Developing Advanced Practitioners: A Focus on Doctoral Study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

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The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) has a thriving doctoral community of 32 students studying on three distinct advanced programmes of study (PhD, MPhil, DPerf). Validated by the University of St Andrews, the RCS boasts deep rooted collaboration at the heart of doctoral study. Yet, through working with diverse candidates from a variety of backgrounds, how can the postgraduate experience adequately prepare each student for the next stage on their journey as academics and artists? How does one develop a sense of cohesiveness and collaboration among students with unique learning modes?

Arguably, all conservatoire training is advanced training in a non-traditional sense. Our collective challenge is to articulate the value inherent in doctoral study for practical artists, and to be strong advocates for Practice as Research in all modes of the performing arts sector. In this paper, delivered by the RCS’ Postgraduate Research Student Representative and the Doctoral Degrees Coordinator, we aim to explore the development and impact of a distinct and progressive culture. Responding to key literature, we will openly and frankly discuss the challenges of cohort building and how we are working towards better student engagement and visibility. The overarching remit and ethos of Research and Knowledge Exchange is embedded throughout the RCS facilitating relevant, significant, and continuing points of engagement. For example, the weekly Exchange Talks series, an annual residential doctoral symposium, developing teaching opportunities, and a shared working space.

We explore our processes and working methods by drawing on experiences and opinions with our doctoral candidates and alumni as professional practitioners in their own right. Our key aim is to raise awareness of this sometimes overlooked sector of artistic development, and encourage other institutions to interrogate their own thinking as to where degrees of advanced study are placed in the Conservatoire context.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2018
EventAEC and CEMPE Learning and Teaching Conference: Becoming musicians: student involvement and teacher collaboration in higher music education - Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 24 Oct 201826 Oct 2018


ConferenceAEC and CEMPE Learning and Teaching Conference