Principles of Acoustics and Vibration
School of Computing, Science & Engineering
September 2019Next enrolment
In a nutshell
Help to build a better sounding world. The creation, control, and delivery of high-quality audio, are important elements of the rapidly expanding communication, media and entertainment industries.
This course is suitable for numerate science graduates, who wish to make the transfer into this exciting and growing sound and acoustics industry. Building on the engineering fundamentals, it provides you with the specialist expert knowledge and a practical skill set, so you are ready to develop a career as a future leader in audio technology.
Salford is one of the UK's leading centre for research and teaching in audio and acoustics. The course is delivered by an acoustics academic team at the very pinnacle of the profession. By taking this course, you'll be joining a community of alumni working at the heart of many leading sound and acoustics-focused companies and organisations throughout the world.
- Study core topics including architectural acoustics, psychoacoustics, dynamics and vibration, computer modelling and measurement.
- Have the opportunity to study specialist modules in digital signal processing and advanced loudspeaker and microphone design.
- Benefit from extensive audio and acoustics facilities, including our world-class Anechoic chamber
- Explore how sound behaves and moves between rooms, examining the quality of internal and external soundscapes
- Develop techniques to measure the impact and effects of sound on people (psychoacoustics)
This is for you if...
You are a technically-skilled, numerate graduate with a degree in an engineering or science discipline
You wish to develop skills for an acoustics and audio engineering career
You are currently working in the audio and acoustic industry and wish to expand your expertise
All about the course
MSc Audio Acoustics is available in flexible study formats, including full and part-time pathways, delivered on campus or via distance learning. If you're considering part-time study, please be advised that the course is intensive - we recommend that part-time equates to half of the full-time (approx.19 hours study per week).
This course comprises eight 15 credit taught modules, followed by a 60 credit dissertation project. For full-time students, taught modules take place in trimesters one and two, followed by the project module in trimester three. For part-time students, taught modules are spread over trimesters one and two of two years, followed by the project module in year three.
Note: The ‘Measurement Analysis and Assessment’ module includes a lab week, which requires mandatory attendance for distance learning students. Depending on your nationality, you may require an ATAS certificate and Short Term Study Visa.
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.
Measurement, Analysis and Assessment
This module aims to equip you with the necessary knowledge to specify and undertake appropriate acoustic measurements, including understanding their limitations, and being able to analyse the data you 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.
Loudspeaker and Microphones
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.
Digital Signal Processing and Machine Learning
This module aims to give you an understanding of how acoustic signals may be handled and processed digitally, considering the benefits and limitations. You will study the decomposition of signals in frequency and their manipulation using digital filters, including design and analysis techniques. You will then go on to develop knowledge of advanced signal processing methods based on adaptive filtering and machine learning, including an awareness of their basis and limitations, whilst gaining the skills to apply them.
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.
Computer Simulation for Acoustics
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.
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.
In this module you will extend the knowledge you acquired during the Loudspeakers and Microphones module to study their design principles in greater depth. You will analyse the design of electro-dynamic and distributed mode loudspeaker systems, including the interaction of the electrical, mechanical and acoustical properties to determining sensitivity, frequency response and directionality. This will include study of two-port networks methods and the method of analogues. Practical issues such as radiation efficiency and non-pistonic vibration will be considered, and analysis will be extended to vented, transmission line and band-pass systems.
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.
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?
The majority of teaching and learning is delivered through tutorial and seminar groups. All students benefit from the supply of a range of high-quality teaching materials, books and software. Interaction is face-to-face wherever practical, but we also use web-based learning support packages (databases of materials, discussion boards etc.) and there is a strong focus on guided self-learning. Distance learning students can stream classes via our Virtual Learning Environment, either to participate live or watch later.
Assessment is generally in the form of assignments, which help to develop problem-solving and analytical skills. The ‘Measurement, Analysis and Assessment’ and ‘Environmental Noise Measurement’ modules also include practical group work.
- Taught modules are assessed using assignments
- The project is assessed using a dissertation (weighting 80%) and a presentation (weighting 20%)
The School of Computing, Science and Engineering
The School of Computing, Science and Engineering (CSE) seeks to improve lives through proactive collaboration with industry and society. Our stimulating, industry-accredited courses and research programmes explore engineering, physics, acoustics, computing, mathematics and robotics. Through our award-winning lecturers, world-class facilities and research-led teaching, CSE produces highly employable graduates ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Acoustic and audio test facilities at Salford are world-class. We have a full range of specialist test environments, including: one full anechoic chamber and two semi-anechoic chambers, a transmission suite, two large and one small reverberation chambers, an ITU standard listening room, audiometric test facilities and a range of advanced instrumentation and equipment.
We are accredited to perform no less than twelve types of test and the test chambers are maintained by our team of commercially-funded technicians. We also have a UKAS-accredited Calibration Laboratory which provides a full scale commercial service to industry. All these facilities are available to students for project work, research and academic studies.
Postgraduate Staff Profile
Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford. A 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.
An author and radio presenter, 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. His latest book, 'Now You're Talking', was published in 2018.
What about after uni?
Acousticians with engineering, science and mathematical skills are in short supply, which puts you in a strong position to build a career once you've graduated. We have over 25 years’ experience nurturing graduates into audio and acoustics consultancy, research, development and design roles at leading companies such as Apple, Dolby, and the BBC, plus every major acoustic consultancy in the world.
Typically areas of employment for our alumni include acoustics and audio engineering research, noise management, broadcast engineering, loudspeaker and audio system design, and consumer audio product development.
Some of our graduates progress to postgraduate and doctoral research in our Salford Innovation and Research Centre (SIRC). The Centre aims to build on our world-class research and provide industries with guidance and expertise in the advancement of technology for business success and economic growth.
Research at the Centre is supported by EPSRC, TSB, DoH, MoD, Royal Society, European Commission funding, as well as direct investment from industry. Acoustics and audio research has been conducted at Salford since before 1965. Our research has influenced products that companies make and sell worldwide, as well as set UK, EU and International regulations and standards.
Our Acoustic research was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The panel highlighted our “particular strengths in acoustics” with an “outstanding impact in acoustics for the built environment.” Our REF impact acoustics case study was used by EPSRC and the Royal Academy of Engineering to highlight the economic benefits of engineering research.
Our academic team has strong links with industry either through collaborative research and development projects with the Acoustics Research Centre or our commercial test laboratories. These connections help to keep the programme aligned with the latest industry needs, including the latest research findings.
Recent collaborative projects include integrated virtual models for acoustic design with Dyson, wind turbine noise auralisation and subjective testing with DELTA and DEFRA, acoustics for auralisation with Arup, the S3A Future Spatial Audio project with the BBC and SALSA (Spatial Automated Live Sports Audio) system with DTS and Fairlight.
We also hold regular informal research seminars with industry partners to share research outputs. Recent masterclasses include acoustic consultancy with RBA Acosutics, noise mapping software with Cambell Associates, environmental noise with WSP/Parcel, railway noise & vibration with AECOM, NVH & infotainment with JaguarLandRover, and measurement microphone technology with GRAS.
What you need to know
English Language Requirements
International applicants are required to demonstrate 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 study. To comply with Home Office regulations, you must obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK. Please refer to your offer conditions.
Distance Learning Pathway - Mandatory Attendance
The ‘Measurement Analysis and Assessment’ module includes a lab week, which requires mandatory attendance for distance learning students. Depending on your nationality, you may require an ATAS certificate and Short Term Study Visa.
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).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home/EU||2019||£7,776per year|
|Full-time international||2019||£14,310per year|
|Part-time||2019||£648 per 15 credit module; £2385 for the dissertation|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.