The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, whose alumni include James Bond star Daniel Craig, Stars Wars actor Ewan McGregor and Beatles producer Sir George Martin, was handed the taught degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council following a two-year process, which included audit and observation by the Quality Assurance Agency’s scrutiny team over the entire 2012-13 academic year.
The school, based in a new £90 million building attached to London’s Barbican Centre, had previously taught bachelor’s and master’s degrees validated by the University of Kent and City University London.
The school originally opened as the Guildhall School of Music in 1877 in central London and moved to the Barbican arts complex in 1977.
It has produced some of Britain’s most acclaimed and commercially successful actors, including the Shakespearean theatre star Simon Russell Beale, Lord of the Rings actor Orlando Bloom, TV actress Sarah Lancashire, Homeland’s Damien Lewis and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery.
Musicians to have studied there include Sir James Galway and Jacqueline Du Pre.
Barry Ife, the school’s principal, said the new powers were important because it would help Guildhall to achieve academic autonomy. It plans to award its first degrees in autumn 2015.
Universities and science minister David Willetts congratulated Guildhall on its achievement, saying it had a “long and prestigious track record in the UK”.
“It is right that institutions, such as Guildhall, that have met the rigorous standards necessary should be able to award their own degrees,” he added.