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AUDI1013 Introduction to Hearing Science and Technology

Module Overview

This module provides you with a deep understanding of the fundamental science and technology underlying clinical hearing assessment and rehabilitation. It will include a foundation in the epidemiology of hearing loss, the biology of the hearing system, the psychology of sound perception, the physics of sound, the principles of hearing technology and how those areas inter-relate. These subjects will be taught with a strong emphasis on their relevance to audiological assessment and rehabilitation. No assumptions are made about your background in these except that you completed maths and science at GCSE level or equivalent. This module works closely with Biopsychosocial Basis of Audiology, which provides you with a more general introduction to neurobiology, psychology and other relevant themes. This module also works with Biopsychosocial Basis of Audiology to provide you with a series of sessions on academic skills across the year in order to support you make the transition to undergraduate study in a scientific discipline.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce you to the epidemiology of hearing loss, the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system and changes in the biology associated with audiological health conditions. • Introduce you to fundamental physical and mathematical principles, with particular relevance to auditory function and assessment • Introduce the principles of vibratory motion, simple and complex signals and time- and frequency-domain representations • Explain correct usage of relevant physical terms and quantities • Enable you to develop your understanding and skills in the operation and calibration of instrumentation relevant to the human auditory system and according to recognised standards • Introduce you to those aspects of sound perception relevant to audiological assessment and rehabilitation. • Introduce you to the principles, components and operation of hearing devices. • Provide examples that link the material in this module to other programme modules • Enable you to develop your academic skills such as scientific writing, problem-solving under time constraints, academic integrity, referencing, and critically evaluating information from books, web-based learning and relevant scientific literature.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • A. Describe the anatomy and physiology of the normally functioning and impaired auditory systems.
  • B. Describe basic physical and mathematical principles relating to the representation and analysis of signals used in audiological assessment and rehabilitation.
  • C. Explain (i) key processes involved in hearing (e.g. signal detection, frequency resolution, loudness, and binaural hearing), (ii) how these are affected by different forms of auditory dysfunction and hearing impairment, (iii) key psychoacoustic methods used to explore hearing and the effects hearing loss.
  • D. Describe the basic components and operation of hearing technology and explain how they are intended to address the effects of hearing impairment


Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology • Introduction to epidemiology of hearing loss • The anatomy and physiology of the normally functioning and impaired auditory system • Pathophysiology of outer and inner hair cell loss Physical acoustics relevant to audiology • Fundamental and derived physical quantities and their units • Simple and complex vibratory motion including pure tones, noise and speech • Units of intensity, frequency and time; power and intensity, the decibel (logarithms) • Signals and noise in relation to signal detection, speech perception, and rehabilitation. • Transmission and propagation of sound • Basic manipulation of sounds, including attenuation, amplification and filtering • Introduction to calibration • Time and frequency domain representation, and frequency response functions in the context of hearing devices • Linearity and nonlinearity, distortion in relation to physiology, sound perception and hearing aid technology Auditory perception: background to hearing loss and clinical audiology techniques • Classical and modern psychoacoustic methods, including threshold measurement of auditory signals, psychometric functions and subjective scaling techniques • Hearing acuity (e.g. absolute thresholds, signal detection, effects of hearing loss, dead regions), with links made to hearing technology features (e.g. amplification, frequency compression, assisted listening devices) • Supra-threshold aspects of hearing (e.g. loudness, pitch, masking, frequency resolution, temporal resolution, differential thresholds and effects of hearing loss), with links made to hearing device features (amplitude compression, directional microphones, assisted listening devices) • Speech intelligibility, effects of hearing loss and inter-relationships amongst abovementioned measures of hearing function • Binaural hearing and effects of hearing loss, with links made to hearing device features (e.g. bilateral technology, contralateral routing of signals) • Introduction to additional approaches to hearing science including imaging Hearing technology • Classification of hearing technology relevant to hearing loss and audiology • Introduction to hearing technology components and operation • Introduction to sound processing in hearing technology, including analogue-to-digital conversion and digital representation, filtering, amplitude compression, electroacoustic characteristics and standards • Rationale for different hearing technology based on physiology and psychoacoustics of hearing loss • Introduction to technology of the future

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Lectures and seminars in a formal classroom setting. During these lectures there may be small group work. • Practical sessions and demonstrations • Quizzes and other formative assignments (which do not count to your module mark) • Working in your own time and in timetabled independent learning sessions. You are expected to read supporting texts outlined in the book list and make reference to appropriate academic journals in order to support lectures. • A formative counterpart to the summative assessment • Tutorials or meetings with the module staff on request

Wider reading or practice60
Completion of assessment task50
Follow-up work70
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Gelfand SA (2009). Hearing: An Introduction to Psychological and Physiological Acoustics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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