Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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BSc Mathematics and Music

UCAS code: GW13

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing BSc Mathematics and Music

Mathematics has often been considered an arts subject, with many studying it for the beauty of the subject. Likewise, although a very creative subject, music has many links to mathematics and can be studied as a scientific subject.

On this joint honours programme, you will study elements of mathematics and music and explore the historical connection between these two disciplines. You will split your time evenly between the two subjects over the entire programme.

Areas of study

You will take compulsory mathematics courses, and study the theoretical and cultural aspects of music, such as:

  • listening and musicianship
  • music technology
  • composition

Later in the programme, you can choose to:

  • specialise in particular aspects of mathematics
  • specialise in particular aspects of music
  • examine the links between the two subjects
  • study a broad range of topics across the two subjects

Music performance

Please note that studying music performance is not possible as part of this degree. However, we strongly encourage our students to pursue performance opportunities through the University's societies and ensembles.

List of University societies

(Revised 15 April 2024 to remove the ‘Only apply to one Mathematics programme’ section from the introduction)

This is a four-year programme.

In your first two years, you will study mathematics and music courses, with the potential to study additional outside subjects.

The mathematics courses are compulsory. This allows you to develop as a well-rounded mathematician and widens your options for specialisation later on.

You will have more choice in your music course selections; you can select courses that prepare you for certain pathways, such as music history or composition.

In the final two years of your programme, you will study mathematics and music only. You will split your time evenly between the two subjects.

Please note: the courses below may be subject to change.

Year 1

You will take a number of compulsory mathematics courses. These have previously included:

  • Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • Calculus and its Applications
  • Proofs and Problem Solving

These are common to all our mathematics programmes and will take up half of your timetable. They build on your knowledge of pure mathematics and introduce you to the more rigorous ways of mathematical thinking required at university level.

Music courses

You will also take music courses such as:

  • Topics in Popular Music
  • Psychology of Music

If you are interested in the composition pathway, you can also take a course in Creative Musicianship.

Fundamentals courses

You can also take our fundamentals courses to support your transition to university:

  • Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus - extra preparation in key topics from advanced high school level mathematics
  • Fundamentals of Music Theory - foundational concepts of Western music theory

Year 2

In Year 2, you will spend between half and two-thirds of your time studying mathematics.

You will study a number of compulsory courses that will extend your knowledge of calculus, probability and analysis and introduce you to the abstract ideas of group theory. Compulsory courses have previously included:

  • Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics
  • Several Variable Calculus and Differential Equations

Optional courses

Optional mathematics courses have previously included:

  • Statistics
  • Computing and Numerics
  • Probability
  • Facets of Mathematics

You will also continue to take courses in music. Year 2 topics vary, but current options include:

  • Understanding Music History 1: Critical Approaches to Music from the Middle Ages to the Late Eighteenth Century
  • Architectural Acoustics and Spatial Sound
  • Composing for Voices and Instruments
  • Sound Recording

Year 3

In Year 3, you will study two compulsory mathematics honours courses, and have the option to start to specialise within your degree.

Our compulsory mathematics courses provide an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics and prepare you for the options available later on.

Each honours course contains a skills component. This enables you to develop valuable employability skills such as:

  • programming
  • group work
  • presentation skills

You are encouraged to study Research Methods in Music, to support you with music courses in the latter part of your degree.

Optional courses

You will spend the rest of your time studying optional mathematics and music courses.

In music, you will have the option to specialise within your degree by choosing from a selection of focused topics spanning areas such as:

  • composition
  • history
  • analysis

Current music course options include:

  • Instrumentation and Timbre
  • Screen Music History: texts and contexts

In mathematics, you will have a selection of courses to choose from to allow you to begin specialising in the subject.

Previous mathematics optional courses have included:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • Statistical Computing

It is also possible to combine mathematics and music together by studying courses such as:

  • Musical Applications of Fourier Theory and Digital Signal Processing
  • Physics-based Modelling of Music Instruments

(Revised 13 May 2024 to update areas of specialisation for music)

Year 4

In the final year of your programme, you will complete a significant research project in either mathematics or music; you can include the creation of new compositions and musical works. This will account for a third of your final year.

The remainder of your year will consist of mathematics and music courses. You have free choice from the wide range of courses offered by each school, and can create a programme that suits your interests and career aspirations.

Our course selection is influenced by the varied research interests in each school and you will learn from those at the forefront of their fields.

Optional courses

Mathematics offers a large selection of courses in:

  • pure mathematics
  • applied mathematics
  • statistics
  • operational research
  • financial mathematics
  • mathematical biology
  • mathematical education

To find out more about the School of Mathematics' broad ranging research interests, take a look at our Researchers on Record video series.

Researchers on Record | School of Mathematics (YouTube video)

Current courses include:

  • General Topology
  • Stochastic Modelling
  • Mathematical Education
  • Entrepreneurship in the Mathematical Sciences

You can also take optional music courses in composition and analysis. Current choices include:

  • Music and Human Communication
  • Jazz Studies: Critical Perspectives on Music and Culture
  • Soundtracks for Screen

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

The School of Mathematics is based in the James Clerk Maxwell Building at the King's Buildings campus. Your mathematics teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus throughout your degree.

Most music teaching takes place in the University's Central Area at:

  • the Reid School of Music in Alison House
  • the Reid Concert Hall
  • St Cecilia’s Hall

Teaching also takes place at other locations across Edinburgh College of Art and the University's Central Area.

It is worth noting that these two degree subjects are based on different campuses, so you will likely need to travel between campuses for classes.

Music facilities

You will have access to:

  • the School of Music’s practice rooms and recording studios
  • the Musical Instrument Museum at St Cecilia’s Hall

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.

Further information is available on the ECA website.

ECA facilities

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Virtual visit

Study abroad

You will have opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Students have recently completed placements in:

  • California
  • Sydney
  • British Columbia

Exchanges are typically taken in Year 3, before returning to Edinburgh to complete Year 4.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Mathematics teaching

Mathematics is taught through a mixture of lectures and workshops.

You will have about 15 hours of teaching each week. However, this varies depending on your year of study and your chosen outside subjects.


In Year 1, mathematics lectures are usually interactive; lecturers use online voting systems and encourage small-group discussions to improve your understanding of core material.

These lectures are linked to your subject reading, so you will be familiar with the content before you attend.

Lectures in later years follow a more 'traditional' lecturing style but occasionally include the voting system.


Lectures are supported by small-group workshops. These sessions give you the opportunity to apply the concepts you have learned in lectures and to develop your understanding. You will work with five to six other students, with a tutor on hand to support you and answer questions.


You will have access to broad-ranging support from within the School of Mathematics, including:

  • drop-in Year 1 mathematics support
  • option to take part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS
  • Mathematics Student Services team

Music teaching

Music courses are taught primarily through tutorials or seminars. These small-group sessions tend to focus around a discussion.

How will I be assessed?

Mathematics courses

Mathematics courses are mostly assessed through exams.

In your first and second year, these exams are primarily 'open book' exams, where you can use your textbook and notes. This allows you to concentrate on understanding and using the ideas and concepts involved, rather than memorising procedures.

In later years, there is a mixture of open and closed-book exams, depending on the course.

Most mathematics courses have regular assessments throughout the year, both written and online, so you can get feedback on your progress. These typically count for a small part of your course grade.

Later in the degree, there are some courses available which are entirely assessed by coursework, usually in the form of reports, posters, projects or presentations.

Music courses

Music courses are assessed through:

  • coursework
  • exams
  • projects
  • portfolios

As a mathematics graduate, you will have a wide range of careers open to you.

Studying a joint honours degree enables you to develop a wider range of transferable skills, and opens up more varied employment opportunities.

You will develop skills that are highly sought-after by employers:

  • logical and analytic abilities
  • programming
  • data analysis
  • written communication
  • aural skills
  • presentation skills
  • practical problem-solving

Our graduates

Many recent mathematics graduates have been employed by large firms in the financial sector. Others have gone into fields including:

  • software engineering
  • logistics
  • education
  • the civil service

Further study is also a popular option. You can progress from this programme into masters or PhD level study in mathematics; or apply your mathematical training to postgraduate study in another subject.

The School of Mathematics regularly invites alumni back to share their experiences and showcase the range of careers available to you.

Music graduates can go on to careers in areas such as:

  • composition
  • teaching
  • arts management
  • community music
  • music therapy
  • the games industry

Enhance your CV

You will have many opportunities to develop your skills and enhance your CV. For example:

  • Become a Student Ambassador and enthuse prospective students.
  • Work with the wider community as a member of the Mathematics Outreach Team.
  • Apply for a project scholarship to work with a University lecturer during the summer.

Employability support

You will also be able to access the School’s weekly employability events including:

  • presentations from industry employers
  • alumni careers showcases
  • useful workshops to help you prepare for applying to internships, jobs and further study

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AA - A*AB in one set of exams.
  • IB: 38 points with 766 at HL - 34 points with 765 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AB.
  • IB: 32 points with 765 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Higher Music and Advanced Higher Mathematics are recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A*. Music is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 7. Music is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 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 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)


We normally make offers to the highest qualified applicants. If competition for places is high this may mean that offers will only be made to applicants who are predicted, or who have achieved, above the single set of grades or the upper grade level in a range. Any conditional offer made may require you to achieve grades above the upper grade level. Therefore, achieving the top of our standard entry requirements does not guarantee a place on the relevant degree.

Please apply for only one degree in the School of Mathematics as we are only able to consider one application to this subject area. You will have the opportunity to switch between programmes in later years provided the required courses have been passed.

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BSc Mathematics and Music

Additional costs

You should expect to buy the necessary textbooks for some components of your programme.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Mathematics

College: Science and Engineering