Sonic Arts MMus

Sonic Arts, MMus


If you love sound and the creation of it, Sonic Arts takes this concept into a fully fledged discipline in its own right. Sound isn't just used in music, it can be nature, accoustic effects, electronic noise, imitation and media. In arts terms, you have all of these methods which you can create many techniques with to engage with your audience. Aberdeen develops your knowledge of sonic arts and sound technology to build a strong portfolio towards your ideal career area.

Key Facts

1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time / Part Time
Start Month
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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Emphasising both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in sonic arts and sound technology, the Masters Degree programme in Sonic Arts is designed to expose students to the widest range of employment opportunities and advancement to related academic and research fields. It is intended for students coming from diverse backgrounds in one or more of the following: music, computing science, informatics, visual art, performance, theatre, media studies and film.

The MMus in Sonic Arts prepares students for careers in creative industries and artistic, commercial and academic research where creative approaches to sound are in demand. The programme offers not only a comprehensive overview of sonic arts from historical and theoretical viewpoints, but also hands-on, practical and skills-based core courses that can help students design and realise original sound projects throughout the programme and build a strong portfolio as a sound artist.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MMus programme which runs in September.

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Composing with Sound (MU5011)

Students will be expected to listen to, analyse and critique a prescribed list of electroacoustic compositions as well as demonstrating how this informs their own practice in one to one composition tutorials. Bi-weekly composition seminars will allow students to discuss their own work within the context of that of pioneers and established composers in a variety of genres drawn from electroacoustic music and sound art.

Optional Courses

Elective Courses

Music Research Seminar Series (MU5004)

This course provides students with an applied understanding of advanced research skills relevant to all three sub-disciplines (i.e., composition, performance and musicology) and highlights the interrelationships between them. Students will engage directly with current issues in music research, experiencing different methods of dissemination of research through attendance at Research Seminars. These seminars are a forum for both external and internal speakers to present aspects of recent research undertaken. Students will carry out research for their own seminar (with accompanying written paper), based on a topic of interest to them.

Introduction to Visual Culture and Theory (FS5017)

This course will begin by taking a historical perspective to discuss some of the key interventions which have helped define visual culture as a field of enquiry, including work by Benjamin, Barthes, Burgin, Mitchell and Rosler among others. It will move on to explore some key theoretical concepts and paradigms, such as authorship, spectatorship, materiality, semiotics, digital culture and the archive.

Art and Business (HA5032)

This course, which combines theoretical learning with a hands-on approach, exposes you to the realities of the art market and financial aspects of art dealing and heritage conservation. You will engage with professionals in the field who explain the reality of running an art business, including different types of gallery, an auction house, an historic venue, and an individual artist. The role of art as a major economic and social catalyst is explored through various regeneration schemes. There will be onsite visits to galleries and auctions, during which you will interview key practitioners in the field. Download course guide.

The Museum Idea (AT5026)

‘The Museum Idea’ course introduces Museum Studies, focusing on the history and philosophy of museums and collecting, relating this to contemporary museum practice. It is a taught by a team of academic staff in disciplines such as Anthropology, Archaeology, Education and History of Art, and the professional staff of the University’s museums. Many class meetings will be held in the University’s museums, including display areas, conservation laboratory and reserve collections and reserve collections, with a field trip to museums in another city in Scotland.

Northern Worlds (AY5001)

In a series of research-led lectures and seminars, students investigate what characterises the Archaeology of the North from environmental, socio-cultural, and ideological aspects. We examine several inter-locking themes, from the first colonisations of the North tracing how these earlier populations established the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity that define later periods. Students will be introduced to the ecological characteristics of higher latitudes, and examine the diverse ways in which communities have made the Northern World their home. We also examine how human communities have responded to climate changes in the past, resilience and adaptation, technology, and spirituality amongst Northern peoples

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

At least one of the following:

Electroacoustic Composition: the Voice and the Machine (MU5506)

Seminar-based classes will provide an historical overview of electroacoustic music that utilises the voice as sound object. The theme of each seminar, focused each week around a different aspect of the voice and technology, will provide the theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic basis for practical applications, focusing on particular cultural and aesthetic issues that concern the mediated voice in recorded sound. Running concurrently, practical, studio-based classes will provide a technical overview of software applications and of sound recording techniques, particularly looking at the way the voice is rendered, represented or transposed through the electronic medium.

Sound Design for New Media (MU5509)

This course will explore theoretical and practical aspects of sound design in a wide range of film and media, particularly focusing on new media, such as games and interactive platforms.

Optional Courses

Words and Music (MU5503)

This course aims to explore the link between words and music and how composers set various texts through many and varied genres, including eastern music, western music and popular music, and nonsense texts. Intended primarily for composers, this course would also be of interest to singers, conductors and musicologists with an interest in text-setting. Word-painting, structural design and poetic understanding will all be explored.

Contemporary European Opera (MU5504)

In the mid-twentieth century, it seemed that opera was a dying art form, surviving at best on the back of a canon of great historical works. While its future prospects looked bleak, the composition of over 150 new operas in the period between 1978 and 2003 marked a perhaps unexpected renaissance of the genre. Students on this course will study the factors which led to the resurgence of operatic/music theatre composition in Europe. A range of key operatic/music theatre works by composers from France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom will be considered from a number of points of view.

Locations and Dislocations: the Role of Place in Literature (EL5590)

This course examines the social, political and cultural construction of place in literary texts. The imaginative co-ordinates of places such as ‘Scotland’, or ‘England’ exist in a constant state of flux, refusing to yield an essential, authentic image. Using core texts from the early modern period paired with more recent literary responses we explore the idea of place in its various forms. Key themes and issues to be discussed will include the rural and urban divide; literature and nationhood; the nature of community; the significance of emigration, and displacement; walking texts, metropolitan literature, and ideas of the “new world”

Curating an Exhibition (AT5508)

The ‘Curating an Exhibition’ course leads to the creation and opening of the summer exhibition in King’s Museum. Working together as a team, each student also takes on a specific role, including research, writing, design, installation, events management and marketing, working closely with the relevant members of museum staff. The course makes extensive use of the University’s internationally-important museum collections and gives students an opportunity to reflect on an important aspect of museum practice.

Developing A Theory of Practice: Learning and Museums (ED553E)

This course will focus on the theoretical and professional issues relating to learning and museums, including informal and formal learning, professional identity, regulatory and curriculum contexts, relationships between community and professional providers and social inclusion. Alongside seminars, normally held in the University’s museums, tutor-directed activities will include visits and observation of learning activities in local museums and similar organisations.

The course is intended to enable participants to reflect on current provision and practice in relation to learning in museums through critical consideration of current constructions and understandings of the ways in which museums are sites of learning for visitors.

Northern Peoples and Cultures (AY5501)

In a series of text based student-led seminars we study past Northern Peoples and Cultures through key topical debates, characteristic for different cultural regions and time periods. In the seminars students examine a range of northern contexts, from prehistory to more recent times all over the Circumpolar North. Students encounter topics as versatile as animal domestication in Northern Eurasia, Scandinavian Vikings, and Colonial North America illustrating the diversity of life and thought in Northern communities. Each seminar will also explore how particular key issues have become central to the ‘identity’ of archaeological research in the respective areas

Roads: Mobility, Movement, Migration (extended) (AT5539)

The course explores concepts related to notions of movement and mobility, topical themes in contemporary anthropology. Students will be introduced to the following themes: roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature. The course will rely on ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland. Students will conduct original research on the theme of road. Course assessments include an essay and short submissions on topical issues related to roads and mobility. This course offers five documentary film screenings.

Cultural Property Issues: Law, Art, and Museums (LS55UU)

Taught by museum and law academics, this course will examine cultural property issues such as treasure trove, looting and repatriation, forgery, sacred and street art, and the derogatory treatment of art. Objects from the University Museum and collections worldwide will be drawn on to illustrate aspects of the course. Museum practice and operational experience will also inform certain aspects. Students will be encouraged to explore and develop their own ideas. Facilitating this, the course will include a programme of case studies and/or issue papers to be presented by students for class discussion.

Oral Traditions (EF5501)


Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Research Project in Sonic Arts (MU5901)

The course will be delivered through one-to-one supervisory meetings held at fortnightly intervals during the second semester. Following successful review of the progress of the proposed research project, the students will continue working on the project until the final performance in September. There will also be a full-day introductory session in January where students will pitch their research proposal to the teaching staff and students. There will be another day in September, which will incorporate a final performance.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Classes are taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials. A main focus of the MMus in Sonic Arts is to help students develop advanced knowledge and skills to design and realise original and novel sound-based projects and to build a strong portfolio as a sound artist.

MMus in Sonic Arts students will be members of SERG (Sound Emporium Research Group), an active sonic arts research group at the university. Based on its research theme, New Approaches to Sound and Place, SERG members work on various inter- and cross-disciplinary research and artistic projects. Most MMus in sonic arts students also participate in Aberdeen University’s live coding performance group, Shift-Enter, who performs regularly in university concert series and other festivals in and outwith Aberdeen. Thanks to the close relationship that the music department has with sonADA and Sound Festival, MMus in Sonic Arts students will have access to a wide range of opportunities working with the festival as sound artists, performers, programme coordinators and technical assistants.

The programme utilises the active collaborative relationship that the teaching team has with Aberdeen City Council’s various Creative Learning and Cultural Partnership departments and provides students with various opportunities to showcase their work in and around Aberdeen.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars


Both formative and summative assessments are made in all core courses of the programme. The formative assessments may include in-class presentations, journals, analyses, essays and small in-class and take-home assignments whereas the summative assessments may include mid-term and final projects.

Why Study Sonic Arts?

  • The programme prepares you for careers in creative industries and artistic , commercial and academic research.
  • You enjoy a comprehensive overview of sonic arts from historical and theoretical viewpoints.
  • You gain practice and skills based knowledge and experience to help you build a strong portfolio.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition fee for main award £6,000
International Students Tuition fee for main award £14,300
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Entry Requirements

In addition to these University requirements, each application must be accompanied by the following:

  • Contact details for two referees (not required for students and alumni of the University of Aberdeen).
  • A short statement (1000 words) reflecting the applicant's interest in sonic arts, their technical background, and a proposal for the Final Project.
  • Two pieces of creative work, such as compositions, creative writing, video clips of performance, visual work (2D or 3D, moving or non-moving), sound art and installation work, computer applications, or sound design portfolio for films, videos or games.


Candidates must normally possess a good second-class Honours degree (or its equivalent) in a subject of relevance to Sonic Arts (such as Music, Computer Science, Fine Arts, Media Studies, Theatre Studies, Performance, Film) or at a level deemed equivalent.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • Research Proposal
  • Referencea reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability
  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)


Studying for an MMus in Sonic Arts at the University of Aberdeen will assist students in developing the core skills and employment-related experiences that are valued by employers and professional organisations.

Graduates in Sonic Arts will be able to seek employment in creative industries, such as film and multimedia sectors, computer games and programming, broadcasting, theatre, education and other areas of the music, sound and entertainment business. Besides these established areas, there is enormous growth in new 'creative industries' in making audio content for computer software, gaming, websites, and other areas of the new media industry.

This taught postgraduate programme in Sonic Arts has equal emphasis on promoting students’ creative research and further education in academia. The curriculum of the Sonic Arts programme is designed to help students cultivate theoretical and practical knowledge that can lead to the successful advancement into a PhD programme in Sonic Arts.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Suk-Jun Kim

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen
King's College


AB24 3UB
+44 (0)1224 272625
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