Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

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

This programme enables you to explore the historic connection between these two disciplines by studying elements of both mathematics and music.

During your programme you will take compulsory mathematics courses, and study some of the theoretical and cultural aspects of music, such as listening and musicianship, music technology and composition.

Please note that studying music performance is not possible as part of this degree.

Later in this programme you can choose to specialise in particular aspects of mathematics or music, examine the links between the two subjects, or study a broad range of topics across the two subjects.

Over the entire programme, your time will be split evenly between the two subjects.

Year 1

You will take three compulsory courses:

  • 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 will allow you to build on your knowledge of pure mathematics and will introduce you to the more rigorous ways of mathematical thinking required at university level.

You will also take music courses such as Popular Music History, Musical Acoustics and Psychology of Music. If you are interested in following the composition pathway in later years, you can also take a course in Creative Musicianship.

Some students will also take our online courses, Fundamentals of Algebra and Calculus, and Fundamentals of Music Theory. These introductory courses provide extra preparation in key topics from more advanced high school-level mathematics and foundational concepts of Western music theory respectively.

You will receive support from the MathsBase, our popular walk-in help centre, and from our Mathematics Student Support Team. Year 1 students will also have the option of taking part in the peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALs.

Year 2

You will spend between half and two thirds of your time on mathematics.

You will take the following compulsory courses:

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

These courses will extend your knowledge of calculus and introduce you to more abstract areas of mathematics, such as group theory.

Other optional mathematics courses include:

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

You will continue to take courses in music alongside the above mathematics courses. Year 2 topics vary and current options include:

  • Music and Ideas from the Middle Ages to Viennese Classicism
  • Thinking About Music
  • Sound Recording

From this year onwards you can use the MathsHub, our student-run facility in the James Clerk Maxwell Building which is both a social centre and a work space.

Year 3

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

Our compulsory mathematics courses provide an excellent grounding in advanced mathematics, and will prepare you for the options available later in your programme.

Each of these Honours courses contains a skills component, enabling you to develop valuable employability skills such as programming, group work and presentation skills through the curriculum.

You will study a compulsory music course, Research Methods in Music, but will also have the option to start to specialise within your degree.

You will fill the rest of your time with optional mathematics and music courses.

From this stage onwards, there are options for you to combine maths and music together by studying topics such as:

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

There are also music courses available which do not directly link to mathematics, a current example being Film Music post-1950.

Current mathematics option courses include:

  • Financial Mathematics
  • Introduction to Number Theory
  • Statistical Computing

Year 4

As a Year 4 student, you will complete either a substantial research project in mathematics, a music dissertation, or a composition. Each of these account for a third of your final year.

The remainder of your year will consist of mathematics and music courses, and is completely free choice.

You will have a wide range of mathematics courses to choose from. Our course selection is influenced by our varied research interests in the School and as a result we offer a large selection of courses in pure and applied mathematics, statistics, operational research, financial mathematics, mathematical biology and mathematical education. You will be able to follow a programme that suits your particular interests and career aspirations.

Current courses include:

  • General Topology
  • Symmetry and Geometry
  • Stochastic Modelling
  • Mathematical Education
  • Entrepreneurship in the Mathematical Sciences

There are further music courses available in composition and analysis. Current courses include Music and Technoscience: Cultural and Historical Perspectives, and Beethoven: Man, Music, Myth.

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 (2020/21)

Our facilities

In Year 1, mathematics classes typically take place in the University's Central Area. In subsequent years, mathematics teaching will take place at the King's Buildings campus, often in the James Clerk Maxwell Building where the School of Mathematics is located.

Much of our music teaching takes place at the Reid School of Music in Alison House, in the University's Central Area, or at the Reid Concert Hall or St Cecilia’s Hall, and at other locations across Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Teaching also takes place in other Central Area locations.

Please note that your subjects will be taught on different campuses from Year 2 onwards, and so you may need to travel between campuses for classes.

In addition to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities, you will have access to the School of Mathematics’ facilities across two campuses: MathsBase in the Central Area and MathsHub at King’s Buildings.

You will also have access to the School of Music’s practice rooms and recording studios, and to the Musical Instrument Museum at St Cecilia’s Hall.

Furthermore, the University is investing in the 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

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes. Students from the School of Mathematics have recently completed placements in California, Sydney and British Columbia.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Mathematics will be taught mainly through lectures. In Year 1, mathematics lectures are usually interactive; lecturers use online voting systems and encourage small group discussion to improve your understanding of core material. Lectures in later years follow a more 'traditional' lecturing style, but do occasionally incorporate the voting system.

Lectures are also supported by workshops, our small-group teaching sessions. These sessions are to give you an opportunity to practise applying the concepts learnt in lectures, and develop your understanding further. You will work with 5-6 other students, and a tutor will be on hand to answer questions and support you.

Music courses are taught primarily through tutorials or seminars. These are made up of smaller groups of people and tend to be focused around a discussion.

We encourage students to work collaboratively outside of lectures also, and provide spaces such as the MathsBase and MathsHub to enable this. First year students also have the option of taking part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALs, and are also able to make use of our drop-in tutor sessions in the MathsBase.

How will I be assessed?

Most courses involve regular coursework as well as a final exam, while some will involve producing a group report or giving a presentation. Some will be assessed entirely by coursework, including many of the music courses.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from 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 details (2020/21)

Our graduates have a wide range of careers open to them. Studying a joint honours degree enables you to develop a wider range of transferable skills, and opens up more varied employment opportunities. Through this degree you will develop logical, analytic, programming and data analysis abilities, together with written communication, aural skills, presentation and practical problem-solving skills. These are highly sought-after by employers.

Many recent graduates have been employed by large firms in the financial sector. Others have gone into fields including software engineering, logistics, education and civil service.

There are many opportunities within the University for you to develop your skills and enhance your CV. You can become a Student Ambassador to enthuse prospective students; work with the wider community as a member of the Mathematics Outreach Team; or apply for a project scholarship to work with a university lecturer during the summer.

The School of Mathematics regularly invites alumni back to the School to share their experiences with students and to showcase the breadth of careers available to graduates with a maths background.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*AA - A*AB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 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 655 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 Music and Advanced Higher Mathematics are recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A*. Music is recommended. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) at 6. Music is recommended. 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

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


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
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 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 module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components

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

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

English language requirements

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

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 purchase necessary textbooks for some compulsory and optional 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