The University of Southampton

ISVR3061 Human Responses to Sound and Vibration

Module Overview

This module provides an understanding of human responses to sound and vibration in the environment, and how such environmental stimuli are measured and assessed. People judge the success or failure of any efforts in noise and vibration control, so their responses should be understood and anticipated. The module also shows: - The main effects of noise and vibration on people. - How to identify relevant variables and how they can be combined to make quantitative predictions of human responses to noise and vibrations. - How to use standards and regulations that have been developed to provide a framework for the objective evaluation of noise and vibration. - How to provide a basic understanding of alternative approaches to assessment that might be adopted in particular case.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The Aims of this module are to enable students to comprehend knowledge of human responses to sound and vibration, to understand effects of sound and vibration on human body, and to integrate the knowledge into practical applications.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Understand the principal responses to noise (i.e., perception, loudness, annoyance, speech interference, noise-induced hearing loss).
  • Understand the principal responses to whole-body vibration (i.e., perception, comfort, motion sickness, performance, and health) and hand-transmitted vibration (i.e., the hand-arm vibration syndrome, including vibration-induced white finger).
  • Understand the principal methods of measuring and evaluating noise and vibration with respect to human responses.
  • Recognise and select appropriate standards, recommendations, or regulations that apply to particular environments (e.g., domestic, commercial, transport, industrial).
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Access and understand British, European, and International standards.
  • Access and understand European Union Directives.
  • Deal with logarithmic quantities, SI units, and reference values.
  • Contribute confidently and appropriately to discussions on similar topics.
  • Discuss noise and vibration issues in a multi-disciplinary environment.
  • Assess risk based on technical knowledge and legal requirements.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Measure noise and vibration (both whole-body vibration and hand-transmitted vibration) to which people are exposed.
  • Evaluate noise and vibration to which people are exposed.
  • Assess the severity of noise and vibration to which people are exposed.
  • Recognise means of preventing, or minimising, undesirable effects of noise and vibration on people.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Read, understand, and interpret the literature relating to noise and vibration effects upon people
  • Understand the principles of measuring, evaluating, and assessing both noise and vibration.
  • Apply current standards, limits, and regulations for both noise and vibration.
  • Recognise and select appropriate techniques for the investigation of noise and vibration effects.


Sound • The human auditory system. • Noise and health Hearing damage risk. • Non-auditory health risks, vegetative responses. • Disturbance of speech communication Prediction. • Standards. • Annoyance at home and in other environments. • Sleep disturbance. • Planning and noise. Vibration • Principles of the measurement and evaluation of human vibration exposures. • Standards and Directives for whole-body vibration and hand-transmitted vibration. • Health effects of whole-body vibration. • Effects of whole-body vibration on activities. • Discomfort produced by whole-body vibration. • Vibration thresholds. • Building vibration. • Biodynamics (body transmissibility, apparent mass, models). • Seating dynamics (transmissibility, SEAT value, models). • Health effects of hand-transmitted vibration, their diagnosis, and prevention. • Measurement, evaluation, and assessment of the vibration of powered hand-held tools. • Causes of motion sickness in marine, land and air transport.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures on Sound and lectures on Vibration. Students join the module with widely varying experience / knowledge of human responses to noise and vibration, so in-class questions and discussion is expected. Laboratory demonstrations of human responses to whole-body vibration and hand-transmitted vibration. Students are expected to devote time to reading supporting texts to supplement material introduced during lecture periods. Coursework assignments allow students to build upon lecture material.

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

P M Nelson (1987). Transportation Noise Reference Book. 

Guidelines for Community Noise.

F J Fahy J G Walker (eds). Fundamentals of Noise and Vibration. 

M J Griffin (1990). Handbook of Human Vibration. 

K D Kryter (1994). The Handbook of Hearing and the Effects of Noise. 

K D Kryter (1985). The Effects of Noise on Man. 


Assessment Strategy





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 50%
Coursework 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 50%
Coursework 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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