Designing Audio Experiences: Art, Science and Production MA

London, Stratford (UCL East)

This MA aims to develop a novel type of professional – the scientifically informed, creative, audio designer. There is currently a lack of personnel with this interdisciplinary profile in the emerging sound industries. You will build your skills in a environment where you have regular contact with leading practitioners, culminating in a graduate project mentored by industry professionals.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
£19,300
£9,650
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
£34,400
£17,200
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 05 Apr 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

We seek students who can show evidence of active engagement with visual or audio storytelling in previous work or study experience. We require a portfolio of work to support all applications. This should consist of one piece of creative work including (but not limited to) audio production/ filmmaking / installation of no more than 20 minutes duration. We also accept writing, painting, photography, music composition, or theatre. For those with a performing arts background, evidence of productions such as photos or reviews can be submitted in place of portfolio works.

We normally require an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants with lower second class degrees (i.e. UK 2:2 or the overseas equivalent) may be considered if their application is supported strongly by relevant experience. In exceptional circumstances, we will also consider applicants without higher education qualifications provided they demonstrate a significant track record in this or a related field.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

This practice-based MA will create highly trained individuals who understand how humans make sense of the world through sound and can apply that knowledge, along with specialist technical spatial audio skills, to create compelling, convincing audio experiences for diverse audiences and contexts.  

We constantly hear sound, our ears never close. How do we use sound in our daily lives? What role does sound play in establishing the nature of the environment that we feel we are in? How does audio experience impact our emotions?

This degree will explore many aspects of sound, including its propagation and perception (sound in mechanical and psychoacoustic terms), the role it plays in human development (within a lifetime and across cultures), audio storytelling techniques (critically engaging with different media forms), soundscape composition and sonic anthropology, aesthetic principles of sound from stereo to future formats, virtual and real sonic spaces, accessibility in audio experiences, sound for moving image, sound in dynamic and experimental experiences, and sound in material environments (considering architecture, different venues and impact on wellness).  

This course is the first of its kind, and unique in the world. It will develop both your artistic capacities, and your technical abilities, enabling you to produce ambitious, immersive audio experiences, whilst giving you the confidence to work in diverse teams and situations.

Since, like other media-oriented programmes run by the Anthropology department, this programme involves constant interaction with members of the public, ethical considerations form a central part of our work. We aim to develop your appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in the context of immersive audio work.  

With the rapid expansion of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality (XR), and ubiquitous headphone use, there are more and more opportunities for delivering and experiencing immersive audio. This degree will equip you with the necessary expertise in spatial audio technologies such as binaural, ambisonics, next generation audio CODECs and VBAP. You will learn the features and creative approaches that differentiate spatial audio approaches from more traditional audio workflows using industry-leading hardware and software.

As this course will be embedded within an Anthropology department, rather than a Music or traditional audio-engineering context, it offers an alternative form of engagement to existing MAs in Sonic Arts, experience and design. You will be expected to think critically about the role of sound across cultures and develop a multi-disciplinary approach. This will develop your artistic, personal interpretation of sound and soundscapes and you’ll be able to apply that to ambitious works that have the audience at their core.

Who this course is for

This programme is best suited to students wanting to develop their immersive audio experience design in a professional framework, guided by leading industry figures and informed by innovative and scientific approaches to immersive audio storytelling.

What this course will give you

Learning about audio experience design in an anthropological setting provides many opportunities for cross-disciplinary research and creativity. Public Anthropology at UCL is an environment where industry and academia intersect. Along with learning audio storytelling and technical experience design skills, students can explore anthropological methods and ideas leading up to creating an ambitious practical work, mentored by leading factual audio storytellers.  

UCL Anthropology ranks fourth in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, making it the top ranked institution in London, and third in the UK and Europe for the subject.

This programme is based at our brand new UCL East campus in East London, forming part of the School for Creative and Cultural Industries. Students will benefit from cultural and educational connections with our East Bank partners such as the V&A and BBC Music, as well as state-of-the-art facilities including media studios, exhibition, performance and curating spaces, and a 160-seater surround-sound cinema. Students will have the opportunity to engage with local communities in East London to co-create and exhibit audio experience works.

The foundation of your career

As this is a new degree there are no alumni yet. The programme provides you with the research, pre-production, production, ethical training, editing and delivery skills required for an audio experience designer or producer, as well as challenging and developing your spatial audio ideas.

Employability

By developing skills in 3D sound design, ethics and storytelling, and working with leading industry figures, you’ll be equipped for careers in immersive audio, VR, MR, theatre, installation and others, where there is currently a lack of personnel with this interdisciplinary background. You’ll also learn problem solving, teamwork and how to take creative initiative.

Networking

We have links with a both small-scale and international partners, with whom you will interact. During the year we will host industry speakers and practitioners at UCL East, and will visit audio specialist partners in London. We will also participate in festivals and events in London and beyond, to help you establish industry connections and extend your networks. These are great opportunities which highlight the ecosystems of people and roles in the world of sound, particularly spatial sound.

Teaching and learning

You’ll learn through lectures, tutorials, personal listening, supplementary reading, critical discussions and fast-turnaround practical exercises. The Advanced Design of Audio Experiences module will be delivered primarily through supervised project work. Across the programme you will spend a minimum of six hours each week completing recording and editing exercises, building up a portfolio of work.

You will be assessed on the creation of your practical audio experiences of varying lengths and styles, accompanying written critical evaluations and pre-production folders.

There will be approximately 320 hours in the classroom (in seminars, lab work, lectures) and around 600 hours of guided independent study along with one-to-one time with tutors and mentors.

Modules

The programme comprises three compulsory modules and one optional module chosen from a list of options offered by the department.

In the first and second term, the modules Introduction to Designing Audio Experiences: Art and Science and Sonic Experience Production will provide the practical training and teaching you need to prepare you to design and produce engaging story-based immersive audio experiences using relevant technology.

In the third term, to be completed over the summer, the module Advanced Design of Audio Experiences enables you to apply your learning to design and produce ambitious audio experiences. This will help to build your experience in advanced level immersive audio storytelling and design, preparing you for professional work in the industry. You will also produce an extended written work, critically evaluating your work and how it contributes to the field of immersive audio storytelling.

As a part-time student you will complete the compulsory modules Introduction to Designing Audio Experiences: Art and Science, and Sonic Experience Production in the first year (and probably also take your optional module). In the second year you will take the compulsory module Advanced Design of Audio Experiences (and your optional module if you did not take it in the first year).

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Designing Audio Experiences: Art, Science and Production.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

UCL East Marshgate E20 2AE - Open day

UCL East Graduate Open Evening

Discover our range of practice-based, postgraduate programmes and cutting-edge facilities at our UCL East Postgraduate Open Evening. Visit us for your chance to learn more about the future-focused, interdisciplinary degrees we offer and to meet leading researchers delivering our programmes and interact with current UCL students.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £19,300 £9,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400 £17,200

Additional costs

Students are expected to complete their coursework on campus, as the computers on site are equipped to support video editing.

As the programme is based at the UCL East campus in Stratford, students will need to fund their own travel between the Bloomsbury and UCL East campuses if they choose to take an optional module available only at Bloomsbury.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL East London Scholarship

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study designing audio experiences at graduate level
  • why you want to study audio experience design at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment and this programme in particular
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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