Postgraduate study

Sound Design MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Sound Design

This programme is targeted at individuals interested in exploring the domain of sound in the wider context of new media theory and technology.

It is strongly interdisciplinary including the study of:

  • film sound
  • interactive game-audio design
  • sound installation and sonic art
  • sound software design
  • creative music and compositional practices

This programme will provide you with knowledge, skill and understanding to enable you to thrive in a range of sound design situations both commercial and experimental.

Graduates of the programme will be armed with professional, practical, analytical and intellectual skills to take into sound-related industries or on towards further academic study, such as a PhD.


The Reid School has five production studios in stereo or 5.1 configurations. There are numerous labs and maker spaces across the campus and various venues available to be booked for live performances, recording experiments and installations. There is also a bank of music practice rooms available in the basement of the Reid School of Music.

We have developed two new 360 audio mixing spaces which are available for experiments in VR, AR, Dolby Atmos and ambisonics.

Our studio cupboard is stocked with a wealth of microphones, location recorders, cameras, speakers, cables and VR equipment available to be booked and used flexibly.

We also run an annual festival of experimental electronic music called dialogues.

Since 2019, the Reid School of music has enjoyed the benefits of being an All Steinway School with 28 pianos available for performance and rehearsal across the campus.

Across six taught courses and an extensive final project, you will attend a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical sessions

This is supported by occasional input from external professionals in the field of sound design and related areas.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

Students who follow this programme will:

  • obtain a broad foundation in sound design and related technologies
  • explore the use of existing computer-aided sound design techniques in a creative way
  • be able to analyse and think deeply about sound and its role in a wider creative arts environment
  • develop an understanding of the scope and limitations of computer applications in sound design
  • engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration in the context of audiovisual practice
  • discover new creative uses of advanced technologies
  • foster the ability to work cooperatively in groups in the context of design

The rich, cross-disciplinary programme of study we offer provides graduates with advanced skills in:

  • game sound
  • audio programming
  • audio production
  • post-production
  • other digital technologies relevant to sound design and the crafts of sonic art

These skills will allow you to take on commissions in professional sound design areas or pursue your own creative path.

Our graduates are now working for major theatre, TV and video games companies. Graduates work as free-lance sonic artists and composers, and for various sound post-production studios across the world.

Many are running successful sound-related businesses and several have PhDs and are pursuing academic careers.

You will gain a wide variety of transferable skills that will increase your employability across the arts and further afield, such as the ability to:

  • research and analyse sound
  • structure and manage your time
  • carry out effective teamwork and communication

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as music, sound design, sonic arts, media arts, sound engineering, acoustics, film, animation or art/design, accompanied by a portfolio introducing us to some recent work that you are proud of.

Your portfolio should include at least three pieces of work and can include a range of items such as an essay on sound, a small collection of sound recordings, performances or documentation of a sound-based project, such as an installation, film or animation.

Whatever you include, it should be your own work. A short explanation of your role in collaborative projects is required. Your portfolio is best uploaded with the application as a PDF file with explanations about the projects and links to the work hosted on a reliable space online.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements or if you do not have a sound-related degree, we may still consider your application if you have significant professional sound-related experience supported by a substantial portfolio. Please contact us to check before you apply.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 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 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Depending upon your main interests and what you hope to achieve in your final project you may face some additional costs relating to realising aspects of your work.

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

Most students have their own laptop, but there is bookable access to fast, effective lab machines and some laptops available for loan.

It is strongly recommended that you own your own computer suitable for contemporary sound production.

Almost all software we teach from comes without the requirement to purchase a license to use it in an educational context.

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:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Selection deadlines

Round Application Deadline Places awarded by
1 7 November 2022 15 December 2022
2 9 January 2023 30 March 2023
3 28 April 2023 28 June 2023

Final UK/Scotland fee rate only selection deadline

This final selection round is only open to applicants who are eligible for the UK/Scotland fee rate, including the EU/EEA Pre-settled Scotland fee rate. Overseas and EU-EEA Overseas fee rate applicants will not be considered for this round.

Round Application Deadline Places awarded by
4 26 June 2023 31 July 2023

If you do not have a sound-related degree you must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You will not be able to upload your portfolio immediately; you must wait for an email prompt, which you'll receive within a few days of submitting your application and will explain how to upload your portfolio. If you plan to submit audio or video files, please upload these to an online sharing website and add the link to the portfolio upload section of your online application.

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU