Engineering and the Environment

H722 MEng/BEng (Hons) Acoustical Engineering (4/3 years)

Dolphins, jet engines, concert and sports halls, sound reproduction, environmental assessment, medical ultrasound, motion sickness, wind turbines, car refinement: put your maths and physics into action, and take a look at this MEng/BEng acoustical engineering degree.

Programme Overview

What makes a concert hall have ‘good acoustics'? What makes a car sound the way it does? How can we design cars to sound quieter or more pleasing? Is it OK for aeroplane wings to vibrate? How does sound travel under water? How can this be helpful to humankind and nature? How can we identify key frequencies present in sound and vibration signals? Can this tell us useful information about the health of the engineering structure or animal that produced the signals? How does the ear interpret sound? How does this affect the way we reduce unwanted noise or compress audio files? Why are loudspeakers designed the way they are? How does the physics of sound impact on high quality sound recording and audio engineering? If these sorts of questions interest you then the Acoustical Engineering degrees at Southampton may be for you.

Acoustical engineering degrees are taught in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), one of the world's leading centres for research, teaching and consultancy in acoustics. It demands a remarkable breadth and depth of study, drawing on disciplines such as mechanics, materials, manufacturing, electronics and signal processing. Consequently, an acoustical engineering degree is an excellent choice for those who want to open up a broad range of scientific and engineering career options on graduation.

To Apply

All undergraduate acoustical engineering degree applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the How to Apply tab of the navigation menu on this page for detailed information on how to apply and further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details. Specific application deadlines are available on the UCAS website.

Everyone initially registers for the four year MEng Acoustical Engineering (H722). However, you can choose to exit after three years and receive a BEng degree. The MEng stream in years 3 and 4 is designed to give a deeper insight in to the economic and management aspects of industry and to give more scope for development of project and design skills.


BEng (Hons)

Accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer and partly meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer. This course is also accredited by the Institute of Acoustics (IOA).


Accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer. This course is also accredited by the Institute of Acoustics (IOA).

Programme Structure

This is a four year full time integrated Acoustical Engineering masters programme. After successful completion of all four years the degree of MEng is awarded. For those who prefer to graduate after 3 years, the BEng in Acoustical Engineering is an option, with some divergence in the modules taken in the third year; this is also the required route for those who do not achieve the consistent high grades required for the MEng.

Please note that minor adjustments may be made to the programme and module from year to year.

The first two years of this unique programme build a firm grounding in compulsory core disciplines that will enable you to make in-roads into answering questions such as the ones above and solving a wide range of acoustics problems. In years 3 and 4 you can choose advanced options which concern specific applications of acoustics such as electroacoustics, transportation noise, musical instrument acoustics, sound and audio systems and so on. Teaching is generally in small groups and there is a large emphasis on practical and design work.

The teaching is structured on a semester pattern. You study modules comprising 120 credits in each of Parts I (level 4), II (level 5) and III (level 6). You will also be required to undertake an individual project in ISVR worth 40 credits.

Key facts

  • ISVR was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its achievements in higher education

  • ISVR is one of the leading brand names in acoustics, known and respected Worldwide

“The course is challenging, fascinatingly diverse and highly acclaimed in industry. With small group teaching by leading experts in the field, Southampton's Acoustical Engineering degree is simply unique.”

Danny Taylor, MEng Acoustical Engineering, 2010

“I've found the course both very interesting and challenging. Before starting the course I didn't realise the great reputation that the ISVR holds in industry”

Final year student, Acoustical Engineering, 2003/4

“Studying acoustics provides a unique and fascinating angle on the broader subject of engineering, one which employers will love. Small class sizes make for excellent teaching in a friendly environment.”

Toby Park, MEng Acoustical Engineering degree graduate, 2008

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements


GCSE English Language, at Grade C or above

A Levels:

A-level AAA including Maths and Physics (A in Maths)
Irish Leaving Certificate
AAAAB (A in Mathematics and Physics)

Acoustical Engineering Students who do not have the above qualifications may be eligible to apply for Acoustical Engineering with Foundation Year (H008) at the University of Southampton. For BTEC applicants, Entry through the Foundation Year will usually be required.


International Baccalaureate 36 points overall, 18 at higher level including 6 in both Higher Mathematics and Higher Physics


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.

Equivalent Qualifications

We are always happy to receive applications from candidates with alternative qualifications, which are assessed on individual merit. 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.

Selection process:

Intake: 25-30
Average applicants per place: 3

Acoustical Engineering degree applicants who appear suitable from their application form are invited to a visit day when they will have an informal discussion with a member of academic staff. A topic of discussion will be the applicant's suitability in terms of academic aptitude and evidence of motivation to study and interest in the subject.

While the average level entry onto our Acoustics degree is among the highest in the UK, we always look carefully at each individual application. In addition to your examination grades, we also take into account your personal statement and references. These give us an indication of your personal attributes and your enthusiasm for your chosen area of study. 

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy. In accordance with the University's commitment to inclusivity, we welcome applications onto this Acoustical Engineering degree from students with disabilities. 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 acoustics degree programme may require adaptation for students with disabilities (e.g. hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly any practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.

Visit our International Office website or the NARIC website for further information on qualifications.


Typical course content

The first two years of this unique Acoustical Engineering degree build a firm grounding in core disciplines that will enable you to make in-roads into answering questions related to sound and vibration and solving a wide range of acoustics problems. In years 3 and 4 you can choose advanced options which concern specific applications of acoustics such as electroacoustics, transportation noise, musical instrument acoustics, audio systems and so on. Teaching is generally in small groups and there is a large emphasis on practicals and design work.

Year 1

The first year provides a background in acoustics, emphasising the physics and mathematics of acoustics, sound and vibration.

Year 2

The second year covers further acoustics, vibration, mathematics, design, fluid dynamics and introduces audio technology and control. A total of 120 credits across two semesters. A large element is the design project, currently the design, build and test of an active two cone loudspeaker.

Year 3

The third year of study will differ depending on whether or not you intend to study for all four years (MEng). The MEng Acoustical Engineering integrated masters route involves more group design work and study of management practices in year 3 leaving less time for optional modules. You are also required to undertake at least 20 weeks of engineering related work placements. This is typically achieved by 10 week placements after your second and third years. (Alternatively you can do a single placement in a gap year after year 2 or 3). These additional requirements for integrated masters in Acoustical Engineering  make it difficult to transfer from the BEng to the MEng any later than at the end of year 2, although transfer from the MEng to the BEng is possible at any time.

Both BEng and MEng Acoustical Engineering students undertake a substantial individual project in year 3. You can either select a topic from a list proposed by teaching staff or pursue an idea of your own, with appropriate permission and guidance. It is expected that you will spend one third of your time in year 3 on your individual project. At the end of year 3 there is an exit award of BEng (Hons) Acoustical Engineering.

Year 4

Year 4 (MEng Acoustical Engineering only) features an extensive group design project to solve an industrially focused problem in an area of acoustics. You are also required to take a selection of optional modules, the majority of which are at Masters level.

Semester One

Choose 2 or 3 optional modules in semester 1.


Learning and assessment

Educational aims of the programme

The Acoustical Engineering undergraduate degree programme is unique in the UK in its combined coverage of acoustics, sound and vibration within the framework of an accredited mechanical engineering degree. The aims of the programme are:

  • To provide you with a firm foundation in a wide range of engineering disciplines that underpin acoustics through a core of compulsory engineering modules in years 1 and 2.
  • To broaden and deepen your understanding of acoustics, sound, vibration and other engineering disciplines through a range of specialist modules in years 3 and 4 (MEng Acoustical Engineering only).
  • To develop in you the necessary technical skills to fulfil the role of a professional acoustics and vibration engineer in a design, consulting or research environment.
  • To provide a learning environment in which you are able to develop generic skills that are vital to management and leadership roles in engineering industry but also transferable to other occupations and pursuits unrelated to employment.
  • To offer you a range of projects and realistic tasks that stimulate individual innovation, necessitate problem formulation and solving, promote self-assessment, and enhance communication and teamwork skills.
  • To expose you to an intellectually challenging and world leading research environment to stimulate an attitude of enquiry and independent self-learning, and foster an ethos of life-long learning and professional development.
  • To promote awareness of engineering in practice through interaction with industry, e.g. work placements, external speakers, industrial visits and industrial group design projects.
  • To provide recognition of your skill set on completion of your studies through the award of a highly esteemed Acoustical Engineering degree that meets the requirements of the Engineering Council for registration as a chartered engineer.

Teaching and learning methods

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding are taught principally through lectures and practical laboratories. Extensive use is made of tutorial exercises for private learning which is supported by one-to-one support in tutorial classes. Sometimes you are required to find out for yourself (e.g. from libraries and e-resources) what is relevant to solving a particular problem.

Intellectual skills

Problem solving skills are developed through personal study of tutorial exercises supported by tutorial classes and worked solutions. Such problems are typically well defined and conducive to hand calculation. The treatment of open ended problems which require defining and solution by numerical means are taught through individual and group assignments. The MATLAB programming language is used extensively. Commercial software is used where appropriate such as for CAD, Finite Element Analysis and Architectural acoustics.

Whilst elementary design principles are generally taught through lectures, design skills are developed through design challenges which are often group based. Use is made of both hand drawn and CAD engineering drawings.

Analysis and interpretation of measured data is taught through experimental laboratories and design exercises.

Assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding is assessed principally by a combination of unseen written examinations and written assignments, including laboratory and design reports. The relative weightings vary from one module to another. Coursework essays are occasionally set for more qualitative subjects. Oral presentations are often used to assess knowledge and understanding of project work and to report information gathering and research based activities.

Problem solving by means of hand calculation is assessed by unseen written examination. More realistic open ended problem solving and design skills are assessed through written assignments and submitted engineering designs.

The tutorial system

Every Acoustical Engineering degree student is assigned a personal tutor when they start their university degree. Your year course tutor changes every year, but your personal tutor will stay the same throughout your time here. Your personal tutor will meet you when you enrol, and you will see him/her three or four times a term in the first year, for academic as well as pastoral support. Your personal tutor is accessible throughout your time in Southampton.


Our research is relevant to your undergraduate Acoustics and Music degree, you will be taught by people who are experts in the field. This is especially important for engineering and science subjects, where knowledge is advancing rapidly.


The Faculty of Engineering and the Environment has a team of administrators who act as a point of contact for day-to-day advice and information for undergraduate Acoustical Engineering degree students. They are also responsible for collecting assignments and issuing the documents and forms which are required during your period of study.

Programme leader

Dr Michael Kingan

Career Opportunities

Graduates from our Acoustical Engineering degree programme are highly employable.

Career options include: acoustics consultant (assessing noise problems and advising on solutions); design engineer (designing gas turbines, aircraft, cars, or high-precision instruments); research scientist in a university or government agency; research engineer, developing audio or telecommunications equipment; postgraduate student in for example audiology, signal processing or medical physics.

Employers have included: Arup, Dyson, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, the armed forces, Lotus, and Airbus.