Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

ISVR1032 Acoustics 1

Module Overview

As an Acoustical Engineer you will need to be able to: 1. Understand the physics of sound and vibration 2. Understand the effects sound and vibration have on people 3. Design systems that control sound and/or vibration 4. Design systems that use sound and/or vibration to benefit people as well as having all the other skills an Engineer needs. This module is the first step in addressing the first two of these requirements for sound. The first part of the Module introduces the way we hear and respond to sound, the way we use specialized equipment to quantify and measure sounds, and the relationship between those measures and human responses to the sounds they measure. The second part of the module introduces the physics of sound with a combination of practical experimentation, numerical computation and mathematical analysis. Basic examples such as stretched string vibrations, open and closed tubes, and moving sources are studied to provide a solid foundation of acoustical understanding in preparation for subsequent modules.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Identify the parts of the outer, middle and inner ear explaining their role
  • Describe what governs or affects the hearing of an individual.
  • Explain the role of the two ears in distinguishing the direction of an acoustic source. Convert noise levels into dB and linear levels, combining noise sources either coherent or incoherent.
  • Be able to convert narrowband data into third and octave band levels either with linear or A weighting.
  • Describe the physical principles for simple transducers and explain what governs their frequency response and which type is appropriate for different acoustic applications.
  • Explain the meaning of common terms in wave mechanics, such as wavelength, wavenumber, wave speed, diffraction, reflection, dispersion etc. and give examples of how they apply to sound
  • Relate the speed of sound in a fluid to its physical properties.
  • Derive the one-dimensional wave equation for both a stretched string and a fluid-filled pipe and explain the assumptions necessary to do so.
  • Demonstrate (by means of a computer programme where appropriate): standing waves, interference fields, and other wave phenomena.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Information handling
  • Written communication
  • Numeracy and manipulating data
  • Being an independent learner
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out calculations relating to acoustic predictions.
  • Use a sound level meter and be able to measure sound pressure levels which are calibrated and repeatable, with awareness of the uncertainty and factors that might affect the measurements
  • Undertake simple acoustic measurements on one dimensional acoustic phenomena.
  • Collate experimental data.
  • Manipulate experimental data in order to draw specific conclusions.
  • Set up simple acoustical problems in numerical software and interpret the solutions.
  • Write computer programs to visualise and interrogate analytic solutions to acoustical problems


Sound Perception 1. Introduction to Acosutics and Sound Perception 2. The human auditory system and the functioning of the component parts 3. Acoustic metrics and their uses for quantifying sound objectively and subjectively Physical Acoustics 1. Introduction to Waves 2. Sound Waves in Fluids 3. Acoustic Plane Waves 4. Sound propagation, reflection, transmission, refraction and absorption

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered using a combination of lectures and tutorials to cover the application of the material to set questions. One acoustic laboratory demonstrating the physical principles and requiring measurements, data analysis and a written report is included in the teaching and learning experience. A formative competence exercise, using a sound level meter and various acoustic sources, transducers and spaces will be scheduled during the academic year.

Practical classes and workshops6
Completion of assessment task15
Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Wider reading or practice23
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

The learning outcomes of this module will be assessed under the Part I Assessment Schedule for FEE Engineering programmes which forms an Appendix to your Programme Specification. Feedback will be available on the formative work undertaken during the module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Part I Assessment Schedule 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

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.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students may wish to purchase. at their own cost, one or both of the recommended course texts, but this is optional. There are multiple copies of the texts available via the ISVR and Hartley library. (books)

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

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings