Principles of Acoustics and Vibration
School of Computing, Science & Engineering
September 2019Next enrolment
In a nutshell
There is a growing need for engineers who can control and mitigate noise and its effects on our wellbeing. This course is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills to work in environmental acoustics. It is endorsed by the Institute of Acoustics for the purposes of meeting the educational requirements for Corporate Membership of the Institute. Graduates may attain Engineering Council registration via the Institute of Acoustics.
This course is suitable for numerate science and technology graduates, or working professional, who wish to move to the acoustics industry or build specific knowledge of environments acoustics. Building on the engineering fundamentals, it provides you with specialist knowledge and skills, so you are ready to develop a career as a future leader in environment acoustics.
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.
- Explore architectural acoustics, psychoacoustics, dynamics and vibration, computer modelling and measurement
- Choose from specialist modules in environmental noise monitoring and noise control
- Learn alongside world-class researchers with international prominence and strong industry relationships
- Benefit from strong, long-standing connections with industrial partners across Europe
This is for you if...
You’re technically-skilled, numerate engineering, technology or science graduate looking to move into acoustics
You’re interested in how environmental noise is managed and are looking to develop a career in this field
You currently work in the acoustics industry and want to gain expertise in noise management
All about the course
MSc Environmental 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.
Environmental Noise Measurement
In this module you will study the standards for environmental noise measurement in the context of realistic scenarios, and will then perform them yourself as fieldwork. It will teach you how to make assessments of environmental noise including identifying and interpreting the requirements of appropriate local, national and international legislation relevant to noise assessment; carrying out reliable measurements of environmental noise; critical evaluation of acoustical data (including partial data) needed for noise assessment.
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.
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.
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 second to none. We have a full range of specialist test chambers: full anechoic chamber, two semi-anechoic chambers, transmission suite, two large and one small reverberation chamber, ITU standard listening room, audiometric test facilities and a range of modern instrumentation and equipment. We are accredited to perform no less than twelve types of test and the test chambers are maintained by a team of commercially funded technical staff. We also have a UKAS accredited Calibration Laboratory which provides a full scale commercial service to industry. All these facilities are available for students carrying out projects.
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?
MSc Environmental Acoustics aims to meet the needs of students or professionals wanting a career dealing with building design, noise, and its management. 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. With noise being a significant problem worldwide, there is an increasing demand from companies who need graduates and professionals who can solve environment noise challenges.
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, broadcasting, 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.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.
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)
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||£1,296 per 30 credit module|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.