BSc Acoustics and Music Technology
UCAS code: W380
Duration: 4 years
School: Edinburgh College of Art
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing BSc Acoustics and Music Technology
This challenging multidisciplinary programme will help you develop the necessary scientific skills and creative mindset to design the music tools, spaces and software of tomorrow. You will explore how modern technologies are driving a revolution in the way that sound is created, manipulated, and transmitted.
The programme is designed for students with a strong background in maths and physics, who are fascinated by the interplay of science, technology, and music.
The world of modern acoustics and music technology demands graduates who are highly numerate, possess deep technical knowledge, have a curious and creative mindset, and who are able to work across multiple disciplines. This programme emphasises excellence in subjects that underpin the field, such as physics, computer programming, and audio signal processing, and which are also useful in many other numerate disciplines.
These are combined with studies in sound recording, architectural acoustics, creative music technology, sound design, and a range of further options in music and beyond, challenging you to invent the future of acoustics and music technology.
I enjoyed the international dynamic at the University, and the exciting approaches to sound. I felt in my element experimenting with all the different things sound and music can be.
- Kirsty Keatch, BMus (Hons) Music Technology graduate
This programme represents a unique opportunity to study sound and music technologies using science and engineering methodologies.
In Years 1-2 you will acquire skills in physics, mathematics, and music technology. This will equip you to work at the cutting edge of acoustics, audio and creative music technology in the second half of the programme.
In Years 3-4 you will take compulsory courses in advanced acoustics and music software engineering, and can opt for a strongly scientific pathway in physical acoustics, a multidisciplinary pathway in computer music systems, or your own combination of the two.
You will study compulsory courses in physics, acoustics, mathematics, and music technology. These are taught by the Reid School of Music and the School of Physics and Astronomy.
You will take Physics 1A, which presents the basic pillars of physics, through which you will develop your problem solving and study skills. This study is complemented by Mathematics for Physics 1 and 2, which will equip you with core skills in algebra and calculus that are key in the modern study of acoustics, audio and music technology.
You will study Musical Acoustics, which explores musical instruments, architectural acoustics, and electronic instruments, and you will study Sound Recording, which examines the history and practice of recorded sound. Here you will be introduced to microphone techniques, room acoustics, and field recording, and undertake project work ending in the production of recorded music.
You will also be able to take further courses from music, physics, engineering, informatics, or from a broad range of options from across the University.
You will take courses in Architectural Acoustics and Spatial Audio, and Creative Music Technology, which build on themes encountered in Year 1. Mathematics courses will cover advanced algebra, calculus, and dynamics. You will also be introduced to computer programming, data analysis, and experimental techniques for physics and acoustics.
You will have the opportunity to take further option courses from music. A range of relevant courses are also available from physics, engineering, and elsewhere, helping you to make the most of the many options available across the University.
Compulsory courses include audio signal processing and audio programming, which together form the basis for developing music technology software and hardware for audio processing and live performance.
You will also explore how physics can be used to understand musical sound, and to design cutting edge software that provides the very highest sound quality in musical instrument and audio effects emulation.
You are encouraged to complement these subjects by taking courses in sound design, Fourier analysis, fluid mechanics, and physics. In addition, you have the option to apply for an industrial placement course, which involves the completion of a project in collaboration with an industrial/commercial company within the acoustics, audio, and/or music technology sector (subject to application procedure).
The programme now centres around a year-long, major final project in acoustics and music technology. In addition, you will undertake study in advanced acoustics, and in computational simulation of acoustical systems, a subject area in which Edinburgh is a world leader.
A number of option courses may also be chosen from music, physics, engineering, and/or informatics.
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
Teaching takes place at a number of locations across the University. Courses in physics and sound recording take place in the University’s Central Area. Other courses, such as those in mathematics in Years 1 and 2, take place at the King’s Buildings campus.
You will also have access to a wide range of music practice rooms and recording studios, as well as to the University's extensive computing facilities and libraries. The University also has a number of beautiful concert halls, which feature in a number of your courses.
In addition, the University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.
Further information is available on the ECA website.
In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to apply to undertake project work collaboratively with an established industrial / commercial company in the areas of acoustics, audio, or music technology. Eligibility criteria, based upon your performance across Years 1 and 2, will be applied prior to confirmation of enrolment on this option.
There are opportunities to study abroad through exchange programmes.
How will I learn?
You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical workshops, which fully exploit the latest teaching technology, helping you to develop your problem-solving skills and foster creative thinking.
From Year 3 you will be able to specialise in the areas of acoustics and music technology that most interest you. You will also have the option to apply for industrial placements, and you will be encouraged to undertake research-oriented study alongside leading academics and practitioners through a major final-year project.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment is by a combination of continuous assessment, project work, presentations, peer assessment, and examinations. Practical and computing courses involve the creation and documentation of computer software for a range of exciting music technology applications.
Creative music technology and sound design courses include portfolio submissions.
This new programme builds on our considerable existing strengths in acoustics, audio and music technology.
Our graduates play a prominent role in the acoustics, audio, and music technology industries, working for leading companies such as Arturia, Arup, AudioKinnetic, the BBC, Facebook, Hann Tucker Associates, LG Electronics, Moog, Native Instruments, and other organisations involved in commercial acoustic design, audiology, music technology, and software engineering.
We have recently seen an exciting new stream of innovative start-up companies being formed by our graduates. One of these, TwoBigEars, was recently acquired by Facebook to form the basis of a new online virtual reality platform.
Graduates’ advanced skills in physics, mathematics, software engineering, and general problem solving are recognised by a wide range of employers and are sought after by sectors including engineering, manufacturing, energy, finance, medicine, and the space industries.
In addition, the creative-thinking skills you will develop provide a valuable complement to those of a technical and mathematical nature, giving you a unique and marketable combination of abilities.
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAB - ABB.
- IB: 39 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.
Minimum entry requirement
The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:
- SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: ABB.
- IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: Physics at B, and Mathematics at A or Advanced Higher Mathematics at B. National 5s: English at C.
- A Levels: Physics at B and Mathematics at A. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
- IB: HL: Physics at 5 and Mathematics at 6. SL: English at 5.
You must have a demonstrable commitment to music.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
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.
SQA, GCSE and IB
For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
- SQA National 5 at C
- SQA Standard Grade at 3
- SQA Intermediate 1 at A
- SQA Intermediate 2 at C
- GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
- Level 2 Certificate Grade C
- IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:
- IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.
We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.
English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)
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For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.