History: Founded in 1822, and moved to its present home in 1911. The first conservatoire to introduce a BMus course (four-year degree), with King's College London in 1991. Now a full college of the University of London.

Address: Marylebone Road, right next to Regent's Park in the centre of London.

Ambience: Brick and sandstone building containing grand concert hall.

Who's the boss? Jonathan Freeman-Attwood is a performer, writer and recording producer as well as principal of the Academy.

Prospectus: 020 7873 7393, view it online here and follow @RoyalAcadMusic.

UCAS code: Apply through CUKAS, Conservatoires UK Admissions Service.

What you need to know

Easy to get into? You need two A-levels, an A or B in music and a B or C in one other subject. Entrance audition is tough and counts for the most, with "evidence of professional performing potential in your principal study, sound general musicianship and a good aural response" being the main priority.

Vital statistics: One of the best places to learn how to play or compose classical music and opera, although it does jazz and media music too. It's small: around 700 students from around 50 different countries. Teaching staff are top professionals, including conductors Jane Glover and Sian Edwards,violinist Maxim Vengerov and composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Added value: Home to an opera theatre, concert and rehearsal rooms, library, electronic studios, restaurant, bar and a museum and research centre, which opened in 2001. New recital hall, extra performance and rehearsal space and a public museum of music with free entry. Here you can see some of the academy's stunning collection of musical instruments.

Teaching: Scored 88 per cent for student satisfaction in the latest National Student Survey.

Research: Ranked as Britain's top conservatoire, based on results from the national Research Assessment Exercise. The museum is becoming a major centre for performance-based research, with several public events every week.

Any accommodation? None of its own but students have access to a range of accommodation through the University of London's housing office, costing from £124 to £441 per week.

Cheap to live there? No - most students live out but local rents are around £110 per week for a room in a shared flat.

Transport links: Close to tube and bus.

Fees: Study options range in price from a £9,000 per year BMus to around £10,000 for a postgraduate course.

Bursaries: Considerably more are now offered, with means-tested bursaries available to full fee-paying undergrads who meet the eligibility criteria. Three National Scholarship Programme awards for those from households with an annual income below £25,000. Merit scholarships are offered to those showing particularly great potential at audition irrespective of household income.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Small, comfy bar. Much of the entertainment is classical music. The students' union lays on discos, balls and international nights. If you want to party hard, all the sights and sounds of London are on your doorstep.

Sporting reputation: RAM students can use the University of London's facilities including Energybase private health and fitness club.

Glittering alumni: Elton John; conductors Sir Simon Rattle and Edward Gardner; composers Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Michael Nyman; singers Dame Felicity Lott, Jean Rigby and Katherine Jenkins; the pianist Joanna MacGregor; the percussionist Evelyn Glennie; Christopher Warren-Green, violinist.