Postgraduate study

Digital Composition & Performance

Awards: MSc

Funding available

Please be advised that this programme is not being offered by the 2018/19 academic year.

In this dynamic programme you’ll build on your existing musical skills and develop a greater understanding of the theories and techniques of digital composition and performance.

A focus of the programme is bridging the gap between the musical vision and its performance. With this in mind, you will be encouraged to perform your own music in live situations and take your place at the forefront of your music’s realisation.

An emphasis is also placed on the field of digital composition within a wider context, which you will address through seminar work. You’ll learn how to plan a technological project and translate your musical ideas into interactive computer music programmes and/or scores.

Your study will take the form of weekly lectures or seminars, as well as at least 10 hours a week on project work.

You will complete six courses.

In semester 1:

  • Real-Time Performance Strategies and Design
  • Composers’ Seminar A
  • a choice of Sound Design Media, Compositional Practice A, Principles of Composition for Screen or another course as agreed with the Programme Director

In semester 2:

  • Non Real-Time Systems
  • Composers’ Seminar B
  • a choice of Digital Media Studio Project, Compositional Practice B or another course as agreed with the Programme Director

In addition, over the spring and summer, you will prepare a final digital composition and performance project.

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
MScDigital Composition and Performance1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2017/18
MScDigital Composition and Performance2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2017/18

Students will gain in-depth knowledge of:

  • how to make music with computers
  • the combination of hardware and software systems in music performance
  • music programming both in real-time (e.g. Max/MSP) and non-real-time e.g. slippery chicken
  • audio production and post-production
  • how to plan, execute, realise, and document a musical-technological project
  • how to translate musical ideas into fully-functioning interactive music software
  • their own creative practice in the context of past and present cultural developments

As this programme involves a wide range of disciplines both technical and artistic, you will gain a number of transferable skills ranging from the core matters of composition, audio production and music programming to more indirect but highly employable skills such as research, documentation, critical thinking, oral presentation, teamwork and software development.

Our graduates have gone on to be employed as composers, performers, researchers, Cirque du Soleil sound technicians, university lecturers, software engineers, BBC sound recordists, web designers, multimedia/ video streaming engineers, and DJs.

See our alumni webpage for details of the careers of recent graduates:

  • [Music Alumni] (www.dcp.music.ed.ac.uk/alumni.php)

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a sound-related discipline such as music, sound engineering, acoustics, film, animation or art/design.

We may also consider your application if you have a background in another relevant discipline, such as computer science, architecture, education, cognitive science or psychology.

You must have significant experience in composition or a musically related creative activity (e.g. improvisation, sound installation or creative DJing).

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should include at least three contrasting examples of your music and/or scores. By contrasting, we mean music for difference forces (computer-generated music, live electronics, solo instrument, orchestra, etc), with different moods, different lengths etc. This must be music you have composed/created, not performances of other people's work. In addition, please write a few sentences on how you made this music and who performed, if relevant. If the music was made in collaboration with other people, please state clearly what you were responsible for and what role(s) other people performed.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience. If you are applying on the strength of your portfolio you should submit at least five separate pieces of music.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio. You can upload audio files to a hosting site and include a link to the website as part of your online application, or you can submit scores.

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

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX