Applied Music BA (Hons)

Course code W301

What is special about this course?

Do you want to study music or creative sound production in your home region, in any genre or style, and prepare yourself for the music industry of the future? If so, then this BA (Hons) Applied Music course has been designed for you. Studying traditional, Celtic, pop, jazz, classical, rock, and now creative sound production, this course will give you the opportunity to explore the culture of the Highlands and Islands and focus your study towards the application of music in a variety of professional contexts.

Designed and delivered by professional musicians, educators and industry experts, this dynamic and highly innovative practical degree addresses the modern needs of the professional musician and sound producer. You will study with top individuals in their fields, to develop skills in performance, education, recording, creative production, business, enterprise, networking and communication which will help you access opportunities nationally, in Europe and the USA.

Our staff, students and alumni have built strong communities of practice throughout Scotland, from the Highlands and Islands - rich in traditional cultures - to the dynamic musical clusters in Glasgow and Scotland's central belt. The programme has a strong profile of graduate success within the music industry, with many employed in performance, educational contexts, touring, creative sound production, research and music business.

We know you may have more questions so our Programme Leader, Anna-Wendy Stevenson, has recorded a video answering the questions we are most often asked about the course.

Special features

  • The course will develop your mobility and versatility as a practitioner in music or sound production, with multi-venue delivery and compulsory residential sessions throughout the programme (you will be required to self-fund these sessions)
  • Performers can help choose their solo performance tutor, drawn from a list of top experts in the country, and will also get credit for playing in ensembles in the community
  • There will be various national and international performances and placements in music, education, community or health settings
  • The flexibility of the course enables you to fit your studies around your own commitments: you will be able to study where you want, full-time or part-time, at home, on-line, and through video-conferencing and Skype for most of the academic year
  • Residential experience in recording studios for those studying sound production modules

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade ABB or above, OR
  • 2 A levels at grade B or above
  • Additional entry requirements for performers: Grade 7 Associated Board or Trinity College or equivalent on first instrument (including grade 5 music theory or equivalent)
  • Consideration will also be given to candidates who can demonstrate a high level of ability in one or more of: composition and creative skills; and music technology, including computer-based music production
  • You will be required to attend an audition and interview to assess your technical ability
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications or experience will be considered on an individual basis

Advanced entry to year 2:

  • may be possible with an HNC Music (15 credits) with grade A in the Graded Unit

Advanced entry to year 3:

  • may be possible with an HND Music with grade A in the Graded Unit

Access routes

SWAP Access courses
If you are eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP), please visit our SWAP access list for further information on grade profiles and available subjects.

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules for Performers are:

  • Performance practice 1
  • Ensemble 1
  • Music in its widest context: social, cultural, historical
  • Creativity is more important than knowledge
  • Remote digital music collaboration

Core modules for Sound production students are:

  • Studio practice 1: the creative producer
  • Recording practice 1
  • Music in its widest context: social, cultural, historical
  • Creativity is more important than knowledge
  • Remote digital music collaboration

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Music in art and society
  • Music and the creative industries: the portfolio musician
  • Gaelic for learners 1A
  • DAWS discovery 1 (Sound production students only)

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules for Performers are:

  • Performance practice 2
  • The effective contributor
  • Music, power and commerce
  • Creative skills
  • Creation through technology

Core modules for Sound production students are:

  • Recording practice 2
  • Studio practice 2: the decision maker
  • Music, power and commerce
  • creative skills
  • Creation through technology

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Music in the arts and society
  • Sound and vision
  • Creative song enhancement
  • Music in the creative industries
  • Gaelic for learners 1A

Year 3 - BA

Core modules are:

  • Professional practice
  • Music in social and historical contexts
  • Music in educational and community contexts 1
  • Applied music research skills
  • Creative identity
  • Creative technology applications

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

Core modules are:

  • Applied music: performance, creation or research
  • Applied music: critique and evaluation

You will also choose option modules which may include:

  • Music in Educational and Community Contexts 2
  • Emerging technologies
  • Sustainable creative endeavour
  • Music and culture

How will I study my course?

Additional information for course delivery in 2021-22

As your course was designed to be fully online and has run successfully for the last few years in this way, we can confirm that there will be no change to how the course will be delivered next year. You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have an online induction at the start of the course. The residential will be planned in line with the developing Scottish Government public health measures and guidance, including social distancing, and is likely to be a virtual event this year. For those who live near a campus, it is our intention that physical campuses will be open to all students for access to study facilities, support services and social activities, subject to Scottish Government guidance. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all staff and students.
  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of video conference lectures and tutorials, online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE), and face-to-face residential sessions with support from your tutors 
  • For more information, or if you have any questions about studying applied music at the university, please contact us at

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years
  • Part-time (structured): 8 years

Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll College UHI
  • Lews Castle College UHI
  • Moray College UHI
  • North Highland College UHI
  • Orkney College UHI
  • Perth College UHI
  • Shetland UHI
  • West Highland College UHI

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £645
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £215

Rest of the UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) or assessed as RUK for fee status, the following fees apply:

Full-time online per year (120 credit modules) £6,120
Part-time online (per 20 credit module) £1,020

International students and EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK

For students who do not normally reside in the UK studying online from their home country, or assessed as international for fee status, the following fees apply:

Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £6,480
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £3,240
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £1,080

This course is not available to international students requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.

Further information on international course fees.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information. 

Additional costs

  • There are a number of compulsory residencies each year. You will be required to self-fund any travel to the residencies and cover accommodation and subsistence costs. In addition, there is an additional annual residential fee charge of £150 payable at registration
  • You will also receive one-to-one tuition in your first instrument, voice or composition
  • You are required to have your own basic studio (audio workstation, interface, computer, mic and midi-keyboard)

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed your BA (Hons) Applied Music you might like to consider a career in the following areas:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Teaching
  • Music and health
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Community musician
  • Research and development
  • Sound production
  • Recording
  • Studio-based practice
  • Live sound

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress to the MA Music and the Environment, MMus Music or MRes Creative Practice.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

The Score Draw placement has been hugely beneficial and has really fed a growing interest in working in this field. It involved building a music sync library for the University of the Highlands and Islands. Almost every aspect of the course feeds into what I can see myself doing. The music technology has helped me build my knowledge and improve what I do in my home studio; the composition modules have helped me improve what I compose; and the musical history is vital and interesting. 

Barry Nisbet is studying on the BA (Hons) Applied Music at our Shetland UHI campus

I perform full-time with a band called ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ but wanted to broaden my knowledge of music. This course is perfect for my lifestyle as it allows me to combine studies while travelling and performing widely. Studying something you love in your own environment is a fantastic way of learning and not having to sit in a classroom day-to-day makes this university fun and exciting.

Dougie McCance, student, BA (Hons) Applied Music.

If you're looking for a unique student experience then I would highly recommend the University of the Highlands and Islands. During my studies, with support from the Student Development Fund, I was able to travel to Asturias in Northern Spain to teach music from the Highlands and Islands and learn about the similarities between the cultures in these two captivating regions. The skills I learned on my degree have allowed me to hit the ground running. I now work full time at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow as well as teaching at various other organisations and Fèisean across Scotland. I have recorded an album with folk band Hecla and perform with them at festivals alongside pipe band and solo piping competitions. More recently, I have been writing concert reviews for a music publication and biographies for traditional artists. I have also been focusing on composing more music, drawing on my surroundings. 

Ailis Sutherland graduated from the BA (Hons) Applied Music in 2018.

Apply for Applied Music BA (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2022

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.