The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Audiology

Audiology is the science of hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders. Audiology at the University of Southampton is based primarily in the Hearing and Balance Centre (HABC) and the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service , both within the world-renowned Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR). Our research also includes colleagues other groups within the Faculty (e.g. the Signal Processing and Control Group in ISVR), within other faculties (e.g. Health Sciences and Psychology) and within other universities across the world.

We conduct internationally-leading, high-impact research into the mechanisms of normal and impaired hearing and balance, and how hearing and balance can be improved (particularly for profoundly deaf people). This research underpins our under- and post-graduate training programmes for audiology professionals and hearing scientists. Through our audiology clinic and the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service, we also provide services directly for people with hearing and balance problems, which inspire and benefit from our research and educational programmes.

Overview

Research

Education

Enterprise

Facilities

Audiology at the University of Southampton has a culture of curiosity, creativity and questioning. This has attracted and inspired researchers and students that have transformed the lives of countless people throughout the world for over 40 years. In 2006, this was recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Prize.

Research

Our research recently led to innovative new hearing tests (e.g. the UK and Chinese telephone/internet tests) which will help millions of people to understand their difficulties and seek help when it is likely to be most beneficial. We are pioneering a new approach to encoding speech in cochlear implants (patent pending) which we hope will lead to substantial improvements in how well users can hear in background noise. We recently launched online tools to help people with hearing impairment to train themselves to hear music more clearly.

We also conduct world-leading research into the mechanisms underlying the generation of sound from the ears (‘otoacoustic emissions'), the processes involved in age- and inflammation-related hearing loss, how echoes could be used by blind people to ‘see' (human echolocation) and new diagnostic tests for the balance part of the inner ear (the vestibular apparatus).

Education

We offer under- and post-graduate degrees in audiology. At Southampton, we aim to develop the future leaders of audiology. Our MSci and BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology) are pre-registration programmes for those who have not studied audiology before; the team that lead this have won several teaching awards for innovation

Our MSc Audiology (est. 1972) is suitable for those wishing to develop their careers in audiology as well as for those who wish to enter audiology or hearing science for the first time. We have a thriving doctoral research training programme, with over 20 PhD students. We also run career development programmes, including a professional doctorate and individual Master's-level modules.

Enterprise

We provide diagnostic and rehabilitative services to people with hearing and balance problems via our in-house audiology clinic (set-up over 40 years ago). The University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service was established in 1990. Since then, over 800 severely to profoundly deaf adults and children have obtained a new sensation of hearing with their cochlear implant. The Centre currently carries out over 100 cochlear implant surgeries a year.

We also undertake consulting work, such as assessing new hearing technology including auditory prostheses and hearing protection devices. Our particular expertise is in speech intelligibility, spatial awareness and spatial hearing (including localisation).

Facilities

Our in-house audiology clinic and implant centre mean that our facilities are world class. For example, the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service is based in a £6 million purpose-built facility, which was opened by HRH the Earl of Wessex in 2008. Our research facilities also include equipment for otoacoustic emission and neurophysiology testing and systems for direct cochlear implant stimulation.

Students learn practical skills in the in-house clinic and our audiology skills laboratory, which was also purpose-built and is open access for audiology students. We also benefit from being within the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), Europe's leading centre for research, teaching and consultancy in sound and vibration, which includes three anechoic chambers (one is among the largest in the UK) and a six-axis full-body shaker.

As well as great facilities, staff and students benefit from a creative, friendly, stimulating and supportive environment that is focused on problem solving.

We are a leading centre performing high impact audiological research in order to improve the quality of life of the hearing impaired.

We have one of the largest anechoic chambers four auditory and acoustic research in the UK
Anechoic chamber

We run an audiological clinic for advanced paediatric and adult hearing and balance assessment and we run the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre (SOECIC). The HABC provides the closest proximity of audiological clinics with an audiological research institute within any University in the UK. Our research is funded by a wide range of sources (e.g. EU, EPSRC, BSA, DSTL, MoD, NHS, ONR, Google, Cochlea) and our efforts were recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2005. Highlights of our work in recent years include:

  • Research at the HABC into bilateral cochlear implantation has directly led to policy change in the UK and abroad by citation in the NICE Guidelines and conduction of the National Audit. More than 550 patients have been implanted nationally since the first bilateral implantation in the UK was performed in the HABC in 2009. Our clinical assessment questionnaires have become a standard method in both research and clinical service and have been translated into 13 languages. The two key papers by HABC researchers on Categories of Auditory Performance received more than 180 citations.
  • Research performed at the HABC contributed directly to the implementation of new-born hearing screening programmes (NHSP) in the UK and abroad. Permanent childhood hearing impairment affects more than 1 in 1000 babies, typically adversely affecting the child's neuronal development, language acquisition, and educational outcomes. Its early identification allows for provision of educational support, thereby greatly reducing these effects. Work performed by HABC researchers was essential for implementation. Since implementation, the NHSP has allowed early detection of hearing impairment in over 10,000 babies in the UK. This has led directly to reductions in the age of clinical intervention, with consequent benefits for language development as well as economic savings.
  • Researchers at HABC have developed and evaluated the digit triplet telephone test that is an important tool for ‘Action on Hearing Loss' to educate and inform people about hearing loss. It has been taken more than 500,000 times to date in the UK and is currently adapted in HABC to be used in China and in other countries.

 

Testing hearing
Testing hearing

Our ambition is to improve the quality of life for people with hearing and/or balance problems through world-class research. To realise our ambition, we are committed to: 

  • High-impact research that contributes new and important understanding of hearing and hearing impairment, and relationships with communication and culture, and of the vestibular system, and relationships with balance, co-ordination and vision
  • Develop and evaluate solutions to the challenges faced by people with hearing and balance problems, such as signal processing techniques in hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • Translate the results of our research into applications that benefit society, such as by influencing clinical practice and healthcare service provision and through internationally recognised audiology teaching programmes
  • A work ethic and environment that is creative, collaborative, outward-looking and flexible. 

Our three key research areas are:           

Hearing

Hearing is an intimate sense that allows us to communicate and orient. Hearing is important in the development of language, learning and behaviour. The loss of hearing is a catastrophic event in many people's lives. Research in the HABC strives to understand human hearing better and - crucially - find out where and how it can go wrong. This research will allow us to suggest better therapies for hearing loss in future.

Hearing prostheses

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are incredible important devices for millions of people in the UK. Current technology is good, but not sufficient in many situations. Research in the HABC strives to create new signal processing technology in order to generate the next generation of hearing prosthesis to help more people hear better. Our developments will help hearing impaired people to communicate better in noisy and difficult situations.

Balance

The balance and hearing systems are closely related and pathology of one often affects the other. Research in the HABC strives to understand the pathology of the balance organ better and to develop suitable treatments for dizziness.

 

Our goal at Southampton is to develop the future leaders of audiology by providing an inspiring, challenging and supportive learning environment, helping you to a successful and rewarding career. 

Our integrated, comprehensive and stimulating range of programmes and short courses are designed to meet the diverse learning needs of those wishing to work for the first time, or develop their careers, in audiology and hearing science.

Clinical audiologists evaluate, and help diagnose, hearing and balance disorders and provide appropriate management to improve quality of life, as part of multidisciplinary teams. Continuity of care is important in audiology, and audiologists work closely with patients and their families over weeks and years. Hearing scientists and research audiologists create knowledge and innovations, such as providing the evidence, technologies and strategies required by health services.

Students come to study audiology at Southampton from around the world, including Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, China, Egypt, Ireland, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden and, of course, the UK. We are particularly well known for providing an enthusiastic, stimulating and supportive community, which includes over 15 staff and 120 MSci, BSc, MSc and PhD audiology students.

5 reasons to study with us

1. You will learn from the experts

We have been teaching audiology since 1972.

You will learn from experienced, dedicated and internationally renowned researchers and clinicians in extensive, purpose built facilities.

2. Your talents will be our focus

We are based within a multidisciplinary research institute and engineering context.

You will experience innovative, award-winning approaches to learning, assessment and feedback helping you to reach your potential.

3. You will make a difference

We have an in-house cochlear implant centre with over 600 patients.

You will have an exciting range of opportunities to contribute to patient care and learn from clinical experiences here or in regional audiology services.

4. You will be ready for the future

We are passionate about preparing you to be distinctive and desirable in the job market.

You will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that employers value and that underpin progression into leading roles in healthcare, research and education.

5. You will have a great social experience

We have a vibrant multicultural community in a dynamic city.

You will be studying on the south coast of England with great transport links (including an airport), with beautiful countryside and within easy reach of other major UK and European cities.

Courses offered

We provide a range of routine and specialist clinical services to patients of all ages through our in-house Auditory Implant Service and Audiology Clinic. 

 

AIS clinic
AIS clinic

The Auditory Implant Service (AIS) provides services to severely and profoundly hearing-impaired patients using cochlear implants. Since the programme began in 1990, more than 800 people have benefited from receiving a cochlear implant. 

The Audiology Clinic provides the following specialist diagnostic and rehabilitative audio-vestibular services to patients of all ages, receiving referrals from the independent (private) sector:

  • Comprehensive vestibular assessment (including VNG and posturography)
  • Paediatric and adult hearing assessment
  • A specific service for auditory processing disorder (APD)
  • Vestibular rehabilitation
  • Tinnitus counselling and rehabilitation
  • Medico-legal work (carried out by Professor Mark Lutman).

Charges vary depending on the type of treatment undertaken; please contact us for further information. All patients must be referred by a medical professional and referrals should be marked for the attention of the Clinic Manager. As we are a centre for teaching, a postgraduate student in Audiology supervised by a qualified member of staff may be involved in your visit.

The Hearing and Balance Centre contains some of the best facilities for acoustic and audiology research in the UK, including:

  • A number of anechoic chambers and sound-treated rooms for paediatric and adult hearing assessment
  • Facilities for advanced investigations into vestibular function and balance, including vestibular evoked myogenic responses, video-nystagmography and posturography
  • Facilities for complex electrophysiological assessment of hearing and brain function
  • Systems for direct cochlear implant stimulation (unilaterally and bilaterally).
  • Our purpose-built practical skills laboratory contains an extensive range of standard and specialist audiological equipment, which is open access to our students.
  • The Audiology Clinic provides a range of specialist diagnostic and rehabilitative audio-vestibular services to patients of all ages, and receive referrals from the independent sector. 

The University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service was established in 1990 to help severely and profoundly deaf adults and children. Since the programme began, we have implanted more than 800 devices. The Centre is currently supporting around 650 adults and children, and over 140 of these are using 2 implants.

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