploring some lesser known opera-ballets from 17th century France. In 2003 she co-founded Real Time Opera, a non-profit performing arts organization in the USA that specializes in the world premiere productions of new operas and the re-creation of old operas in new ways.

Her directing credits range from the modern premiere of Pancrace Royer’s 1743 Le Pouvoir de L’Amour to the US premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s Lost Highway and the world premiere of Leave me Alone! by Harvey Pekar. Her academic publications range in topic from Schenkerian Analysis Pedagogy to Opera Stage Management, and her current research interests include the influence of digital media in the preparation of operatic roles. https://about.me/victoria.vaughan 


Dr Jonathan Rees

Jonathan Rees is the Course Leader and Musical Director of Stella Mann College of Performing Arts, Bedford. His PhD thesis, completed in 2011 with the Open University, was an analytical study of Peter Maxwell Davies’s Revelation and Fall. He has presented papers on Maxwell Davies’s works at conferences organised by the Society for Music Analysis at the Universities of Durham and Bangor and at King’s College London in a Music and Philosophy study group. He recently gave a paper on Erwin Schulhoff’s opera, Flammen, at an interdisciplinary symposium on the Don Juan legend at the Institute of Musical Research, London.


Dr Trevor Siemens

Trevor Siemens abandoned his early studies in medicine, drawn instead to the possibility of writing for the operatic stage. He went on to complete undergraduate studies in composition and voice (opera studies) at McGill University in his native Canada, before pursuing postgraduate study in composition at Manchester University; receiving a full scholarship to complete  his PhD at Bristol. Trevor has composed two chamber operas, based on texts by Oscar Wilde and A. S. Byatt, and his works for various instrumental and vocal ensembles and individuals have been performed in the UK, Europe, Canada and Brazil. His music explores the drama of musical transformation; that moment of beauty and violence that exists between silence and sound. His current music theatre project looks to explore immediacy - re-examining the multiple relationships that form between the text/score, performers, audience, and the performance space; incorporating contemporary theatre techniques and electronics.

In addition to composition, Trevor’s main research interests lie in the area of contemporary and alternative music theatre. Recent publications include the chapters “Stolen Fire: A Light on the Invisible Theatre of Nono’s Prometeo” in Music on Stage and “Gods and Heroes or Monsters of the Media?” in Opera in the Media Age. Trevor is also  an Honorary Research Fellow in Composition at Liverpool Hope University. http://www.trevorsiemens.co.uk/ 


Susan Bissat, MA

Susan's passion for the voice has led her to inspire and enable others to sing. She combines a performing career with a range of roles as vocal director and teacher, working with groups of singers from the age of 2 to 82, which reflect her belief in the joy and therapeutic nature of singing.

She teaches in the faculty of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University; Leeds College of Music and of course at Rose Bruford.

She is an experienced vocal and performance skills leader and teacher, and leads workshops across the UK and internationally. She has recently been involved with the prestigious Erasmus-funded project “The Complete Freedom of Truth”. (TCFT) is an international 5 year project with the ambition to develop global youth citizenship through culture and the arts. thecompletefreedomoftruth.com

Her varied career and wide experience of both performing and teaching has allowed her to explore and develop this passion in depth, and she holds an MA in the study of singing as a therapeutic activity. As a result, she is regularly invited to deliver her own "Singing for Health & Enjoyment" workshops, open to all, by private and public sector organisations. http://www.susanbisatt.co.uk/ 


Gerald Stollwitzer, MA

Gerald was born in Klagenfurt, Austria. He studied Journalism and Theatre Studies at the University of Vienna as well as Musical Theatre Direction at the Vienna University of Performing Arts where he graduated with an MA in 2007 with the direction of Monteverdi`s L`incoronazione di Poppea. In Vienna he also directed Gian-Carlo Menotti`s  The Telephone and the operetta Le vent du soir by Jacques Offenbach (all Schlosstheater Schönbrunn).

Most recent productions as director include the scenic world premiere of Simon Laks L`hirondelle inattendue at the Bregenz Festival in Austria as well as Tchaikovsky`s Eugene Onegin at Yekaterinburg State Opera and Verdi`s La Traviata at Hongkong Opera.

As Assistant Director/Resident Director/Stage Manager Gerald Stollwitzer worked with famous opera directors such as Keith Warner, Graham Vick, Philipp Himmelmann, Stephen Langridge, Christine Mielitz, Reto Nickler, Cesare Lievi and Dieter Kaegi all across over the world. http://www.stollwitzer.at/ 


Tom Mansfield, MFA 



Dr Sinead Dempsey-Garratt



Music on Stage

An exciting volume of papers from our biennial Music on Stage conference has just been published by Cambridge Scholars Press ("Music on Stage" edited by Fiona Jane Schopf) covering historic opera, the musical and performance practice by thirteen scholars from around the world. Click to purchase a copy.

Click to purchase the latest Music on Stage Volume 2


The Opera Story is a new company founded by Opera Studies Student Manuel Fajardo.


Disordered Heroes in Opera: A Psychiatric Report

Opera Studies graduate, John Cordingly has recently published a fascinating book looking at key male opera characters through the prism of psychiatry.

Click to purchase a copy.


Creating Der Rosenkavalier

In his ground-breaking book, Creating Der Rosenkavalier, Rose Bruford graduate Mike Reynolds has created the first full account of the genesis of Hofmannsthal and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.  The book is an excellent read being insightful and lavishly illustrated. Reynolds argues the opera, one of the favourites throughout the world, owes its existence to an earlier opérette L’Ingenu libertin whch Count Harry Kessler saw and transmuted into Der Rosenkavalier which was clothed in Hofmannsthal’s inimicable verse. Click to purchase a copy.