Acoustics
MSc/PgDip

Part-time study available
Distance Learning
International Students can apply

3 good reasons to study Acoustics at Salford:

  • An in-depth analytical treatment of acoustic engineering as used in industry and research
  • You are taught by World-class audio and acoustic engineering researchers - part of an RAE submission rated highest for research power
  • Strong and long-standing connections with audio and acoustics industry across the World which inform course content.
 

Key Information

Start Dates: September
Duration:

MSc (one year full-time or 36 months part-time or distance learning)
PgDip (nine months full-time or 20 months part-time)

Course Summary

The MSc Acoustics has two pathways: Audio Applications and Environmental Applications.

Audio pathway

The generation, manipulation and reproduction of high quality audio signals are core elements of the rapidly expanding communication, entertainment and sound engineering industry. The audio pathway aims to train graduates in the acoustic aspects of audio such as digital signal processing, microphone and loudspeaker design, architectural acoustics and sound reproduction.

The Acoustics Research Centre is a lead partner in the BBC Audio Research Partnership working closely with BBC R&D at MediaCityUK. 

Environmental pathway 

The environmental pathway is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills to work in environmental acoustics, including environmental noise consultancy, noise control in industry and acoustic engineering research. 

The course is accredited by the Institute of Acoustics which provides external validation of the course quality.


 

Related Courses

Course Details


Course Structure


Semester 1 (for the full-time option)

You will learn about the physical and mathematical representations of acoustic waves and vibrating systems, along with mathematical techniques for determining solutions to equations of motion. Develop an understanding of 1D and 3D acoustic waves and units of measurement, time and frequency domain statistics for acoustic signals and the foundations of waves and signals using a mathematical approach.
Learn about the fundamental principles underlying electroacoustic transduction and investigate the interaction between a source, its acoustic environment and the listener. You will examine the practical application of loudspeaker and microphone systems. Gain an understanding of how the auditory system allows humans to perceive different attributes of the surrounding acoustic environment. You will learn how to apply the common terminology and metrics appropriate to the study of psychoacoustics. You will investigate some typical applications of psychoacoustic principles in the design of sound reproduction and communication systems.

Semester 2

This module aims to give you a thorough grasp of architectural acoustics, including standard theoretical models, important application areas, current measurement techniques and subjective perception. You will study wave theory and statistical theory for acoustic enclosures, theory in application, particularly in performance spaces and objective descriptions of room acoustics and listeners' perceptions. You will be introduced to the principles of computer simulations commonly used in audio and acoustics to model sound and vibration.

Audio applications pathway

You will learn about the digital representation of audio signals, the decomposition of signals in frequency analysis, the manipulation of signals using digital filters, design of filters and the measurement of audio systems using digital systems. You will learn the design of electro-dynamic and distributed mode loudspeaker systems, the interaction of the electrical, mechanical and acoustical characteristics of transduction systems in determining sensitivity, frequency response and directional properties and the analysis of acoustic systems using two-port networks methods and the method of analogues. Analysis will be extended to vented, transmission line and bandpass systems.

Environmental applications pathway

This module will teach you how to make assessments of environmental noise, including: identifying and interpreting the requirements of appropriate local, national and international; legislation relevant to noise assessment; carrying out reliable measurements of environmental noise; critical evaluation of acoustical data (including partial data) needed for noise assessment. You will also learn to select appropriate noise control options for realistic environmental and industrial noise scenarios, and to justify their selections.

Semester 3

The aim of the project is for you to carry out, under supervision, an extended individual study into a topic in acoustics and/or audio. The topic will be agreed with your supervisor and can be work based if appropriate.You will be marked on your initiative and project management, and your ability to bring together the skills, knowledge and understanding you have acquired from the course.

Entry Requirements

  • A first or second-class degree in a numerate engineering or science discipline. All applicants must have a significant grounding in engineering mathematics
  • For informal discussions about your suitability for this course, please contact the postgraduate admissions tutor, Dr David Waddington.

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 (no element below 5.5) is proof of this.

Suitable For

This course is designed for technically skilled graduates whose first degree was not necessarily in reproduced sound or acoustics but another engineering or science discipline.

This course is also designed for those currently working in the audio and acoustic industry who wish to expand their expertise, and those wishing to train to begin an acoustic and audio engineering career.

International Students - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

International Students are required by the Home Office and/or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate before they begin studying their course. You may need to obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK in order for you to comply with Home Office regulations. Please refer to your offer conditions.

You can find out if your programme requires an ATAS by checking the FCO website at https://www.gov.uk/academic-technology-approval-scheme with your JACS code which will be on your offer letter should you choose to make an application. If you cannot find it please contact International Conversion team at application@salford.ac.uk. If you have any queries relating directly to ATAS please contact the ATAS team on Salford-ATAS@salford.ac.uk.

You can apply for your ATAS Certificate via this link: https://www.atas.fco.gov.uk/

Teaching

The majority of teaching and learning takes place through tutorial and seminar groups. Assessment is generally in the form of assignments, which improve problem solving and other skills as well as providing a strong background in the subject area.

The Acoustics MSc course offers a variety of flexible formats, including full- and part-time attending modes, and by distance learning over two. Those considering part-time study should bear in mind that the courses are intensive, and that a minimum of one day per week, per module studied, would need to be put aside for study. 

Distance learning and attending students benefit from the supply of a range of high-quality teaching materials, text books and software.  Interaction with students is face-to-face wherever practical, but we also use web-based learning support packages (databases of materials, discussion boards etc.) to support the whole cohort.


Assessment

  • Taught modules are assessed through assignments
  • The project is assessed through a dissertation

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford and President of the Institute of Acoustics (IOA).

One major strand of his research is room acoustics for intelligible speech and quality music production and reproduction. Trevor’s diffuser designs can be found in rooms around the world. He has co-authored a research book entitled “acoustic absorbers and diffusers”. He was award the IOA’s Tyndall Medal in 2004.

Trevor has a long track record of communicating acoustic engineering to the public and has been involved in engagement projects worth over £1M. He was given the IOA award for promoting acoustics to the public in 2009. Trevor has presented sixteen science documentaries for BBC radio including: Life’s soundtrack, Save our Sounds and Science vs the Strad.

Find out about other staff teaching on this course.

Employability

The Audio Pathway on this course is designed to train graduates to meet a growing demand for audio skills in industry, and also to enable employees to reach their full potential. This postgraduate course has been used as in-service training by a number of UK and global companies (e.g. mobile telecoms). While one naturally thinks of mobile phone design as belonging to 'telecommunications', there are considerable audio engineering challenges in designing good quality sound from the small transducers used in confined spaces, often in the presence of considerable background noise. Also, increasing markets exist for sophisticated audio systems in the home (surround sound cinema), at work (Internet conferencing facilities, virtual environments) and in transport (car audio). This masters course has been devised to meet this growing demand.

The audio acoustics industry is diverse. It includes major firms with 'core' audio-related market share such as Philips, Sony, Dolby, B&O and KEF. Many other businesses employ specialists in acoustics: Nokia, Bentley (and Ford, Nissan etc) to name a few. Building design and architectural acoustics needs specialist engineering consultants looking at room configurations and surface treatments, noise ingress and egress, sound reinforcement system design and so on, and a very wide variety of companies (Arup Acoustics are one large example in this area) employ graduates from our courses. Students also go on to study for a higher degree by research, here at Salford or elsewhere.

The Environmental Pathway meets the needs of people wanting a career dealing with building design, noise and its control. With noise being a significant problem worldwide, there is significant demand from companies wanting to employ graduates understanding acoustics. Many employers such as noise and acoustic consultancies, and product manufacturers, come directly to Salford to recruit graduates from our courses. Our reputation in acoustics means that our graduates have an excellent chance of quickly finding a job. Acoustic consultancy offers the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of projects and clients, and consultancy practices who recruit our graduates are spread widely throughout the UK, the EU, Canada, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.


Career Prospects

Acousticians with engineering, science and mathematical skills are currently in short supply, and Salford MSc Audio Acoustics graduates are in a very strong position in the jobs market. Salford University has over 25 years experience of placing graduates in key audio and acoustic industries carrying out consultancy, research, development and design. These include well-known companies such as Apple, Dolby and the BBC.

Typically our graduates go into:
Acoustics and Audio Engineering Research
Acoustics and Noise Consultancy
Broadcast Engineering
Entertainment Audio and Sound System Engineering
Loudspeaker and audio system design
Product sound 

In 2013, A survey of 500 of our acoustic and audio alumni found 1 in 5 of our graduates live outside the UK and 45% are in Senior jobs or are Directors. The 6 most popular industries were: research (15%), environmental (11%), university (10%), construction (9%), architecture (9%) and consumer electronics (6%). 

Alumni Profile

Anthony Churnside joined the BBC R&D's trainee technologist scheme after studying Audio Acoustics at The University of Salford.

His first placement was with the Technology Consultancy Team helping define the technology requirements for MediaCityUK.
 
His second placement looked at the possible future of surround sound, both in terms of what benefits it can offer our audiences and how hard it would be to incorporate into BBC production processes and the broadcast infrastructure. This project allowed him to record the Last Night of the Proms in 3D sound. He presented this research at a number of high profile events, including presenting to the Director of Audio and Music, the Director of Future Media & Technology (FM&T) and members of the BBC Trust.

The 3D sound project was recognised by the Royal Television Society and Tony was awarded Young Technologist 2010, the prize was to attend the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.

His final placement was with the Prototyping Team. This is a group of engineers and designers who build prototypes that explore new ways of presenting BBC content. Examples of prototypes that he has built range from a conduct your own orchestra installation for Radio 3 to a brainwave controlled remote control for a television set top box.

Tony now works at MediaCityUK for BBC R&D and is now studying a PhD at the Acoustics Research Centre at Salford University.

Links with Industry

Staff have strong links with industry either through collaborative R&D projects with industry through the Acoustics Research Centre and our commercial test laboratories. These all help to keep the MSc Acoustics up to date with the current needs of industry and including the latest research findings. 

Further Study

Some of our students go on to study a PhD at our world-class Acoustics Research Centre. We have been carrying out acoustics research for over 40 years. Our research is funded by research councils, government bodies, and industry. It has fed into audio products that companies make and sell worldwide, as well as regulations and standards used in the UK, Europe and beyond. We are also involved in public engagement - getting more people aware of and interested in acoustic science and engineering. 

Key areas include broadcast audio, building and architectural acoustics, environmental noise, sound-scapes, outdoor sound propagation, remote acoustic sensing of metrological conditions, human response to sound and vibration, audio signal processing and transducer design.

The Acoustics Research Centre's world leading research was recognised by the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008). The Centre was submitted to "Architecture and Built Environment", along with colleagues from other groups at Salford. The architecture and the built environment research was rated as the best in the country, with 90% of our research graded at international standard and 25% at world-leading standard. The University finished top in Research Fortnight's Research Power table for Architecture & the Built Environment. The Acoustics Research Centre was particularly pleased to double the number of staff submitted to RAE 2008 compared to RAE 2001.


Fees and Funding

Fees 2014-15

Type of StudyFee
Full-time£5,400
Part-time£900 per 30 credits
Full-time International£12,800
Distance Learning£900 per 30 credits
International Distance Learning£2133 per 30 credits

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section

Facilities

Acoustic and audio test facilities at Salford are second to none. We have a full range of specialist test chambers: full anechoic chamber, two semi-anechoic chambers, transmission suite, two large and one small reverberation chambers, ITU standard listening room, audiometric test facilities and a range of modern instrumentation and equipment. We are accredited to perform no less than twelve types of test and the test chambers are maintained by a team of commercially funded technical staff. We also have a UKAS accredited Calibration Laboratory which provides a full scale commercial service to industry. All these facilities are available for students carrying out projects.