Opera Studies BA (Hons) (by online learning)

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About this course


3-10 Years (Online Learning)

Term Start

January 2017 and September 2017

Entry Requirements

  • Entry requirements: none

Recognising Prior Learning
The College understands that learning may take place in different settings and that you may want to use skills and knowledge you have gained elsewhere to count towards your learning with us. To support this, we have a detailed policy and procedure to guide and help you if you wish to ask for prior learning to be taken into account. If you have any queries about this please email enquiries@bruford.ac.uk


Started in 1997, our exciting Opera Studies programme is unique in the world being the only online learning undergraduate programme focusing on opera as a performance art delving into all the constituent parts of this amazing and versatile art form.

Alongside main composers and historic periods you will be studying all about the libretto, the singer, the orchestra and conductor, the director, Shakespeare in opera, women in opera and much more. It is an ideal complement to vocal studies and equips directors and singers alike to fully appreciate the material they work with. We have a new Level 4 practical module run in conjunction with Associated Studios enabling you to study vocal technique as well as acting, movement and repertoire.

Our unique programme supports you throughout your studies with a personal tutor for each module, as well as providing you with free access to a host of online resources including Grove Online, the Naxos Music and Video Libraries and Opera America’s online resources; as well as the opportunity to attend our blended learning Study Events.

Why choose this course?

  • The only course worldwide that covers all aspects of opera as a performance art allowing you to deepen your knowledge and passion.
  • Intellectually challenging and satisfying; our graduates continue to higher degrees.
  • The in-built flexibility accommodates your life style and work patterns – you can study anywhere, any time.
  • Our real-time chat rooms and tutorials enable you to ‘meet’ your fellow students and tutors.
  • We offer a specialist route through the programme for those considering teaching music in preparation for a PGCE in Music. Please click here for full details.


"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

Graduates have become dramaturgs, teachers, opera singers, directors, journalists and arts administrators. A number of students continue onto further study on postgraduate programmes at the College.

Fee and Application Information


  • Validated by The University of Manchester
  • Mode of Study: Online Learning (flexible from 3-10 years)


How to Apply

  • Please click here to register your interest in applying for this course.


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 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

Year 1 (Level 4):

  • Opera at Work
  • Mastering the Basics of Music
  • Mastering the Basics of Analysis 1 & 2
  • Opera in Context
  • Ways of talking about opera
  • The Singer
  • Elective: The Singer in Practice (in conjunction with Associated Studios)

Please click here to view our Level 4 module specifications

Year 2 (Level 5):

  • Baroque Part 1 + 2
  • Romanticism Part 1 + 2
  • Electives:
  • Monteverdi
  • Mozart
  • Verdi
  • Wagner
  • The Libretto
  • The development of the operatic overture and its relationship to the symphony
  • The orchestra and conductor
  • Opera in France

Please click here to view our Level 5 module specifications

Year 3 (Level 6):

  • Birth of the Modern Part 1 + 2
  • Electives: 

 Independent Research Project (for Honours degree only)
  • Wagner’s Ring: An introduction
  • Wagner’s Ring: The Music
  • Women in opera: The Theory
  • Women in opera: The Practice
  • Opera since WWII
  • Shakespeare in opera
  • Nationalists
  • Production, design and direction
  • Lieder
  • Berg
  • Britten
  • Puccini
  • Myth in opera

Please click here to view our Level 6 module specifications

Please click here to download a pdf of the programme specification.


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 Rachel Milestone

Rachel Milestone completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where she was the recipient of the Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship, the Margaret Tann Williams Prize for Singing and the MMus Year Prize.  After finishing college Rachel combined a career as soloist, teacher and accompanist, peforming at venues across Britain, in Europe and the USA.  Since her relocation to the South West in 2011, Rachel has worked with a number of choirs as soloist and accompanist and is Musical Director of The People’s Choir, Yeovil.

Rachel completed a PhD in Musicology in 2009 and subsequently began lecturing at the University of Leeds and the University of Huddersfield, and is currently Distance Learning Tutor in Opera Studies for Rose Bruford College and Head of KS3 Music at Leweston School, Sherborne.  Her work on music in nineteenth-century English town halls has been published in the volumes Music in the British Provinces, and Music and Institutions and a book based on her PhD thesis is soon to be published by Ashgate.


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 Daniel Somerville

Daniel Somerville is an artist practitioner, lecturer and practice based researcher.  His research interests are in the field of opera studies, with particular focus on the concept of the ‘operatic’ and how this manifests in terms of movement, performance practice and convention.  As an artist practitioner he has choreographed, directed and performed nationally and internationally and has been supported by Arts Council England. Daniel trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and undertook his MA at Goldsmiths.  His PhD research, the thesis of which is titled, ‘Body Opera: In Search of the Operatic in the Performance of the Body’, was supported by The Centre for Art and Design Research Experimentation (CADRE) at the University of Wolverhampton.  Daniel lectures in Drama and Performance at the University of Worcester, where he specialises in using the models that opera theory and practice present as the impetus for creating devised and physical performance. He also lectures in gender theory and has applied this theoretical framework to his interrogation of opera.  Daniel has been attending opera for three decades and has an unerring passion for the art form, with wide ranging tastes from across the repertoire. As a former broadcaster and journalist he has presented on English opera, Czech opera, opera and technology, opera in Africa, opera and gender, Shostakovich, Tippett and a number of other composers and themes, as well as reviewing live performances and recordings.  His presentations at academic conferences have concerned opera and gender theory, relational aesthetics in opera, opera and postmodern performance practice and the emergent nature of the operatic. http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/daniel-somerville.html


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

Latest News

Opera Studies Student Elysia Stars in Musical



Opera Studies Graduate Rewrites Operatic History



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


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.


“Doing the course enhanced my enjoyment of opera immeasurably, by giving me a much better understanding of what composers/librettists/ directors/designers might be aiming to achieve, and how they set about it. I feel very lucky.” Liz Grimsey, Graduate First Class Honours, 2016.