Brief study guide

The FGCM and the LGCM diplomas are based primarily on self-directed study. It is hoped that you will find the experience and skills developed by this kind of study to be of lasting value, in addition to the subject-specific knowledge acquired.

A. Self-directed study

A1. Keeping in touch

The Guild will do everything that it can to guide you, for example in clarifying points of doubt, or identifying people qualified to give advice, supervision, or support as mentors.

It is important that you get in touch with us whenever you need to, to ask questions and to let us know of any problems with your work. If your progress is being held up, contact us as quickly as possible.

Contact with the Guild should always be made through the Fellowship Secretary who can be contacted by email The Secretary will liaise with the Fellowship Director where appropriate.

A2. Periods of study

Study will normally be spread over 20 to 24 months of part-time study. If you can undertake full-time study, it may be possible for you to complete the work in 10 to 12 months – but this would be exceptional. On the other hand some candidates spend considerably longer, and there is no objection to this, provided that there is clear evidence of purposeful study.

Formerly there were two study periods in each year, one beginning in early September with submissions due on 31 January following, and the other beginning in early February with submissions due on 30 June. If you find this kind of timetable useful in giving clear focus to your efforts, please use it – but it is possible to submit work at any time (although it helps administratively if you give a few weeks’ notice of a forthcoming submission). You may start your studies at any time of the year.

A3. Patterns of study

Each module has a programme of study, with guidance for self-directed learning and the preparation of assignments. Much of this will be based on reading books and articles, supported where appropriate by scores and recordings.

You may already be used to self-directed study, or able to apply skills learned in the course of other employment. However, if you feel apprehensive about organizing and undertaking your studies there is a good deal of helpful literature. An obvious book from an organization well used to distance learning is Andrew Northedge, The Good Study Guide (Milton Keynes, Open University, 1990, available in paperback; revised edition 2005). Another shorter book is Anne Murdoch and Bryn Davies, An Introduction to Self-directed Study (London, Scutari Press, 1992; revised edition 1994).

Especially if you have a demanding day job, you will need to consider how best to allocate time for study, which will include reading and notetaking, assimilation of information, reflection, and the planning of assignments and essays.

You will need to begin by acquiring resources and setting up a study plan. Normally a considerable time should be spent in reading, study, assimilation and reflection, before you start writing your essays, but with composition and practical modules the processes of study and execution may be more intimately intertwined.

If the reading and other studies recommended in the document entitled Course Details seem too challenging (or too undemanding) please get in touch with us. Items in reading lists are generally recommended rather than mandatory, and it may be possible to suggest appropriate alternatives. If you are unsure about the suitability of any alternative study materials that you have discovered for yourself please get in touch.

It is generally better to concentrate on one module or part of a module at a time. Remember also that some modules (e.g. A1 and A2) have general reading which is all but essential before you start on the detailed study areas.

A4. Resources

The lists of books suggested for each module in the Course Details document are comprehensive, but not necessarily exhaustive – for example, some very recent publications are unlikely to be present.

It is unlikely that you will be able to find all the resources you need on the shelves of a local bookshop or library. You can find out fairly readily what books are available in print (and how much they cost) from the internet or from local booksellers.

If you do not have a suitable local supplier one of the largest and most capable suppliers of books on liturgy and music (and of music scores and recordings) is Blackwell’s, at 23–25 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AX. They can be contacted by phone (01865 333580) or email ( Blackwell’s also sell printed music (01865 333582 or and recordings (01865 333581 or

Your local library should be able to obtain books and printed music for you to borrow through the Inter-Library Loans service. There is normally a small fee for this.

Public libraries sometimes grant online access to such resources as The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 2001), Music Online, and to the Naxos Music Library of recordings. Enquire from your local library what resources they can make available, and/or try them if you have any particular request. If you encounter problems, we may be able to advise.

If you live near a university with a Theology (or Religious/Biblical Studies) Department or a Music Department you may be able to register as an external reader on payment of a modest fee. The Fellowship Director will gladly supply you with a letter of introduction. Inter-Library Loans are available through university libraries, but restrictions may apply to external readers.

Many out-of-copyright scores can be accessed at IMSLP/Petrucci Music LibraryThe Choral Public Domain Library can be useful, but some editions are of dubious quality: if in doubt, please ask us. Individual tracks from CDs can often be downloaded cheaply from the internet, for example from iTunes ( ).

B. Some guidelines on undertaking your written work

B1. Preparatory reading and note-taking

It is good to read as widely as you can around the subject of an essay. Assimilate other people’s views and ideas, and then decide what you yourself want to say and how you want to say it, but always remember to make due acknowledgement when you deliberately use the ideas and words of other writers (see Section B4 below).

When you are making notes before writing an essay, make sure that you are clear which are your own ideas and which are summarised or quoted exactly from a previous writer’s work. Later on this will help you avoid accidental and/or unacknowledged borrowings.

B2. Some suggestions for planning and writing an essay

Once you have completed your reading, listening and study for an essay, give yourself time to think about the issues raised by the question you are about to answer. Read the essay title very carefully and note exactly what it asks you to do – writing irrelevantly would seriously affect your mark.

Make sure you are clear which parts of your reading are directly relevant to the question: a different emphasis or approach may be required than that adopted by the author of a book or article you have read. When writing you should avoid having source books and articles open in front of you: work from your outline and notes, and just use the books to check details.

Lay out the main points of the essay as headings and sub-headings, and be ready to re-organize them so that they make a coherent series of points. Develop this skeleton into more detailed notes for each section, and give careful thought to how the various sections will contribute to the essay as a whole. Consider which examples you want to refer to, including any quotations from or direct references to books and articles. Decide how you want to introduce the essay, and how you want to conclude it. At the simplest you may want to outline your intentions in the introduction, and draw together your main points in the conclusion.

B3. How original does your work need to be?

Sometimes, particularly when studying a new subject area, you may find that you have few if any ideas that are really different from those in the works of previous writers. This is not a matter of concern, because for the Fellowship diploma you are not expected to present new ideas. Of course it is excellent if you do come up with new ideas or new information, but it is not required.

What you are expected to do is to show a knowledge and understanding of your subject, supported by the available books and articles written about it. You must also structure your own argument, and use your own words, apart from occasional quotations perhaps. It is unacceptable to submit an essay which is dependent on passages copied or closely derived from other author(s). This is plagiarism. Examiners usually detect it easily enough, and will award low marks, below pass standard, in such cases.

B4. Quotations, references and music examples

When you briefly quote a previous writer’s exact words, place them in quotation marks (inverted commas).

If you include a more extended quotation (more than about 25 words), indent it as a separate paragraph, and do not use quotation marks.

Each quotation must be identified: you must name the writer and state exactly where you found the words you have borrowed. This is often done in footnotes or endnotes. However you may include short references to author, work, date and page number in the main text (e.g. by writing ‘As David Brown points out in Thomas Weelkes (1969), p.141…’), but if you do so, ensure that the book or article cited is included in, and clearly identifiable from, the bibliography.

There is no single correct way of doing all this, but be consistent. Do ask us for advice if you are uncertain how best to present references, and/or consult the document How to set out bibliographical details.

In particular, people are often doubtful about how to present the title of works and individual items from works. Proper titles of complete musical works are normally given in italic (Messiah) or, in handwritten work, are underlined (Messiah). Items within works normally appear within quotation marks (‘For unto us a child is born’). Similarly titles of books appear in italic or underlined and titles of articles in quotation marks.

If you have music examples, head them as Ex. 1 or Example 1 (not e.g. 1). Try where possible to choose your own music examples; do not simply copy those selected by the author of a book or article you have consulted.

B5. Style

Write in a clear, accessible style. Do not make your sentences long and convoluted: be ready to divide a long sentence into two. You are writing for others to read and need to communicate clearly your subject and argument, and also to engage your readers’ attention and interest.

Clarity and accessibility do not mean that your style should be informal or casual. Above all avoid colloquialism and slang, but also such spoken contractions as ‘don’t’ and ‘can’t’ – write these out in full. Check your spelling and syntax carefully. Computer spell-checkers usually default to American spellings, which may differ from those usually accepted in the UK, but it is normally possible to change the settings to British English.

In preparing written work you may find the following books helpful:

  • New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, ed. A. Stevenson and L. Brown (OUP, 2005)
  • New Oxford Spelling Dictionary, ed. M. Waite (OUP, 2005)

There are similar dictionaries from other publishers.

B6. Presentation

For word-processed essays, use font size 12 and 1.5 or double line-spacing except for any footnotes or endnotes which may be font size 11 and less widely spaced. Although it is unlikely these days, work may be produced on a typewriter if necessary, using double line-spacing except for any footnotes or endnotes.

Remember that two copies should be submitted, one of which may be a photocopy: see Section D below. However, it is perfectly acceptable to submit essays electronically, preferably as PDFs.

Every essay must include a bibliography which lists all the books and articles you have consulted in preparing and writing it. A discography, giving details of recordings heard, should be provided, if it is appropriate to your chosen subject. If relevant, you may also add a diary of public performances that you have attended or in which you have been involved as a performer.

Scores for modules from Groups C and E may be handwritten or produced on a score-writing package such as Sibelius. Please number all pages, label all voice and instrumental parts, and ensure that all necessary performance directions (tempo, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) are included. There is useful guidance on music notation at, for example, Indiana Style Guide, and in the books cited there.

C. Some notes on attainment and evaluation

C1. Level of attainment

In order to pass the diploma you must complete satisfactorily seven modules if you offer module D2 (which has a double weighting) in Part Two, or eight modules if D2 is not offered. You must achieve a minimum standard of 40% in each module. 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 at 40%.

C2. Evaluation of individual modules

Examiners will assess your work in accordance with the Guide for Fellowship Examiners and Candidates published as an appendix to the online Programme of Study and Assessment document. Study this guide carefully, so that you can understand what examiners are looking for at different levels of attainment – for example, written work awarded 40% (the minimum pass mark) must demonstrate ‘some academic competence [with] some aspects that are satisfactory’ whereas an essay with a mark of 70%+ must show ‘distinction and…insight’.

Above all, you must try to write accurately and relevantly, to organise your work logically with a clear ‘argument’. A good prose style is important. Accurate spelling, grammar and syntax are vital.

On the matter of originality, see again the last paragraph of Section B3 above.

You will receive a written report on your work, with guidance for further development or improvement where appropriate.

D. Submission of work

Written submissions should be posted or emailed to the Fellowship Secretary, Edward Scott. His postal address is 5 Brackenley Grove, Embsay, Skipton, North Yorks. BD23 6QW. His email address is If posting hard copy, two copies are required, one of which may be a photocopy.

Further information on the submission of work appears in Section 8 of the online Programme of Study and Assessment document, and must be read.

E. Notification of results

You will normally receive formal notification of your result for each module within six weeks of submitting your work, together with a written report.

If the outcome should be unsatisfactory, please see Programme of Study and Assessment, Section 11.

F. A Final Word

The Fellowship Director and Fellowship Secretary hope very much that you will enjoy and profit from your studies and that you will complete the course successfully.