Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

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

Only apply to one Mathematics programme 

We usually consider a maximum of two applications to programmes in the College of Science and Engineering as this helps ensure we make offers to as many students as possible.

However, if you are applying for a Mathematics programme, due to high demand, we can only accept one application for a programme in this subject area. You can use your second application for any other Science and Engineering programme. 

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.

You will still study some core compulsory courses in Year 3; this is when you can begin to specialise and pursue your areas of interest.

Year 4 allows you free choice of courses.

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

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


You will receive support from the MathsBase, our popular walk-in help centre, and from our Mathematics Student Support Team.

Year 1 students also have the option of taking part in the peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS.

You will also be able to join MathClans. This is a student-led initiative that helps new students join and settle into the School of Mathematics community.

Year 2

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

The following mathematics courses are compulsory. They will extend your knowledge of calculus and introduce you to more abstract areas of mathematics, such as group theory. Compulsory courses include:

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

Optional courses

Optional mathematics courses include:

  • 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


From this year onwards, you can use the MathsHub, our student-run social centre and workspace.

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 will also study one compulsory music course, 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
  • performance

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 within the subject. Current mathematics option courses include:

  • 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 Processing
  • Physics-based Modelling of Music Instruments

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 particular 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

Current courses include:

  • General Topology
  • Symmetry and Geometry
  • 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
  • Venice: Music and Culture, 1690-1740

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 (2022/23)

Our facilities

In Year 1, mathematics classes typically take place in the University's Central Area.

In later years, mathematics teaching takes place at the King's Buildings campus, usually in the James Clerk Maxwell Building. The School of Mathematics is also located in the James Clerk Maxwell Building.

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.

Please note: your subjects will be taught on other campuses from Year 2 onwards, so you may need to travel between locations.

Mathematics facilities

In addition to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities, you will have access to the School of Mathematics’ facilities, MathsBase and MathsHub.


MathsBase is a large study space in the Central Area for students studying mathematics in Year 1. Here you will find:

  • lots of desk space
  • whiteboard walls
  • a walk-in help centre where you can get support from a tutor
  • our peer-assisted learning scheme MathPALS

MathsHub is in the James Clark Maxwell Building and is for Year 2 and above mathematics students. It includes:

  • a common room style space
  • a kitchen
  • study space

Take a virtual tour of our School

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

Virtual visit – School of Mathematics

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

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 mainly taught through lectures.

In Year 1, lectures are usually interactive, focusing on discussion and using technology to gauge the understanding of the class.

Lectures in later years follow a more ‘traditional’ lecturing style but occasionally include technology and discussion.

Mathematics lectures are supported by workshops. These small-group teaching sessions give you the opportunity to practise what you have learnt in your lectures, with support from tutors.

Music teaching

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

Peer collaboration

We encourage students to work collaboratively outside of lectures and provide spaces like the MathsBase and MathsHub to enable this collaboration.

Year 1 students also have the option to:

  • take part in our peer-assisted learning scheme, MathPALS
  • make use of our drop-in tutor sessions in the MathsBase

How will I be assessed?

In Years 1 and 2, mathematics has mainly ‘open book’ exams where you can use your textbook and notes. This allows you to concentrate on understanding and using the ideas and concepts, instead of memorising procedures.

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

After Year 1, some courses are assessed entirely by coursework, usually reports or presentations.

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.

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 - 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 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. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • 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. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6. Music is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. SL: English at 5. (Revised 2 May 2022 to include requirement for recent study of Mathematics.)

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
  • 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.
  • 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 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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