Music and the Environment MA

What is special about this course?

Creative artists make a significant contribution to the sustainability of the creative economy, particularly in rural communities.

The MA Music and the Environment provides a foundation for musicians to develop new paths for creative, entrepreneurial and environmentally responsible endeavours. In addition, the course equips musicians to work within their own community, establishing effective and successful contributions to their local economy.


Special features

  • Opportunity to work in one of the richest natural and cultural environments in the world, with leading musicians and experts, set in the heritage and historical context
  • Chance to work on real-life work scenarios to develop new works, performances and enterprises in local settings across the Highlands and Islands
  • You will gain key skills and expertise to form complex and compelling artistic works, with a clear understanding of relevant environmental factors
  • You will acquire skills to create sustainable enterprises and make a contribution to the creative economy and network of other artists in the UK and Europe

Entry requirements

  • Relevant honours degree OR
  • Professional musicians, composers and creative entrepreneurs without a degree but with relevant work experience are welcome to apply and will be considered on an individual basis

*Funding support notice*

Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) (Scottish domiciled and EU students)

Loans for tuition fees are available from SAAS for eligible Scotland domiciled and EU students, and loans for living costs for eligible Scottish students.

Access routes

Students can access the programme from a range of our undergraduate programmes including:


The MA runs over three semesters.

PgCert (Semester 1)
• Music and the environment: space, place, and people
• Sustainable creative endeavour in contemporary society*

*This module is accredited with the Scottish Institute for Enterprise as Level 1 Scottish Innovation Student Award (SISA) Future Thinker certificate

SISA - Scottish Institute for Enterprise

You will also choose one option from a range of music and humanities modules to best match your personal interest and passion.


 PgDip (Semester 2)

 The core module is:
• Music creation and collaboration

You will also choose one option module which may include:
• Research and music production
• Making practice matter


MA (Semester 3)

To achieve the award of MA you must also complete a final project or dissertation.

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

As your course was designed to be online and has run successfully for many years in this way, we can confirm that there will be no change to how the course will be delivered this year. You will study online through a combination of video conference lectures (in real-time or recorded) and self-directed study using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have an online induction at the start of the semester one. The residential event 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. Our priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff.
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)

You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE). This includes video conference lectures (available in real-time or recordings) and the opportunity to attend an initial face-to-face residential. You will be responsible for covering any costs such as travel and accommodation for attendance at the residential.

You can study this off-campus masters from any location, including internationally. 

You will be enrolled at and receive support from one of the campuses listed opposite.


How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 15 months
  • Part-time (structured): minimum 3 years
  • Part-time (unstructured): maximum 6 years

Where can I study my course?

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



Start date

  • September
  • January


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

  2020-21 2021-22
Per module (20 credits) £560 £560
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,680 £1,680
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits) £3,360 £3,360
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation) £5,000 £5,000

Rest of UK students

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

  2020-21 2021-22
Per module (20 credits) £650 £650
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,950 £1,950
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits) £3,900 £3,900
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation, 180 credits) £5,850 £5,850

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

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Scottish Government has confirmed that EU/EEA and Swiss nationals starting their study in Scotland from academic year 2021-22, who do not have settled status, will be considered as international for fee purposes. For 2021-22, students will get an automatic fee scholarship.

  2021-22 With scholarship
Per module (20 credits) £980 £730
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £2940 £2,190
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits, 180 credits) £5,880 £4,380
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation, 180 credits) £8,820 £6,570

International students

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

  2020-21 2021-22
Per module (20 credits) £980 £980
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £2940 £2940
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits, 180 credits) £5,880 £5,880
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation, 180 credits) £8,820 £8,820

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

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time rest of the UK, EU and international postgraduate students for continuous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.


From 2017, eligible Scotland domiciled students studying full time for any taught postgraduate course up to full Masters level can access loans up to 10,000 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). This comprises a tuition fee loan up to £5,500 and a non-income assessed living cost loan of £4,500. EU students studying full time can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5500.

Part-time students undertaking any taught postgraduate course over two years up to Masters level who meet the residency eligibility can apply for a for a tuition fee loan up to £2,750 per year.

Full details can be found on the SAAS website. Applications for loans open in April.

Students from the rest of the UK who meet the eligibility requirements may be able to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company

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

What can I do on completion of my course?

This course prepares students for various careers in the creative industries:

  • Performing musician
  • Composer or arranger
  • Creative entrepreneur
  • Community musician
  • Event organiser

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

Since completing the programme I have been providing inclusive participant-led music sessions for groups and individuals in my local community. Music sessions use adaptive technologies as well as traditional instruments to promote active collaboration, improvisation and fun. The MA Music and the Environment provided me with the learning environment and guidance to develop ideas into a working educational model. Studying at masters level gave me the freedom to learn and develop educational and business practices into a sustainable endeavour which benefits my local community. The musical freedom and creativity on the course helped to evolve musical concepts which I use as a basis for my creative music sessions as well as benefitting me personally as a performer and composer. 

Jacob Hodge completed the MA Music and the Environment at North Highland College UHI

If you're interested in music, culture, history and how music relates to society, this course is for you. It's hard work but it's a great experience. The fact that it's distance learning makes it easier for those who live in rural areas or in other parts of the world.

The lecturers try to shape the discussions and content to our own individual interests, work and everyday life: it often feels like each class has been designed for me.

Singer-songwriter Eric Escudero is enrolled at our Lews Castle College UHI campus, on the MA Music and the Environment, and studies from his home in São Paulo, Brazil.

Directed by some of the top music professionals in the country, the course provided new challenges and helped me reflect on those endeavours and place them in a deeper musical and research context. The elements I particularly enjoyed were the blended learning aspect of the course; the focus on delivery at masters level and the opportunity to mix theoretical with practical. Since graduating I have created a new guitar school, ‘The Novar Guitar School’, based in Glasgow. Many of the concepts and ideas that form the ethos of the school were developed during the masters course.

Alan Geddes, MA Music and the Environment graduate.

Apply for Music and the Environment MA

I want to start in Jan/Feb 2021 or Aug/Sep 2021 or Jan/Feb 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.