Music HNC

Course code 103W

What is special about this course?

Nurture your musical passions and pursue a dynamic career in popular or traditional music performance. Develop your understanding of the music industry and enhance your instrumental skills, with modules in first study instrument or composition, live performance, theory, graded units, and music business.

Take the HNC as the first year of our BA (Hons) Popular Music, or use the HNC or HND to access the second or third years of the BA (Hons) Popular Music or BA (Hons) Applied Music.

Special features

  • You will have opportunities to perform your music locally and further afield
  • You can study full time or part time to suit your personal and professional circumstances
  • With locations across the Highlands and Islands, choose the one that best fits your lifestyle and music, studying at UHI North, West and Hebrides (Benbecula, Alness, or Fort William campus); UHI Perth; or UHI Shetland


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Higher at grade C or above Or
  • 1 A level at grade D or above Or
  • NC Music
  • Prospective students without the standard entry requirements as listed above are encouraged to apply
  • You will be asked to attend an audition and interview. You should prepare and perform a piece that demonstrates your skillset on your instrument or voice and, for writers, this can be an original composition or song. As a guideline, grade 4/5 is a rough equivalent of performance level for this course. However, consideration will also be given to musicians with similar experience that have not participated in graded repertoire. 
  • The interview will give you the opportunity to see our campus, meet staff and learn more about the course, including the resources and learning opportunities we offer to support your development.

Access routes

  • NC Music

Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are:

  • Music first study: instrument or Music first study: composition
  • Music: live performance
  • Music theory 
  • Music: graded unit 
  • Music business for musicians 

Option units may include:

  • Keyboard skills for music production
  • Songwriting
  • Music: session skills
  • Digital audio workstations
  • Creative project
  • Music: second study composition
  • Recording techniques for musicians
  • Music: research project
  • Music business: start-ups
  • Music history
  • Music second study: composition
  • Music: instrumental instruction

Option units available may vary depending on study location, for more information contact your chosen campus.

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • You will study by way of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom, and practical work in the music studio.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time (unstructured): 2 years, 40 hours teaching per SQA unit plus some self-study time.

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides - Alness; Cnoc Soilleir in South Uist (full-time study only); Fort William (full-time study only)
  • Perth
  • Shetland

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.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,110 £7,110
Part-time (per HN credit) £474 £474

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,980 £8,775
Part-time (per HN credit) £532 £585

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

What can I do on completion of my course?

This course will provide training to help you prepare for a future career in the music industries, in roles such as: live performer, session musician, producer, songwriter, composer, lecturer, teacher, or peripatetic instructor.

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress to our HND Music or to year two of our BA (Hons) Popular Music or BA (Hons) Applied Music.

Is there more information available online?

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I come from the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides and I recently moved back home to study on the HNC Music course at Benbecula. Coming from an island, deeply enriched in culture and tradition has played a huge role in my love for traditional Scottish music of piping and Gaelic singing in particular.

I am so fortunate to have grown up here where my interest and love for traditional music began. I am surrounded by the everyday traditions and culture of the island and of course, the beautiful scenery. 

Chloe studied the HNC Music at UHI North, West and Hebrides. 

For a lot of young musicians being in a studio and having access to recording equipment is new and the experience of live performance - so much to learn about playing along with other people and being part of a team. 

Our lecturers, both professional trad musicians, always shared their practical experience and that means a lot. Being a musician is one of the things I want to achieve, and I think being able to study here has given me a massive steppingstone towards that.

Calum studied the HNC Music at UHI North, West and Hebrides. 

Apply for Music HNC

I want to start in Aug/Sep 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.