Programme of study and assessment

The Fellowship diploma (‘FGCM’) is the highest qualification awarded by the Guild of Church Musicians. It is open to musicians who work within the Christian Church, regardless of denomination. Study and assessment are undertaken through the medium of the English language.

1. Aims and objectives

The course for the Fellowship diploma enables church musicians to build on previous studies for the Archbishops’ Certificate in Church Music and/or other qualifications in church music of at least equivalent status. It is designed to promote the highest standards in practical work and a greatly enhanced knowledge and understanding of Christian worship and its music.

The various modules, as listed in Section 4 below, cover a wide range of topics and activities, with a view to encouraging some degree of specialisation while ensuring a breadth of understanding and awareness of essential issues.Back to top

2. Level and scope

The Fellowship diploma is a self-contained qualification. It is not part of the national credit transfer scheme operated in Higher Education in the United Kingdom, but is designed to be compatible with that scheme. It is a postgraduate diploma, and is equivalent to 120 credits in the national accreditation scheme. Back to top.

3. Structure

The diploma is in two parts, each consisting of 60 credits. Part One must be successfully completed before work for Part Two is undertaken.

For Part One a candidate offers four modules of 15 credits each. These are selected from three groups:

Group A: Christian liturgy and worship
Group B: Studies in church music
Group C: Composition and arrangement

Each candidate must choose at least one module from Group A, and at least one from Section B. Section C is optional.

Part Two provides opportunities for study in greater detail and depth. There are three groups of modules:

Group D: Studies in music and worship
Group E: Composition
Group F: Practical studies

Each candidate must choose at least one module, and no more than three modules, from Group F (to make up 15, 30 or 45 credits of the 60 required for Part Two). Back to top

4. Outline of study

Part One

As explained above, each candidate must undertake four modules of 15 credits each for Part One, including at least one module from Group A and one from Group B.

For example, a candidate might choose to offer modules A1, B1, B3 and B7. Among many other possible combinations would be modules A1, A2, B4 and B6, or modules A2, B8, C1 and C3.

For each module from Groups A and B two essays are required, each of 3,750–4,000 words.
Group A: Christian liturgy and worship
A1. Historical outline of Christian liturgy and worship
A2. Modern Christian liturgy, worship and pastoral theology (since c.1950)
Group B: Studies in church music
B1. Western liturgical chant
B2. European polyphonic sacred music (c.1100-1620)
B3. Vernacular hymnody and metrical psalms (c.1500-present)
B4. English cathedral music (c.1480-present)
B5. Protestant music in Continental Europe (c.1520-1750)
B6. Music and the Roman Catholic Church from the Council of Trent to Vatican II
B7. Trends in church music since 1950
B8. Popular and multicultural music in contemporary worship
Group C: Composition and arrangement
C1. Composition
C2. Writing for voices
C3. Arrangement

Part Two

Part One must be completed successfully before a candidate may proceed to Part Two.

As explained above, each candidate must undertake 60 credits of study, including at least 15 credits and not more than 45 credits from Group F. In many cases four modules will be offered for Part Two, but if module D2 (worth 30 credits) is chosen only two other modules will be required.

A candidate for Part Two might, for example, choose to offer modules D1, D2 (30 credits) and F4. Among many other possible combinations would be modules E3, F1, F3 and F5, or modules D1, E1, E2 and F6. Back to top
Group D: Studies in music and worship
D1. Extended essay (15 credits: 7,000-7,500 words)
D2. Dissertation (30 credits: 14,000-15,000 words)
All Group D topic(s) must be submitted to the Fellowship Secretary for approval and possible refinement before work begins. See Section 7 below for further details.
Group E: Composition
E1. Portfolio of arrangements for instruments and voices for use in worship, lasting 15-20 minutes in performance (15 credits)
E2. Portfolio of compositions for use in worship, lasting 15-20 minutes in performance (15 credits)
E3. Portfolio of sacred compositions, lasting 15-20 minutes in performance (15 credits)
The proposed content of each portfolio must be submitted to the Fellowship Secretary for approval and possible refinement before work begins. See Section 7 for further details.
Group F: Practical studies
F1. Choral director (rehearsing and conducting) (15 credits)
F2. Cantor and animateur (15 credits)
F3. Music group leader (rehearsing and conducting) (15 credits)
F4. Accompanist (organ and/or piano) (15 credits)
F5. Solo performer (15 credits)
F6. Choral singer (15 credits)
In F1–F3 assessment consists of practical sessions, followed by discussion with examiners. In F4 and F6 assessment consists of practical sessions, followed by practical tests. In F5 assessment consists of a performance, followed by discussion with examiners. Further, see Section 7.

5. Workload and periods of study

The total study time required for the Fellowship diploma is estimated at 800 hours (roughly 100 hours for each module of 15 credits). Work will normally be spread over 20 to 24 months of part-time study. Exceptionally, a candidate who can undertake full-time study will be able to complete the work for the diploma in 10 to 12 months. If study takes more than 48 months, a re-registration fee may be required.

There are two study periods in each year. One of these begins in September with submissions due on 31 January following, and the other begins in February with submissions due on 30 June. Part-time candidates normally undertake studies over four study periods, taking modules totalling 30 credits during each. It is possible to commence formal study either in September or February. 

6. Mode of study

The diploma is designed as a self-directed learning programme. Each module has a defined programme of study (as indicated in the Course Details document on the Guild’s website).

Candidates may wish to seek specialist advice from others, and may arrange for this privately. Alternatively the Guild can suggest names of possible tutors for face-to-face personal tuition and/or supervision at a distance. Distance supervision may include postal correspondence, email and telephone consultation, as appropriate to candidate and tutor. Where there is sufficient demand (not fewer than five candidates) centres of study may be established in those cathedrals and other places which offer teaching for the ACertCM.

7. Assessment

Assessment is conducted by the Guild’s examiners. The ‘Guide for Fellowship Examiners and Candidates’ is printed below as an appendix.
Part One In Part One the assessment of each module is based on the submission of specified assignments.

In the case of modules from Groups A and B, candidates submit two essays, each with a word count of about 3,750–4,000 words. The essay titles for each module, from which candidates may select any two, are published in the Course Details document.

The requirements for each module from Group C, as set out in the Course Details document, are intended to make similar demands to those for each module from Groups A and B.
Part Two In Part Two a candidate has the opportunity to study in greater depth and with a stronger focus than in Part One, and assessment in Groups D and E allows the candidate to select more specific areas of writing, composition and arrangement.

Group D If offering module D1 and/or D2, topics must be submitted to the Fellowship Secretary for approval and possible refinement before the period of study begins (by 31 December or 30 June as appropriate). If modules D1 and D2 are both offered, the two studies must be on clearly distinct topics.

Group E For Group E, three types of task are listed in Section 4 above; there is additional detail and appropriate guidance in the Course Details document. Candidates may however propose alternative(s) of their own. In all cases the proposed content of the portfolio(s) must be submitted to the Fellowship Secretary for approval and possible refinement before the period of study begins (by 31 December or 30 June as appropriate).

Group F For Group F the nature of the practical assignments is defined in the module descriptions. A detailed proposal identifying relevant materials for the elements selected by the candidate must be submitted to the Fellowship Secretary before the period of study begins (by 31 December or 30 June as appropriate).
The practical assessment will normally take place towards the end of the study period (in late June or late January). It may be conducted in one or more of the following ways, at the discretion of the Guild:

a live assessment at the candidate’s church or chapel;
b live assessment at a centre set up by the Guild;
c exceptionally, by means of a recording.

In the case of c, the Fellowship Secretary will advise on the type of recording to be submitted. Two copies of the recording should be sent to the Fellowship Secretary, to arrive not later than 31 January or 30 June. 

8. Submission of Work

If candidates wish to submit work electronically, the Fellowship Secretary must be consulted well in advance of the submission date.

Work for modules from Groups A, B and D may be word-processed or typed in accordance with Section B6 of the Brief Study Guide. If posted, two copies must be sent to the Fellowship Secretary, to arrive not later than 31 January or 30 June. One copy may be a photocopy. Candidates should keep a copy of each piece of work submitted.

Section B5 of the online Brief Study Guide for Fellowship must be read for further information on the presentation of work for Groups A, B and D.

Work for modules from Groups C and E may be handwritten or produced on a score-writing package such as Sibelius. If posted, two copies of the scores to be submitted must be sent to the Fellowship Secretary, to arrive not later than 31 January or 30 June. One copy may be a photocopy. Candidates should keep a copy of each piece of work submitted.

If it is impossible to meet a submission deadline, candidates must contact the Fellowship Secretary as soon as possible, and always in advance of the deadline. Back to top

9. Pre-requisites; Exemptions

Candidates for the Fellowship diploma must be members of the Guild of Church Musicians at the time of registration and must remain so during the full period of study.
It is expected that candidates will normally hold the award of ACertCM.

Candidates who do not hold the ACertCM may be granted exemption from taking it if they have other qualifications of at least equal standing that relate to the worship of the Church and its music. In some other cases it may be possible to demonstrate that non-examined study, knowledge and experience of the Church and its music are sufficiently substantial to justify exemption.

Candidates who wish to be considered for exemption from ACertCM should contact the Fellowship Secretary, giving appropriate information about their qualifications or previous experience. The Fellowship Secretary may ask for supplementary information, and/or a reference from appropriate person(s) (e.g. parish priest or minister, head of department, tutor) reporting on the candidate’s contribution to Christian worship and the musical life of the Church. The Guild’s decision will be final.

Exceptionally candidates who already hold academic or practical qualifications (e.g. qualifications awarded by a Theological College or University or from the Royal College of Organists) may be granted exemption from up to a total of 30 credits, which may be drawn from Part One and/or Part Two. Candidates who wish to be considered for such exemption should contact the Fellowship Secretary. The Guild’s decision will be final. 

10. Completion of study and award of the Fellowship diploma

In order to pass the diploma a candidate must complete satisfactorily 120 credits of study and achieve a minimum mark of 40% in each module. This normally means completing eight modules (or seven if module D2 (30 credits) is offered in Part Two). If a module has two essays, it is the average of the two marks that determines the outcome: 45% for one essay and 35% for the other would constitute a pass.

Candidates receive a signed report for each submission. Those who complete the whole course successfully are invited to receive their diplomas at the Guild’s annual Presentation ceremony (generally held in London in a church or cathedral following an act of worship). By authority of the Council of the Guild they may use the letters ‘FGCM’, and wear the approved academic hood.

11. Unsatisfactory attainment in a module

Candidates who achieve a mark below 40% are permitted to take the module again once only or to take another in its place in the following session (e.g. a candidate who submits work for assessment on 31 January and fails to achieve 40% may repeat the module or take a replacement in the study period beginning in the following September).

Candidates may proceed with other studies in Part One even though a module has not been passed at a satisfactory level, but may not proceed from Part One to Part Two until all the necessary modules for Part One have been passed satisfactorily. 

12. Application, enrolment and fees

Prospective candidates should complete a registration form and send it to the Fellowship Secretary with any necessary or appropriate additional information (e.g. about possible exemptions: see Section 9 above). Candidates who meet the criteria to enrol will normally begin work in the study period following (beginning in September or February).

The fees for each part of the diploma are at present £200 (UK students) or £240 (overseas students).

A candidate (UK or overseas) who repeats or replaces a module pays the full fee for the module: £50 (module of 15 credits), £100 (module of 30 credits). The fee for re-submission of a single assignment from each module is £50 (UK), £60 (overseas).

The fees listed above cover all assessment, but not any tuition received. Support materials are freely available online – notably the Brief Study Guide and the Course Details document. 

Appendix

The Guild of Church Musicians Guide for Fellowship Examiners and Candidates

First and second markers are asked to confer and agree a mark in terms of percentage. The following may be used as a guide but, in all cases, it should be borne in mind that candidates are working independently, probably without teaching, guidance or supervision.
70%+ Grade A
Excellent: In the case of Group A, B and D modules this is outstanding work showing distinction and demonstrating insight, awareness of a wide range of literature, excellent presentation, independence and individuality of thought. Marks of 80%+ should be awarded to work of professional achievement and originality that may be suitable for publication.

In the case of Group C and E modules the compositions/arrangements display a high level of musical imagination and some originality, reinforced by technical mastery of resources, firm structural control and notational precision. Marks of 80%+ should be awarded to work of professional achievement and originality that may be suitable for publication.

In the case of Group F modules the performance/direction displays a high level of technical mastery and musicality, combined with scrupulous attention to the composer’s intentions and to period style. Marks of 80%+ should be awarded to work of professional achievement (e.g. a performance of national broadcast or commercial CD quality).
60–69% Grade B
Strong pass: In the case of Group A, B and D modules the work is competent throughout and demonstrates qualities such as imagination, independence of thought and individuality.

In the case of Groups C and E modules the compositions/arrangements display consistency of musical imagination, structural cogency and good technical control of resources. Presentation is of a high standard.

In the case of Group F modules the performance/direction displays a high level of technical ability and musicality, combined with overall attention to the composer's intentions and to period style.
50–59% Grade C
Clear pass: In the case of Group A, B and D modules the work is competent in all aspects, but does not go beyond this, It does not demonstrate individuality, wide-ranging critical reference, etc.

In the case of Group C and E modules the compositions/arrangements display some musical imagination and creativity. Technical control of resources is adequate, as are formal considerations and presentation.

In the case of Group F modules the performance/direction displays a satisfactory level of technical ability and musicality, combined with some attention to the composer's intentions and to period style.
40–49% Grade D
Bare pass: In the case of Group A, B and D modules the work demonstrates some academic competence and there are aspects that are satisfactory.

In the case of Group C and E modules the compositions/arrangements display limited creativity and limited technical and presentational awareness.

In the case of Group F modules the performance/direction displays some technical ability and musicality, combined with limited attention to the composer's intentions and to period style.
36–39% Grade E
Compensatable fail: In the case of Group A, B, C, D and E modules the work falls short of the required standard, though errors and shortcomings outlined in the examiners’ report are capable of correction. The candidate may re-submit the work after carrying out revisions, or may take another module in its place.

In the case of Group F modules the performance/direction falls short of the required standard, though the errors and shortcomings outlined in the examiners’ report are capable of correction. The candidate may re-take the module, offering the same or an amended programme, or may take another in its place.
35% or less Grade F
Outright fail: In the case of Group A, B, C, D, E and F modules the work is not satisfactory. The candidate may not re-take the module until after a period of at least six months, but may take another module in its place at any time within four years of registering for the Fellowship diploma.

Examiners are asked to avoid agreeing marks of 39%, 49%, 59%, 69% and 79%.