Bachelor of Music (Hons)

A performance-based degree programme with a strong emphasis on the practice of music, this course will enhance your skills to professional level through specialist tuition, workshops, performance and collaboration.

Your skills as a performer or composer will be further enhanced through the study of courses in Music History, General Music Skills and aural work. In the second and third years, modules in Core Music Skills and Applied Music Skills allow you to develop your abilities in a range of subjects that are key to professional development such as conducting, keyboard skills, orchestration, and composition. The practical application of orchestration and composition is emphasised through workshops with instrumentalists.

Why Music at Edinburgh Napier?

Edinburgh Napier University is a recognised centre of creative excellence for music. Based in the Scottish city with the biggest arts festival in the world we are proud of our continuous innovation and improvement since our beginnings in 1968.

Based at Merchiston campus within the Ian Tomlin School of Music, you will:

  • benefit from the latest technology, state-of-the-art facilities and industry advances
  • receive conservatoire-standard training from experienced, professional musicians
  • take part in our lively programme of regular performances
  • have the opportunity to join our choir or orchestra
  • attend lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions
  • receive one-to-one tuition and support as well as studying independently
  • polish and enhance your musical skills
  • be living and studying in one of Europe’s most vibrant cultural cities

Ian Tomlin

Course benefactor Ian Tomlin has had a long association with the music programme offered at Edinburgh Napier University. After initially making a donation to the programme, he set up a permanent endowment that benefits students on our classical study stream. In addition, he set up a Maltese scholarship for students, See Fees and funding your study below.

Visit: Living and studying in Edinburgh.

What you will study

Year 1

Compulsory: Principal Study; Western Art Music; General Music Skills. Options from: General Music Skills 2; Music Cultures; Music Technology.

Year 2

Compulsory: Principal Study; Western Art Music. Options from: Popular Music Culture; Core Music Skills (strands in orchestration, composition and conducting); Jazz 1 – America; The Business of Music.

Year 3

Compulsory: Western Art Music. Options from Principal Study; Jazz 2 – Europe; Instrumental / Vocal Teaching; Ensemble Performance; Music in a Globalised World; Introduction to Music Therapy; Applied Music Skills (strands in orchestration, composition, conducting and keyboard skills); The Business of Music.

Year 4

Compulsory: A major project, taking the form of either a Music Analysis portfolio, a Dissertation or a Public Recital. Options from: Music and Aesthetics; Dissertation, Entrepreneurship in the Music Industries; Music Analysis; Principal Study; Instrumental / Vocal Teaching; Jazz 3 – Local; Music Psychology; Ensemble Performance; Music Research Project.

Who you will study with

Core Staff:

Nicholas Ashton
Dr Katrina Burton
Kenneth Dempster
Dr John Hails
Paul Harkins
Michael Harris
Dr Haftor Medbøe

Visiting lecturers:

Simon Rawson
Joan Busby
Simon Coverdale
Ruth Ellis
Andrea Kuypers
Mike Brogan
Marcus Pope
Angus Ramsay
Simon Thacker
Anthea Wood
Taylor Wilson
Catriona  Clark
Peter Evans
Rachel Brady
Fiona McLean


Rune Lilledal Hansen
Craig Ainslie

Entrance Requirements

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

ABCC including Music at Grade A and English or other literary subject* at Grade B

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test

A Level

CCC including Music and English or other literary subject*

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test

Irish Leaving Certificate

Pre-2017 Grading System:

A1, B3, B3, C2 at HL including Music at A1 and English or other literary subject* at B3.

New Grading System:

H1, H3, H3, H4 at HL including Music at H1 and English or other literary subject* at H3.

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test

BTEC (QCF) Extended Diploma Level 3

Minimum grades MMM (Merit, Merit, Merit) in a related subject

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test

BTEC (QCF) Diploma

Minimum grades D*D (Distinction*, Distinction) in a related subject

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test


Pass HNC in Music with Grade A in the graded unit

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Award of Diploma with 27 points overall with three HL subjects at grades 6,5,4 including Music and English or other literary subject* at Grade 5 or above. In exceptional circumstances, where the applicant’s school does not offer Music as an element of IB, applicants who are able to demonstrate practical music skill equivalent to ABRSM Grade VIII on the Principal Study instrument may be considered. In such cases, academic referees should clearly state that HL Music is not offered as part of the curriculum.

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test.

Minimum year 2


Pass HND in Music with Grade A at SCQF Level 8 in all graded units.

Applicants must also pass ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 Theory test.

Literary subjects accepted

*Modern Studies, History, Psychology, Sociology, RMPS, Theology, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Geography, Latin and Classics.

Other entry requirements

If applicants meet the academic requirements, after further scrutiny of the application, may be called for Audition/Interview.  

Applicants are required, as part of the audition, to demonstrate practical music skills which equate to ABRSM Level 8 or equivalent.

These requirements apply to all years of entry.

English language requirements

If your first language isn’t English, you’ll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pagesto find out if this applies to you.

Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren’t guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

If your qualifications aren’t listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.

Maltese Scholarship Programme

On his retirement to Malta in the 1990s, Ian Tomlin discovered the wonderful musical talent there and was inspired to broaden his support to the Ian Tomlin School of Music by creating a generous scholarship fund for young musicians from the Maltese islands to attend Edinburgh Napier. These scholarships are only available to residents of Malta and are awarded according to need and musical ability.

Career destinations

92.3% of Edinburgh Napier undergraduates are in work or further study within six months of leaving (HESA, 2014). We also offer a unique personal development programme called Stand Out.

The music industry is notoriously competitive, particularly in the area of performing. Employability is a major focus of this degree, giving students the opportunity to explore a range of pathways.

We offer industry informed courses which combine the optimum balance of theory and practice to equip graduates for success. Although the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes follow differing academic and music industries paths, the pervading ethos, standards, and principles within the academic environment of the subject group produce well-rounded, proficient graduates with the capacity to thrive in a range of personal and professional contexts and settings in fields directly related to music, and in the wider graduate job market.

Our BMus (Hons) graduates go on to work in the fields of:
  • performance
  • composition
  • community music
  • music education (classroom and instrumental tuition)
  • music therapy
  • music management
  • and because creative skills are transferable and valuable to a number of other industries, a wide range of careers, such as arts administration and management.

Many of our graduates go on to further study in performance, composition, musicology, music therapy and teacher training. Students who wish to consider further practical study at postgraduate level may specialise in recital performance in 4th year.

Visit: Stand Out – Graduate Support at Edinburgh Napier University.

Gisele Grima

Gisele Grima

Following my graduation from Napier University, Edinburgh, I was selected for postgraduate study at the RNCM. The BMus (Hons.) course at Napier served as a strong foundation for important aspects related to my music career, such as performance development, collaborative work, understanding the importance of research and delivering presentations, to mention a few. What I found to be most beneficial was the balance between the academic modules and performance modules – both of which were given equal importance at Edinburgh Napier University. This holistic approach equipped me with the necessary skills to move on to further study, to develop as an all-round musician, and eventually establish a career in music.

After moving back to Malta in 2009 I became involved in education, teaching music, and inspiring young primary school children to enjoy all things musical. I recently moved on to freelance and my career is now prioritising performance, accompaniment, piano teaching, and student coaching.

Alexander Vella Gregory

Alexander Vella Gregory

I was born in Malta in 1984, and have studied piano with Paul Borg and Dr Joanne Camilleri, and obtained a Fellowship of the London College of Music (FLCM) diploma in 2013. In 2002, I was awarded the Ian Tomlin Napier/Malta Music Scholarship which enabled me to pursue a B.Mus(Hons) degree in composition at Edinburgh Napier University, where I studied with Kenneth Dempster. I graduated in July 2006 and have since been active as a composer, pianist, accompanist and teacher.

I am also a continuo player with the Valletta International Baroque Ensemble. I am the Artistic Director and a founding member of the Cappella Sanctae Catharinae, Malta’s only male choir, as well as a board member for St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity and a Trustee of the Ian Tomlin Malta Edinburgh Scholarship Trust.
I am currently undertaking a Phd in Music Composition at Edinburgh Napier University with Kenneth Dempster and Dr Katrina Burton. My area of study is using the urban environment as a basis for creating musical works focusing on the city of Valletta, Malta. The research examines historical, anthropological, cultural, political and demographic aspects of the city and the ways in which these can be analysed and questioned through artistic means.

The current research marks another step in a long and fruitful relationship with the School of Music at Edinburgh Napier University, where I have had several opportunities to discuss work with peers and gain valuable lecturing and research skills.

Clare Brady

Clare Brady

Since graduating with my BMus degree in music in 2009, I completed an MMus degree in Advanced Musical Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, before being accepted for a fully AHRC funded PhD at Royal Holloway, studying with Julian Johnson.

My area of research covers little examined aspects of aesthetic engagement with the singing voice, with specific reference to the work of avant garde composer Luciano Berio. As well as academic work, I have also performed with the Royal Holloway Chapel Choir, Holland Park Opera, London Contemporary Chamber Choir, Vocal Constructivists, and London Philharmonic Chorus.

The BMus course at Napier University helped me to develop and maintain an interest not only in the academic and theoretical aspects of musicological study, but its relevance in an applied, performative musical context, through its strong emphasis on academic study alongside performance tuition.

Hannah Ross

Hannah Ross

I graduated from the BMus course in 2010, having followed a fairly even split of performance (on piano) and academic studies, with modules in keyboard skills, music therapy, conducting and instrumental teaching in the earlier years. I wasn’t sure at the beginning what I would like to do career-wise so it was great to get a taste of different things.

During my third year I had repetitive strain injury in both wrists and while I couldn’t play, I got involved with helping run lunchtime concerts. A lecturer suggested I go and volunteer at a classical music festival and after a summer at Cheltenham Music Festival, I knew that arts administration and event management was what I wanted to do.

I am currently working full time for Music in Hospitals, arranging concerts in care units across Scotland, and freelance for Love Music Community Choir. My time at Edinburgh Napier University gave me focus and perseverance, the opportunity to learn how to manage concerts, and the chance to network and engage with a wide range of people.


David Fettes

I graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2012 with a first-class BMus (Hons) degree. I chose this course as it integrated a wide-range of academic studies with performance modules. Shortly after graduating, I began working for the National Youth Choir of Scotland as the Office Administrator, thanks in part to my now extensive knowledge of classical music and singing. After a few months, I was promoted to the Marketing department of the organisation, where I am still working today. Part of my job is the research, preparation and writing of programme notes, which utilises the invaluable skills gained from my academic studies.

I also currently perform regularly around Scotland as a solo singer/guitarist. My vocal tuition and the numerous performances throughout my time at Edinburgh Napier (operas, public recitals, vocal classes etc.) gave me the experience, training and self-confidence needed to maintain my career.

The dedicated and passionate staff inspired me to develop not just my knowledge and understanding of music, but my creativity. I became a confident performer, a shrewd analyst, an imaginative composer, a strong leader, and much more besides.

Erica Sinclair

Erica Sinclair

I graduated from Napier in 2013, and from there continued my studies at Birmingham Conservatoire; I am near the end of my second and final year on the MMus programme in Instrumental Performance. The BMus course at Napier allowed me to specialise in performance, not only as a soloist but also in chamber and orchestral ensembles, and to gain experience in contemporary music performance; this has served me well in my postgraduate studies, as I regularly play with various-sized ensembles, and also for composers’ projects.

During my undergraduate studies I was encouraged to perform outside of the university, and was lucky enough to be chosen as a concerto soloist in my final year with the chamber orchestra. Specialising in performance meant that I not only performed in front of people, but also gained experience in other aspects of putting on a concert, including promotion, concert management and front-of-house; and the mix of module options meant I was also proficient in composing, arranging and research. Again, this has served me well in my continued study, and my increasing activity outside of the conservatoire.

Jen Cuthbertson

Jennifer Cuthbertson

I graduated in 2008 with a First Class BMus(Hons) degree and winner of the David Macmillan Memorial Brass Prize. I am passionate about music education and since graduation have been working as a peripatetic brass instructor, teaching students of all ages and abilities in individual and group tuition. Working with young people has also led to experience in leading small brass ensembles, and conducting student wind bands and orchestras.

After relocating to Dubai, U.A.E, to join the staff at Centre For Musical Arts, I am about to complete my seventh year within the company. During that time I have enjoyed a diverse range of responsibilities, joining the management team in 2014 as Manager of General Music Activities and Workshops, responsible for co-ordinating and administrating the activity programme.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Music School, and appreciated the chance to enjoy a diverse programme of studies through the modular system, which enabled me to create my dream degree and tailor my course to suit my interests. The broad range of topics available for study, I chose a mix of performance, academia, composition/arranging, conducting, teaching and keyboard skills, helped prepare me for real life as a musician and a teacher. The degree course provided me with a solid knowledge of practical, useful musical skills which I have had the great pleasure of passing on to my own students.

David Thomson

David Thomson

I studied on the BMus programme at Edinburgh Napier from 2009 – 2013. I now work full- time as an Instructor of Piano & Singing with Berkshire’s instrumental tuition service, Berkshire Maestros.

The skills and experiences I gained at Edinburgh Napier prepared me well for the various roles an instructor is required to fill. By regularly participating in performance classes, ensembles and recitals, I grew in confidence as a performer and became accustomed to working with and presenting to groups. Weekly lessons with my instrumental/vocal tutors improved my technique and performance skills immensely and I learned from them how to receive/present feedback in a constructive way – a necessary skill in my current post. The inclusive and encouraging atmosphere at Edinburgh Napier meant that students forged good working relationships with each other and their lecturers and I try to adopt a similar approach to my own teaching.

Studying at Edinburgh Napier was a engaging and rewarding experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the BMus course to anyone thinking of a career in music education.