If you love sound and the creation of it, the MMus Sonic Arts takes this concept into a fully-fledged discipline. Sound is much more than music. It is all around us in nature, acoustic effects, electronic noise, imitation and media. These can all be manipulated and crafted to engage with your audience. The MMus Sonic Arts at the University of Aberdeen develops your knowledge of sonic arts and sound technology, to build a strong portfolio towards your ideal career.
This programme is studied on campus.
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.
Key Programme Information
At a Glance
- Learning Mode
- On Campus Learning
- Degree Qualification
- 12 months or 24 months
- Study Mode
- Full Time or Part Time
- Start Month
What You'll Study
- Semester 1
- A Survey of Sonic Arts: History, Theory and Practice (MU5009) - 30 Credit Points
Students will be exposed to and learn about the history and development of the sonic arts through six key themes, each of which will be delivered through one two-hour lecture and one three-hour seminar. The six key themes will be drawn from a pool of themes which will reflect the learning interests of the cohort of students. These might include areas such as Early Development of Electronic Instruments, Computer Music, Acousmatic Music, Listening, Sound as Art, Spatialisation, Space and Place and Networked Music
Plus, select one of the following courses or any other MLitt course agreed by the programme coordinator.
- Renaissance Counterpoint (MU5007) - 30 Credit Points
This course is intended both for those interested in Renaissance music and for composition students who wish to explore the many possibilities of musical invention within a very controlled compositional environment. To acquire the basic tools of Renaissance composition, students progress through counterpoint exercises in two and three voices. Through more advanced exercises in motivic placement, canon, invertible counterpoint, and the fundamentals of improvised counterpoint, students learn to structure a complete composition, culminating in a motet for three voices. In addition, works are studied through analysis of compositions.
- Vocalstration (MU5008) - 30 Credit Points
This course is designed to encourage composers and performers to engage with the ‘orchestrational’ aspects of composing for choir, with particular emphasis upon each section of the choir, its characteristics, compass and blend, and how each part relates to the whole; creating chords that utilise the choir fully, blending choral chords, voice-leading, structuring choral music; the joys and problems when composing for choir with accompaniment (piano, organ & orchestra) and arranging for the voice.
- Current Issues in Music Education (MU5015) - 30 Credit Points
In this course students will have an opportunity to engage with some current issues and practical challenges concerning music education in Scotland. It will examine a variety of topical and sometimes contentious issues and practical challenges concerning, for example, music in the Curriculum for Excellence, the role and status of instrumental music and extra-curricular music and composition.
- Contemporary Issues in Aesthetics (MU5016) - 30 Credit Points
This course will introduce students to the work of key contemporary texts in aesthetics relating to music and the other arts. Texts will be studied, discussed and related to one another. While selected texts will vary from year to year, readings will be taken from writers such as Adorno, Badiou, Benjamin, Barthes, Bloch, Boulez, Deleuze (and Guattari), Dahlhaus, Derrida, Dufrenne, Eco, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Jameson, Jencks, Lachenmann, Lyotard, Nancy, Nietzsche, Rancière, Rihm, Sartre, Schoenberg, Serres, Sloterdijk, Spivak, Stockhausen, Vattimo, Wittgenstein, Zizek.
Examples of issues and questions that may be covered include the nature of modernity, post-modernity more idiosyncratic variable theorisations of recent aesthetic history; the nature and purpose of the contemporary artwork; the beautiful and the sublime; relationships between the arts; the materiality of contemporary art forms; musique informelle.
- Introduction to Visual Culture and Theory (FS5017) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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.
- Northern Worlds (AY5001) - 30 Credit Points
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
- Roads: Mobility, Movement, Migration (Extended) (AT5039)
- Creative Coding and Technology (MU5010) - 30 Credit Points
Practical and studio-based classes will offer a technical overview of creative coding and relevant technologies, such as Processing, a Java-based programming language and IDE built for image creation, manipulation, and interaction, and Pd (Pure Data), a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. Furthermore, it introduces practical knowledge in physical computing using various micro-controllers Running concurrently, seminar-based classes will encourage students to form critical views of the recent and current sonic arts practice.
- Composing with Sound (MU5011) - 30 Credit Points
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.
- Semester 2
Select one or two of the following courses:
- Sound Design for New Media (MU5509) - 30 Credit Points
This course introduces theoretical and practical aspects of sound design in a wide range of media, inclunding film, TV series, games and interactive platforms. Along with an in-depth analysis of sound design in films and TV series, such as Mirror by Tarkovsky, Gravity by Cuarón, and Weekend by Godard among others, students will acquire practical tools, technologies, and methodologies to create sound design for film and fixed media. Students are also introduced to Unity and FMOD, a game sound design framework used by AAA games, and encourage them to explore possibilites of sound design with new technologies.
Select further courses from the following, or any other MLitt courses agreed by the programme coordinator, to make up 60 credits in total:
- Words and Music (MU5503) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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.
- Sacred Music from Italy in the Eighteenth Century (MU5505)
- Enhanced Practice in Music Teaching and Learning (MU5515) - 30 Credit Points
This course provides opportunities for students to explore and critically assess a number of approaches to musical learning and the educational theories which underpin them. Participants will evaluate and apply these to their own practice settings, critically discussing issues and debates which may arise form the application of theory to practice. Students will carry out a comparitive study set in their own music education context, applying theory to practice.
- On Documentary: History, Theory and Practice (FS5521) - 30 Credit Points
This course will explore the history of the documentary film and theoretical approaches for interpreting its context, allowing students to engage in production by putting into practice methodologies they have studied through a series of seminar discussions, workshops and screenings. Students will work in teams to research and video a project, utilizing the Media Lab’s facilities to complete the work through post-production.
- Locations and Dislocations: the Role of Place in Literature (EL5590) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
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) - 30 Credit Points
- Semester 3
- Research Project in Sonic Arts (MU5901) - 60 Credit Points
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.
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.
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.
The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.
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.
Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.
English Language Requirements
To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:
OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0
OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21
OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 54; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54
Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:
OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169
You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.
- Degree Transcript
- a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
- Personal Statement
- a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
- a reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employer, or another professional person
- Research Proposal
Fees and Funding
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
|Home / EU / RUK Students||£6,700|
|Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year|
|Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year|
International non-EU Applicants
- In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. 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.
The SFC Postgraduate tuition fee scholarship may be available for those classified as Home/EU fee status students for this programme. Visit the scholarship page for more information.
The James Carnegie maintenance scholarship for postgraduate students is available with this degree.
Our Funding Database
View all funding options in our Funding Database.
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.
- Programme Coordinator
- Dr Suk-Jun Kim
Information About Staff Changes
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.
Get in Touch
School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture
University of Aberdeen