Music and the Environment MA

Course code W302

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:


You will study the following core modules:

  • Music and the environment: space, place, and people (S1)
  • Music creation and collaboration (S1)

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

  • Identity and music: Celtic connections across the Atlantic Arc (S1)
  • Scotland’s customs: traditional beliefs and folklore (S1)


You will study the following core module:

  • Sustainable creative endeavour in contemporary society* (S2)

SISA - Scottish Institute for Enterprise

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

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Music recording and production (S2)
  • Making practice matter (S2)
  • Tuning of the nations: soundscape, place and memory (S2)


To achieve the award of MA you must also complete a final project or dissertation (S3).

How will I study my course?

  • 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?

  • Moray
  • North, West and Hebrides
  • Orkney
  • Shetland

Start date

  • September
  • January


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


You may be eligible to apply to the Lillywhite Family Trust Scholarship - for more information, please see Lillywhite Family Trust Scholarship.

Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying full-time 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. 

Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying part-time can apply for a tuition fee loan from SAAS. You must be intending to complete the course in no longer than twice the length of time it would take for a full-time student. For example, if your course is available to full-time students as a one-year programme, you will be funded for a maximum of two years' part-time study. If your course does not have a full-time option, you must complete within three years. You can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5,500, which will be paid pro-rata for each academic year of study. 

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.

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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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 UHI North Highland

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 UHI Outer Hebrides 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 Aug/Sep 2023 or Jan/Feb 2024

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.