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Engineering and the EnvironmentPostgraduate study

MSc Acoustical Engineering (formerly MSc Sound and Vibration Studies)

There is increasing pressure to make life quieter and to gain a better understanding of how noise and vibration affect people. Our MSc in Acoustical Engineering is a full-time masters degree that offers an academically challenging exposure to modern developments in sound, vibration and signal processing.

Introducing your degree

Acoustical engineers are in great demand in almost every field of engineering. Whether they’re creating better-sounding concert halls, superior sound reproduction systems, clearer ultrasound scans or quieter aeroplanes, acoustical engineers combine solid understanding of engineering fundamentals with specialist knowledge of sound and vibration to make the world sound better. A unique degree course for those with a passion for sound.

Programme Overview

Learning and teaching

The programme is split into two components: a 'taught' component (October to June) and a research component (February to September).

Taught Modules

The 'taught' component will consist of a range of modules based on lectures, hands-on demonstrations, laboratory teaching and exercises in small groups.

You are encouraged throughout to contribute your own professional experiences and thoughts to the learning of the whole class through a free exchange of ideas.

Research Project

The research project is the climax of the MSc programme. The project offers an opportunity to perform advanced research supervised by a member of academic staff. A list of projects offered by members of teaching staff is posted during Semester 1. You may also propose your own project.

Work begins on the project in February with the Project Development module. The research itself is mostly carried out during the summer period. A planning and literature review report is submitted at an early stage in the project, and an interview/presentation with the internal examiner is held at around the mid-point. On completion a dissertation is produced. This has to be completed and submitted before the start of the new academic year.


Testing of the knowledge base is through a combination of unseen written examinations and assessed coursework in the form of problem solving exercises, laboratory reports, design exercises, essays, and individual and group projects.

Analysis and problem solving skills are assessed through unseen written examinations and problem based exercises. Experimental, research and design skills are assessed through laboratory reports, coursework exercises, project reports and oral presentations.

As a research-led University, we undertake a continuous review of our programmes to ensure quality enhancement and to manage our resources. As a result, this programme may be revised during a student’s period of registration; however, any revision will be balanced against the requirement that the student should receive the educational service expected. Please read our Disclaimer to see why, when and how changes may be made to a student’s programme.

Programmes and major changes to programmes are approved through the University’s programme validation process which is described in the University’s quality handbook.


View the programme specificiation document for this course

To Apply

You can do this through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. For more background and detailed information, see How to Apply.

Part-time study may be available, subject to approval.

The deadline for new applications to this course is the 31st July each year.



This course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.

This course is also accredited by Institute of Acoustics.

Key Facts

  • The ISVR was founded in 1963 and is world renowned for its contributions to acoustics, audiology and biomedical engineering, among other areas.
  • We were awarded a 2006 Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education based on ISVR's sustained excellence and outstanding achievements in research in the field of sound and vibration.
  • The Institute is unusual as an Academic Unit in that historically external research contracts and grants have provided over two-thirds of its financial support. This has come from industry, research councils, Government departments, health authorities and from overseas.
School of Engineering Sciences
Bubble acoustics research
Bubble acoustics research
Combating hand-arm vibration
Combating hand-arm vibration
Leading the way in aircraft noise reduction
Leading the way in aircraft noise reduction
School of Engineering Sciences
3D audio video

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Honours Degree

First or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in engineering, science or mathematics.

Applicants with a lower-second class Bachelor’s honours degree are considered only if evidence can be provided for the development of skills and capabilities beyond the degree, such as 2-years of relevant and appropriate work experience and training.

Equivalent Qualifications

Alternative qualifications are considered on individual merit. For example, a portfolio of appropriate work experience underpinned by an academic achievements equivalent to the basic requirements and recent serious and appropriate study, with clear evidence of scientific aptitude. Applicants in this category are interviewed and might be required to sit the admissions assessment. We are always happy to receive applications from candidates with equivalent qualifications. If you are unsure about our entry criteria, please contact our admissions staff who would be happy to provide advice in advance of your application.

English Language requirements

If your first language is not English, we need to ensure that your listening, written and spoken English skills would enable you to enjoy the full benefit of your studies. For entry onto our programmes, you will need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or an equivalent qualification

Selection process

Intake: 25 students per year

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy. Disabled applicants will be treated according to the same procedures as any other applicant with the added involvement of the Disability Office to assess their needs. The programme may require adaptation for students with disabilities (e.g. hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly the practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The programme consists of taught modules, a project preparation module and a research project.

Year 1

The MSc course in Acoustical Engineering forms a 12 month full-time programme. This is based on two semesters of lectures and practical instruction, followed by 4 months of full-time work on a research project leading to a dissertation.

Semester One

This consists of 12 weeks of lectures with a break at Christmas, followed by exams at the end of January.

You normally take 4 modules (60 credit points) from the recommended list below. Other options including the following will be available:

Research Methods
Signal Processing
Fundamentals of Acoustics
Fundamentals of Vibration
Musical Instrument Acoustics
Noise Control Engineering
Underwater Acoustics

Choose 2 or 3 from the following 3 modules:

Signal Processing
Fundamentals of Acoustics
Fundamentals of Vibration
MSc Research Project
Semester Two

This consists of 12 weeks of lectures with a break at Easter, followed by exams in early June. You normally take 3 modules, chosen from the list below.

Research Methods
Architectural and Building Acoustics
Audio Engineering
Human Responses to Sound and Vibration
Advanced Vibration
Biomedical Application of Signal and Image Processing
Active Control
Applied Digital Signal Processing
Numerical Methods for Acoustics
MSc Research Project

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Learning & Assessment


Through the wide choice of modules available in the Acoustical Engineering programme, you have the possibility to specialise in one of the three following areas:

Signal Processing

The Applied Digital Signal Processing pathway provides in-depth training on modern signal processing techniques for biomedical applications and audio signal processing.

Structural Vibration

The Structural Vibration pathway emphasises the advanced techniques to model, measure and control vibration in mechanical systems such as railways and automotive applications.


Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentDesign equipment and materials: Standard construction/modelling materials will be provided where appropriate, unless otherwise specified in a module profile. For customisation of designs/models calling for material other than standard construction/ modelling materials, students will bear the costs of such alternatives.
ClothingField course clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source.
Printing and copyingIn some cases, coursework and/or projects may be submitted electronically. Where it is not possible to submit electronically students will be liable for printing costs, which are detailed in the individual module profile.
OtherOptional visits: Some modules may include additional optional visits. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Study locations

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