MA Musical Direction

Accepting applications for September 2024.

Open Days

MA Musical Direction at Leeds Conservatoire

Our MA in Musical Direction is designed to fully-prepare highly-skilled musicians to embark upon a career as a musical director. With tailored one-to-one classes, students will hone their musicianship and be exposed to a wide-range of working practices, working alongside key practitioners, companies and industry professionals from across the region.

This MA encourages students to interrogate the role of the musical director and redefine it for themselves, through the continued collaborative, student-led development of new work across the year.

With collaboration and individual artistry at the heart of all of our Theatre MAs, students will leave this course not only fully equipped to adapt to the changing face of theatre, but also with the skill set and tenacity required to drive that change.

  • Starts:
  • Duration: 1 Year
  • UCAS Code: W45F
  • Study Mode: Full Time
  • Validated By: University of Hull*

49862447531 9Ab949be33 O

Course overview

Practical Skills for the Musical Director

Students will learn the skills that are necessary to work professionally as a musical director in the theatre industry. These include:

  • Keyboard skills (including programming), conducting, song analysis, scoring and arranging.
  • Working with singers; audition/accompaniment technique, repertoire lessons, acting through song classes and understanding vocal technique.
  • Rehearsal technique with actors, singers and musicians.

Collaborative Practice and Performance

Collaboration is an integral part of the ethos at Leeds Conservatoire. Musical Direction students will share core modules with students from the other Theatre MAs, where they generate new work in a collaborative, student-led environment. This encourages students to work in new and interdisciplinary ways where they can find and hone their individual creative voices as artists and practitioners. Throughout the year there will be several opportunities for these developing works to be performed in a range of contexts and environments.

Access to the Industry

This course offers an immediate introduction to the industry by working with leading professionals in the field, as well as taking advantage of the richly diverse theatrical community on our doorstep. Companies we work with include Leeds Playhouse, Red Ladder, Opera North and Slung Low. Students will work on musicals, plays, and in the development of new work to experience the various shapes the role of the musical director may take.

Specialist Facilities

Our campuses include a brand-new building at Playhouse Square, housing state-of-the-art specialist performance facilities. With a panoramic view over the city landscape, this £60m development contains bespoke facilities for our theatre courses, including state-of-the-art dance and drama studio spaces and music ensemble rooms.

Leeds is also rich with creative and artistic spaces which are invaluable in offering training which is embedded in the City. As an artist who is interested in developing new work you may be able to use those environments to inspire your work.

What you will study* (See Modules and Specifications)


Creative and Collaborative Thinking

Students will explore various methods of creative thinking and problem-solving, which will become the initial starting points for later development of new work.

Weekly sessions will focus on case studies of performers, work or artists to critically analyse how research is used in the development of new work and in the telling of personal narratives or stories.

Case studies may include practitioners such as Kate Tempest, Frantic Assembly, Pablo Helguera, Javaad Alipoor, debbie tucker green, Lin-Manuel Miranda or other contemporaries.

This work will be student-led, tailored to the student’s area of interest. Students will interrogate the Musical Director's role by pushing the boundaries of what makes theatre through collaborative work with the other MAs.

Applied Musical Theatre Context

Working alongside the Musical Theatre Company students and Creatives, Musical Directing students will take part in acting through song and musical theatre context classes.

Here they will develop audition technique as an accompanist, as well as analytical skills, dissecting the key components of song (keys, chord progression and structure etc) and lyrics in relation to their place and time in the musical theatre landscape.

They will study style and genre and use this as a starting point to prepare and perform (and potentially develop) work of their choosing.

Group Musicianship

Musical Directors will work with the Actor Musicians on various projects throughout the year, exploring the myriad ways to portray narrative and character through music and generate authentic work quickly and collaboratively to a performance-ready level.

In these sessions, students will work both collaboratively and in a more traditional hierarchy, where the musical directors will learn how to ‘run a rehearsal’ with a company of actors/musicians.

Students will explore a range of styles and pieces in these sessions - both set and devised in class. Skills developed in this module include musical arrangement (as a leader and as a group), conducting, and teaching both group and individual singing.


These one-to-one classes give students the time to work on chosen areas on their musicianship with an assigned tutor.

These sessions aim to fill gaps in knowledge, expand skillsets, and identify any components of their craft that need development. It also gives students the opportunity to explore styles and directions that they may want to pursue.

Major Project

The Major Project will be developed over a term and will be a based on the student’s area of interest, culminating in a performance and/or sharing . Major projects can be in collaboration with other MA students from across the Theatre MAs or something entirely individual.

How will MA Musical Direction be Assessed?

You will be assessed at the end of each of three trimesters on Applied Musical Theatre Context, Musicianship and Group Musicianship. These practical assessments will focus on putting into practice the skills received during that trimester. This may include one or more of the following: conducting, orchestration, working with singers and accompaniment skills.

Finally, you will be assessed on your Major Project, which culminates in a production/s in third term. This assessment will cover the Project's inception, development and performance/s, largely based upon a dissertation you will produce.

49423675281 655E16f1c1 K

Drama Facilities - Playhouse Square, Mabgate and more

Our Performing Arts students benefit from bespoke new facilities in our brand new Playhouse Square building.

Teaching will take place at our St Peters Square, Mabgate and Playhouse Square buildings as well as external teaching spaces where necessary.

We are confirming teaching spaces for 2023/24, but teaching spaces in 2022/23 also included Slung Low Theatre Company in Holbeck, Dance Studio Leeds and Yorkshire Dance.

Take a look at our custom-designed studios with panoramic views over Leeds city centre.

See Performing Arts Facilities


Graduates from the Musical Directing MA will be excellently placed to work as an MD for a wide-range of theatre performances and performance projects, with experience they will be able to adapt to different size and scale projects. Upon successful completion of the course students may go onto careers which may include:

  • Musical Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Choral Director
  • Composer
  • Youth Theatre Director
  • Tutor
  • Teacher
Sam Sommerfeld

Alumni Profiles

Sam Sommerfeld

Year of Graduation: 2015

A skilled conductor and musical director, Sam has worked in theatres across the UK with a variety of people in educational and professional groups.

While in Leeds, Sam stepped up to work as a freelancer on larger musical platforms, conducting the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and working at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Sam has been Associate Musical Director on The Last Ship, a new musical with music and lyrics written by Sting.

Meet our alumni

Course Tutors

Students will be taught by staff who are specialists within their field and include performers, creatives, entrepreneurs and academics who work professionally in the theatre industry. All teaching staff must apply for and be granted Recognised Teacher Status by the University of Hull.

Entry requirements, fees & applying

Course Facts

Course Type: MA Postgraduate Degree
Duration: 1 year
Study Mode: Full Time
Start date: September
Validated by: University of Hull

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

  • UCAS Code: W44F
  • UCAS Institution Code: L31

Apply directly to Leeds Conservatoire

Alternatively you can apply directly to Leeds Conservatoire via our MA Musical Direction Direct Application Form.

Find out more about the application process.

Entry Requirements
  • A good honours degree in any subject, with a 2nd (2:2) classification or equivalent, usually theatre, music or theatre/music-related, but qualifications in other fields will also be reviewed and considered.


  • Equivalent professional experience may also be accepted and reviewed at application and audition stages (see our APEL process).
  • All suitable applicants are invited for interview and/or audition
  • All students requiring a visa to study in the UK must meet the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department's English Language requirement of IELTS 6.0 with no sub-test less than 5.5

Audition Information

The audition process will be in 2 stages:

  1. Online Portfolio and Personal Statement
  2. Working on a piece with a singer (online or in person)

Find out more and read our full guidance on our Postgraduate Auditions page.

Tuition Fees

Tuition Fees For 2024 Entry (Home/International)


Tuition fees pay for the cost of teaching, assessment, validation, the facilities, support and administration of your course.

Find out more about Fees & Funding for Postgraduate study. 

Tweets currently unavailable.
Come back soon.
UoH-Logo.png (2) Conservatoires UK logo Partner_1.png AEC logo Roland logo prs-keychange-logo_red-blue_pantone-c (fine to use).png Luminate_Education_Group_Logo (small).png