History: Started in 1949 in a couple of rooms in Cardiff Castle as the Cardiff College of Music. Expanded quickly. In 1977 it spread to new purpose-built buildings in the castle grounds.

Address: Cathays Park, behind Cardiff Castle, built on Roman remains.

Ambience: Picturesque surroundings.

Who's the boss? Hilary Boulding is principal. Prior to taking up the post in 2007 she had worked as head of music strategy for the Arts Council of England and head of arts and music at BBC Wales.

Prospectus: 029 2039 1361, visit the website here and follow @RWCMD.

UCAS code: R86 (acting, stage management and theatre design)

CUKAS code: R59 (music)

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Not particularly, no. Two A-levels (or equivalent) or just plenty of talent, with musicians expected to be able to play at grade 8. Expect a tough interview or audition.

Vital statistics: Wales's national conservatoire has 640 students. Around one-third study theatre-related subjects and the rest study music. Just over a quarter are postgraduates. RWCMD is part of the Glamorgan Group and its courses are validated by the University of Glamorgan. Courses are practical. It presents more than 300 performances a year.

Added value: In the main building there are teaching and rehearsal rooms, the Bute Theatre, Caird Studio and Sir Geraint Evans recital room. A £2.3m wing in converted listed stables houses the award-winning Anthony Hopkins centre, named after the actor. The centre has three performance spaces (the Weston Gallery, the Corus Recital Room and the S4C studio), a professional recording room and 25 practice rooms. The completion of £22.5m in developments saw the opening of five new buildings in June 2011. The new facilities include: the Richard Burton Theatre; four state-of-the-art, full-sized, double-height rehearsal studios: the Dora Stoutzker Hall; the Linbury Gallery; and a café bar and terrace overlooking Bute Park. Strong links with Welsh National Opera and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Good employment record as at the end of the course, student actors showcase their work in Cardiff, Manchester and London.

Teaching: The only institute in the UK to provide specialist conservatoire training in music, acting, theatre design, stage management and arts management. The college collaborates with leading arts and cultural organisations and visiting professionals to ensure that the teaching environment reflects the current practices and conditions of the working world. It’s rare in the conservatoire sector in offering music technology. Junior music department and access studies (JMAS) runs on Saturdays, and attracts children from the ages of four to 18.

Research: Staff at the college are active in a wide range of creatively-driven research projects, particularly those relating to contemporary professional practice in music, drama and design, innovative approaches to learning and teaching at advanced levels, and the promotion of a lively and inclusive research culture of national significance.

Any accommodation? Yes - a new hall of residence opened ten minutes from the campus in 2006 with rooms costing from roughly £100 per week.

Cheap to live there? You bet - self-catering rooms in private houses can cost as little as £65 per week.

Transport links: Good for planes, trains, coach, car and bicycle. The college is well served by the M4 and Cardiff Wales Airport. Main rail and bus stations within walking distance. Trains to London run every hour, taking under two hours.

Fees: £9,000 for home and EU students, per year.

Bursaries: Students who perform well at interview or audition are put forward for bursaries, ranging between £1,000 and the full cost of fees.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: The college bar has live bands, promotions and events nights arranged by the students' union. City has lively club scene.

Sporting facilities: Linked to Cardiff's students' union so students can make use of all the facilities and clubs on offer there.

Glittering alumni: Sir Anthony Hopkins; Keith Allen, actor and father of Lily; Rob Brydon, actor; Rosemary Joshua, opera singer; Dougray Scott, actor; Anthony Stuart Lloyd, opera singer; Rakia Ayola, actor; Ruth Jones, actor; Aneurin Barnard, actor; Kimberley Nixon, actor; Tim Routeledge, stage manager; Dave Stapleton, jazz musician and composer.