MSc Audio Engineering
Why choose this course?
Drive the next generation of audio technology with the help of this distinctive masters programme. Underpinned by pioneering research, excellent teaching and first-rate facilities, our MSc Audio Engineering equips you with the skills and knowledge valued most by employers in the rapidly changing and dynamic field of audio engineering.
- Hone your skills on a cutting-edge MSc programme developed in consultation with industry leaders
- Gain up-to-the-minute knowledge in areas which are central to the needs of the sector, including audio electronics, live sound reinforcement, surround sound systems and software engineering
- Prepare for high-level careers in the industry: our graduates have gone on to work for world- leading firms such as Bowers & Wilkins and MQA
- Benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, ranging from 3D multichannel sound rooms to a hemi-anechoic chamber
- Be inspired by experienced and supportive lecturers who are renowned in the field and whose research even featured on Blue Planet II
- Engage in your own cutting-edge research, with the chance to contribute to publications and international conferences
- Hear from top industry professionals through fascinating guest lectures and master classes
- Boost your employability: we’re ranked 15th highest amongst all UK universities and 12th for English institutions, with 96% of graduates in work or further study within six months of completing their degree (HESA 2016.)
Find out more about the exciting projects being undertaken by staff and students in our Entertainment Engineering specialist subject group.Show All
UCAS code: MH6AB Start date: September and January Course length: Full time: One year, Part time: Two years Campus: Markeaton Street site, Derby Campus College: College of Engineering and Technology
This course is available to international students
About this course
This MSc programme enables graduates with good first degrees in Electronic Engineering, Music Technology or similar subjects to develop the higher-level expertise they need to enter the specialist field of audio engineering. With a flexible part-time study option available, it also represents an excellent route for professionals already working within the sector to upgrade their skills and understanding.
At the forefront of industry developments
Audio engineering is a well-developed and far-reaching field encompassing subjects such as loudspeaker and microphone design, analogue and digital electronics, digital signal processing, acoustics, psychoacoustics, computer programing and beyond.
There is a widespread need for audio engineers in these fields and the skills you gain on the MSc will set you apart as a high-calibre, well-trained and forward-thinking professional.
The course is designed with a focus on innovation and critical thinking. When you graduate, you will be capable of working with – and shaping – the next generation of audio technology. You will also be ideally positioned to remain at the leading edge of audio engineering throughout your future career.
You will be taught by experienced, research-active lecturers who boast an international profile in audio engineering and will support you to reach your full potential. They include Dr Adam Hill, who also has extensive experience as a live sound engineer, and Dr Bruce Wiggins, who has a particular specialism in ambisonic surround sound systems.
Dr Adam Hill setting up a sound system at Ford Field in Detroit, USA (left) and Dr Bruce Wiggins making some on-site measurements with a sound field microphone (right)
The team’s research findings have been published and presented at international conferences and referenced in British Standards. One underwater acoustics project was even spotlighted on the BBC’s Blue Planet II. Studies into the health of coral reefs, undertaken in partnership with the Universities of Exeter and Essex, featured in the programme to show how sea creatures in and around reefs use sound for a number of purposes. The underwater recordings taken as part of the research were analysed with the help of Dr Hill.
As an MSc student, you will engage with the cutting-edge research being undertaken by our experts. Our Entertainment Engineering group hosts the annual Sounds in Space research symposium, which brings leading spatial audio researchers to the University to demonstrate their latest work.
We have made a substantial investment in state-of-the-art facilities so that you can gain insights into the latest technology transforming the industry today.
You will have the opportunity to learn and conduct research in our 3D multichannel sound rooms, a hemi-anechoic chamber, a virtual reality cave, live event production spaces and fully-equipped analogue and digital electronics laboratories.
Sample of equipment in our live event auditorium (left) and hemi-anechoic chamber (right)
A rich learning experience
Because we maintain close links with local, national and international industry, as well as the leading professional bodies, our teaching remains contemporary and relevant. We regularly invite representatives from industry to give guest lectures and masterclasses.
Our students also have the chance to hear from world-leading experts and expand their professional networks at the annual Reproduced Sound conference.
Your learning experience will be varied and vibrant. You will study as an individual but also have the chance to work as part of a group on integrated project work. This gives you insights into working within diverse teams to solve engineering problems. There is also plenty of opportunity, through independent study, to pursue projects which match your professional interests and career ambitions.
Want to know more? Read our blog for all the latest news and views.
What you will cover
This course is made up of three stages – Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Science.
You will study modules such as:
The process of converting an acoustic signal into an electrical signal, applying processing (using analogue and/or digital methodologies), amplifying the signal and then converting back into the acoustic domain is complicated, requiring a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of electroacoustics. This module concentrates on the analogue and digital electronics of the electroacoustic signal chain. The discussion revolves around audio power amplifier design and also considers essential signal chain components surrounding the amplifier such as crossover networks and equalisation systems. The module will provide you with an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of advanced audio electronics, allowing you to apply your knowledge to the design and implementation of a fully-functional audio electronics device and to evaluate its performance.
The audio engineering industry is fuelled by innovation. The ability to stay ahead of the game often determines engineering successes and failures. This module is designed as a think-tank for all things audio, consisting largely of open discussions which give students the ability to develop innovative ideas alongside lecturers and invited speakers from industry. Emphasis is placed on innovative thinking, moving towards new and exciting solutions to long-standing engineering problems. Work carried out in this module focuses on a comprehensive understanding of a chosen cutting-edge research topic in audio engineering. Students are each assigned a research topic and are responsible for leading a seminar discussion on the topic. This module is designed to develop the students’ ability to stay on the leading edge of audio engineering research and to analyse and interpret current activity in academia and industry in order to develop ideas for future technological advancements.
Live Sound System Design and Optimisation
Live sound system design and optimisation is a multidisciplinary topic that can take the bulk of a career to master. This module covers the core science and engineering principles behind implementing a sound system that meets all design specifications. Large room acoustics, loudspeaker design, computer modelling techniques and a range of optimisation strategies are covered to build up a robust skillset which is valued by employers. This module culminates in a project focusing on the design, modelling and analysis of a sound system for real-world use.
Studying at Masters Level and Research Methods
This module aims to enhance your ability to study at masters level and to develop, plan and execute a project using the processes of research. It is a prerequisite for undertaking the masters dissertation (Independent Scholarship).
Independent Engineering Scholarship
The Independent Engineering Scholarship forms an essential, integral and substantial part of your masters degree. It will provide you with an opportunity to apply and enhance the knowledge and intellectual skills gained during your programme and allow you to develop your specialist skills in an area of your choice. The aim is to improve your ability to work independently, in a chosen topic, using appropriate research and design concepts, as well as analytical, test, measurement and evaluation techniques, in order to produce a finished artefact or product. You will be expected not merely to collect, analyse and apply information, but also to exhibit other skills such as the ability to plan, manage and produce a significant technical piece of work. You will be challenged to demonstrate a critical understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research in the production of clear, logically argued and original work related to the field of your study.
You will also choose two modules such as:
Advanced Surround Systems
Surround sound systems have become an important aspect of the audio industry with applications in large scale live events, 3D cinema audio, broadcast, computer games audio and personal audio systems, hearing-disability research, neurological disorder, environment acoustics and a host of audio-information displays in the workplace. This module aims to provide a new generation of sound engineers and audio equipment designers with the necessary understanding of multi-channel audio techniques and concomitant perceptual effects. The science and engineering principles and theory of various surround sound systems are investigated, developed, analysed, compared and contrasted, with subjective testing and analysis carried out to help better understand their performance.
Audio Software Engineering
Outboard equipment and technology in the live and production audio arena have been making the transition from discrete hardware units to cheaper, and often more flexible, software ‘plug-ins’ that run in host software on a general purpose computer. Authoring such audio software is a combination of computer science, programming techniques and digital signal processing theory. This module will focus on aspects of software engineering, usability, modular design and the appreciation of the software life cycle, implementing real-time digital signal processing algorithms on digital audio in order to prepare for an industry where music technology software is ubiquitous.
The Negotiated Technical Module
This module encourages you to engage with a specific aspect of the technology used within your subject area at masters level. It includes aspects of project management, target setting and the implementation of objectives situated in practical experience in the context of industry. The module seeks to locate relevant issues in an academic context to promote the linking of conceptual analysis with industrial practice to afford evaluation of the project aims and objectives.
An appropriate undergraduate degree in Engineering, Science or Music Technology (2:1 or above) or an equivalent qualification.
If English is not your first language, then you will need to hold IELTS 6.0 or above.
This programme is suitable for UK, EU and international applicants.
- How to apply
Fees and finance
2018/19 Fees (August 2018 - July 2019)
Full-time Part-time UK/EU
£690 per 20 credits*
£690 per 20 credits*
£13,500 for the full programme
*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.
Postgraduate Certificate 60 Credits Postgraduate Diploma 120 Credits MA or MSc 180 Credits
This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.
Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.
Funding your studies
Alumni discount for Derby graduates
Scholarships and bursaries
How you will learn
Our MSc programme has been developed in consultation with leading figures in the audio engineering industry. All teaching and learning exercises are focused on real-world applications. For some assignments, certain tasks require working with various individuals in the industry for guidance and mentorship.
Assessment involves a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework entails individual and group assignments, all with a focus on real-world applications.
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Careers and employability
As a graduate of the MSc Audio Engineering, you will be ideally prepared to progress into rewarding careers within many fields of professional activity – or to advance an existing career if you are already employed.
You will find that high-calibre audio engineers are in demand in fields such as:
- Electroacoustic engineering (loudspeakers, power amplifiers and so on)
- Software engineering (digital signal processing, software development and so on)
- Sound reinforcement
- Automotive engineering
Our teaching team can give you advice on relevant employment opportunities and you will receive full support from the University’s Careers and Employment Service, who can assist in areas such as job application and interview techniques.
Where are they now? Find out where our graduates’ careers have taken them.
What our students say
“I chose to study the MSc Audio Engineering at the University of Derby due to its course content. Each module has clearly been designed to cover relevant and emerging topics in the audio industry. The course leaders are by far the best teachers I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and were very proficient at responding to and resolving any problems I had during my time studying. The University itself also boasts some great facilities and helpful staff across the campus.
“Since graduating, I landed a job as an engineer at Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) where I’m currently advancing my audio software engineering skills. The skills I learned from completing this course are constantly helping me in my employment and I can honestly say I would not have secured this job (nor even an interview) without studying Audio Engineering at the University of Derby.”
Haydon Cardew, who graduated from the MSc Audio Engineering with Distinction in 2016.
Haydon on a visit to Microsoft Research in Cambridge trying out their HoloLens when on the MSc Audio Engineering course
“I studied MSc Audio Engineering on a part-time basis at the University of Derby. The degree provided a technical approach to a broad range of topics within audio engineering, with a high level of mathematical detail and practical insight with real granularity. The course was dense with opportunities for quality research, and provided a springboard for self-development and broad expansion of practical initiative. The support of the excellent teaching staff helped me refine and build upon my ideas, allowing my research and practical experience to grow organically.
“I currently work as a graduate digital signal processing engineer at Bowers & Wilkins, a renowned and well-established consumer audio manufacturer. The MSc provided not only the academic exposure I needed to increase employer interest, but helped develop my confidence as an engineer and a researcher. These were powerful tools that put me above the competition in the job market, and I continue to enjoy interest from recruiters and prospective employers alike.”
Simon Durbridge, who graduated from the MSc Audio Engineering with Distinction in 2017.
Simon mixing Sigma-7 at Derby Theatre (live performance through a 16-channel surround sound system using TiMax)