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Audio Production

MSc/PgDip

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Acoustics, Audio and Video

Start Dates(s): September; January

Duration:

September start
MSc (one year full-time or up to three years part-time)
PgDip (nine months full-time or 18 months part-time)
January start
MSc (16 months full-time)
PgDip (one year full-time or up to two years part-time)

Fees:

Part-time - £1,060 per 30 credit module

UK - £6,355

International - £13,500

In Brief:

  • Benefit from access to a range of state-of-the-art facilities at both our MediaCityUK and main campus including leading edge recording studios, audio technology suite, audio post production suite, anechoic chamber and listening room
  • Enjoy excellent job prospects in a growing field
  • Tap into the expertise of world-class audio-engineering and acoustics researchers - here at Salford we have been carrying out acoustics and audio research for over 30 years, and our research department is a Centre of Excellence for BBC research
  • Part-time study option
  • Based at MediaCityUK
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

On this course, you’ll gain practical, theoretical and creative experience of sound engineering, music production and audio technology.

Based at our state-of-the-art MediaCityUK campus, you’ll explore the design, manipulation and production of audio across many platforms using our leading edge audio-post recording, radio and TV studios to study a mix of sound engineering and theory modules.

The aim of the course is to develop the skills that you’ll need to create and deliver professional audio, whilst underpinning these skills with a sound theoretical background.

Take a look at our cutting edge facilities at MediaCityUK

Course Details

This course entails both practical based and theory modules. The modules are delivered in the recording studios, the audio technology suite, audio post production suite and lecture theatres.

For the full-time study option:

Semester 1        

This module will develop advanced sound recording, editing, processing and surround techniques, both within a group and in an individual context. You will be given the opportunity to work on a recording project that will entail both technical and logistical challenges.            
This module covers the tools and techniques used in the audio post production process and how to apply these skills in an original and creative way by developing the advanced skills and techniques needed for sound design, dialogue editing, ADR (automatic dialogue replacement) and Foley work. You will also develop a systematic understanding of mixing for 5.1 surround and to apply these in an original and creative way and be able to develop mastering techniques in stereo and 5.1. On completion you should have the skills and techniques needed to produce broadcast-standard output.            
This module will enable you to gain a systematic understanding of, and an ability to critically evaluate likely future developments in media, in both a technical and commercial context. Topics covered include social media, cultural impacts and drivers; consumer markets, digital identity, ethics, privacy,  copyright, licensing; content creation, sharing and reuse and digital rights management.                    
Audio theory will give you a thorough understanding of analogue and digital audio signals and systems and the complex techniques for digitally controlling and interconnecting audio devices. This will include synchronization, clocking and automation across a variety of audio production platforms and contexts. Digital audio formats will also be examined.                

Semester 2        

In spatial audio, the spatial hearing capabilities of the auditory system are further investigated and spatial audio systems including stereo, binaural, transaural, 5.1, ambisonics and wave field synthesis will be investigated both in terms of theory and practical use. There will be opportunities to audition and experiment with a number of different surround systems during practical sessions in the recording studios, listening room and anechoic chamber.                
You will learn the acoustics of sound propagation in enclosed spaces and will learn how to design methods of treating such spaces to achieve a desired acoustic result and the limitations of those methods. You will learn how to control the noise isolation of these spaces and the technologies used to realise both noise control and a desired acoustic. A walk-through of an existing studio design and its implementation will tie all these strands together so that you can understand the acoustics, engineering  and management required in the successful design of both control rooms and other creative audio environments.              
In Sound Synthesis, you will learn how to identify and evaluate the objective and subjective principles behind musical instrument perception. You will develop theories of timbre analysis, the ways in which musical instruments produce sound, synthesis techniques and then undertake software-based musical sound synthesis using both emulative and abstract approaches. Additive, subtractive and modulation synthesis will be studied along with signal processing (effects) design.                  
You will learn a range of research techniques appropriate to audio, acoustics and video and the relationship between research questions, research methods and analysis techniques. This will help prepare you for writing your dissertation that takes place in the third semester. Topics studied include literature searching, data types, qualitative and quantitative data analysis and the integration of different research methods.                  

Semester 3        

The aim of the Master's Project is to carry out, under supervision, an extended individual study into a topic in audio, digital media or acoustics. A large number of topics will be offered to you to choose from or you could undertake a bespoke topic to be agreed between you and your supervisor. Your project will reflect the skills, knowledge and understanding from different areas of the course and will encourage initiative and project management.            

If the course is studied on a part-time basis, only two modules per semester are undertaken.

Entry Requirements

A second class honours degree that must contain significant elements of audio technology or production.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

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 students must provide evidence of proficiency in English- IELTS 6.0 band score (with no element below 5.5) or above are proof of this.

Suitable For

Graduates from courses that feature large elements of audio engineering and production. Please note that this is not a conversion course – we expect students to have prior experience of recording-studio practice.

Applicant profile

We are looking for sound engineering/music technology students with a keen interest in the subject area. Students will require skill in both the operational and theoretical side of audio production.

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee
Full-time£6,355
Part-time£1,060 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£13,500

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

For more information please see our funding section

Teaching

Teaching and learning involves a mix of lectures and practical sound engineering work, involving individual and group learning, There is an emphasis on motivated self-study.

Assessment

Assessment involves a mixture of practical work, report writing and project work. By the end of the course you will have built up a substantial portfolio of audio, video and new media work.

Assessment is approximately divided across the course as follows:

  • Practical work (30%)
  • Report/assignment (35%)
  • Presentation (5%)
  • Dissertation - that may entail practical elements (30%)

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Jos Hirst

Sound synthesis and audio production is taught by Jos Hirst. Previously, Jos worked as a live and sometimes studio sound engineer for 15 years, and then decided to find out about the 'hows and whys' of the equipment he was operating.

He first came to University of Salford in 1996 as an undergraduate, enrolling on the BSc (Hons) Audio Technology. He then studied for a PhD in the research area of spatial audio. More specifically, he investigated objective methods of assessing the spatial capabilities of surround sound systems as well as developing spatializing techniques for multichannel musical synthesis. He finally finished his PhD in 2006. You can have a look at his thesis here.

Employability

The wide range of skills provided on this course will enhance your employability. Possible career paths include: audio manufacturer research and design, broadcast engineer in audio for radio or TV, audio and visual design and installation, education, interactive media and sonic arts.

Possible career paths include:

  • Audio manufacturer research and design
  • Broadcast engineer in audio for radio or TV
  • Recording studio, live sound engineer, music production
  • Music technology retail
  • Theatre or film audio engineer
  • Musical instrument technology
  • Audio and visual design and installation
  • Education
  • Interactive Media
  • Sonic arts

Alumni Profile

Recent graduates from the Audio Production masters have found careers in audio post-production, freelance sound engineering, convergent technologies (audio, video and new media) and broadcast and have been employed by companies such as BBC, Sky TV and Channel 4.

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.  Our research department is a Centre of Excellence for BBC research.

Further Study

Some students could go on to study a PhD at our world-class Acoustics Research Centre. We have been carrying out acoustics and audio research for over 30 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 - making more people aware of and interested in acoustic science and engineering.

Facilities

This degree is based in MediaCityUK, the new home for the BBC, ITV, Coronation Street and parts of the University of Salford. MediaCityUK is located at Salford Quays on the banks of Manchester's historic ship canal. The University has the first four floors of a new, purpose built facility that looks over the water to The Lowry theatre, Imperial War Museum North and the new Coronation Street set. ITV occupy the floors above us, with the three BBC buildings on one side of us and Peel Media Studios on the other.

A number of BBC departments are based at MediaCityUK having moved from London including BBC Breakfast, BBC Children's, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Future Media and Technology, BBC Learning, BBC Sport and BBC Academy. All of the BBC Manchester operations have also moved to MediaCityUK, including BBC Religion and Ethics, Current Affairs and the BBC Philharmonic.

For more information, check out the Salford MediaCityUK site and the main MediaCityUK site.

Here is a summary of our relevant facilities at MediaCityUK:

  • Audio Post Production and Audio Suite - Mac-based suites that run a range of audio software, including Pro Tools, Reason, Cubase and Reaktor. The Post Production suite has a Digidesign Icon D-command desk running Pro Tools.
  • TV Studios - full professional specification studios. Studio A has separate vision and audio control rooms. Studio B allows for a full 3D virtual studio.
  • Radio Studios - two radio studios, including a small studio space.
  • Computer Suites - a range of Mac and PC based computer rooms for general computer work.

On the main campus, we also have a Pro Tools equipped studio recording complex consisting of four control rooms and recording areas. Please see this brochure for more detailed information.

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