Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was until September 2011 known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, or "RSAMD". It occupies purpose built accommodation on Renfrew Street in the centre of Glasgow. It is a music and drama school attracting students from over 20 countries. Music courses include a BMus taken over four years, plus a BEd for those who wish to go on to become music teachers. There is also a BA in Scottish music, which can be taken with or without piping. On the drama side there is a four-year BA in contemporary theatre, plus courses on acting, digital film and technical arts.
The Conservatoire is said to be the busiest performing arts venue in Scotland. Its facilities include a number of performance spaces such as the Guinness Room, the Academy Concert Hall, the Chandler Studio Theatre, the New Athenaeum Theatre and the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio. It is also home to a professional recording studio.
The Conservatoire dates its origins to the establishment of the Glasgow Educational Association in 1845 to provide courses in competition with the University of Glasgow. This rapidly changed its name to the Glasgow Commercial College, which in 1847 became part of the Glasgow Athenaeum. In 1888, the commercial teaching side of the Glasgow Athenaeum split off to become the Athenaeum Commercial College which, several name changes later, became a constituent part of the University of Strathclyde in 1964.
In 1890 the remainder of the Glasgow Athenaeum became the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music. This was renamed as the Scottish National Academy of Music in 1929, and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in 1944. In 1950 the Royal Scottish Academy of Music established a drama department called the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art, which in 1962 became the first UK drama school to have a full television studio.
In 1968 the Royal Scottish Academy of Music changed its name to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and introduced its first degree courses, which were validated by the University of Glasgow. In 1993, RSAMD became the first conservatoire in the United Kingdom to be granted its own degree-awarding powers, though its research degrees continue to be validated and awarded by the University of St Andrews.