module specification

MD5003 - Applied Music Technology (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Applied Music Technology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Experiment reports (max. 1500 words) Individual
Coursework 50%   Practical project with presentation and report on practical outcome (max 2500 words) Individual
Seen Examination 20%   Open books examination based on syllabs of block 1
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module enables students to consolidate and build on the theoretical foundations laid down in modules at levels 4 through the planning, execution and critical reporting and review of a programme of practical work. It is delivered in two blocks of teaching. 

Block 1: Acoustics

The effective use of the technologies associated with sound and music in a professional environment requires a secure understanding of the nature of sound: both the physical principles which govern its generation and propagation, and the psychological and cognitive principles which influence its reception by the hearing mechanism.

This part of the module supports the practical work undertaken in the second block. It reviews and builds on Certificate level work on the nature of sound and vibration, and applies it to the study of the characteristics and behaviour of sound in the environment, and the mechanisms that enable sound localization, the perception of pitch, loudness and timbre and the perceptual organisation of the sound world around us.

Block 2 : Practical project

The nature and scope of the practical work undertaken in this second block will depend on specialism; in all cases, the module will foster in the students the ability to undertake independent, practical project work and to reflect upon the work undertaken; it will also develop the skill of presenting work to others.

Prior learning requirements

MD4001 - Creative Studio Practice 1


The first block is devoted to the study of acoustics. Topics covered include:

● Vibration, resonance and the effect of damping
● Frequency spectrum and its relationship to audio equalisation
● Sound waves in air, speed of sound, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, sound intensity, sound pressure, decibels, dB SPL, and the relationship of all these to audio signals.
● The formation of standing waves on strings and in air.

● Sound absorption, absorption coefficients, reverberation, the Sabine equation
● Room modes. Sound insulation. The design of recording studios.

● The structure of the hearing mechanism.
● Pitch perception, critical band, masking
● Spatial audio, auditory streaming, virtual acoustics and immersive sound.
● Soundscape studies

In the second block, students undertake project work in one of a range of specialist areas of creative music technologies, which may include:
● Orchestration
● Electroacoustic music
● Film music
● Sonic arts
● Sound synthesis
● Sound design
● Game audio and music

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The balance between independent study and scheduled teaching activities within this
module is 70% and 30% respectively

Scheduled teaching follows the average contact time, per standard 30-credit module across
the University, at 90 hours (3 hours per week).

The nature of the block 1 subject matter means that much of the initial fifteen weeks of the module is devoted to lectures and demonstrations. However, part of block 1 is devoted to the conducting of two experiments, in which the students are expected to plan and coordinate work both during and outside scheduled teaching time. The second part of the module is project work, in which students are expected to work independently through the week, and to present and discuss the work at regular intervals with the supervising tutor.

The learning hours for block 2 are broken down broadly in the same way. However, the pattern of delivery – group seminars, tutorials and workshops interspersed with one to one tutorials - may vary, according to both the nature of the project and the number of students taking it. It is anticipated that the subject matter of each project will be introduced in group seminars and followed by scheduled one to one tutorials with each student.

Blended learning is provided primarily via Weblearn in the form of teaching materials and links to interactive Websites, in the case of block 1, and directed reading (including on-line)  appropriate to the project undertaken, in the case of block 2

Formative feedback is provided by the tutor both in one-to-one and group tutorials and workshops. In block 1, regular non-assessed (i.e. weighting of 0%) class tests are conducted, on which students receive feedback and which enable students to monitor their progress.

Both the reports on the two experiments conducted in block 1 and the report on the practical  work undertaken in block 2 include a section for reflective review of the work completed.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
(LO1) describe and explain a range of acoustical mechanisms using the appropriate engineering terminology,

(LO2) connect auditory perceptual phenomena with their acoustical correlates, and apply acoustical theory both to audio engineering practice and the behaviour and characteristics of sound in the natural and built environments, 

(LO3) devise and execute a methodical and individual plan of practical work in creative music technologies acting with increasing autonomy, with reduced need for supervision and direction, within defined guidelines,

(LO4) demonstrate a reflective and self-critical approach to the work undertaken and the methodology used and

(LO5) report planning, implementation and troubleshooting procedures clearly and concisely, using appropriate engineering terminology.

Assessment strategy

Each of the two blocks of the module is assessed separately, and each has to be passed for a passing grade in the module as a whole.

Block 1 is assessed through practical work and a written examination.

● The practical component consists of two experiments. The first of these is an investigation of room acoustics, and takes the form of a set of measurements of acoustical parameters such as reverberation time and sound insulation. The second is an investigation of an aspect of sound perception such as localisation or masking. These experiments are carried out in small groups in class time. Each student, however, completes an individual technical report on each of the experiments, which is assessed. The weighting of this component is 30% of the module assessment as a whole.

● The examination component consists of a summative open-books test designed to assess students’ ability to explain the behaviour of sound and vibration in the environment and to relate theory to professional practice. The weighting of this component is 20% of the module assessment as a whole.

Block 2 is assessed through the submission of a practical project (20%), a written report of max. 2500 words (20%) and a presentation of that project to the module cohort (10%).

● The project undertaken by each student is one of a list of project briefs published in the module handbook (and which may vary from year to year). The submitted work is assessed on the extent to which the student has satisfied the brief; while extra marks will be awarded for work that goes significantly beyond what is required, only work that fulfills the brief will be given a passing grade. The weighting of this component is 20% of the module assessment as a whole.

● The report should demonstrate the student's understanding of the technology used and the audio theory on which it is based, together with a reflective and self-critical approach, both to the work undertaken and the methodology employed. The weighting of this component is 20% of the module assessment as a whole.

● The presentation should demonstrate the student's ability to communicate effectively the nature, scope, methodology and outcome of the project. The weighting of this component is 10% of the module assessment as a whole.


Core text:
Rossing, Thomas D, F. R. Moore, and Paul Wheeler. The Science of Sound. San Francisco: Addison-Wesley, 2003.
Howard, David M, and J. A. S. Angus. Acoustics and Psychoacoustics. Amsterdam: Focal Press, 2009. [5th edition: 2017]
Recommended Reading:
Adler, Samuel. The Study of Orchestration. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
Carlyle, Angus and C Lane (Eds.). On Listening. Axminster: Uniformbooks, 2013
Russ, Martin. Sound Synthesis and Sampling. New York, N.Y: Focal Press, 2013.
Harper, Graeme, Ruth Doughty, and Jochen Eisentraut. Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014
Gibbs, Tony. The Fundamentals of Sonic Art & Sound Design. Lausanne: AVA Academia, 2007
Emmerson, Simon. The Language of Electroacoustic Music. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1990.
Heifetz, Robin J. On the Wires of Our Nerves: The Art of Electroacoustic Music. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1989.
Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2008.
Marks, Aaron. The Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Musicians, Sound Designers, and Game Developers. Burlington, MA: Focal Press/Elsevier, 2009.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. [CD ROM version] New York, N.Y. : American Institute of Physics
Acoustics Bulletin St Albans : Institute of Acoustics
Journal of the Audio Engineering Society New York : Audio Engineering Society

Acoustics and Vibration Animations.
Spatial Audio demo
Complex waveforms: time and frequency domains
Science resources for schools and colleges
UNSW – Music Acoustics