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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Postgraduate Course: Interactive Sound Environments (ARCH11010)

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
SummaryThis course introduces students to professional practices in developing interactive audio environments combining creative, research and industry skills, experience and knowledge. Students on this course will explore the issues encountered in creating detailed non-linear and open-ended sonic interactions with tools such as game engines and game audio middleware. The course provides a framework for students to developing creative, engaging, immersive and responsive sound design and composition across artistic, academic and commercial applications. Students will develop and apply skills in conceiving, creating, configuring and programming a range of sonic events and musical forms.
Course description Over this course you will progress from developing assets for use in an interactive sonic environment to developing a working game world scenario using professional tools. Participation in this course is intended to lead to a deep understanding of the issues encountered in designing for non-linear situations, in particular, detailed structuring of audio in computer-game interactions and you will create a range of interactive sonic environments using cross-cutting themes of Narrative, Space, Modularity and Parameter.

Coursework project briefs will challenge you to apply diverse imaginative and conceptual ideas introduced in lecture and tutorial sessions, while offering scope for individual focus, exploration, and experimentation. Project briefs will keep you busy as sound designers and composers, recording, editing and structuring sounds so that they can be creatively combined and varied in immersive and engaging ways, and explore your sonic, visual and interactive imagination. You will advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique. Project work will lead you towards insight into collaborative processes with other practitioners. The course is delivered through a series of weekly lectures, and fortnightly tutorials or seminars supported by a range of online resources and shares teaching with a level 10 version of the course.

You are expected to keep a record of you design methods and to submit information about your approach along with your practical design work. You will apply a professional approach to the development of original assets used in the project and should aim to avoid/limit the use of commercial libraries or resources that you have not designed yourself. You will be encouraged as designers to develop your creative and expressive voice and challenged to apply concepts introduced in lecture and tutorial sessions in order to develop works that may end up in your professional portfolio.

Overall the work you produce will be interactive environments that are rich and multi-layered experiences and teaching and learning activities will support collaboration and offer opportunities for interdisciplinary exploration.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Familiarity with professional sound recording, editing and mixing software (e.g. Reaper, ProTools, Logic)
Experience using professional sound recording hardware
Students from areas outside Sound Design, Acoustics & Music Technology and other sound related areas must discuss their prior audio experience with course organisers before registering.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  60
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 24, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Online Activities 12, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Other Study Hours 24, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 120 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course has 2 components of assessment.

gameAudio Analysis (1200 words) 25%, normally submitted in week 5

gameEngine Worlds (practical work, demonstration + 750 words) 75%, normally submitted after Spring Break

Submission 1 gameAudio Analysis

This is a submission of 1200 words equivalence involving an analysis of the interactive audio in a short section of gameplay drawn from a curated selection of existing titles or of their own choosing. The submission will include audio-visual analysis and should draw on theory and practices from this subject area to communicate critical understanding of aesthetic and technical issues around interactive audio in computer games environments.

Submission 2: gameEngine Worlds

For this submission you will create an immersive and layered standalone game engine world that aims to keep the user entertained for between 7 and 10 minutes. The scale and scope of the submission should reflect an attempt to complete some segments of the game world as fully as possible to illustrate interaction/co-relation between game behaviours and sound/music behaviours. The submission will be developed using audio middleware tools such as Wwise and implemented in the Unity game engine or similar technology. Practical work is supported by a written reflective text of guide length 750 words reviewing the submission and a demonstration video of guide length 5-7 mins.

Submission 1 addresses LOs 1 and 4, Submission 2 addresses LOs 1 to 4

The Learning Outcomes and submissions support characteristics of knowledge of professional practice, skill acquisition and application, creativity, analysis, communication and autonomy.
Feedback Coursework is used to assess progress in, and understanding of, the practice of design for interactive sound environments, and allows students to acquire and apply knowledge and skills across the duration of the course through design, development and implementation of assets, environments and interactions. Practical work is accompanied by a written reflective critique informed by design theory and practice.

Formative Feedback:
Students receive formative verbal feedback throughout the course in tutorials and critique sessions of submissions and practical exercises

Summative Feedback
Written summative feedback will be provided as part of the assessment of both submissions, as per University regulations.

Feedback may refer to the risks taken in response to the brief, the conceptual approach taken with design work, the quality and character of the design work, the clarity of the documentation, contextual and critical relevance, and any technical issues that may help in future. The feedback will be constructive, may not address every detail of the work submitted, and may also include a common component drawn from observations of work across the course cohort.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand practices and technologies used in complex computer games environments.
  2. Acquire skills in programming and designing interactive sound environments.
  3. Translate adventurous design ideas into a plausible presentation.
  4. Critically understand and communicate aesthetic, creative and technical issues around interactivity
Reading List
1. Rob Bridgett, From the Shadows of Film Sound, Cinematic Production & Creative Process in Video Game Audio, Collected Publications 2000-2010 (, 2010),
2. Karen Collins, Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2008).
3. From Pac-Man to Pop Music: Interactive Audio in Games and New Media, Ashgate popular and folk music series (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).
4. Jens Blauert, Spatial Hearing: The Psychophysics of Human Sound Localization, Rev. ed. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1997).
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will have skills in research and enquiry, be able to use knowledge and information to work creatively and independently to extend and consolidate competency and knowledge in a significant set of skills, techniques, practices and digital literacy appropriate to developing and implementing original and creative responses to interactive audio contexts.

Graduates will have skills in personal and intellectual autonomy, and be adaptable, resourceful, reflective and effective, contributing to the ability to work in a range of professional areas relating to interactive audio.

Graduates will be effective and responsible and have an appreciation of the collaborative and integrative nature of design projects that involve interactive audio, and the ability to work independently and in peer relationships that require organisation, decision making and individual initiative in managing time and prioritising work tasks.

Graduates will have developed communication skills be able to understand and assess solutions to design issues, and to confidently and effectively present and communicate original work and ideas to peers and a range of audiences.
Additional Class Delivery Information Tuesday afternoon 2pm-4pm (occasional tutorials, 11am Wednesday mornings, to be advised).

Most lectures and tutorials will take place in the Graduate School Sound Lab, School of Arts Culture and Environment, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9DF.

Students advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique in a group context. Full attendance and punctual arrival is expected of all students whether auditing the course or taking it for credit.
KeywordsComputer Games Sound Design,Non-linear sonic structures,audio programming,interactive sound desig
Course organiserDr Julian Rawlinson
Tel: (0131 6)51 4336
Course secretaryMiss Laura Duff
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