Engineering and the Environment

HW73 BSc (Hons) Acoustics with Music (3 yrs)

Acoustics and Music are closely related. Our degree in Acoustics with Music is unique in the United Kingdom and combines studies at two internationally renowned departments: Music and the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), one of the world's leading centres for research, teaching and consultancy in acoustics.

Programme Overview

The Acoustics and Music degree programme aims to provide a broadly based education in both theoretical and practical aspects of both subjects and will provide a sound basis for postgraduate studies in either of them. The modular nature of the degree programme allows you to choose your preferred balance between Acoustics, Sound and Music as you progress.

Graduates usually find employment across a wide range of different professions ranging from acoustical engineering to all areas of the music industry and are particularly well placed to seek careers in the sound reproduction, architectural acoustics, and sound engineering fields.

The Department of Music provides private music tuition up to the value of £300 per year (at no cost to the student). There is an extensive library of over 4000 records and CDs and a new suite of music workstations for electronic music. The Department is also able to make use of the purpose-built Turner Sims Concert Hall, which houses a fine collection of historical and modern keyboard instruments. Performance activities are available throughout the acoustics and music degree programme in addition to sound recording facilities, music business studies and composition.

To Apply

All undergraduate acoustics and music 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.

Programme Structure

Acoustics with Music is a three year full time degree programme.  Successful completion of all three years is awarded the degree of BSc. A Certificate and Diploma in Higher Education are unintended exit awards for those who leave after successfully completing parts 1 or 2 respectively. 

Students study modules comprising 120 credits in each of Parts I (level 4), II (level 5) and III (level 6). There are compulsory design, mathematics and acoustics modules in parts I and II that are necessary to fulfil the learning outcomes of the Acoustics with Music degree programme as a whole, and to facilitate a sufficiently broad range of available ISVR options in part III. There are no compulsory music modules, although some modules have pre-requisites or co-requisites as outlined in the module specifications. You will also be required to undertake an individual project in ISVR or a research project in Music; it is not permitted to take both.

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

“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 graduate, 2008

“My memories of ISVR are that I felt very comfortable there; it was small enough for everyone to know everyone else, and I found it quite inspiring to be taught by people who were world leaders in their specialist fields.”

Rock Musician, BSc Acoustics & Music graduate

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements


GCSE English Language, at Grade C or above


A Levels:

AAB, including Grade A in Maths and Physics, and Grade B in Music. Grade 8 theory is acceptable in place of A-level Music (Students must study 3 A levels)

Candidates wishing to pursue a performance component in Music will normally have attained or be working towards Grade 8 Practical (ABRSM, Trinity, Rockschool, LCM), or be able to demonstrate an equivalent standard.


34 points overall, 17 at higher level including 6 in both Higher Mathematics and Higher Physics, plus A Level Music (Grade B) or Grade 8 Theory.

Candidates wishing to pursue a performance component in Music will normally have attained or be working towards Grade 8 Practical (ABRSM, Trinity, Rockschool, LCM), or be able to demonstrate an equivalent standard

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: Typically 5
Average applicants per place: 4

Acoustics with Music degree applicants who appear suitable from their application form are invited to an open day when they are interviewed by a member of academic staff. The interviewer assesses the applicant's suitability in terms of academic aptitude and evidence of motivation to study and interest in the degree in Acoustics with Music. Candidates who perform satisfactorily at interview are offered a place which is conditional on future examination results where applicable. Candidates who do not attend for interview without good reason are rejected.

While the average level entry onto our Acoustics with Music degree programmes 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 with Music programme of study 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 with Music 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

You will study a number of core subjects during the first two years, all related to acoustics, audio, sound and vibrations. These provide a solid preparation for the final part of the degree. There are no compulsory modules for Music. Optional modules are taken from both the Acoustical Engineering and Music Programmes during the first 2 years. In Year 3, you will have the opportunity to specialise even further in acoustics or music through a wide selection of subject modules. You will also undertake an individual project.

Particularly in Years 2 and 3, some modules will have pre-requisites, and may be subject to timetabling restrictions.  Not all modules shown here may be available in a particular year, although additional modules may be offered.

The total value of the modules taken in each year must be a minimum of 120 CATS points. In all three years you will need to follow more detailed guidelines about the mix of modules, ensuring also a balance of modules across each semester. Some modules may have pre-requisites.

Year 1

The first year provides a background in acoustics, emphasising the physics and mathematics of sound and acoustics. The modules on offer in music span performance, composition and historical and critical analysis.

Year 3

There are no compulsory modules in part III, except that you must do either a Research Project in Music (MUSI3021) or an Individual Project in ISVR (ISVR3019). Students can choose a further 80-90 credits to be undertaken between Semester 1  and Semester 2 from our wide range of specialist modules in ISVR, music, mathematics and languages. Additional options may include ISVR3016 Analytical and Numerical Acoustics, and ISVR3041 Audio Recording.

Learning and assessment

Educational aims of the programme

Acoustical phenomena have far reaching consequences, some which are undesirable such as transportation noise whereas others are life enhancing such as communication and medical ultrasound imaging. However, advances in our understanding of acoustics have historically come from our perception of music, and today music continues to serve as a catalyst for young inspiring enquiring minds to study physical science.

This joint honours Acoustics with Music degree programme is unique in the UK in combining the study of these complementary disciplines. The aims of the degree programme reflect both disciplines and their relative emphasis will depend on your chosen route through the Acoustics with Music programme. The aims of the programme are:

  • To provide you with a foundation in key technical subject areas that underpin acoustics through compulsory engineering modules in parts 1 and 2.
  • To broaden and deepen your understanding of acoustics, sound and vibration in the context of mechanical engineering such that you have sufficient technical background to pursue a professional career in an acoustics field.
  • To offer you a range of projects and realistic tasks that 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 develop your knowledge of the nature of musical experiences, musical repertoires and their cultural contexts, and the relevance of music, sound engineering and music-making to societies past and present.To enhance your ability to link aural to verbal articulations of musical ideas.
  • To enable you to understand relationships between theory and practice. Opportunities for performance activities are plentiful.
  • To inspire you to engage critically with musical processes and materials, whether through composition, performance, analysis, or criticism.

Teaching and learning methods

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding in Acoustics 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.

You will develop your knowledge and understanding in Music through lectures, tutor-led and student-led seminars, group projects and coaching, study visits, independent research, individual tutorials and instrumental lessons.

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 solution by numerical means (e.g. Matlab) are taught through individual and group assignments.

Analysis and interpretation of measured data is taught through experimental laboratories and design exercises. Activities particularly designed to enhance your thinking skills include lectures, tutor-led and student-led seminars, group projects and coaching, study visits, independent research, individual tutorials and instrumental lessons.

Assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding in Acoustics is assessed principally by a combination of unseen written examinations and written assignments such as laboratory and reports. 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.

For music, depending on the nature of the activity (musicology, composition, performance), assessments of your knowledge and understanding may include in Music formal examinations or performances, extended written submissions such as a dissertation or composition portfolio, essays, study diaries, shorter pieces of assessed coursework, individual and group presentations, and listening tests. Progression is recognised in the assessment scheme, which tests the breadth and complexity of knowledge and understanding through to consolidation and application.

The tutorial system

Every Acoustics with Music 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 with 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 Acoustics with Music 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

Career options include: acoustics consultant (assessing noise problems and advising on solutions); postgraduate student; musician