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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Postgraduate Course: Acoustics (Level 11) (MUSI11076)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAcoustics is the scientific study of sound, including its production, control, transmission, and reception. In this course you will survey, at a fundamental and mathematical level, a range of canonical systems of relevance in musical, architectural, and engineering acoustics. You will also learn to make, analyse, and evaluate measurements of acoustical systems, and mindfully integrate these within the context of a short project.
Course description Morse says in the book "Vibration and Sound" (1948, p.20) that 'The whole study of sound is a study of vibrations'. In this course you will discover why this is such a salient statement, and how a fundamental understanding of sound, based upon acoustical analysis, can lend insight into the design and function of physical and virtual musical instruments, concert halls, loudspeakers and microphones, the human ear, audio/video conferencing and virtual reality tools, cochlear implants and hearing aids, and a host of other interesting systems.

In technical terms, "acoustics" concerns the generation, transmission, and reception of energy in the form of vibrational waves in matter. We often refer to such waves as "sound", particularly when, as in many musical and engineering applications, we are concerned with their behaviour in air and at frequencies audible to humans.

This course surveys a range of fundamental and canonical acoustical systems of relevance in musical, architectural, and engineering acoustics, such as lumped elements, strings, bars, membranes, and acoustic tubes. The focus is on developing your technical knowledge and experience, allowing you to solve problems, develop ideas, and build connections with other disciplines such as audio programming, sound synthesis, data analysis, and design engineering.

The course is split into two parts. In Part A (approximately the first 2/3 of the course) you will explore acoustics at a fundamental, mathematical level through lectures, tutorials, and coursework. In Part B (final 1/3 of the course) you will engage in project work, employing acoustical measurement and analysis tools, such as (but not limited to) loudspeakers and microphones, to apply, analyse, and contextualise your knowledge of acoustics in real-world applications. The teaching activity pattern typically involves 4 hours of contact time per week, split across lectures, tutorials, and workshops.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Acoustics (Level 10) (MUSI10118)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 16, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 21, Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 30 %, Coursework 70 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Component 1 (35% of course mark): Acoustics problem sets [coursework assessment; submissions due during first half of the course]

You will be asked to work through mathematically based problems involving acoustical systems; you will solve these problems using the concepts explored and skills developed during Part A of the course. This component addresses Learning Outcomes 1, 2, and 3.

Component 2 (30% of course mark): Acoustics class exam [examined assessment (not centrally timetabled); takes place at the end of Part A of the course]

You will be asked to work through a small number of mathematically based problems involving acoustical systems, in the context of a time-limited open book class exam. The problems will address material explored in Part A of the course. This component addresses Learning Outcomes 1, 2, and 3.

Component 3 (35% of course mark): Acoustics project [coursework assessment; takes place at the end of Part B of the course]

You will carry out a quantitative, measurement-based evaluation of an acoustical system, within a project-based framework. The project brief, which incorporates a group working component, will be set by the Course Organiser, and based upon material covered in Part B of the course; a typical topic is architectural acoustics. Your work will be individually written up as a short report (circa 2000 words), including images, schematics, results figures and graphs, computer code, and any other relevant supporting material. This component addresses Learning Outcomes 4 and 5.
Feedback Formative feedback

You will receive verbal formative feedback (from both staff and your peers) throughout the course during tutorials, in response to the formative tasks used during tutorials. In addition, feedback provided in relation to summative assessments (see below) also plays a formative/feedforward role throughout the course in helping you to improve remaining summative assessments.

Summative feedback

You will receive feedback on all summative coursework assessments in the form of brief written comments, and through summary written and verbal comments shared with the whole class. Summative feedback will be provided in accordance with standard University timescales.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Derive equations describing the behaviour of canonical acoustical systems, such as oscillators, strings, membranes, and acoustic tubes, showing critical awareness of the underlying approximations and limitations.
  2. Use boundary and/or initial conditions to solve problems involving the propagation of sound in canonical acoustical systems, including through evaluation of travelling wave solutions and/or impedance-based analysis, showing critical awareness throughout.
  3. Derive expressions for modal shapes, frequencies, and phase and group velocities for sound in canonical acoustical systems, demonstrating critical awareness of the underlying linear systems concepts that apply throughout.
  4. Use a significant range of measurement and analysis tools, such as microphones, loudspeakers, and linear systems analysis, to quantitatively evaluate the characteristics of acoustical systems (such as rooms).
  5. Integrate background theory and knowledge, measurements, and analysis into the production of a significant technical report, the marking rubric for which is aligned to expectations for student performance at SCQF Level 11.
Reading List
"Vibration and Sound" (Second Edition, 1948). Philip M. Morse. McGraw-Hill Book Company.

"Principles of Vibration and Sound" (Second Edition, 2003). Neville H. Fletcher and Thomas D. Rossing. Springer.

"Numerical Sound Synthesis: Finite Difference Schemes and Simulation in Musical Acoustics' (2009). Stefan Bilbao. John Wiley & Sons.

"Understanding Acoustics: An Experimentalist's View of Acoustics and Vibration" (2017). Stephen L. Garrett. Springer.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsacoustics,musical instruments
Course organiserDr Thomas McKenzie
Course secretaryDr Ellen Jeffrey
Tel: (0131 6)50 2430
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