EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sound Futures

Aircraft Propeller in an acoustic chamber surrounded by measurement equipment

The CDT will train 70 future engineering leaders who will reduce the harms caused by noise and poor acoustics and forge a more positive- sounding future. This is an unprecedented collaboration for doctoral training between four universities and over 50 project partners.

Sustainable Sound Futures

From megacities to oceans, most places on Earth are polluted with noise and tranquillity is disappearing. Noise is a health problem for one in five European citizens. At high levels it causes hearing loss. At moderate levels, it creates chronic stress, annoyance, sleep disturbance and heart disease. Noise makes it harder to communicate, harms learning in schools and causes older people to withdraw from social situations. The 2023, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report called noise a "neglected pollutant" and recommended that more research be conducted to reduce harms. Noise also increases mortality in marine and terrestrial wildlife

The training and research will go beyond classic noise control, to investigate engineering positive sounds. From using sound to improve the accessibility of products, through to enhancing cultural events that boost well-being, there are many ways of creating a better sounding future. 

Employment prospects for our doctoral graduates are extremely good, as there is a chronic shortage of PhD graduates in this area.

The training has four research themes: 

  • New sound sources. The shift from fossil fuels to renewables, electricity and hydrogen will profoundly change how the world sounds. The new energy sources create challenges for industry and regulators, but also opportunities to innovate and improve the aural environment.  

  • Perception of sound by human and other animals. Perception must drive engineering decisions for responsible innovation. Significant advances need new approaches like perception-driven engineering, to understand the interdependencies between physics and perception outcomes, exploiting new physiological measurements and virtual reality. 

  • Machine Learning for sound. This is the dominant approach in signal processing and is now emerging as the next disruptive technology across simulation, metrology, design optimisation and modelling of listener response.  

  • Positive uses of sound. Partners need to improve products and places in a fundamental shift from just noise control. For example, the rapid growth of acoustic sensors (e.g., IoT, underground telecommunications) unlocks potential for sound sensing to monitor buildings. 

From the beginning, students will be registered at one of the four universities for their doctoral research. Progression and examination for the PhD will be overseen by the home university. Students will apply to study on particular PhD projects around our four research themes, which will be driven by the needs of our partners. 

The extensive training will go far beyond what is normally available for standard PhDs in Acoustics. A mixture of week-long residentials, master classes, theme days and online training will develop technical skills for acoustics (simulation, measurement, machine learning, psychoacoustics, etc.) and key skills for research (project planning, entrepreneurship, public engagement, policy influencing, responsible innovation, etc.). Placements in industry or academic partners will play an important role in ensuring students learn about context and how to create impact. The learning outcomes of the training were co-created between academics and partners, to ensure the graduates have the skills, knowledge and understanding to create a more sustainable sound future for all.  

We will train 70 students over five cohorts. Students are fully funded for four years.  

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Our ambition is to be a place where inclusivity is deliberately designed and embedded into all that we do, where every student, supervisor and partner feels that they matter and belong. We will treat people fairly and in accordance with their needs, celebrate difference, and work towards equity in outcomes for all. We will be pro-active to ensure that doctoral candidates, regardless of background, enjoy similar experiences and outcomes. We will work to remove barriers that stand in the way of achievement and equity. 

The Network

This is a collaboration between the Universities of Salford, Sheffield, Bristol and Southampton, working alongside over fifty project partners from industry to government. This creates a scale and depth of expertise and facilities that is unprecedented for Acoustics PhD training. We will provide an inclusive, inspiring and supportive environment. 

The CDT is funded by the EPSRC with support from our project partners and the four universities.

UK Research and Innovation - Engineering and physical sciences research council logo An infographic showing how collaboration between Salford, Southampton, Bristol and Sheffield will work; circular arrow showing relation between human/animal perception and Salford, positive use of sound and Southampton, new sound sources and Bristol, machine learning and Sheffield. Centred around the words psychoacoustics, electroacoustics, bioacoustics, health, NVH, underwater, aeroacoustics, materials, dynamics, speech, DSP, buildings


Want to get involved?

  • We’re always looking for new partners to get involved in training and funding PhD studentships. Please email the Director Professor Trevor Cox at see-soundfutures@salford.ac.uk

  • If you’re interested, please email see-soundfutures@salford.ac.uk and we’ll message you when the first positions are adverstised.