About the Brian May Scholarship


The Brian May Scholarship was established under the Will of the late Brian May, one of Australia’s greatest film composers, who passed away on April 25, 1997. Brian May was passionate about supporting and promoting the art of film composition in Australia.

The Scholarship assists promising Australian screen composers (ordinarily resident in Australia) to study screen scoring at an overseas educational institution. The Trustees for the Scholarship have been given the power to choose an education programme which fulfils Brian May’s stated wishes in his Will.

The Trust offers a scholarship to assist awardees to study for a Master of Music Degree in screen scoring at the Thornton School, University of Southern California.

This Master of Music Degree provides a broad-based curriculum and intensive professional training in film scoring, combining music theory, practice and industry experience.

It is intended that the Brian May Scholarship will be awarded every two years subject to economic conditions and demand.

The USC Thornton Experience

USC Thornton’s Department of Screen Scoring offers a Master of Music program that is deeply integrated with the Los Angeles film and television industry.

Originally established by Morten Lauridsen, the program has been led by prominent figures like Buddy Baker and Daniel Carlin, evolving to include a comprehensive curriculum covering both orchestral and electronic scoring, recording, and music editing. Students gain hands-on experience through recording sessions at major LA studios with top-tier musicians and engage in projects with the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The faculty comprises active industry professionals across various disciplines, providing students with valuable insights and networking opportunities. This program prepares students for a range of career options in the multimedia marketplace, emphasizing composition, collaboration, and production.

2025 – 2026 Scholarship Announcement

Scholarship Value for 2025 – 2026: The scholarship value, as determined by the Trustees in accordance with the will of the late Brian May, is set at a fixed amount of AU$95,000. This amount will be allocated as a contribution towards tuition and related fees for the selected candidate.

Important Considerations: Applicants should note that the scholarship does not cover the full cost of tuition and other fees required to complete the course at USC Thornton. Additionally, the cost of living in Los Angeles is notably high. Potential applicants are advised to thoroughly research and understand the likely expenses for travel, tuition, equipment, books, materials, accommodation, and general living costs for the duration of the course of study.

Scholarship Eligibility

1. Scholarship Eligibility

(a) Applicants must be ordinarily resident in Australia, which means that:

(i) the applicant’s permanent home is in Australia; or
(ii) the applicant is temporarily absent but Australia remains the country of their permanent home.

(b) Applicants must demonstrate a permanent residence status in Australia rather than a casual or intermittent stay.
(c) Applicants residing in Australia temporarily or for a specific or non-permanent purpose will not be considered ordinarily resident.
(d) The Trustees will assess and determine residency status based on all provided evidence in their absolute discretion.

2. Academic Requirements

(a) Applicants must meet the admission requirements of USC Thornton, typically requiring at least a related undergraduate degree.
(b) For detailed entry requirements, visit: https://music.usc.edu/admissions-graduate-student/
(c) Applicants are encouraged to make contact with the faculty for more information.

3. Visa and Immigration Requirements

(a) The successful applicant must possess a valid passport and obtain a student visa to the USA, including a completed non-immigrant visa application.
(b) International students must register as full-time students with USC Thornton.
(c) Please refer to https://music.usc.edu/admission/international/ and other information on the USC website.

4. Visa Preparation

Visa and entry requirements for the USA are stringent and time-consuming; applicants must ensure they fully understand these requirements and are eligible to enter the USA for this course of study.

Application Process

1. Applicants must complete:

(a) a Brian May Scholarship Application, and
(b) a separate Course Application to be sent directly to USC Thornton.

2. It is emphasised that applicants cannot be considered unless they have completed and lodged both applications.

3. The Brian May Scholarship Application Form is now available by clicking here.

4. There are separate application criteria for the Brian May Scholarship and USC Thornton.

5. Application for admission to USC Thornton must be made directly to USC Thornton and applicants are responsible for meeting all of the relevant requirements.

6. The Brian May Scholarship Application must be made directly to the Trustees and applicants must attach a copy (not the original) of the USC Thornton Application Form (not accompanying materials).

NB The application to us should be online including downloading materials etc.

7. Applicants must attach to their USC Thornton Application a Letter of Authority, which is set out at the end of the Brian May Scholarship Application form.

8. The Trustees are not in a position to assist or advise on any of the requirements of USC Thornton.

Selection Procedure

Brian May Scholarship Application

1. This Application will be reviewed by the Trustees to ensure that the applicant understands, meets and commits to the wishes and intentions of Brian May in establishing the Scholarship under his Will.

2. The matters to be considered include:

(a) appropriate academic qualifications;
(b) background in and commitment to screen scoring, particularly as part of the Australian screen music scene;
(c) interests and ambitions: how would the Scholarship contribute to the applicant’s aspirations?
(d) knowledge of the benefactor, Brian May, and his works;
(e) Australian residential qualifications;
(f) the applicant’s references;
(g) any other matter the Trustees consider relevant

A copy only of the USC Thornton Application (not accompanying materials) must be attached to the Brian May Scholarship Application.

USC Thornton Application

1. All properly completed USC Thornton applications will be separately reviewed by the University in accordance with its normal procedures. The Trustees of the Scholarship play no part in this.

2. Selection
The University will choose and recommend to the Trustees its preferred candidate. Provided the Trustees are satisfied that the nominee meets all of the requirements of the Scholarship, they will confirm the selection and notify the successful candidate.

[Note: candidates will not be notified by USC about the Scholarship award.]

Award and Acceptance

Prior Awardees

Anton Koch – 2003-2004 Scholarship – www.antonkoch.com.au

Geoffrey Russell – 2005-2006 Scholarship – NK

Nicole Brady – 2010-2012 Scholarship – www.nicolebrady.net

Joe Twist – 2012-2014 Scholarship – www.joetwist.com

Nicholas Buc – 2014-2016 Scholarship – www.nicholasbuc.com

Pru Montin – 2016-2018 Scholarship – www.prumontin.com

Ben Heim – 2018-2020 Scholarship – www.benjaminheim.com

Louis Stevens – 2021-2023 Scholarship – www.louisstevenscomposer.com