Audio and Music Technology BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year, 4 years with placement)

Cambridge

September

Overview

Discover how sound works, and how technology can help you master it, on our full-time, industry accredited Audio and Music Technology BSc (Hons) degree course in Cambridge. Get support to find work placements, and choose to take an additional placement year. By studying our Audio and Music Technology degree, you’ll integrate theories of sound into your audio projects, as you build a portfolio for a future career in the creative industries, including live sound, gaming, broadcast and film.

Full description

Careers

We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or the faculty's employability support.

Our course focuses heavily on the science and technology that underpins the subject area – the aim being that you'll have a wide range of career paths open to you.

Our graduates work in a variety of roles and industries including recording and mix engineers, live sound engineering, acoustic consultants, audio electronics, project management and hardware design, as well as lecturers and technicians. A number of our alumni have gone on to found their own companies and develop successful freelance careers.

As a graduate, you'll be able to understand and operate the latest hardware and software, have transferable skills that greatly enhance your employability, and already be part of a network of professionals.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Engineering, Computing and Technology
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in Engineering, Computer Science and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including thinking critically, researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate numeracy and ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. In addition to these fundamental skills, Students will cover the subjects underpinning the technological disciplines. Fundamental mathematical skills will be covered, alongside pre-calculus, followed by an introduction to calculus and vector and matrix arithmetic. Students will also be introduced to Classical mechanics, and its application to real-world scenarios. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of computer science, learning about the principles behind programming and applying them through a series of practical coding exercises. Students will undertake a multi-disciplinary group project as they learn about the collaborative nature of engineering, and design from a broader perspective of business. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Critical Thinking; Maths for Scientists; Maths for Engineers; Physics for Engineers; Fundamentals of Computing; Engineering Design.

Year one, core modules

  • Core Skills for Audio
    This module will introduce you to the fundamental ideas of maths and electronics and their application to audio systems and supports the development of core mathematical skills needed for successful study. The module also introduces key mathematical techniques used in audio, such as exponentials, logarithms and trigonometry. It also introduces some C programming. You will look at digital electronics and examines the fundamentals of Boolean logic. Practical applications are examined, including the design of fundamental circuits such as decoders, encoders and arithmetic circuits. The theory is supplemented by practical experiments using hardware and circuit simulation software. This allows you to compare measured results with theory, and shows the effects of component tolerances. The practical work also gives you the experience of the presentation and interpretation of manufacturers' data for real components, and lets you explore the limitations of laboratory techniques and instruments. This module also introduces analogue electronic circuits used in audio. It reviews the fundamentals of analogue components including resistors, capacitors and inductors, and shows how simple circuits are designed using these components. It introduces diodes, transistors and operational amplifiers and explains their equivalent circuit models. It also introduces the measurement and analysis tools used in the electronics industry. Audio applications are discussed, including filters, crossovers and amplifiers. Circuit prototyping techniques are introduced and compared.
  • Studio Techniques
    This module will introduce you to sound recording, mixing, editing and production. No prior knowledge is assumed. The module starts with the system design and signal chain of a typical recording studio. Essential software and hardware is introduced and time will be devoted to critical listening skills. We will discuss the operation of recording/playback formats, dynamic and condenser microphones, analogue and digital mixing desks, dynamics processors, reverberation and other effects, and equalisation. We will also discuss studio monitors and room acoustics, especially mix spaces. You will be introduced to the workflow and technologies used in film audio, game audio and podcasting. The commercial music software packages used in this module are Apple Logic Pro and Pro Tools. Both are used in the music industry for songwriting and composition. In tutorial sessions you will look at MIDI sequencing, real and virtual instruments, audio recording and importation, and audio and MIDI processing and editing, while lectures will feature critical listening and demonstrations of music creation, recording, mixing and production. Tutorial sessions will allow you to discuss your coursework and get formative feedback. The module also introduces the theory of the devices found in recording studios, and the overall studio design. You will get hands-on experience using the software and hardware in the Audio and Music Technology studios to make a variety of recordings and learn the principles of mixer use and technology. You will be guided through a mixer’s components, including the use of equalization, and techniques for maximising sonic fidelity will be explained. You will discover the relevant electrical principles, including guidance on impedance and balanced and unbalanced connections, and consider the role of outboard equipment and monitoring systems. We will also review the most common types of effects, including dynamic processing and echo-based effects, and you will receive guidance on their applicability in different musical contexts, with theories backed up by practical experiments in recording.
  • Acoustics
    This module will introduce you to the basic properties of waves with special emphasis on sound waves in air, and the mechanisms of sound production and transmission. Sound wave phenomena will be demonstrated in lectures by means of a selection of experiments, and the basic equations describing the behaviour of sound waves will be introduced and used. We will explore the acoustic characteristics of a range of musical instruments and demonstrate the mechanical properties of stretched strings and vibrating air columns in pipes. You will examine binaural localisation of single sources, and discover the implications for stereophonic recording and reproduction. You will explore the field of room acoustics using theoretical models, measurement hardware, and simulation using MATLAB, and examine the design and construction of loudspeakers, including moving-coil, capacitor and ribbon drivers. We will also explore psychoacoustics, which outlines aural physiology and the perception of psychophysical attributes of sound, as well as the relationships between these and the measurable physical parameters; current theories of pitch perception, such as place theory, periodicity theory and volley theory; loudness perception, by considering the derivation and implications of the equal-loudness curves; and musical timbre, by looking at how evaluation of perceptual timbral similarity leads to the concept of a multi-dimensional timbre space. Finally, we will look at several types of auditory illusions, such as Shepard/Risset tones and the McGurk effect.
  • Live Sound
    There will always be a demand for live sound engineering for both acoustic and electronic music. This module will introduce you to the principles and practice of sound engineering in live situations. In many cases this differs substantially from that in recording studios. You will begin by looking at the key principles behind electrical safety and hearing protection, which are of great importance to the engineers, audience, artists and venue staff, before considering the audio hardware involved, including mixers, amplifiers and crossovers; various electrical connections and connector types; and the importance of stage monitoring. You will also learn the principles of lighting controllers and visuals, and the technologies used, and be introduced to the principles of Audio over Ethernet. We will consider the overall PA system both in terms of an ideal design and the practicalities of running a non-ideal system successfully, comparing the system configurations in several different venues. The management of a system in a live environment will be demonstrated through practical sessions at live events. This will include consideration of how to deal effectively with artists, promoters and venue staff. You will need to be available in the evenings.

Year two, core modules

  • Advanced Audio Technology
    This module will builds upon your first year by looking in more detail at the theory and practice of a variety of audio scenarios. It expands on digital audio theory, including oversampling, dither, common digital signal processing (DSP) techniques and file/media formats. You will also examine the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) standard, and be introduced to sound synthesis techniques used in hardware and software, as well as learning more about Audio over Ethernet systems. On the studio side, you will move beyond the native mixers/processors/plugins in commercial DAWs, towards higher-quality external processors, such as DSP-based plugins and analogue outboard. You will experiment on noise floor, harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion, and investigate advanced use of delays and reverberation to create space and depth. Your lectures will focus on critical listening, showing you the value of advanced recording/mixing tools, and experiment design to quantitatively and qualitatively analyse specific devices and processors. You will also develop skills in recording a wide range of live performances using high-quality microphones; examine psychoacoustic factors influencing stereo perception, illustrated by demonstrations; and evaluate microphone arrays for stereo recording by analysing practical recording/playback experiments. Your theoretical work will be reinforced by recording exercises. You will make a recording of your choice, and give a presentation analysing the acoustic challenges and the techniques used to meet these. Creative industries rely on bespoke complex integrations of many technologies, and you will examine the design of such systems. This will involve knowledge and expertise in room acoustic design, sound isolation, absorption/diffusion/abfusion, playback and capture systems specifications, signal flow, and noise attenuation/avoidance. You will gain working knowledge applicable to multiple areas of industry, specifying hardware, software and infrastructure to meet a design brief that includes documenting the integration of said elements and evaluation with reference to theoretical/practical considerations.

Year two, optional modules

  • Audio for Film
    This module will develop your awareness of the skills needed to produce audio for film, and will give you the opportunity to work in groups, or collaborate with students on other courses within Cambridge School of Creative Industries. You will develop competence in production sound recording, sound effect creation, automated dialogue replacement, Foley art and music composition; cover the planning involved and the critical observational skills of seeing and listening; and discover and experiment with tools for film production and post-production. You will then develop a film soundtrack. You will gain a good working knowledge of the processes and skills sought by filmmakers, extending your future employability.
  • Audio for Games
    This module requires appropriate sound engineering skills. The industry requires the ability to create unique sounds for unrealistic and otherworldly environments and scenarios. This includes writing music, creating unique sound effects and ambient effects, and recording dialogue, which requires producing non-linear, interactive experiences, not just one-off sound effects or loops. This means you will implement the audio in the game using middleware. You will then develop audio for a game. Where appropriate, you will work in groups, or collaborate with students on other courses within Cambridge School of Creative Industries, particularly Computer Games Development.
  • Electronics for Music
    This module will help you evaluate, select, design and test audio electronic equipment. It covers small-signal and power amplifiers, and the problems of noise, interference and distortion. You will explore designs of filters and crossovers for high-quality audio, and be introduced to an overview of analogue and digital radio broadcasting, as well as the analysis and design of electronic circuits, and review the fundamentals of analogue and digital circuit design. You will also explore analogue circuits for various amplifier classifications with their theoretical models, and be introduced to active filters, Bode plots, and phase-locked loops, as well as advanced combinational logic design together with synchronous counter design comprising various forms of memory elements. We will discuss and examine sequential logic design, and explore the creative possibilities of circuit bending. You will then develop a software or hardware artefact.
  • Audio Programming
    This module will enhance your skills in audio programming. Software-based audio processing units and plug-ins are an integral part of current Digital Audio Workstations. This module will give you a working knowledge and understanding of how to design and implement bespoke audio plug-ins using programming languages such as C/C++. Such plug-ins are based on signal processing techniques that are ubiquitous in both software- and hardware-based music technologies (e.g. amplitude levelling, panning control, distortion, filtering/equalisation, basic delay units, audio synthesis). We will discuss the underlying theories behind these processes to give you practice and grounding in the conception and development of audio manipulation procedures. Topics will include digital audio processing, computer programming, algorithm development (including testing and verification) and music synthesis. You will gain a sound understanding of the nature, characteristics and sources of audio signals, and have the opportunity to learn how they are processed using analogue and digital techniques. You will also gain an insight into how audio signals are characterised and filtered, as well as looking at frequency analysis and its application to audio signals, and algorithm development (including testing and verification). You will then develop an operational audio plug-in using a language such as C/C++.
  • Live Event Production
    On this module you will look at the technologies and business practices required for live event management. We will explore the working practices in the roles involved, looking at promoting events, booking artists and venues, and financial considerations. We will also cover practical aspects such as live sound engineering, stage management, lighting and visuals in detail, as well as reviewing online promotion. You will look at these areas in the context of a wide variety of events, including theatre, conferences, festivals and artist tours. You will then organise, promote and run one or more live events. There will be opportunities to work in groups, to collaborate with other students in Cambridge School of Creative Industries, and to work on events both on-campus and off-campus.

Year three, core modules

  • Collaborative Project
    You will work collaboratively to record one or more musicians, produce a live event, to design audio for film, or produce audio within a game environment. You will work with other students on the course or on other courses in Cambridge School of Creative Industries, with an emphasis on the importance of planning and documenting the process. There will always be a demand for live sound engineering for both acoustic and electronic music. You will be introduced to the principles and practice of live sound engineering. Often this differs substantially from that in recording studios. You will also be introduced to the key principles behind electrical safety and hearing protection, which are of great importance to engineers, audience, artists and venue staff. You will then look at the audio hardware involved, including mixers, amplifiers and crossovers, and the various electrical connections and connector types, as well as the importance of stage monitoring. You will also learn the principles of lighting controllers and visuals, and the technologies used, and consider the overall PA system in terms of both an ideal design and the practicalities of running a non-ideal system successfully. We will compare the system configurations in several different venues, and demonstrate the management of a system in a live environment through practical sessions at live events, including a consideration of how to deal effectively with artists, promoters and venue staff. You may have to be available in the evenings.
  • Final Project
    The individual Final Project will allow you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research and/or product development work. You will be introduced to a range of possible research topics in music technology. These include programming tools for audio applications, sound synthesis algorithms, algorithmic composition, digital audio effects, software and hardware for live musical performance, live coding, audio analysis, live sampling tools, Music Information Retrieval, digital DJ tools, novel performance hardware, game controllers, and custom-made hardware. Your topic may be one of these, or may be drawn from a variety of sources including Anglia Ruskin research groups; previous/current work experience; the company with which you are currently employed; an Anglia Ruskin lecturer suggested topic; or a professional subject of specific interest (if suitable supervision is available). Your project topic will be assessed to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The chosen topic will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop hardware, software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings. Regular supervisory meetings will ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction. Successful completion will increase your employability, as you will acquire skills directly applicable to real-world projects.
  • Portfolio
    This module involves the use of high-quality contemporary music studios to produce recordings of the very best possible sound quality. It assumes you are competent in the use of music studios and audio software. You will use a range of software and hardware for musical applications and develop a full portfolio of high quality recordings for professional use after graduation. Advanced skills in recording, sound engineering, mixing and production will be demonstrated and discussed; in particular, advanced recording, sequencing and mix processes. This will be augmented by critical listening and analysis of existing recordings. You will have the opportunity to watch advanced audio software and hardware in use and gain "hands-on" experience. You will also examine trends in high-quality hardware and software design, and gain further understanding of the theory and practice of sound engineering, and will be able to produce high-quality musical productions. You will gain a “flavour” of real-world working. They work to “real” professional briefs, as if working as freelance sound engineers. Your assignments will be based on real scenarios, and you will work to a brief and a specific “budget” for each job, costing all aspects of the work, including time spent, and presenting a spreadsheet of costs with the finished audio work, (although no real money is involved). Your lectures will include a discussion on working professionally to time constraints and financial budgets; appropriate choices of tools and recording venues, dependent on the demands and budget for the job; working with clients; and continuing to discuss advanced recording and mixing techniques, sound quality, mastering and all other aspects of professional sound and music production.

Assessment

Modules are subject to change and availability.

We use a range of assessment methods to ensure that your achievements are measured appropriately and that you are best prepared for your future career. Assessments currently include portfolios of recorded works, essays, reports, log books, posters and presentations.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

In the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, we use our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond to nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking, and encourage critical thinking, in order to educate, entertain, inspire and understand, as well as to improve people’s lives.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Additional study information

Placements

This course gives you the opportunity to take a work placement between years 2 and 3. You’ll get experience of seeking and securing a job and working in an industry relating to your course. You’ll also get the practical experience and industry contacts to benefit your studies and enhance your long-term career prospects.

Although they can’t be guaranteed, we can work with you to find a placement, using our contacts with a large number of employers. You’ll have regular contact with one of our course tutors and be supported by a supervisor from your placement company. Together they’ll monitor your performance and give you feedback.

To find out more about placement opportunities, email us at Placements@anglia.ac.uk.

Specialist facilities

As one of our students you'll be able to access, and receive full training in, all of our creative industries facilities and equipment. For Audio and Music Technology in particular, this includes:

  • Five state-of-the-art, climate-controlled recording studios that encompass the demands and variety of modern audio workflows
  • Industry standard software: Pro-tools, Logic, Ableton Live
  • Large selection of professional analogue audio mixing consoles and processing equipment from leading audio brands such as Audient, Warm Audio, Avalon, Universal Audio, Solid State Logic (SSL), PMC
  • A fully equipped podcast studio with live multi-camera recording
  • A large acoustically treated critical listening room and AV lab containing 20 Apple Mac audio workstations
  • Access to rehearsal rooms, 6 grand pianos and a spacious recital hall
  • An impressive selection of professional microphones
  • Overnight loans of microphones and portable recording devices.

For more details please visit our facilities page.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)

£9,250

International students starting 2020/21 (per year)

£13,500

Placement year (UK, EU, international students)

£1,250

Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

UK and EU students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Scholarships

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in September 2020.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

Entry requirements for foundation year study at ARU College:

  • five GCSE passes at grade 3 or D or above and evidence of two years post-GCSE study at Level 3
  • if you have achieved at least grade E in one A level, or equivalent, you are exempt from the two year post-GCSE study requirement, but you still have to meet the GCSE requirements
  • if English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificate level of proficiency of at least IELTS 5.5 overall including 5.5 in each band/component.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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