Introduction to Acoustics
Acoustical and Audio Engineering
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
In a nutshell
Sound is everywhere, from speech and music, to traffic and everyday noise. Acoustics is about exploring the physics of these sounds and the psychology of how people react when hearing them. Acoustical engineering has endless applications, from designing loudspeakers in smart phones to creating spaces where audio is at its best. Where there is sound, there is the potential to reduce or improve it through Acoustical Engineering.
For over 60 years Salford has pioneered acoustics teaching and research and is recognised by the UK Institute of Acoustics with a route to Chartered Engineer status. Our acoustical and audio engineering degree will guide you through this creative area of science and engineering, through a suite of modules designed to embed theoretical knowledge and creative application, to help you become a world-class acoustic and audio professional. With a focus on real-world problems solving, you'll explore the principles of acoustics, analogue electronics, speech, environmental noise measurement, digital signal processing, psychoacoustics, audio systems and speaker design.
Want to take your studies further? Explore our integrated masters pathway
Unsure about this leavel of study? Explore our foundation year entry pathway
Our Audio/Sound Technology and Acoustics courses scored 91% for learning resources in the National Student Survey 2020 (University of Salford analysis of unpublished NSS 2020 data)
- Gain professional knowledge and skills that lead to Chartered Engineer status
- Build understanding of fundamental acoustic principles, including Fourier’s theorem, 3D wave equation, the finite string and radiation impedance
- Discover the design principles behind modern music products, recording studios, loudspeakers and venues to achieve the best possible audio reproduction
- Complete experiments and projects in specialised acoustics facilities and laboratories
This is for you if...
You are passionate about sound, with a strong background/interest in science and audio technology
You enjoyed mathematics or physics at school/college and like using technology to find solutions
You want a degree with professional status, with the opportunity to take your studies to postgraduate level
All about the course
Having the ability to apply technical detail is at the heart of engineering, and core to Salford’s values, so we strive to embed this as a core learning objective throughout your studies. Recognised by the UK Institute of Acoustics with a route to Chartered Engineer status, this course will shape your future career credentials.
In years one and two, you will follow a structured programme of acoustic modules, with subjects including analogue electronics, digital signal processing audio systems and speaker design. In your final year, you'll be able to shape your degree around your interests, selecting optional modules in speech, room acoustics and virtual reality. You'll also complete experiments and project work, culminating in your individual project.
Industry placements are a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience and make those early career connections. On this course, you'll have the option to take an industry placement between years two and three. Although you’ll be responsible for securing your placement, our tutors will support you, monitor your progress and assess your final placement report. By successfully completing a placement year, you can also add 'with professional experience' to your final degree award.
This module offers 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.
Mathematics and Computing
Building on the subject knowledge from the Mathematics module you will further you 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 systems including sound synthesis, microphones, transmission, digital audio and loudspeakers.
Digital Signal Processing
This module gives a thorough grounding in the techniques and applications of digital technology in the acquisition, processing, storage and transmission of acoustic signals.
Microphone and Loudspeaker Design
On completion of this module you will have an understanding of electroacoustic transduction mechanisms and the modelling techniques used in the design of microphones and loudspeakers.
Principles of Acoustics
You will build on your knowledge and skills from the Introduction to acoustics module, to give you a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of acoustics. Subjects include: Fourier's theorem, solutions of 1-D wave equation, acoustic impedance, reflection factor and absorption coefficient, 3-D wave equation, radiation impedance, and behaviour of sound in 3D enclosures.
Industrial Studies and Career Management
You will 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.
Group Design Project
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 Maker Space facilities and equipment.
Mathematical Methods and Applications
In this module you will develop a knowledge and critical understanding in the area of Mathematics Methods for Physics including the origin and limitations of the associated laws. You will also develop analytical, numerical and computer based problem solving skills in the area of Mathematical Methods for Physics.
Final Year Project
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.
Choose four modules from the following:
Speech and Musical Acoustics
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.
Environmental Noise Measurement
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.
Measurement Analysis and Assessment
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.
Computer Simulation for Acoustics (year one for part time)
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.
Noise Control (year two part-time)
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.
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.
Digital Signal Processing and Machine Learning
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 engineering applications.
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.
Virtual and Augmented Reality Audio
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.
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What will I be doing?
You will develop your knowledge and skills through a blend of theoretical, collaborative and practical methods. These include:
- Laboratory exercises
- Case studies
- Group work
- Project work
Some of the course is delivered in a production environment, so you will spend time developing your practical skills in our sound recording studios, music technology rooms and TV studios.
You will be assessed using a combination of formats. These include:
- Examinations will assess your immediate response to a set of unseen problems
- Assignments will assess your response to in-depth problems and challenges
- Practical tests in acoustics laboratories will assess your problem-solving rationale
- Projects will assess your ability to create, deliver and evaluate a plan for an identified solution
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
Rising to the challenge of a rapidly-changing world, our multi-disciplinary courses will shape the next generation of scientists, engineers, consultants and conservationists. Delivered by a team of dedicated academic, technical and administrative staff, you’ll experience a supportive, professional environment, where you can take your potential further.
Our world-class Acoustic Laboratories at our Peel Park campus are home to a full range of specialist test environments: one full anechoic chamber and two semi-anechoic chambers, a transmission suite, two large and one small reverberation chambers, an ITU standard listening room equipped with a 96 channel Wave Field Synthesis system, a 3D Ambisonic listening booth and audiometric test facilities. Many of these facilities are regularly used by industry for commercial testing and research.
We also have Audio Production suites at Our MediaCityUK campus which include industry-standard professional audio-visual suites, production and recording studios.
What about after uni?
Successfully completing an acoustical and audio engineering degree course can put you in a great position to take a leading role in the diverse world of sound, music production, acoustics and audio.
Audio and acoustics graduates often develop careers as studio and live producers/engineers, broadcast engineers, gaming audio engineers, product developers, acoustics and audio researchers, and acoustics consultants.
Our graduates have progressed their career in roles with Arup, BBS, Apple, Dolby, Jaguar Land Rover and Bang and Olufson.
You might find you want to learn more about acoustics, so we offer a range of specialist postgraduate courses to help you take your career and interests even further. Salford graduates and alumni also receive a significant fees discount.
The University of Salford began teaching undergraduate acoustics and audio courses in 1975 and and many of our graduates can be found in major acoustic and audio companies around the world. The course is recognised by the UK Institute of Acoustics and offers a route to Chartered Engineer status. This leading reputation and professional standing has helped us to build opportunities for our students across the UK and beyond.
Our acoustics staff hold strong links with industry either through collaborative research and development projects through the Acoustics Research Centre or via our commercial test laboratories. These connection help us to keep course content relevant to the needs of industry and in tune with latest research findings.
What youneed to know
The type of person who would be interested in this course would ideally have studied mathematics or physics subjects at college and would like to gain a deeper knowledge in these and other related subjects, with particular bias towards acoustics. You will ideally already have a keen interest in sound and desire a future career working in this field.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS
International applicants must show proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0, with no band below 5.5, is proof of this.
Please note: The entry criteria below are related to entry onto this course in the 2020/2021 academic year. If you’re interested in a future intake year, please check the course entry on UCAS.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C/level 4 or above (or equivalent). You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
UCAS tariff points
112-120 UCAS points where qualifications include Mathematics, Physics, Engineering or a numerate science
112-120 UCAS points, including grade C in Mathematics, Physics or a numerate science.
BTEC National Diploma
DDM for Engineering or Science subjects, including Distinctions in Mathematics modules
Access to HE
Pass with 112-120 UCAS points from a QAA-approved Science or Engineering course; including 60 credits overall with a minimum of 45 credits at level 3 and Distinctions in numerate modules
120 UCAS points to include Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry at grade C for Advanced Higher level, or grade A at Higher level
Irish Leaving Certificate
120 UCAS points including Higher Level Mathematics and Physics
Pass in Diploma of at least 60%, to include a numerate science or Engineering
35 points including Higher Level Physics, Mathematics or Chemistry at grade 5
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.
To be considered for the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme you must have already achieved or be working towards GCSE Maths and English Grade C/4 (or equivalent).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home/EU||2020/21||£9,250per year|
|Full-time international||2020/21||£15,240per year|
|Part-time||2020/21||Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.|
You should consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Scholarships for International students 2020/21
To celebrate the University of Salford's expertise and industry links in Computing and Engineering, high achieving international students may be eligible for our Computing, Science and Engineering International Excellence Scholarship of £3,500.
For more information go to International Scholarships.
All set? Let's apply
Course ID H341