Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

BMus Music

UCAS code: W302

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing BMus Music

Music is an incredibly rich and diverse subject. It is a creative and aesthetic practice, a social and cultural phenomenon, and can be studied as a scientific object.

Our BMus programme embraces this disciplinary breadth. Initially, you will develop your creative musicianship skills and acquire the tools to engage critically with a variety of musical repertoires and media.

You will also study how music is shaped by, and shapes the social, cultural, historical, and political environments in which it is produced. You will also be introduced to the psychology of music and its potential therapeutic effects.

The BMus programme is flexible and welcomes students from different backgrounds and musical experiences. It is designed so that you can tailor a pathway that bests suits your musical interests and strengths.

Your pathway could focus on the cultural, sociological, and historical contexts of music. You could specialise in composition and/or performance. You could choose to focus your studies entirely on music or you could select up to a half of your courses in each of Years 1 and 2, and a third of your courses in Years 3 and 4 from subjects outside of music.

Students taking performance receive an annual bursary for instrumental tuition.

Year 1

You will take three compulsory courses:

  • Topics in Popular Music introduces various themes and theoretical frameworks with which to approach the study of popular music. With American popular music of the late 19th and 20th centuries acting as something of a case study, students will be encouraged to consider issues related to technology, genre, race, gender, capitalism, and colonialism.

  • Thinking about Music focuses on music as an aesthetic and cultural phenomenon. You will develop your critical and analytical skills, and will be introduced to some of the key issues in contemporary and historical thought concerning a broad spectrum of music.

  • Creative Musicianship will develop your creative, practical, and listening skills through an integrated approach to the different facets of musicianship including written and aural analysis, composition, and performance.

If you have not studied music theory at a high level before (A at A level or Advanced Higher), you will also take Fundamentals of Music Theory, an intensive music literacy course.

You can also take options in Music Psychology, Musical Acoustics, and Performance, if you are of Grade VIII standard or equivalent on your first instrument at the point of entry. Alternatively, any of these option courses can be replaced with courses from outside music (up to 60 credits).

Year 2

You will study Music and Ideas from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, two music history courses that explore the aesthetic, social, political, and cultural contexts of western classical music.

You will develop your musicianship skills by taking one or both of Musical Analysis, which provides a grounding in the analysis and compositional techniques of 18th and 19th-century music, and Sound Recording, which introduces you to microphone techniques, room acoustics, field recording, and production.

You will be able to take options in Composition and Creative Music Technology and, if you studied Performance in Year 1, you can continue with Performance in Year 2. You can also choose up to 60 credits from subjects outside of music.

Year 3

You will have the freedom to choose from a range of courses: Acoustics, composition, film music, music analysis, music in the community, music psychology, music technology, popular music studies, sound design, options in Scottish traditional music, and a range of music history courses.

All honours teaching is research-led and reflects the expertise and interests of individual lecturers.

You will take Research Methods in Music, a course which provides training in many aspects of music research. You can also choose up to 40 credits in subjects outside of music.

Year 4

You will select courses that build on your choices in Year 3, and can choose up to 40 credits in subjects outside of music.

You will also undertake one or more of a 40-minute recital, a portfolio of compositions, a creative practice music project, a dissertation, or an edition.

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

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

You will have access to our practice rooms and recording studios, the Musical Instrument Museum at St Cecilia’s Hall, and to the University's extensive computing facilities and libraries.

In addition, 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.

Facilities and resources at ECA


The Music in the Community options in Years 3 and 4 involve weekly placements across the social and educational sectors in Edinburgh.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses on the BMus are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, practical classes, workshops, and computer labs as appropriate.

You will be taught by staff who are experts in their fields and will also have the opportunity to work with professional musicians and ensembles such as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework, exams, projects, portfolios. In Year 4 you will undertake a dissertation, recital, portfolio of compositions, creative practice project, or a technology project.

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)

This programme provides the breadth and depth needed to pursue a wide variety of careers in music, the creative arts, education, and the media.

Our graduates go on to forge successful careers in a diverse range of areas including performance, composition, teaching, academia, arts management, curation, community music, music therapy, print media, film, radio, television, animation, and the games industry.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB - ABB.
  • IB: 39 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: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 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: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements

Music requirements

You must have a demonstrable commitment to music. You will not be interviewed. All applicants are required to enrol in the 'Fundamentals of Music Theory' course unless they offer a A in Advanced Highe/ALevel Music.

Applicants wishing to take Performance 1 will need to hold VIII ABRSM or equivalent on their main instrument by the time they arrive in Edinburgh. If you do not hold formal qualifications in this area but are confident in your ability, you will be expected to perform roughly two contrasting pieces, of approximately 10 minutes in total duration, to the VIII ABRSM standard to two members of the music faculty.

For international students unfamiliar with the ABRSM standards, we recommend exploring the VIII syllabus for your chosen instrument in order to familiarise yourself with the level of difficulty.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

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

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

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/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade 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.)

We may invite you to provide a short statement about your musical experience. This additional evidence (e.g. performance background or repertoire list) is important to us if you have not taken ABRSM exams, for example, and it provides an opportunity for you to express your own personal commitment to studying music at Edinburgh.


The Reid School of Music does not interview or hold auditions. We scrutinise your application and request further performance background information if we require it. This process ensures that we offer places to students who show the ability to meet our high standards, and that applicants from all backgrounds have the same opportunity to demonstrate their potential.

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 BMus Music

Additional costs

If you are taking performance courses, you should expect to pay for instrument consumables and maintenance, as you would have done prior to attending university.

Other costs include basic stationery provisions and support for technology such as memory sticks/cards.


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