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Environmental Acoustics

MSc/PgDip

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Acoustics, Audio and Video

Start Dates(s): September

Duration:

MSc (one year full-time or 32 months part-time or distance learning)
PgDip (nine months full-time or 20 months part-time)

Fees:

Part-time - £1,230 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,380

International - £13,500

Distance Learning - Full-time £7,380, part-time £1,230 per 30 credit module

In Brief:

  • An in-depth analytical treatment of acoustic engineering and environmental noise control as used in industry and research
  • You will be taught by world-class researchers with international prominence and strong industrial links
  • Strong, long-standing connections with industrial partners across Europe which inform course content, drive postgraduate recruitment, and create collaborative MSc project opportunities
  • Part-time study option
  • Overseas study available
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

There is a large and growing industrial need for engineers to control and mitigate noise and its effects, providing a healthy job market for appropriately trained graduates. This course is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills to work in environmental acoustics, whether in consultancy, local / central government or in research. 

This MSc is aimed at graduates of numerate science and technology disciplines, either fresh from undergraduate study or as Continual Professional Development for persons already in service.The University of Salford has a long history of research and teaching in environmental acoustics - by taking this course you will be joining a community of alumni who can be found at the heart of many leading organisations both in the UK and internationally.

You will study core topics including architectural acoustics, psychoacoustics, dynamics and vibration, computer modelling and measurement. Beyond this, the course provides specialist modules in environmental noise monitoring and noise control. Further specialisation is then developed in the Project module.

You will be based in the university’s internationally-renowned Acoustics Research Group. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework panel praised our outputs, saying that the Salford submission showed “particular strengths in acoustics”, and our industrial links led our REF impact case study to be singled out by the EPSRC and Royal Academy of Engineering for highlight the economic benefits of engineering and training. 

This course is accredited by the Institute of Acoustics for the purposes of meeting the educational requirements for Corporate Membership of the Institute. Graduates may attain Engineering Council registration via the Institute of Acoustics.

Course Details

This course offers a variety of flexible study formats, including full and part-time modes, either on campus or via distance learning. Those considering part-time study should bear in mind that the programme is intensive, and that generally, we advise that part-time means half time, i.e. you would need to allocate half the week to you studies ≈ 19 working hours.

Course Structure

This course comprises eight 15 credit taught modules, followed by a 60 credit project module leading to the dissertation. For full-time students, the taught modules all take place in trimesters one and two, followed by the project module in trimester three. For part-time students, the taught modules are spread over trimesters one and two of two years, followed by the project module in year three.

Please note that the ‘Measurement Analysis and Assessment’ and ‘Environmental Noise Measurement’ modules include lab weeks, attendance of which is also mandatory for distance learning students. Depending on your nationality you may require an ATAS certificate and Short Term Study Visa for this – see the Entry Requirements tab for details.

Semester 1 (for the full-time option)

In this module you will develop a systematic understanding of the physical and mathematical representations of vibrating systems and acoustic waves in 1D, 2D and 3D. You will learn about the descriptors and physical units of acoustic and vibration phenomena, and apply critical thinking to understanding of the assumptions and limitations inherent in acoustics and vibration theory. Using this, you will solve advanced problems in acoustics by application of theory and mathematical techniques.
This module aims to equip students with the necessary knowledge to specify and undertake appropriate acoustic measurements, including understanding their limitations, and being able to analyse the data they produce. You will learn how to effectively undertake standardised acoustic measurements, taking full account of uncertainty introduced throughout the process. You will also gain a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles underlying these acoustic measurement techniques, thereby helping you to apply them better and know how to adapt them or propose new methods where appropriate.
In this module you will learn about the fundamental principles underlying electroacoustic transduction as well as investigating the interaction between a source, its acoustic environment and the listener. These effects will be described by mathematical models, which you will study both on paper and numerically by programming them using Matlab. You will also examine the practical application of loudspeaker and microphone systems, and investigate how they are used in arrays e.g. for spatial audio applications.
In this module you will study the standards for environmental noise measurement in the context of realistic scenarios, and will then perform them yourself as fieldwork. It 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.

Semester 2

This module aims to provide you with a thorough grasp of room acoustics principles, including theoretical models for both low and high frequencies,  developing your ability to apply these in order to analyse existing rooms or design new ones.  You will study wave theory and statistical theory for acoustic enclosures, including objective descriptions of and how these tally with listeners' perceptions. Techniques for designing and applying sound absorbing and scattering treatments will be covered, and you will consider the effectiveness and limitations of these in important application areas such as musical performances spaces and critical listening rooms.
This module aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of computer simulation methods that are commonly used in acoustics. You will develop a critical awareness of the different types of techniques available (e.g. low & high frequency models), as well as developing the ability to apply them effectively and understand their limitations. You will apply these models to practical acoustic systems, thereby demonstrating your specialist understanding and broader problem solving and numeracy skills.
This module is about linking the acoustic signals we measure to peoples’ subjective responses. You will gain an understanding of how the auditory system allows humans to perceive different attributes of the surrounding acoustic environment, and develop a detailed understanding of how low-level percepts such as pitch arise from the physiology of the ear. You will then study how these are linked to high-level attributes such as emotional response, and how this drives good subjective experiment design.
This module will provide you with knowledge and understanding of noise control design processes and methodologies. You will learn how to select appropriate noise control options for realistic environmental and industrial noise scenarios, and to justify their selections. You will gain a thorough understanding of current best practice in noise control, and apply appropriate acoustical analysis to assess limitations and/or adapt them for application in unfamiliar situations.

Semester 3 (year 3 part-time)

The aim of the project is for you to carry out, under supervision, an extended individual study into a topic in acoustics and/or environmental noise control. The topic will be agreed with your supervisor and can be industry based if appropriate. You will be marked on your initiative and project management, as well as your ability to bring together the skills, knowledge and understanding you have acquired from the course. The project module is often used to further develop specialist interests of students, for example environmental noise projects in association with large consultancies, or NVH projects in association with automotive companies such as Bentley.

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

    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.academic-technology-approval.service.gov.uk/

    Please note that distance learners are required to attend a lab week in semester 1 (of year 2 for part-time study), for which they may require ATAS approval and a Short Term Study Visa.

    Suitable For

    This course is designed for technically-skilled numerate graduates whose first degree was in an engineering or science discipline, who wish to train to begin an acoustic and audio engineering career.This course is also designed for those currently working in industry in environmental acoustics who wish to expand their expertise.

    If you feel you have the technical knowledge for the course but lack the engineering maths, please get in touch and we can recommend a 1 year part-time distance-learning maths course that may be suitable to help you meet our entry requirements.

    For informal discussions about your suitability for this course, please contact the programme leader, Dr Jon Hargreaves.

    Fees 2017-18

    Type of StudyFee
    Full-time£7,380
    Part-time£1,230 per 30 credit module
    Full-time International£13,500
    Distance LearningFull-time £7,380, part-time £1,230 per 30 credit module
    International Distance LearningFull-time £13,500, part-time £2,250 per 30 credit module

    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

    Teaching

    The majority of teaching and learning takes place through tutorial and seminar groups. There is a strong focus on guided self-learning. 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 ‘Measurement, Analysis and Assessment’ and ‘Environmental Noise Measurement’ modules also include practical group work.

    All 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 cohorts. Distance learning students are able to stream classes via our Virtual Learning Environment, either to participate live or watch back later.

    Assessment

    • Taught modules are assessed through assignments
    • The project is assessed through a dissertation (weighting 80%) and a presentation (weighting 20%)

    Postgraduate Staff Profile

    Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, author and radio presenter.

    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 was awarded the IOA’s Tyndall Medal in 2004. Current audio projects include Future Spatial Audio for the Home and a big data project trying to Make Sense of Sound.

    Trevor has presented over twenty science documentaries for BBC radio including: Life’s soundtrack, Save our Sounds and Science vs the Strad. His popular science book, Sonic Wonderland was published in 2014.

    Find out about other staff teaching on this course.

    Employability

    Our MSc Environmental Acoustics 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 increasing demand from companies wanting to employ graduates understanding acoustics. 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. Many other businesses employ specialists in acoustics from Salford: Apple, Bentley and JLR to name a few. Our reputation in acoustics means that our graduates have an excellent chance of quickly finding a job, and many employers come directly to Salford to recruit graduates from our courses.

    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. Students also go on to study for a higher degree by research, here at Salford or elsewhere.

    Career Prospects

    Acousticians with engineering, science and mathematical skills are currently in short supply, and Salford MSc 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, and with almost every major acoustic consultancy in the world.

    Typically our graduates go into:

    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, including the latest research findings. This course is an exemplar of the University’s Industry Collaboration Zones (ICZs) strategy- our single strategic priority.

    Recent collaborative projects have included:

    • Integrated virtual models for acoustic design with Dyson
    • Wind turbine noise auralisation and subjective testing with DELTA and DEFRA
    • Railway noise and vibration assessment with DEFRA
    • Computer simulation of acoustics for auralisation with Arup Acoustics and the BBC
    • The S3A Future Spatial Audio project with the BBC
    • SALSA (Spatial Automated Live Sports Audio) system with DTS and Fairlight

    In addition to the taught programme, we hold regular informal research seminars. Recent industry contributors have included:

    • RBA Acoustics (acoustic consultancy masterclass)
    • Cambell Associates (noise mapping software)
    • WSP/Parcel (environmental noise masterclass)
    • Music Group (Smart audio technology for live sound)
    • AECOM (railway noise & vibration)
    • Farrat Isolevel (structural vibration isolation)
    • Jaguar Land Rover (NVH & infotainment)
    • GRAS (measurement microphone technology)

    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 research was recognised in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). Nine acoustics staff were part of the 49 staff submitted by Salford to “Architecture and Built Environment.” The Salford submission was evaluated as having a GPA of 2.9. The REF panel singled out our outputs as showing “particular strengths in acoustics” and said that there was “outstanding impact in acoustics for the built environment.” Our REF impact case study on acoustics was subsequently used by EPSRC and the Royal Academy of Engineering to highlight the economic benefits of engineering research.

    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 chamber, 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.

    Watch our video        

    See inside our Transmission Suite    

    Watch our video        

    See inside our Anechoic Chamber

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