Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Sound Design MScR

Awards: MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Sound Design

The Reid School of Music offers an exciting research environment that combines the theory, history, composition and practice of music with the scientific study of sound.

This programme is aimed at those with considerable practical experience of sonic art, electronic composition or sound design who wish to pursue further study by researching a particular area of these fields.

Students will engage richly and creatively with the social, cultural, technical and theoretical aspects of one or more of the following:

  • Sound design
  • Sonic art
  • Digital composition and performance
  • Digital audio and media technology
  • Creative coding for sound

You will learn:

  • through a research-methods course
  • via selections from an interdisciplinary menu of taught course options
  • with supervision from a supervisory team active in your research area

You can study on this programme either full-time over one year or part-time for over two years.


A 20,000 word dissertation is completed as part of this programme.

You will be assigned at least one research supervisor at the outset of your degree. On occasion, more than one supervisor will be assigned, particularly where your research brings together multiple disciplines. Your first/ lead supervisor would normally be based in the same subject area as your degree programme. If a second supervisor is needed, they may be from another discipline within ECA, or within the University of Edinburgh, according to the expertise required.

Our research culture is supported by seminars and public lecture programmes and discussion groups.

Through the programme you will be equipped with skills in advanced research techniques, critical analysis/writing and presentation.

You are encouraged to attend courses at the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), where all staff and students at the University of Edinburgh are supported through a range of training opportunities.

  • [ECA]: Edinburgh College of Art

You will have access to study space (some of which are 24-hour access), studios and workshops at Edinburgh College of Art’s campus, as well as University wide resources. There are several bookable spaces for the development of exhibitions, workshops or seminars. And you will have access to well-equipped multimedia laboratories, photography and exhibition facilities, shared recording space, access to recording equipment available through Bookit the equipment loan booking system.

You will have access to high quality library facilities. Within the University of Edinburgh, there are three libraries:

  • the Main Library
  • the ECA library
  • the Art and Architecture Library

The Centre for Research Collections which holds the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections is also located in the Main Library.

The Talbot Rice Gallery is a public art gallery of the University of Edinburgh and part of Edinburgh College of Art, which is committed to exploring what the University of Edinburgh can contribute to contemporary art practice today and into the future. You will also have access to the extraordinary range and quality of exhibitions and events associated with a leading college of art situated within a world-class research-intensive university.

St Cecilia’s Hall, which is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall, also houses the Music Museum which holds one of the most important historic musical instrument collections anywhere in the world.

In addition to the University’s facilities you will also be able to access wider resources within the City of Edinburgh. These include:

  • National Library of Scotland
  • Scottish Studies Library and Digital Archives
  • City of Edinburgh Libraries
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • the National Trust for Scotland

You will also benefit from the University of Edinburgh’s extensive range of student support facilities provided, including:

  • student societies
  • accommodation
  • wellbeing and support services

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent in a relevant subject. If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of relevant professional experience.

You must also submit a research proposal and a portfolio; see How to Apply section for guidance.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Depending upon your research project you may face some additional costs relating to realising aspects of your practice.

ECA is well stocked with technical sound equipment and a wide range of hardware and software to assist the development of your research.

Tuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Research Team Student and Academic Support Service
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, 78 West Port
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE

If you are applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. All applications must be received by the deadlines listed above.

One of your references must be an academic reference preferably from your most recent studies.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply. If you wish to undertake research that involves practice then a portfolio will also be required, full details are listed in the application guidance document.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Research Team Student and Academic Support Service
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, 78 West Port
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE