Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Composition MMus

Awards: MMus

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Composition

This programme seeks curious, open-minded, adaptable and highly creative individuals who are keen to acquire new skills and consolidate their existing knowledge across all areas of new music creation.

You may have been making music in your bedroom with experimental sound software or have three string quartets under your belt. You could be a trained performer looking to develop a new musical voice by creating new sounds, systems and music for your instrument, or you could be hoping to skill up so that you are attractive to the film and game music industries.

Whatever your compositional background and whatever your compositional ambitions, if you have been composing and creating music at university level or producing work and sharing it with your community, this programme will help you learn a great deal more about your craft and to expand your potential as a creative musician.

This Composition Masters Programme offers its students broad skills training aiming to prepare the most imaginative and versatile musical minds for a future in music-making across the creative industries.

This is a strongly interdisciplinary programme of study during which you will have the opportunity to create:

  • acoustic and instrumental music
  • screen/film/animation music
  • interactive game audio 
  • sound installations and sonic art

Graduates of the programme will have professional, practical, analytical and intellectual skills to take into music-related industries or on towards further academic study, such as a PhD.


The Reid School has access to a range of fabulous venues for creating, rehearsing and performing new music. The Reid Concert hall is a 19th Century 250-seat concert space with professional recording facilities attached. The West Court is a large public art and performance venue ideal for experimental and new musical work. The Wee Red Bar is a perfect venue for Jazz, electronic and other forms of amplified music. St Cecilia’s Hall is Scotland’s oldest concert hall and features an extraordinary collection of rare musical instruments and a unique acoustic. Five production studios in stereo or 5.1 configurations currently based in Alison House, the home of the Reid School of Music, enhance these spaces.

There are numerous labs and maker-spaces across the campus and various bookable spaces available for recording experiments and installations. There is also a bank of music practice rooms available in the basement of Alison House.

We have developed two 360-degree audio mixing spaces which are available for experiments in VR, AR, Dolby Atmos and ambisonics.

We have stocked our studio cupboard with a wealth of microphones, location recorders, cameras, speakers, cables and VR equipment available for booking and flexible use.

We also run an annual festival of experimental electronic music called Dialogues.

The Reid School of Music is an All Steinway School with 28 pianos available for performance and rehearsal across the campus.

Across six taught courses and an extensive final project, you will attend a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • workshop sessions

External professionals in the field of new music and related areas provide occasional input to support this. We are especially proud to work closely with our Ensemble In Residence, currently the Plus Minus Ensemble, a collection of internationally renowned and diversely talented creative musicians. The Ensemble visit us three times per year and run workshops, master classes and concerts.

Plus Minus Ensemble

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MMusComposition1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

Students who follow this programme will:

  • obtain a broad foundation in music composition across multiple genres, contexts and fields
  • explore the use of techniques and technologies involved in contemporary composition in a creative way
  • be able to analyse and think deeply about new musical composition and its role in a wider creative arts environment
  • develop understanding of the scope and limitations of music-related technologies and techniques as they apply to composition
  • engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration in the context of audiovisual and media practice
  • discover new creative uses of advanced technologies and compositional techniques
  • foster the ability to work cooperatively in groups in the context of design

The rich, cross-disciplinary programme of study we offer provides graduates with advanced skills in composing across formats and in a range of contexts from film and game music through to music for theatre and music for the concert hall, album, mobile phone or studio.

As a graduate of this programme you will feel empowered to take on commissions in professional compositional areas and to pursue your own creative path as an independent composer.

Graduates from our composition degrees are now working in the following industries:

  • theatre
  • radio
  • TV and video games
  • sound recording
  • live performance
  • gigging singer-songwriting

And many are active on the global music scene as composers in residences with:

  • orchestras
  • ensembles
  • educational projects
  • other art spaces

Many are running successful music-related businesses around the world, and several have PhDs and are pursuing academic careers.

You will gain a wide variety of transferable skills, such as the ability to research & analyse music, structure & manage your time, work and communicate effectively as part of an arts production team. These skills will increase your employability across the arts and further afield.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as music, sound design, sonic arts, media arts, film and animation music, radio, accompanied by a portfolio introducing us to some recent work that you are proud of.

Your portfolio should include three pieces of work and can include a range of items such as acoustic, electronic, score-based or media music, a small collection of sound recordings, performances or documentation of a sound-based project, such as an installation, film or animation.

Whatever you include, it should clearly be your own work. A short explanation of your role in collaborative projects is required. Your portfolio is best uploaded with the application as a PDF file with explanations about the projects and links to the work hosted on a reliable and accessible online platform.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements or if you do not have a music-related degree, we may still consider your application if you have significant professional composition-related experience supported by a substantial portfolio. Please contact us to check before you apply.

Students from China

This degree is Band C

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Depending upon your main interests and what you hope to achieve in your final project you may face some additional costs relating to realising aspects of your work.

ECA is well stocked with technical sound equipment and a wide range of hardware and software to assist the development of your learning and research.

Most students have their own laptop, but there is bookable access to fast, effective lab machines and some laptops available for loan.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MMusComposition1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MMusComposition2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

You can now only apply for this programme if you are eligible for the UK/Scotland fee rate, including the EU/EEA Pre-settled Scotland fee status.

If you apply with another fee status your application will be rejected.

Work out your fee status

Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 July 2024

(Revised 13 May 2024 as programme now only accepting applications from students with UK/Scotland fee status)

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU