MSc Digital Audio Engineering

Course summary

Overview
The MSc in Digital Audio Engineering is a unique and innovate course designed to give you advanced knowledge and skills related to digital audio, which can be found in every area of modern technology and culture. sound engineering code On this course you will gain the creative, investigative and critical thinking abilities to apply your knowledge and skills to real-world situations and problems, such as audio analysis, effects and synthesis plug-ins, digital controllers, installation and embedded systems for public spaces.

Why choose this course?
Digital audio is part of all aspects of modern life.  This includes areas such as music and sound production, media and gaming, 3D spatial audio, mobile devices and streaming, online media and the internet of things (IoT), plus many others.  The need for people to have the necessary technical and creative abilities to enable and progress how digital audio is embedded in all these areas and many more, is significant.

The course promotes an independent and self-motivating approach to learning by encouraging  you to develop real-world technical expertise to effectively innovate, design, develop and operate a range of digital audio systems. Upon graduation you will be prepared as a professional, equipped with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to develop a successful career as a digital audio engineer.

The course provides you the opportunity to engage in a wide range of digital audio application developments and potential collaborations with postgraduate students in other areas of the university. These include music technology, software engineering other subject areas in the School of Computing and Engineering and the London College of Music.

The development of learning skills includes processes and activities such as critical appraisal, reflection, literature searching, information technology, peer review, group work, presentation, research, practice/professional skills, note-taking, writing skills, electronic information retrieval, communication skills and independent study at home. These skills will be an integral part of learning courses.

sound engineering equipment

The course modules will enable you to evidence your ability to combine different but related audio engineering subjects in an applied manner. Students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds in related subjects will be able to enrol and succeed on the course.  The type of undergraduate courses students may join the MSc from include:
  • Sound and audio engineering
  • Music technology and music production
  • Computer science
  • Electronic engineering.
As would be expected at masters’ level, there is an appropriate balance of theory and practice, and in order to be successful students will need to demonstrate high levels of analytical, critical and reflective skills alongside a professional level of practical skills and knowledge. Teaching and learning on the programme is underpinned by the research and development activities of the course team.

Teaching methods include: 
  • lectures
  • whole group information-giving sessions
  • workshops
  • tutorials
  • case studies
  • blended e-learning
  • group critiques.
In addition, there is support provided by the computing society for help with programming, such as C and Java.

Practical work
The practical work will reflect real-world techniques that practitioners would encounter in industry. For example, Audio Programming 2 will provide students the opportunity to design and create digital audio processing plug-ins utilised throughout the music and sound production industry. 

Case Studies
Many of the case studies reflect real-world digital audio applications that practitioners would encounter in industry. Some modules require students to select a research paper in an appropriate area of the subject and to produce a critique thereby providing an opportunity for students to specialise and be up-to-date with emerging trends. The industry focused nature of the course also means that many modules will have trips, and invited guests that will help illustrate industry practices and developments to the students. 

sound engineering equipment

Student resources
There are various useful resources available to our students, including:
  • multiple PC labs on campus with course relevant software installed on all machines
  • Two Mac Labs with audio production and programming software
  • Electronics labs for hardware development, simulation, building and testing
  • Software and hardware made available and used on the course include:
  • Prism Sound dScope Series III hardware analyser
  • Matlab/Simulink
  • Labview
  • Orcad
  • Simetrix
  • C/C++
  • Bela Development Kit
  • Arduino Boards,
  • Cycling 74 Max
  • SuperCollider
Tutor information
This course is run by the School of Computing and Engineering to provide you with both the high-quality teaching and the personal attention you need to make the most of your University education. A strong supportive culture exists amongst the course tutors which enables our students to achieve their potential. Many of our staff members have specialist research expertise.

The School/College teaching staff includes:

Dr Christos Chousidis is a senior lecturer is audio engineering in the School of Computing and Technology.  Christos received his BEng from the electronic engineering department of the Technological Institute of Crete in 1995. Since graduation he has worked as a sound system consultant and professional musician. From 1998 to 2000 he contributed to the initiation of a new department of music technology and acoustics in the Technological Institute of Crete. Between 2000 and 2004 he undertook teaching duties in this department, of subjects such as sound system design, music technology, MIDI design and applications, and media technology.

In 2005 he held a technical staff position in the music technology and acoustics department at the Technological Institute of Crete. In 2006 he received his research master degree (MPhil) from Brunel University in the area of music and lighting technology hardware design and his PhD also at Brunel University with his research focusing on wireless audio networks. He is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, member of AES TC-NAS and IEEE.

Nino Auricchio is a senior lecturer in audio engineering and electronic music and has taught at UWL since 2005.  He holds a BA in music composition from Coventry University and an MSc in Music Information Technology from City University.  He has a number of external examiner roles for a range of sound engineering and music production degrees.

His main area of research and scholarly activity relates to electronic music composition and performance using modular synthesizers.  This research as led to the publication of journal papers, conference presentations and performances at festival and electronic music events throughout Europe.  Nino is also a professional composer, producing music for commercial libraries and other artists.

Course detail

Examples of coursework or project work students could engage in during the course:
  • Audio pattern recognition, such as speech analysis
  • Noise cancellation algorithms
  • Audio software plug-ins such as EQ, dynamics, spectral morphing and delay/reverb
  • Virtual synthesizer and sample instruments
  • Real-time audio and MIDI controllers
  • Audiology
  • Acoustic and psychoacoustic control algorithms and devices
  • Audio and A/V instillations
  • Gesture and motion-based music performance software/controllers
  • Multi-channel speaker configuration and control
Modules:

Mathematics and Signal Theory
This module provides a mathematical background for the undergraduate study of digital audio engineering.  It includes study of algebraic principles including matrix algebra, essential principles and applications of differential calculus and the use of associated functions, application of mathematics to digital signal theory.  The module provides a foundation for other modules in the course and a bridge for students who have not graduated from a science based undergraduate degree and have perhaps not studied mathematics for some time.  There are other support sessions for mathematics available for any student at any level.

Digital Signal Processing
This module takes the student through the complete digital signal processing system.  This is followed by examination of the mathematical techniques needed for DSP design including z-transforms, difference equations, convolution and the Fourier Transform. This then leads into real-time signal processing, including designing IIR and FIR filters and implementation of the FFT for time and spectral processing.  Design will be analytical in nature followed up by practical implementation using hardware in the form of a DSP development system.

Audio Programming 1
The module looks to develop skills in problem analysis, reduction and developing a programme specification.  Identify usability issues in software development with flow charts and state diagram design.  Programme implementation using C with testing and evaluation will be a focus of the module.

Audio Programming 2
This module will introduce the student to the difficulties associated with developing software on constrained devices.  Open source tools and techniques used in industry to develop software will be explored and enable the student to gain experience in programming languages typically used for and embedded development in audio.

Emerging Audio Technologies
The aim of the module is to enable student to apply advanced theoretical thinking and investigative skills in the identification, discussion and analysis of new and emerging types of digital audio control and transmission within the professional world.  The module is theoretical and designed to help the learner develop a critical awareness and knowledge of the creation, storage and broadcasting of various forms of digital audio. You will study the scientific principles of how these technologies and networking systems work and investigate how they impact upon current professional practice and their future development.  

Engineering Research Methods
In order to successfully conceive, plan, execute and evaluate any task or project in an engineering context, it is necessary to be able to initiate research in a far reaching manner.  Being able to identify and evaluate source, extracting relevant information and present a critical stance and develop a critical commentary.  Identifying significant questions, interesting topics and original ideas should be an outcome of any research process.  The module will help you identify and practice academic styles and processes related to engineering and provide models for research through the exploration of case studies.  You will also be provided with an overview of professional institutions and publications and the skills needed for publication.

Project
The aim of the module are to develop the students' abilities to undertake a large-scale project in digital audio engineering, which allows them to apply their knowledge and skills developed throughout the course.  The project should be creative and innovative solution to a given problem or task to be performed.  This is an opportunity for you to showcase your academic as well as practical skills in a manner that will help you progress into your chosen career as an audio engineer.

Entry requirements

You should have a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) degree or equivalent, and have a clear interest in digital audio, either from a utilitarian or creative stand point.

The course welcomes students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds. Type of undergraduate courses students may join the MSc from include:

  • Sound and audio engineering
  • Music technology and music production
  • Computer science
  • Electronic engineering

International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 6.5 or above, and a minimum of 5.5 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

In some countries where teaching is in English, we may accept local qualifications. Please visit http://www.uwl.ac.uk/international/your-country to check for local equivalencies.

We offer pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet these requirements. Find out more about our English Language courses

Fees

Fees for home and EU students

Main fee
£3,600

Fees for overseas students

Main fee
£5,750
Find out if you are a home or overseas student.

Funding

A range of loans, bursaries and scholarships are available to help you fund your studies.

Students on some Masters courses may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards their course and living costs. Find out how to apply for a Postgraduate Loan on GOV.UK

Other loans available to postgraduate students include Professional and Career Development Loans, which also allow you to borrow up to £10,000.  Find out more about Loans on GOV.UK

Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as disabled students. Find out more about funding opportunities

Within the university, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries. In the 2017 - 18 academic year, they included:

  • The William Brake Bursary: a £1,000 award for candidates on undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses
  • The Mollie Clay Scholarship: a £2,500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding student
  • Exclusive alumni discounts: a £2,000 discount on taught postgraduate courses or a 10% discount on research courses, exclusive to students who graduated from the University of West London.

Other scholarships are also available, including awards for specific subjects. Find out more and check your eligibility.


Please note fees are paid for each year of study unless otherwise stated. You will be required to re-enrol and pay fees at the beginning of each academic year. Fees may be subject to government regulations on fee increases. Future inflationary increases will be applied to each subsequent year of the course, subject to government regulations on fee increases.

How to apply

When you submit your application for this course it is very helpful to make a positive statement as to why we should consider your application.

If you are in doubt whether your background is appropriate for this course, we suggest that you still make an online application instead of sending us an email.  The course leader will then be able to look at all of your information.

Apply for this course

UK and EU students

You can apply for most of our Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters’ Degree courses using our online application system.  Simply click the red ‘apply now’ button above.

Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

International students

To apply for a Masters’ Degree course, please complete our online application form for international students or you can download the print version (Word, 186kb).

You can also review the relevant information about the qualifications we accept from your country and our English language requirements, as well as details about your visa application.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

More about the application process for international students.

More about how to apply for postgraduate courses.

 

During the course

Assessment

Coursework

Assessment for the MSc course is designed, where possible to simulate the variety of tasks that graduates from the course may encounter in relevant employment. Where necessary other academic assessment devices, such as a formal examination, defence of the proposal etc. are also used. The timings of all the assessments for the course are shown in the module study guides for each of the modules. Module tutors are the assessors in the majority of cases; however peer and self-assessment are used where appropriate.

Assessment types include:

  • analysis and design and the production of appropriate artefacts
  • portfolio of work
  • presentations to tutors and peers
  • development of design specifications
  • research seminars
  • critiques of own and peer work
  • annotated bibliography
  • defence of a proposal
  • written proposal
  • major implementation project
  • examinations

Student support

The following support services are available for students:

What our students say

Jobs and placements

Career and study progression

There are many industry and research sectors where there are many opportunities for employability and career progression due to shortages in qualified graduates, including:

  • archiving, restoration and digital libraries
  • audio for games
  • audio for telecommunications
  • audio forensics
  • audio recording and mastering systems
  • automotive audio
  • coding of audio signals
  • fibre optics for audio
  • hearing and hearing loss prevention
  • high resolution audio for music and server-based audio
  • network audio systems
  • semantic audio analysis
  • signal processing for audio
  • spatial audio (3D)
  • transmission and Broadcasting

The employability skills required to work in these areas, which will be developed throughout the course include the following:

  • the exercise of initiative, sound judgement and personal responsibility
  • working effectively with others
  • ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations
  • independent learning ability aligned to continuing professional development
  • originality in tackling and solving problems
  • ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively
  • communicate effectively both orally and in writing
  • critical thinking
  • ability to conduct research and consultancy
  • effective use of information
  • competency in use and analysis of digital audio systems
  • personal effectiveness (self management, time management, sensitivity to others, etc.)
  • people management and leadership skills
  • ability to recognise and address ethical dilemmas and corporate social responsibility issues
  • take responsibility for continuing to develop their own knowledge and skills

Specific employability skills
MSc Digital Audio Engineering graduates will have a sound, informed and critical understanding of the use of technology and have sufficient technical depth to be able to work from requirements capture through to implementation teams. They will focus on the analysis and design of systems and tools based on a solid understanding of technology within the context of business needs. Thus, they will have a strategic role in the use of technology and delivery of digital audio systems and processes.

Study progression

On course completion student can continue their study for PhD in Audio Engineering. Doctoral research areas currently include optimisation of wireless networks for efficient real-time audio/media networking.