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Acoustical and Audio Engineering

BEng /MEng (Hons)

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Acoustics, Audio and Video

UCAS Code: BEng - H341; MEng - H345

Start Dates(s): September

Duration:

Three years full-time 
Four years full-time with placement year

In Brief:

  • Enviable employment prospects, we have graduates working worldwide at Apple Samsung and the BBC
  • Taught by internationally recognised leaders in acoustics and audio research
  • Strong links with the industry, including work placements all over Europe
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

The start date for this course is September 2018

This course is about engineering a better sounding world, whether that is improving the speech quality of mobile phone calls, designing sound for VR games or designing noise barriers to quieten high speed rail. To do this, you need to bring together physics and psychology to understand how sound waves  behave and how people respond to them. You also need to use computers and digital technology to engineer better sound.

Acoustical Engineering includes designing architecture and consumer products so that they sound good, as well as control of noise and vibration from machinery. Products might come from audio, such as headphones, streaming music services or mobile phones where sound quality is paramount. But they equally  might be washing machines, wind turbines or lorries, products that incidentally make noise that needs to be made less unpleasant.

The course is accredited by the Institute of Acoustics. The University of Salford began teaching undergraduate acoustics and audio courses in 1975, and graduates from our Acoustics and Audio degree courses are employed in major acoustic and audio companies around the world.

The course is delivered via our internationally recognised acoustic test facilities and state of the art laboratories and media facilities.

Foundation Year available

Eloise Kalavsky
Second year Acoustics student, currently completing a placement year

This course genuinely is one of a kind. It’s a combination of science and creativity, giving a good blend of mathematical and scientific modules such as Mathematics for Physics and Principles of Acoustics, and more creative modules such as Audio Systems. You will learn a wide variety of skills  and it’s all so enjoyable because of the people here.

I’ve learned so many things in the two years that I’ve been here- a lot more than I ever expected, and I’m sure I still have much more to look forward to in my final year. It has been difficult at times, but the teaching staff are all extremely supportive and friendly, and regularly  take the time to meet anyone outside of the contact hours if they’re struggling with anything. I’ve never met any teaching staff so supportive, they really are the backbone of this course.

Not only do we learn such a variety of subjects, but we’re extremely lucky to have many opportunities presented to us. Not only did I get to choose an optional year in industry, but I have also completed a placement with an acoustics consultancy that monitors the noise at the world-famous Glastonbury  festival- it became very obvious very quickly to me that this course makes the students very employable because of the skill set it teaches us. The optional year on placement so far has been great, and I would recommend it to anyone- it teaches you what happens in the industry and gives you first-hand  experience of working for top-class companies and institutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1TJSsknz1c

Course Details

The course is an Integrated Masters leading to BEng/MEng (Hons). The first and second year modules are compulsory and the final year offers optional modules at BEng and MEng level so that you can tailor your degree to suit your interests and career aspirations. Final year modules are co-taught with the MSc classes and have different assessment methods for BEng and MEng. The MEng assessments are research based and open ended and the BEng modules are assessed via formal exams and coursework. You have the option to spend a year out in industry between the second and third year of the course.

Year 1

Modules may include:
This module is an introduction to a wide range of concepts in acoustics and allows you to begin to gain skills in the practical measurement and analysis of acoustic devices and audio technologies.
You will look at the basic building blocks in audio electronic circuits and develop an understanding and appreciation of impedance, current and voltage in circuits, use of complex numbers and circuit analysis. You will also use SPICE simulation for circuit analysis and design.
You will be given the basic mathematical skills and concepts required to appreciate and succeed in understanding acoustics and audio engineering.
Building on the subject knowledge from the Mathematics module, you will further your knowledge of differential equations and series with emphasis on their applications to physics and develop your awareness of the importance of mathematics in a quantitative description of physics. You will be introduced to the use of spreadsheets, computing programming and symbolic computing.
You will be taught about a wide variety of specialist acoustic and audio measurements, in terms of equipment familiarity, correct use, interpretation of data and correct reporting (oral and written).
This module will introduce you to a broad range of audio technologies including microphones, transmission, digital audio and loudspeakers. You will learn basic practical skills by carrying out a simple audio electronics project.

Year 2

Modules may include:
This module gives a thorough grounding in the techniques and applications of digital technology in the acquisition, processing, storage and transmission of acoustic signals.
On completion of this module you should have an understanding of electroacoustic transduction mechanisms and the modelling techniques used in the design of microphones and loudspeakers.
This module will teach you the fundamental acoustic principles that are required as a foundation for the remainder of the course such as Fourier’s theorem, 3D wave equation, the finite string and radiation impedance.
In order to better prepare you for a career in acoustics and audio this module will help you understand the nature of entrepreneurs and the development of entrepreneurial organisations. You will cover popular business theories such as theory of management, the role of enterprise in the economy, leadership and management of an enterprise and developing and managing quality in the enterprise.
You will work together with course mates on a specific real world acoustic/audio design task and come up with a real practical solution using the acoustics laboratory facilities and the new Newton Building Maker Space facilities and equipment.
You will develop knowledge and critical understanding in the area of Mathematics Methods for Physics including the origin and limitations of the associated laws. You will develop analytical, numerical and computer based problem solving skills in the area of Mathematical Methods for Physics.

Year 3

OPTIONAL Modules for BEng. You will complete the Final Year Project module and choose four optional modules from the list below:
The final year project is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding and application of the knowledge you have acquired on the course. The project topic chosen will be on an agreed subject related to audio or acoustics and you have the option to work within a group or as an individual with regular supervision.
You will be introduced to speech production and modelling, speech analysis and synthesis with particular reference to the application of speech technology in modern communication devices. You will develop a systematic understanding of human perception of sound and its application in a musical context.
You will carry out measurement of environmental sound using appropriate sound measuring instrumentation. You will develop the ability to describe and explain the main provisions of current environmental noise legislation, and to interpret the requirements in order to carry out reliable measurements and apply acoustic theory to decisions about when, how and where to measure environmental sound.
You will develop an understanding of the relevant scientific principles underlying acoustic measurement techniques, and effectively undertake standardised acoustic measurements, taking full account of uncertainty introduced throughout the process.You will perform appropriate analysis of measured data, and communicate findings effectively to a specialist audience.
You will learn the fundamental principles of computer simulation techniques: geometric room acoustics, finite element method, and boundary element method using COMSOL and related software packages. You will undertake practical problem solving using computer modelling of acoustical systems and assess the field of application, accuracy and limitations of the computer simulation methods.
You will gain in depth knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of noise control design processes and methodologies and the ability to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations. You will develop awareness that noise control activities should promote sustainable development and ability to assess this using quantitative techniques where appropriate. Additionally you will develop skills to apply noise control techniques, taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints.
You will develop understanding of how the ear works to turn acoustic stimuli into sensations including low and high-level perceptual attributes. You will be able to explain key evidence, ideas and techniques found in the research literature and use knowledge of psychoacoustic research to critically evaluate experimental design and explain key techniques to apply psychoacoustic models in real-world applications.
You will work with wave and statistical theories of room acoustics to analyse existing rooms or design new ones, as well as critically evaluate key theories and experimental results in the literature. You will examine how sound fields in rooms can be characterised and to what extent this explains perceptions of sound in rooms. This will enable you to apply techniques to control sound fields in rooms by absorption and scattering, with an appreciation of their limitations.
You will apply the methods and techniques that you have learned to understand electro-acoustic design problems. You will critically assess practical issues such as radiation efficiency and non-pistonic vibration and apply your knowledge and understanding to design transducer systems to a given performance specification.
You will perform modelling and analysis in the z-transformed domain and understand modern DSP techniques such as blind signal processing. You will apply the process of digital filtering; fixed, adaptive, recursive and non-recursive partly drawing on the latest research outcomes. You will also apply and understand Machine Learning methods for acoustics
You will acquire a systematic understanding of NVH concepts and vocabulary, deploy mathematical descriptions of noise and vibration sources and characterisation methods. You will be able to describe and critically evaluate the main methods of numerical prediction for vibro-acoustics with reference to current research and professional practice. You will critically evaluate the main methods of measurement for vehicle and aircraft noise and vibration with some reference to current research and professional practice.
You will develop the knowledge for design and implementation of spatial audio systems in virtual and augmented realities including a systematic understanding of the complexities and shortcomings of human spatial hearing and how this knowledge is used in the design and operation of spatial audio systems. You will understand and critically evaluate the major influences on sound perceived by a listener in spatialised audio environments.

Year 4

OPTIONAL Modules for MEng. You will complete the MEng Group Design Project module and choose four optional modules from the list below:
You will demonstrate an understanding of techniques applicable to your research, show originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create, interpret and critically evaluate knowledge within the chosen project area. You will be expected to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
You will perform modelling and analysis in the z-transformed domain and understand modern DSP techniques such as blind signal processing. You will apply the process of digital filtering; fixed, adaptive, recursive and non-recursive partly drawing on the latest research outcomes. You will also apply and understand Machine Learning methods for acoustics and appropriately select and effectively apply advanced DSP methods
You will acquire a systematic understanding of NVH concepts and vocabulary, deploy mathematical descriptions of noise and vibration sources and characterisation methods. You will be able to describe and critically evaluate the main methods of numerical prediction for vibro-acoustics with reference to current research and professional practice. You will critically evaluate the main methods of measurement for vehicle and aircraft noise and vibration with some reference to current research and professional practice and critically evaluate NVH targets and their implications to the automotive industry.
You will carry out measurement of environmental sound using appropriate sound measuring instrumentation. You will develop the ability to describe and explain the main provisions of current environmental noise legislation, and to interpret the requirements in order to carry out reliable measurements and apply acoustic theory to decisions about when, how and where to measure environmental sound.
You will develop understanding of the relevant scientific principles underlying acoustic measurement techniques and effectively undertake standardised acoustic measurements, taking full account of uncertainty introduced throughout the process.You will perform appropriate analysis of measured data, and communicate findings effectively to a specialist audience.
You will learn the fundamental principles of computer simulation techniques: geometric room acoustics, finite element method, and boundary element method using COMSOL and related software packages. You will undertake practical problem solving using computer modelling of acoustical systems and assess the field of application, accuracy and limitations of the computer simulation methods.
You will gain in depth knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of noise control design processes and methodologies and the ability to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations. You will develop awareness that noise control activities should promote sustainable development and ability to assess this using quantitative techniques where appropriate. In addition you will develop skills to apply noise control techniques, taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints.
You will develop understanding of how the ear works to turn acoustic stimuli into sensations including low and high-level perceptual attributes. You will be able to explain key evidence, ideas and techniques found in the research literature and use knowledge of psychoacoustic research to critically evaluate experimental design and explain key techniques to apply psychoacoustic models in real-world applications.
You will work with wave and statistical theories of room acoustics to analyse existing rooms or design new ones, and critically evaluate key theories and experimental results in the literature. You will examine how sound fields in rooms can be characterised and to what extent this explains perceptions of sound in rooms. This will enable you to apply techniques to control sound fields in rooms by absorption and scattering, with an appreciation of their limitations.
You will apply the methods and techniques that you have learned to understand electro-acoustic design problems. You will critically assess practical issues such as radiation efficiency and non-pistonic vibration and apply your knowledge and understanding to design transducer systems to a given performance specification.

Please note, exact modules may vary in order to keep content current. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the modules you will study on or before the start of the programme.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
UCAS tariff points BEng: 120 points; MEng: 128 points
GCE A level BEng: 120 points; MEng: 128 points - grade C in Maths or numerate science at Advanced GCE level
BTEC National Diploma DDM from Engineering or Science
Scottish Highers BEng: 120 points; MEng: 128 points; Advanced Highers grade C in Maths, Physics or Chemistry; Highers grade A in Maths, Physics or Chemistry.
Irish Leaving Certificate BEng: 120 points; MEng: 128 points; to include Higher Level Physics and Maths.
International Baccalaureate 35 points Grade 5 in Physics or Maths or Chemistry at Higher Level

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

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.

Applicant profile

This course is designed for someone who is passionate about sound, with a strong background and general interest in science and audio technology. You will learn to engineer sound, whether that is reducing road noise in a car, designing a sound bar or programming an audio games engine.

We positively welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to successfully pursue a programme of study in higher education. Students who do not have formal entry qualifications are required to sit a written assessment which is designed for this purpose. Support in preparing for the written assessment is available from the University. Please contact Jos Hirst the Director of Admissions for further information.

Additionally, applicants are strongly encouraged to attend our open days and applicant visit days where they can participate in acoustic and audio related activities in our test laboratories and meet staff and current students.

Teaching

Take a peak inside our Anechoic Chamber

How loud is a slithering snail? 

The BBC's Bang Goes the Theory visit the acoustics facilities at the University of Salford

This course is delivered using a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical-based work. In the final year you carry out a major project. Each module is delivered and assessed in the most appropriate way. For example, Acoustics Laboratory is a practical based module with no examinations. In contrast, the Introduction to Acoustics module is more theoretical and is delivered in a more standard lecture/tutorial format with a written end examination. We also use the web as a learning and teaching tool.

You will be taught by a wide a range of teaching staff (profiles here), all experts in different aspects of acoustic engineering and audio technology and each bringing research and/or commercial expertise.

Assessment

  • Coursework and lab exercises 50%
  • Exams 50%

Employability

Dan Gardner 
BSc(Hons) Audio Technology, now works for Codemasters

When I choose to do my degree at Salford it was primarily because I was interested in sound from the most technical scientific details to the creative aspects and I feel that the course gave the me the understanding I was looking for and a lot more. 

I am now working at Codemasters as a Sound Designer for video games and my work involves creating the audio content for the games we release involving location/foley recording of spot effects, speech/dialogue recording of voice-over artists/actors and celebrities in various different studios. My degree has helped me enormously to enter this field and I have a very good understanding of all aspects of audio including compression techniques, modelling of real-world acoustic behaviour, knowledge of surround sound techniques, ability to use and feel at home in various recording studios, knowledge of audio equipment specifications, audio programming techniques which greatly aid communication with the game programmers, not forgetting the knowledge/abilities I gained from the course for when it comes to diagnosing acoustic and audio problems occurring. My degree and the high standards of lecturing and practical work have given me these extremely valuable skills, allowing me to feel confident and knowledgeable when working with other audio professionals.

Paul Malpass
BEng (Hons) Electroacoustics, now works for Arup Acoustics

Paul Malpass completed his BEng in Electroacoustics (the predecessor of BEng Acoustics) at the University of Salford in 1990 and immediately joined the growing team at Arup Acoustics in London. While training at Arup Acoustics, Paul specialised in the design of acoustics and audio technologies for speech and media systems in Aviation, Education, Performing Arts, Rail, Retail and Sports and Leisure markets and applications. Paul completed his training and was awarded Charter ship (CEng) in May 1999. In 2000, Paul was made an Associate at Arup and in 2001 he completed a Masters degree at Cambridge University in Inter-disciplinary Design in the Built Environment, sponsored by the Arup Foundation.

Career Prospects

Graduates from this Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree course are well placed to become major players in the diverse world of sound, acoustics and audio. Starting salaries for graduates in the sector are in the range £20,000 to £30,000 and current industry demand for graduates is very high.

Below are just a few of the job areas our graduates get into and the companies they work for, for more details follow the links:

In 2013, a survey of 500 of our acoustic and audio alumni found one in five of our graduates live outside the UK and 45% are in senior jobs or are directors. The six most popular industries were: research (15%), university (10%), construction (9%), architecture (9%) and consumer electronics (6%).

Our graduates have excellent career prospects in acoustic consultancy and audio related industries. Previous graduates have gone on to employment with BBS, Apple, Dolby, Jaguar Land Rover and Bang and Olufson.

Links with Industry

Staff have strong links with industry either through collaborative R&D projects through the Acoustics Research Centre and our commercial test laboratories. The course also has strong links to industry through the industrial placement year. These all help to keep the Audio Acoustics degree course up to date with the current needs of industry including the latest research findings.

Further Study

Facilities

ACOUSTIC LABORATORIES

The University established an Acoustics Department in 1975 and it has been a leading national centre ever since. Consequently the acoustics laboratories on the main campus are world class and were rebuilt at a cost of £2.5M and include a listening room, reverberation suite and three anechoic chambers. The University acts as a test house for the acoustic and audio industry especially the construction industry, linking us to current practice, and helping to keep courses up to date. Students have access to the laboratories, as well as state of the art measurement equipment, software and audio systems including binaural, ambisonic  and  wave-field synthesis.

AUDIO PRODUCTION

The University of Salford has an outstanding set of facilities for students. In 2011, the University moved into a purpose built facility at the heart of MediaCityUK. Our facility is built to the most modern professional specifications and is available for students, researchers and commercial clients.  All  our production facilities are now based at MediaCityUK except for our multi-track recording studios running ProTools HD on Macintosh.

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