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Acoustical and Audio Engineering with Foundation Year

BEng (Hons)

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Acoustics, Audio and Video

UCAS Code: H342

Start Dates(s): September

Duration:

One year foundation plus three years full-time for the degree or
one year foundation plus four years full-time for the degree with placement year

In Brief:

  • Fantastic career prospects in acoustic consultancy where there is a buoyant job market.
  • Taught by internationally recognised researchers in acoustics and audio.
  • Strong links with industry and accredited by the Institute of Acoustics (full Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree)
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity

Course Summary

This course provides an alternative entry route on to the BEng (Hons) Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree. It will provide you with a broad introduction to acoustics, physics, maths, laboratory work, engineering methodology and IT skills. It is ideal for students who may not have reached the required level in A levels or BTEC study or if you have chosen a new direction for your studies. On successful completion of the foundation year you will go on to study the same curriculum as the standard Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree course.

The full Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree 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 full course is recognised by the UK Institute of Acoustics and offers a route to Chartered Engineer status. 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.

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.

Course Details

In the foundation year, you will study the fundamentals required to progress on to the full Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree programme. This will involve training in physics and mathematical techniques that is achieved through a combination of theoretical and practical modules.

Acoustical and Audio Engineering

The full degree 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.

Foundation Year                  

These modules entail the development of mathematical and modelling skills. Subjects include algebra, transposition of formulae, coordinate systems, logarithms, introduction to calculus, problem solving in velocity and acceleration, differentiation, integration and matrices.                        
This module provides a grounding in basic physics and the development of numerical problem solving. The syllabus includes, mechanics, properties of matter and wave propagation.                        
In this module electronics and electricity are introduced, along with fields (magnetic, electric, gravitation etc.) and atomic and nuclear physics.                          
Laboratory skills, critical analysis of data and scientific reporting are examined in this module. The areas covered are experimental design, scientific measurement methods and data analysis. This is achieved through a series of experiments covering mechanics, thermal physics, electricity and waves.                        
This module involves the development of IT, research, team working, presentation and scientific reporting skills. In more detail, the use of spreadsheets, graphical representation of data, report writing, scientific presentations and group-based research will be undertaken.                        
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).                        

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
GCSE
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
English Language and Maths at grade C or above. 4 in Maths and English.
UCAS tariff points 72 UCAS points from any subject combination. 64 UCAS points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics to A Level standard.
GCE A level 72 UCAS points from any subject combination 64 UCAS points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics at A Level.in Maths or numerate science
BTEC National Diploma MMP for any subject, MPP for Engineering or Science
Foundation Degree N/A
Scottish Highers 72 UCAS Tariff points (new system) from any subject combination. 64 UCAS Tariff points where qualifications include both mathematics and physics to A-level standard.
Irish Leaving Certificate 72 UCAS Tariff points (new system) from any subject combination. 64 UCAS Tariff points where qualifications include both mathematics and physics to A-level standard.

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

This course is not suitable for international applicants.

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.

Teaching

Teaching on this Foundation degree course

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 engineer and audio technology and each bringing research and/or commercial expertise.

Many students take a year’s industrial placement after the second year, which you arrange with our support. Recent student placements include:

  • A to V (UK) LLP
  • Atkins
  • Dolby
  • Harman Becker
  • HBB
  • Plantronics
  • Sandy Brown Associates
  • Sennheiser
  • Southdown Environmental Consultants
  • Spectrum Acoustic Consultants
  • WSP (Acoustics)

Assessment

  • Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Practical work

Employability

Career Prospects

Graduates from the Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree course will become major players in the diverse world of sound, acoustics and audio. Starting salaries for graduates 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 & Olufson.

Alumni Profile

Dan Gardner, BSc(Hons) Audio Technology, Codemasters

“When I choose to do the degree at Salford it was primarily because I was interested in sound from the most technical scientific 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, 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 & 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.

Watch our video

Mark Howarth, of Sandy Brown Associates, speaks about his work as an acoustics consultant and his studies in Acoustics as a student at Salford.

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. The course also has strong links to industry through the industrial placement year. These all help to keep the Acoustical and Audio Engineering degree course up to date with the current needs of industry and including the latest research findings.

Further Study

Facilities

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.

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.

Watch our video    

How loud is a slithering snail? Bang Goes the Theory at BBC visit the acoustics facilities at the University of Salford  

Watch our video    

Take a guided tour of the University's facilities at MediaCityUK  

Watch our video    

See inside one of the quietest places in the UK, our very own Anechoic Chamber. Acoustics students will have the opportunity to use this facility during their time at the University.

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