Qualifications - Diplomas

Accreditation | RCO Diplomas

The College's diplomas remain as highly prized today as they were more than a century ago, not least because they continue to demand the combination of technical and interpretative skill with stylistic, analytical and historical understanding that marks out the truly accomplished musician.

The five College diplomas are detailed below, with a link at the end of each paragraph to enable you do download a copy of the current regulations for that examination.

Click here for the complete Diploma Examination Regulations: July 2022 to January 2023.

The College has introduced Variations to the Regulations for Summer 2022 in order to allow for the Keyboard Skills Tests of Practical Examinations at all diploma levels to proceed by remote assessment (entailing audio-visual submission), and Written Paper Examinations at all diploma levels to proceed as open-book assessments (entailing the submission of scanned files of worked papers). There will be no in-person examining of these sections in Summer 2022.

Variations to the Regulations for Summer 2022 are also in force for the Organ Playing element of Practical Examinations at all diploma levels. In-person or remote assessment options are available for Organ Playing at CRCO and ARCO; at FRCO in-person assessment is obligatory unless an exception has been agreed in advance, in which case remote assessment may be used.

Remote assessment entails audio-visual submission. The Variations to Regulations should be read in conjunction with the document Diploma Examination Regulations: July 2022 to January 2023.

Note that the schedules announced in the Variations to the Regulations are final and supersede timetables published in the above-mentioned Diploma Examination Regulations. Here are the Variations to the Regulations with the associated protocols on how to submit materials for assessment:

Variations to Regulations for Practical Examinations, Organ Playing (Summer 2022)

Variations to Regulations for Practical Examinations, Keyboard Skills Tests (Summer 2022)

Protocol for AV Submission of Diploma Practical Examinations (Summer 2022)

Variations to Regulations for Written Examinations (Summer 2022)

Protocol for Digital Submission of Diploma Written Papers (Summer 2022)

The relevant declaration forms will be sent to candidates once an application to sit an examination has been made. The Variations outlined above are also expected to be in force in Winter 2023.

The Diploma Examination Regulations for January 2023 (and related variations) will be confirmed on this page in week commencing 29 August. The Diploma Examination Regulations for the July 2023 and January 2024 sessions ("Examination Year 2023–2024") will published on this page on or around 15 October 2022.

Colleague (CRCO)

The award of the Colleague indicates a standard of reliable and confident musicianship in public performance. It also indicates confidence in basic keyboard skills, most of which are invaluable in a liturgical context, and proficiency in those aural and written skills (fundamental musical grammar and knowledge of repertoire) which support practical musicianship. The Colleague is aimed at the amateur player with some experience of playing in public and at the developing student. Read more.

Associateship Diploma (ARCO)

Associateship of the College indicates a standard of professional competency in organ playing technique, essential keyboard skills and interpretative understanding. It also indicates accuracy in aural perception and fluency in those written disciplines (standard stylistic techniques and analysis of performance and historical issues in relation to organ repertoire) which support practical musicianship. Read more.

Click here for additional guidance. Specimen material for the revised ARCO is available in the Purchase Past Papers area of this site.

Fellowship Diploma (FRCO)

Fellowship of the College indicates a standard of professional expertise in organ playing technique, advanced keyboard skills, and interpretative understanding, which at this level will be stylistically well informed. It also indicates accuracy in advanced aural perception, and accomplishment in those written disciplines (advanced stylistic techniques and analysis of performance and historical issues in relation to organ repertoire and its broader musical context) which support practical musicianship. Read more.

As a substitute for one of the works included in Lists B, C, and D, candidates may choose a work relating to either the current set work(s) or historical period (questions 3 and 4 of FRCO Written Paper II respectively). Bach may not be selected when either the set works or the historical period focuses on this composer or his period. Transcriptions will be not be accepted.

If selected as an option, the onus will be on the candidate to choose appropriately for the examination. Examiners will take into account the technical and interpretative suitability of the free-choice work for a programme assessed at this level. Candidates are reminded of the marking criteria under ‘FRCO programme Planning and Stylistic Projection’ on p. 23 of the Diploma Regulations. Three photocopies of the score of the free-choice work must be provided for the use of the examiners. They will be retained by the examiners and then destroyed after the examination.

Click here for additional guidance. Specimen material for the revised FRCO is available in the Purchase Past Papers area of this site.  

Choral Directing Diploma (DipCHD)

The award of the Diploma in Choral Directing indicates a standard of professional expertise in choral conducting technique, rehearsal and interpretation. It also indicates accomplishment in those written disciplines (advanced stylistic techniques and extended choral arrangement) which support practical musicianship, as well as an extensive knowledge of the choral repertoire, and a thorough understanding of vocal and choral technique, and of the administrative and psychological management of singers and choirs. Read more.

Licentiateship in Teaching (LTRCO)

Licentiateship of the College indicates a standard of professional expertise in teaching the organ to students at elementary, intermediate and more advanced levels. It indicates a reflective and methodical approach to the practice of teaching, and shows clarity of purpose in the setting of study objectives, the planning of lessons, the development of technique and the encouragement of musicality. An understanding of student needs, aspirations and learning patterns will be demonstrated, as will competence in those administrative skills needed to organise a teaching practice. Read more.

Assessment Criteria (Diplomas)

For the criteria used by examiners click here.

Examiners' Instructions (Diplomas)

For the Examiners' Instructions (2016) click here.

Academic Dress, Presentation and Prizes (Diplomas)

For details of academic dress, diploma presentation and examination prizes click here.