Print the Handbook

Print Friendly


MSc/Diploma in Sound Design

Programme Handbook 2017-18


Sound Design Programme welcome and handbook overview
Print Friendly
Save Save Save Save Save

About this Handbook

This handbook is intended to provide students with basic information on the programme content, aims and objectives, teaching and assessment, support and other issues. It indicates what is expected of you, and will help you to make the most of your time on the Programme. It should be read carefully and frequently, and used in conjunction with other material provided by the University and the School (Edinburgh College of Art), especially the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes (also available on the Web at the Students Association Postgrad Handbook (also known as the “Postgrad Survival Guide” available via and the Architecture General Handbook. Questions or problems should be addressed in the first instance to the Programme Director. Note: This handbook is published by the Edinburgh College of Art to give information to candidates about the MSc/Diploma programme. This programme handbook does not supersede the University regulations, and the formal requirements for the programme are as set out in the University’s Postgraduate Study Regulations  a copy of the Degree Programme Table entry for this programme appears in the Appendix of this document. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this handbook is correct at the start of the session. However, details are subject to change during the course of the year, and will then be notified to students as appropriate. The online version of this handbook will also be updated.  

University Context

The MSc in Sound Design is organised and run within the Reid School of Music ( and is very closely associated with activities in the subject area of  MSc degrees in Digital Composition and Performance and Acoustics and Music Technology. ECA includes also the subjects areas of Art, Design, ESALA and History of Art. In the University structure, ECA is  a School within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

Programme Director

Dr. Martin Parker

Edinburgh College of Art Alison House, room G.02 12 Nicolson Square Edinburgh EH8 9DF, UK Phone: +44(0)131 650 2333 Direct line: 50 2333 Email:martin[dot]parker Web: The Programme Director is responsible for the smooth running of the Programme, including coordination of teaching and assessment, and programme evaluation. The Programme Director aims to facilitate your orientation and smooth progression through the programme, from initial induction through to transition to the project/dissertation stage, and final completion; and is also available as the first line of pastoral support (see the section on support services below). Open Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-5pm, during the semester. You are welcome to consult the programme director by appointment during these times.

Educational Aims of the Programme

The MSc Sound Design aims to provide a rich cross-disciplinary programme of study for its students to develop skills in the area of audio production, post-production and related digital technologies applied to sound design. Once you’ve completed this degree, you will be conversant with specialist technologies and with the social, artistic and creative contexts in which such technologies are developed and used. The programme will impart practical skills within the framework of a critical and reflective appreciation of the impact and influence contemporary developments in sound design and its affiliated disciplines. The programme assumes all students are at least at the beginner level in sound design, studio use and audio-based computing, but are prepared to advance quickly. The programme is structured  to allow you to develop according to your skills, interests and motivation. Specifically, the programme aims to:
  • provide an analytical and critical framework for thinking about sound and its role in a wider creative environment in order to enable students to develop a fresh approach to sound design.  The programme intends to help you build on your previous studies or industrial experience
  • develop specific knowledge and provide a broadly-based foundation in sound design technologies
  • encourage the development of good design in its broadest sense
  • foster the ability to work cooperatively in groups in the context of design
  • develop understanding of the potential for new technologies, techniques and approaches in your design activities
  • enable the use of existing computer-aided sound design techniques in creative ways
  • assist students in discovering the usefulness of advanced technologies
  • give students an understanding of the scope and limitations of computer applications in sound design
  • engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration in the context of audio-visual practice

Programme outcomes

The outcomes of the programme fall into several categories, as follows:

Knowledge and understanding

On completing the programme students should be able to
  • advise on the applicability of sound in a professional design context
  • critically evaluate digital technologies and their applicability to sound design
  • analyse requirements and derive design solutions for a wide range of sound design contexts
  • demonstrate understanding of the cultural context in which sound design is developing

Subject-specific skills

On completing the programme students should be able to:
  • apply techniques of recording, audio production and post-production, sound synthesis, digital signal processing, multimedia, video editing and programming of dynamic [interactive] systems
  • design effective multimedia presentations
  • develop a web site and deal with sonification opportunities such as podcasting
  • program interactive behaviours using a graphical programming language
  • create sound components to formats such as film, games, animation and multimedia
  • relate technological options to considerations of practice
  • develop and respond to critical argument on cultural issues relating to the use of sound and technology
  • operate in a digital sound production studio

Key skills

On completing the programme students should be able to:
  • use information technology creatively in solving problems
  • put together presentations and installations using a range of digital media, especially sonic
  • assess the value and applicability of developments in digital technology as they emerge
  • critically assess the popular and academic literature that accompanies the promotion sound technologies and sonic arts
  • manage time and prioritise work tasks
  • follow an independent programme of study through to completion
  • present themselves as sound designer and demonstrate the ability to work in a professional context, in particular following a brief


Our overall objective is not to produce highly skilled technicians or programmers, but to encourage the development of rounded professionals and sonic artists with a wide appreciation of the issues of sound design in the contemporary world. This is a one-year programme, and as such has certain limitations. It may be taken, for example, by designers, computer specialists, sound theorists and musicians. It aims to inform any of these about the others, to allow them to understand each other's points of concern, and to work together in teams. It cannot, in most cases, directly convert students from any one of these specialisms into another, e.g. designers into computer specialists, or vice versa. It should, however, equip those who wish to pursue conversion with a solid foundation from which to move forward in the desired direction. Students who begin at an advanced level in any area are encouraged to exploit and share their skills, but cannot expect dedicated tuition to cater to their further development. In assessment, credit is given for advanced performance, but perhaps even more for grappling with, using and benefiting from material outside an area of original specialisation. In assessment, we seek especially to acknowledge sensitive and effective team working with fellow students from a diversity of backgrounds, both academic and cultural. We endeavour to offer and support recent and highly-specified versions of the software we use; however, these are never crucial, and we aim to promote a flexibility that includes addressing projects by making appropriate use of whatever tools are available.  

Graduate Attributes

Graduates of the MSc Sound Design will have developed skills and abilities in:

Research and Enquiry

Graduates will be able to:
  • Research, analyse and creatively respond to design problems that require the assimilation of information from a wide variety of sources, utilising the expertise of related professionals;
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of how knowledge is advanced through research to produce clear, logically argued and original written work relating to various aspects of sound design;
  • Show skill in researching and critically assessing sound as a cultural phenomenon;
  • Develop an ability to develop creative sound design strategies informed by the needs of other media or collaborators;

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy

Graduates will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the ways that industry standards and adherence to specifications in project briefs do not necessarily restrict creative processes;
  • Collaborate effectively when working in a team, displaying an understanding of interdisciplinary roles and responsibilities;
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills, professional judgment, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances;
  • Be proficient in sound design techniques for problem solving;
  • Show a development of research skills based on scenario based learning;
  • Dispay a facility in effective information gathering across diverse discipline fields;
  • Demonstrate experience to contribute and co-operate effectively in complex and multidisciplinary working environments.


Graduates will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of issues in making complex and often contradictory aspects of sound design comprehensible and accessible to non-experts;
  • Communicate effectively with others using appropriate techniques;
  • Communicate the rationale of a design proposal through oral presentation and demonstration or performance in the context of design practice;
  • Communicate effectively with fellow consultants and professionals in an interdisciplinary, collaborative context.

Personal Effectiveness

Graduates will be able to:
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills, judgment, and ability to take the initiative and make appropriate decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances;
  • Understand the transdisciplinary nature of working within a contemporary understanding of sound design;
  • Work in an interdisciplinary environment and collaborate with others, working effectively when required as a group leader, design team member and autonomously as an individual.
  • Collaborate effectively when working in a team, displaying an understanding of interdisciplinary roles and responsibilities;
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify individual learning needs and have an appreciation of the rapid development of the field and its implications for continuous professional development.

Programme structure and content

The full time programme runs through two semesters and the summer "vacation" period. Work on the supervised dissertation project occupies the whole of the summer "vacation" period. Each semester typically includes 11 weeks of teaching, plus an 'examination' period. Official session dates are given at You can subscribe to this calendar in your preferred calendar reader. Note that in this programme we are not committed to avoiding all teaching during those weeks that are nominated as 'examination' weeks, since we have no examinations and do not currently share students with programmes in other Schools. Also, the periods marked for 'consolidation' will in our case be dedicated to work on the Final Project. In accordance with the University’s Curriculum Framework, the programme is of 12 months duration. It consists of 180 SQCF credit points, of which 120 constitutes the taught portion of the programme with the remaining 60 devoted to the dissertation component of the degree.

The Sound Design MSc

The sound design degree is designed with the following course structure:

Semester 1: Introduction and Orientation (60 credits in total)

  • Sound Design Media (studio craft+)
  • Sonic Structures (sound design and systems/coding)
  • Media and Culture (academic reflections on digital media and the role design plays in wider discourse) or Music on Screen (exploring and analysing the ways film music and sound interact).

Semester 2: Practice, Reflection and Action (60 credits in total)

  • Interactive sound environments (non-linear audio structures such as game sound)
  • NOTE, Sound and Fixed Media won't run in the year 2017-18. Instead there are a number of other options available to be discussed with the Programme Director.
  • Digital Media Studio Project (sonic art and installation work in collaboration with other disciplines)

Summer period (Vacation): Integration (60 credits)

MUSI11061 - Music Masters Final Project (MMFP) (your own practice-led period of research that helps you launch your career and go deeply into a specific area of your craft). We know that this covers all of the important areas contemporary sound designers need to be aware of; coding (Sonic Structures), studio craft+ (Sound Design Media), collaboration (Digital Media Studio Project), academic writing and processes (Media and Culture) non-linear audio (Interactive Sound Environments), film, TV and other linear media (Music on Screen). However, we're also aware of the need to be able to customise and shape your learning in ways suitable for your own aims and objectives and so we have structured the programme with optional courses that can be swapped out. If you want to go off the recommended list above, look below for some of the alternative routes through the degree.


Semester 1: Introduction and Orientation (60 credits in total)

Compulsory Courses: ARCH11008 - Sound Design Media (SDM) Course Options: Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses: ARCH11009 - Sonic Structures (SS) MUSI11047 - Acoustics (A) OR Select exactly 20 credits from Level 11 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W AND Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses: ARCH11002 - Media and Culture (MC) or MUSI11053 - Introduction to Community Arts Practice: Modes, Methods and Meanings or MUSI11045 - Music on Screen OR Select exactly 20 credits from Level 11 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W

Semester 2: Practice, Reflection and Action (60 credits in total)

Compulsory Courses: ARCH11006 - Digital Media Studio Project (DMSP) Option Courses: Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses: ARCH11010 - Interactive Sound Environments (ISE) OR MUSI11019 - Non Real Time Systems (NRTS) AND Select exactly 20 credits from Level 11 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W

Summer period (Vacation): Integration (60 credits)

Compulsory Courses: MUSI11061 - Music Masters Final Project (MMFP) In each semester, the three courses run concurrently through the whole semester. Each course carries 20 credit points, and the Final Project carries 60. The programme may be taken part-time, in which case four courses (SDM, SS, ISE and Non-RealTimeSystems) are taken in the first year, and the two other courses (M&C and DMSP), as well as the Final Project, in the second. Other options are available for certain courses, as noted in the Degree Programme Table (see Appendix II of this handbook). The official Degree Programme Timetable for the MSc Sound Design Full Time can be found via the following links: The official Degree Programme Timetable for the MSc Sound Design Part Time can be found via the following links:

Teaching and learning methods

The programme is taught by a combination of lecture/seminars, tutorials, practical sessions and studios. However, much of the responsibility for study will be the student's own and you will be encouraged to form study groups, work together and share expertise. Teaching will be available at various times outwith the timetabled hours of specific sessions. Students will also be expected to meet individually with a member of the programme staff at least once per semester. Each taught course provides advanced tuition in a specialised aspect of the subject. Certain courses are based mainly on lecture/seminars, while others emphasise short creative production projects which develop, exemplify and integrate practical skills in Sound Design. Each course has a Course Organiser, who is the first recourse for questions about the content, assessment and other specifically course-related issues. Commonly, project work will be team-based. Projects are required to display evidence of original thinking, independent achievement within a framework of team-working, and creative ability. Collaborative team-based projects will be structured so that the individual contribution of each student in the group can be identified and assessed. The Final Project in particular will, of course, be mostly self-directed work (again perhaps as a team), with periodic supervision meetings. Although this is a "taught programme", our emphasis in these courses is more on facilitating learning than on teaching. We aim to provide an environment in which learning can be maximised, and the teaching staff are just one resource among many that students can exploit. Even when not explicitly team-based, learning is to us a highly collaborative activity, and the students themselves are the key resource for each other. We prescribe little; we expect to be challenged and questioned. We are often not expert users of particular software applications; we expect students to explore, exploit the internet, seek other sources of expertise, engage with practices of research. We will usually reward experimentation, innovation, creativity and boldness of conception in all courses. Note that in this research-led university, staff are engaged in research projects as well as teaching, which brings benefits to students involved in taught programmes. Research informs teaching, and there may be opportunities directly to engage in research projects during the year and beyond.


In common with general design education practice, the main assessment of design progress is by means of project-work (some of it group project-work), sometimes complemented by a relatively short written report. Assessment will take into account:
  • the extent to which a student has contributed original ideas to the projects
  • the creative ability displayed
  • the depth and breadth of coursework understanding revealed
  • the extent to which the intention of the project has been revealed
  • skills in visual, written and verbal communication of the project ideas
Criteria for the assessment of group work vary, and will sometimes be based on the overall product of a group, sometimes more on individual contribution. Assessment of project work, in particular, may require students to engage with techniques of self assessment and peer assessment. Criteria for assessment are further elaborated in each course description and in the marking scheme. In all cases the limitations and potential of the available resources will be taken into account. The importance of written reports is not to be minimised. There will also be longer assessed essays in certain courses. In this programme, there are no traditional written examination sessions. Note that, in accordance with Appendix 1 of the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes, any form of plagiarism will be treated as a very serious disciplinary issue. See also the University regulations at, and on plagiarism the useful student guidance offered via the links on the page at Submission of the final project will require a digital version and two hard copies. Most other work must be submitted digitally, by transfer to our submissions system, but submission instructions will vary from course to course so follow instructions from the course organiser. All submissions will be given a mark which remains provisional until ratified by the Board of Examiners, which meets in May/June to decide on progression to the project stage, and again for final assessment in September/October. The Board of Examiners includes an External Examiner, whose role is to assure standards of assessment and to provide a further source of advice on the Programme. Students may in exceptional circumstances be required to undertake an oral examination. Students are also usually invited to an informal meeting with the External Examiner in May/June (see the Programme Calendar). The External Examiner for this Programme is currently being appointed. **Students must NOT make direct contact with the External Examiner.** The University has a procedure for academic appeals: Project work may only contain visual, sonic and interactive resources that are developed within the class, by you or your colleagues this year. This is in order to:
  1. help you develop skills in using resources creatively, responsibly and with appropriate acknowledgement
  2. enable you to publish material on the Internet without the risk of violating copyright. So you may not use or adapt external copyrighted resources, such as photographs, smileys, icons, video or sound or music clips, animated gifs, CD tracks, mp3 clips, etc.

Marking Scheme

All courses and projects will be marked on the University of Edinburgh’s common postgraduate marking scheme, as laid out in the Code of Practice. The marking scale is in accordance with the University’s Extended Common Marking Scheme (CMS4), see for full details of CMS4. *Assessment of the dissertation component: In those programmes where a diploma may be awarded for the taught component only, a failed dissertation may be put aside and the diploma awarded. (MSc Sound Design is such a programme.) The standard of work required to achieve these grades is as laid out below.

A1 (90+) Excellent

Requirements are as for A2, but with all or almost all aspects of the work being of exemplary standard. Normal expectations will have been substantially exceeded and there will be clear evidence of originality. Work at this level may be considered to be publishable in a scholarly or academic conference, or similar context.

A2 (80-89) Excellent

Requirements are as for A3, with the addition that most aspects of the work will be of exemplary quality, normal expectations of the brief or task having been clearly exceeded. There may be evidence of originality in thought, conception or execution.

A3 (70-79) Excellent

Design work

Requirements are as for a B, with the addition that the design is of excellent quality, in terms of concept, resolution and level of integration. It is well justified and there are no obvious gaps in the presentation, whatever means are used. The approach taken may entail some risk but the work has been successful in terms made clear in its presentation. In the case of team work there may be evidence of team leadership. The work may be excellent in its totality, or there may be some aspect of the work that is exemplary. This aspect should be well communicated and be important in terms of the project brief. Where there is evidence that the student has exceeded the time and effort normally required for the project then this time and effort is evident in the quality of the work.

Written work

The Structure will demonstrate a close, critical engagement with the question and demonstrate a strong grasp of its wider implications. The piece of work will have a clear argument and factual material will be used in an analytical, rather than descriptive way, to further that argument. The Language and Expression will be appropriate to the task and demonstrate a clear understanding of the appropriate scholarly apparatus. It will aid the development of the argument through its fluency and clear evidence of independent thought. A piece of work at this level will have a strong base in a Range of Knowledge that is both broad and deep. It will demonstrate a clear understanding of the complexity of the subject, an ability to argue at both the general and particular level and to evaluate information and make discriminating use of it. In general, the work will meet the requirements of the assignment brief in a way that is exemplary through its thoroughness and/or it may exceed the expectations of the brief in certain respects. The work may be excellent in its totality, or there may be some aspect of the work that is exemplary. The approach taken and the argument followed may entail some risk but this has been successful in terms made clear in the work. Where the work entails the collection and collation of data, this will be handled with appropriate rigour and be very well integrated into the argumentation. In the case of team work, there may be evidence of team leadership. Where there is evidence that the student has exceeded the time and effort normally required for the task, this will be evident in the quality of the work.

B (60-69) Very Good

Design work

The project meets the requirements of the project brief or challenges them in a way that is creative and well argued. The design is of high quality with good justification for the decisions made. Where a student is given scope for defining the problem tackled, then the problem presents a high degree of challenge appropriate to the level of the course. The presentation is complete, though there may be gaps that could be resolved with minor modification. There is evidence of consistency of application in developing the design from the early stages of the design. Where group work is involved then there is evidence of full engagement in the work of the team. Where the project emphasises the production of a complete design then the work shows an ability to resolve the design at an appropriate level.

Written work

The Structure will demonstrate a serious attempt at critical engagement with the question and demonstrate an appreciation of its wider implications. The piece of work will have a clear argument and will employ relevant factual material. This may be used mainly analytically, although with less critical engagement than A-grade work. The Language and Expression will be accurate and show an understanding of the appropriate scholarly apparatus. It will aid the development of the argument through its clarity and make a serious attempt to develop independent thought. A piece of work at this level will be based on a Range of Knowledge that is extensive, even though it may be uneven. It will demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the subject, and will show evidence of an ability to argue at both the general and particular level. In general, the work will meet the requirements of the assignment task and will approach them in a way that is creative and well argued. The level of ambition will be high, both in the student’s approach to work set by a tutor and where a student is given scope for defining the topic. Where the work entails the collection and collation of data, the work will be handled with appropriate rigour and be well integrated into the argumentation. Where group work is involved, there will be evidence of full engagement in the work of the team.

C (50-59) Good; satisfactory for Masters

Design work

The design is good. Where a student is given scope for defining the task then the work falls short of achieving those ambitions in the execution of the design, or, conversely the ambitions of the task are met, but they are relatively modest. The work may be competent but not be completely resolved in its design or presentation. There is evidence that the work could reach the B grade given more time and effort.

Written work

The Structure will demonstrate some understanding of the question set but may show only moderate awareness of its wider implications. The piece of work will have a point of view but the arguments may be stated rather than developed and factual material, although relevant, may be used more descriptively than analytically. The Language and Expression will be sufficiently accurate and relevant to demonstrate a reasonable grasp of the topic but may lack fluency. The scholarly apparatus will be sufficient but may be incomplete or idiosyncratic. The argumentation may be derivative with little evidence of independent thought. The Range of Knowledge will be sound, although there may be some inaccuracies. It will have been assimilated uncritically and there may be a reliance on information and argumentation already presented in the lectures. In general, the work will meet most of the requirements of the assignment task. Where a student is given scope for defining the topic, it will present an appropriate degree of challenge for the level of the course. Where the work entails the collection and collation of data, this will be handled with appropriate rigour but may not be very well integrated with the argumentation. Where group work is involved, there will be evidence of involvement in the work of the team.

D (40-49) Satisfactory for Diploma but inadequate for Masters

Design work

(i) The work is competent but not good, suggesting that it could not reach the B level without major re-working; or (ii) the work is not sufficiently complete in its design or presentation. In the case of (ii) there is evidence that the work could attain the C level with major re-development.

Written work

The Structure may demonstrate little understanding of the question set and may tend to stray from the topic The argument may be undeveloped and haphazard and the factual material may be used descriptively rather than analytically. The Language and Expression will generally be grammatical but may lack fluency and sophistication. The scholarly apparatus may be deficient. There may be little evidence of an understanding of the complex nature of the inquiry and the answer may show no intentional originality of approach. The Range of Knowledge may be adequate but may contain errors. It will be broadly relevant to the question but may be used in a descriptive and uncritical way. In general, work will be competent but not good. Where a student is given scope for defining the topic, it will present a degree of challenge appropriate to the level of the course. Where the work entails the collection and collation of data, this will be handled with appropriate rigour, but may be poorly integrated with the argumentation. Where group work is involved, there may be some evidence of involvement in the work of the team.

E (35-39) Marginal Fail

Design work

(i) The work may be insufficiently complete to assess its quality adequately or (ii) the work may be judged to be of poor quality whatever the level of completeness. In the case of (i) it would be expected that the work could be brought up to the D level with more time and effort.

Written work

The Structure may be weak, showing little understanding of the question and no understanding of its wider implications. It may tend towards random presentation of facts and opinions. The Language and Expression may present a significant number of basic errors in spelling and grammar and may have deficiencies in the scholarly apparatus. It may fail to present any evidence of coherent, independent thought. The Range of Knowledge may be inadequate, with major errors, and of doubtful relevance to the question. In general, the work may be poor in most, if not all areas. It may also, or alternatively, be incomplete.

F (25-34) Clear Fail

Design Work

The work is not of sufficient quality or at a level of completeness that it could be redeemed to a D without re-starting the project.

Written work

The work may be seriously deficient in most, if not all areas. It may also, or alternatively, be incomplete.

G/H (below 25) Bad Fail

The work, of whatever kind, is extremely poor, incomplete or absent. It is deficient in most or all significant respects.

Evaluating Design

As well as your work being evaluated by your tutors, we want you to be able to critically examine your work as well.  Evaluating creative work can be tricky, especially when it's your own. However, it is essential to your creative and professional growth that you are able to do this, both as part of the MSc programme and as part of your continuing careers. Indeed,  as the programme progresses you will take steadily more responsibility for establishing the terms of your work. In some earlier courses we will use the first submission as a way of developing goals for the final submission. By the time of the final project you will be responsible for establishing the goals and scope of your work in negotiation with your supervisor. One way of making the task a little more manageable is to approach things from the point of view of a set of relationships between you, your work, the work's recipient (client, examiner etc.) and the wider world. This is the approach taken by the design scholar John Wood who devised an assessment scheme tailored to the needs of design students. We really like the clarity and sophistication of this scheme, so suggest that you consider it as a way of thinking about and evaluating the work that you do. In the image to the left we can see three subjective relationships, between you and each of these other entities, and three more between the entities themselves. Focusing on some aspect of a particular relationship can be a good way of establishing clear and achievable criteria for approaching a design. The set of relationships divides neatly in to two types (thus the different coloured arrows). First there are relationships to consider between yourself, as a developing individual, and those entities that provide the context for your work: the work itself; the recipient(s) of this work; and the world at large. Considering these relationships allows you to reflect on how you feel about the work that you do; how you and your clients / public might communicate or relate; and how you want to engage with the wider world. Second, there are relationships between these entities. Your work relates to the people who receive it, in terms of expectations, usefulness, incitement etc.; it also to its wider context, through history, culture, social-fit etc. Meanwhile, the recipients of the work also have relationships with these wider contexts. Here's the same image, but with some additional detail about each of the relationships to help illustrate the sorts of things that could be considered. Some of the questions you might ask yourself, whilst reflecting on your work:
  • Me→My Work: This is to do with developing a critical relationship to the work you produce. Are you developing a personal style or voice? Is it the style or voice you wish to develop? Are you accruing the skills you wish for?
  • Me→My Work's Recipient: How do you relate to your clients? Are you able to understand better what they need by appreciating their experience of the world (i.e. empathy)? Are you and they able to make yourselves mutually understood? Are you able to use your skill and cleverness to delight them even when under constraints of time and resources?
  • Me→The World: Who are you? How do you wish to be seen / heard or known? What impact do you want to have on others and on the world around you? What is the cultural or social context that you work in? Are they the ones you want to work in? What are the historical bases for your practice? Do they inform your sense of identity?
Likewise, you can flesh out particular questions to ponder about the remaining relationships. For practical purposes, it would be unwieldy to try and account for all these relationships in detail all the time. You should probably elect to focus on one or two when evaluating your coursework. Of course, in terms of growing as an artist / designer, each of them warrants close attention at various points.

MSc and Diploma Award Requirements

The programme conforms to the University’s Taught Assessment Regulations. Please refer to:
  • Regulation 44 Borderlines
  • Regulation 56 Postgraduate assessment progression
  • Regulation 57 Postgraduate degree, diploma and certificate award
  • Regulation 59 Award of postgraduate merit
  • Regulation 60 Award of postgraduate distinction
Here are regulations 56 & 57 pasted below:

Regulation 56

Postgraduate assessment progression

For programmes where there is an identifiable taught component followed by a project or dissertation component, students must pass the assessment requirements of the taught stage at an appropriate level at the first attempt before progression to the dissertation. In order to progress to the masters dissertation students must:
(a) pass at least 80 credits with a mark of at least 50% in each of the courses which make up these credits; and
(b) attain an average of at least 50% for the 120 credits of study examined at the point of decision for progression; and
(c) satisfy any other specific requirements for the masters degree programme, that are clearly stated in respective programme handbooks.
When all the marks for the taught components of the programme (120 credits) are available, if the student has achieved PASS marks in at least 80 credits and has an overall average of 40% or more over the full 120 credits, then they will be awarded credits on aggregate for the failed courses.
For programmes where the taught and project or dissertation components are taken in parallel, or where there are not identifiable taught and project or dissertation components, the requirements for progression are determined at programme level, stated in the Programme Handbook.

Regulation 57

Postgraduate degree, diploma and certificate award

In order to be awarded the certificate students must:
  • (a) pass at least 40 credits with a mark of at least 40%; and
  • (b) attain an average of at least 40% for the 60 credits of study examined for the certificate; and
  • (c) satisfy any other specific requirements for the named certificate that are clearly stated in respective programme handbooks.
In order to be awarded the diploma students must:
(a) pass at least 80 credits with a mark of at least 40%; and
(b) attain an average of at least 40% for the 120 credits of study examined for the diploma; and
(c) satisfy any other specific requirements for the named diploma that are clearly stated in respective programme handbooks.
In order to be awarded a masters degree students must:
(a) have satisfied any requirements for progression, as laid out in taught assessment regulation 56 above, and
(b) attain an additional 60 credits, by achieving a mark of at least 50% for the
dissertation or project component (if the programme has a dissertation or project element)
(c) satisfy any other specific requirements for the masters degree programme, that are clearly stated in respective Programme Handbooks.
When all the marks for the taught components of the programme or diploma are available, if the student has achieved PASS marks in at least 80 credits and has an overall average of 40% or more over the full 120 credits, then they will be awarded credits on aggregate for the failed courses, up to a maximum of 40 credits.
For a certificate, a maximum of 20 credits may be awarded on aggregate.
Borderline Criteria for Progression Where a student is borderline for progression, the case will be considered by the Board of Examiners. The decision whether or not to allow progression in such cases is at the discretion of the Board of Examiners. Borderline marks are defined as marks from two percentage points below the boundary for progression, up to the boundary itself, i.e. 48.00% to 49.99%. Where applicable, factors taken into account in such cases will be (a) any special circumstances, such as illness or other adverse personal circumstances, which have been brought to the attention of the Board of Examiners; (b) credit weighting of individual courses; (c) the range of overall course marks; (d) marks and letter grades awarded to learning outcomes.   Borderline Criteria for Award – including with Merit Where a student is borderline for award including award with Merit, the case will be considered by the Board of Examiners. The decision regarding classification of degree in such cases is at the discretion of the Board of Examiners. Borderline marks are defined as marks from two percentage points below the boundary for award, up to the boundary itself, i.e. 48.00% to 49.99% and 58.00% to 59.99% Where applicable, factors taken into account in such cases will be (a) any special circumstances, such as illness or other adverse personal circumstances, which have been brought to the attention of the Board of Examiners; (b) performance in final project / dissertation; (c) credit weighting of individual courses; (d) the range of overall course marks including dissertation / final project; (e) marks and letter grades awarded to learning outcomes.   Borderline Criteria for Distinction Where a student does not qualify for a distinction as of right, they may be considered for the award of distinction if (a) their dissertation mark and (b) their credit-weighted average mark across all taught courses are both 68.00% or higher. The decision whether or not to award a distinction in such cases is at the discretion of the Board of Examiners. In exercising its discretion, the Board will take into account the following factors: (a) the student’s credit-weighted average across the degree as a whole; (b) the number of courses (including the dissertation) in which the student received a grade of A, and the credit weighting of those courses; (c) any special circumstances, such as illness or other adverse personal circumstances, which have been brought to the Board’s attention.   Academic appeals An academic appeal is a request for a decision made by a Board of Examiners to be reconsidered in relation to:
  • marks
  • progression
  • degree award
If you are considering lodging an appeal, it is important that you act promptly. It is important to note that the appeal process cannot be used to challenge academic judgement. That is, a student cannot submit an appeal simply because they believe that they deserve a better mark. There are specific and fairly narrow grounds under which an academic appeal may be submitted.


Students enrolled on the MSc in Sound Design who are eligible to graduate will do so at the Winter Graduation Ceremonies - this includes students who exit with a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate. The winter ceremonies usually take place in the last week in November and are administered by Student Administration.  


At the discretion of the exam board, two prizes can be awarded at the end of the session. The Sound Design Student Prize For outstanding leadership in the learning and welfare of the student body ( £ 200). The Sound Design Project Prize For outstanding contribution to the Final Project ( £ 200).

Career Opportunities

On completing the programme there are a number of career opportunities open to you and this degree opens pathways into careers in the music industry, in film, television, computer games, internet design, multimedia, acoustics, and independent practice as a sonic artist. If your background is a practicing sound designer, the degree allows career progression and specialisation within this area, perhaps specialising in computer-games sound, film, television or other aspects of post production. Sound design skills are desirable both in UK and overseas contexts but the market is highly competitive. As a Sound Designer with an MSc from Edinburgh, you'll feel empowered to adapt to changes in this market. Most graduates enter this arena as freelance sound experts and this programme has been designed to be able to accept design opportunities and challenges as they come up from a wide variety of contexts, not just those traditionally aligned with sound design (such as film). As a graduate, you'll have had significant experience collaborating in multi-media contexts with a wide range of people with different skills and aesthetic outlooks to you.  These experiences  are formative in helping you to develop an adaptable and efficient approach to working both in larger teams but also how to behave as a proactive individual in these contexts. The masters degree is a sound foundation from which to develop research skills and interests in higher education through, for instance, doctoral study. Further information about your career opportunities is available here:

Computing Facilities

The sound lab and design studio are well stocked with a number of computers and other equipment, including advanced software, and is normally reserved for MSc use. Further machines, all on the same network, are available in the Multimedia Studio (room 2.08) in the Architecture building at 20 Chambers Street, which is shared with undergraduates. However, at peak times (especially when a submission is due) demand may well exceed availability. It is very much in students' interests to even out the load by working flexibly. Note also that some software will be available on only one or a small number of machines, so cooperation and negotiation are essential. While strenuous efforts are made to maintain all the equipment in excellent order, students also need to appreciate that advanced computing machinery and complex leading-edge software are often by their nature unreliable, and our computing support staff are a finite resource. Systems will sometimes crash, usually at the most unfortunate moment. Any problems that arise should be notified to computing support immediately. Details of how to contact computing support, and other useful information, can be found at . It is important to follow good practice in saving and backing-up all work. Personal hard disc drives and USB memory sticks are a useful resource. Responsibility for any lost material rests ultimately with the student. Where possible, we seek also to accommodate and encourage students’ use of their own laptops etc., including wireless connection to the studio network. Note that all such use, along with use of any University equipment, carries responsibilities in terms of sensible and legal use of software and networks. Infringement of the University Computing Regulations, which are signed up to by all students at matriculation and which cover any machine attached to the University network, even if only by wireless for a short time, is a potentially very serious disciplinary and legal matter. These regulations may also be supplemented from time to time by the Edinburgh College of Art. In addition to ECA computing provision, a wide range of University facilities are available to students, including open-access computing labs in Alison House and the Main Library. These offer mainly standard office applications, but there are also a number of more specialised facilities. The University Computing Service also offers a number of training courses in the use of various applications. For the University Computing Regulations, see   Students should use one of the following routes for IT support: * Email: * Web form: * Phone: (0131 6)51 51 51   Links to self-help documentation are available on the ECA intranet:

Audio Facilities

Students currently enjoy access to our studio facilities and we aim to run the programme with approximately one dedicated audio computer between two. This facility is often augmented by student’s laptops, which can connect to the University network wirelessly. Reserving equipment and recording studios can be done on the online booking system: This requires login with your EASE account details.  Most of the equipment we have is very valuable and therefore should be collected from and returned to the studio office; Room G.13, ext. 51 4320.  Return times are between 10am and 11am, collection times between 3 and 4pm (or as advised by the studio manager). Please make every effort to return equipment on time, as repeated late returns will have an impact on your booking privileges in the future. Less valuable items are available from the cupboard next to the studio manager’s office. Keys for the Russolo Room and studios are available from the safe next to the studio manager’s room.  You will be told the code for this safe in week 1. If you are unable to attend your studio booking or pick up your equipment as arranged, as the Studio Manager enforces a 30 minute Rule. Please let us know by email or phone if you cannot fulfil your booking. If you are more than 30 minutes late, we reserve the right to pass on this equipment/booking to another student or member of staff. Should you encounter a problem with equipment or in one of the studios, it is important to let the studio office know immediately. The preferred way to do this is through the help-desk system via Students also have access to a top-flight recording studio in the basement of the Reid Concert Hall.  This space features a PMC TwoTwo 6 surround sound speaker rig, an SSL AWS 900 analogue-digital desk, TC 6000 surround reverb and mastering suite, a Manley Mastering EQ, DAV Mastering grade EQ, Vertigo Compressor, Drawmer Valve Compressor and a Cranesong compressor/limiter. The Reid Studio also boasts a large collection of excellent microphones made by Neumann, Schoeps and DPA and a suite of industry standard audio software including Pro Tools HD, Max, Live, Voxengo Plugins etc.  This special facility is only available on a booking basis with permission to use the space granted after you’ve attended a training course on how the studio works.  Reid Studio Driving Lessons will will be run by the studio manager and you’ll be invited to sign up for them when the semester begins.   You can find out more about the Reid Studio by visiting the studio’s blog site: Bookable audio equipment information also available at: and for Equipment Loans:  

The Russolo Room

The Russolo Room boasts a dedicated 5.1 Adam S1x based Surround Sound design studio located in Alison House. This space runs a Macintosh Xeon Quad Core processor with 4Gb ram and 750GB of dedicated hard disk space. The surround system is augmented by a stereo pair of PMC TwoTwo 6 Active loudspeakers and sub unit. Relative amplitude of all speakers is controlled with an SPL 5.1 monitor controller. The machine runs Pro-Tools, Logic, Nunedo and Digital Performer and is based around a RME Fireface 800. We also recently invested in a PCM96 surround reverb unit made by Lexicon, two AVID (EuCon) control surfaces and SSL and UAD PCIe DSP cards. Other software includes;
  • Waves platinum bundle 6.x
  • Waves IR reverb and a multitude of sampled acoustics 6.x
  • Logic Audio
  • Nuendo
  • MaxMSP
  • Native Instruments bundle including Absynth, Reaktor, Synths, Vocator and Spektral Delay
  • Sample Manager
  • WaveEditor
  • Soundhack

The Sound Lab

The sound lab is equipped with a lab of 13 iMacs each running Pro-Tools, logic Pro, MaxMSPJitter, AUDICITY, PD, Supercollider and CSound each with an Mbox.  The lab also boasts a pair of Genelec 1032 monitors, and an 8 channel rig of Genelec 1029 speakers attached to the wall. We have 4 x Digital Video dedicated Xeon Quad Cores running Final Cut Studio and Peak DV and several machines running Final Cut Express. We recently invested in a Canon XL2 DV camera and tripod for producing documentaries and high quality recordings of events and student work. There is also access to Canon 550 D and two 660D available from the online booking system and collectable from the McGovern Media Centre. Students also have access to the Adobe Suite, Cold Fusion, Photoshop elements, Proce55ing Blender and Maya.


Matched pair of DPA 4061 Pair Neumann KM 184 Matched Pair Neumann KM 184 Beyer Dynamic shotgun Audio Technica Stereo Field AKG instrument mic AKG 414 Rode NT4 Rode NTA Beyerdynamic Boundry Mic SoundMan in ear headphone mics * 4 Sony Field Mic AKG Drum Mic Pack Windpac and boom for field recording AudioTechnica Wireless Levalier Mics Also access to Neumann KM140 *2 Neumann KM 130 *2 Neumann KM 120 *1 Portable Mixer Sennheiser MKH60 Sennheiser MKH30 Various Rycote and DPA wind jammers


8 Channel DAV Broadhurst Gardens Pre Amp 4 channel API preamp Mytek two channel Analogue-Digital Converter 2 * TC Electronics fireworX 2 * DBX DriveRack HHB Portadisc Sound Devices 744t Sound Devices 722 2* Fostex FR2 - solid state hi resolution audio recorder 3 * M-AUDIO solid state portable recorders (MicroTrack 24/96) 3 * Zoom 2 channel portable recorders TASCAM DA78, 8 channel digital recording to tape ALESIS ADAT, 8 channel digital recording to ADAT tape Portable recording Mac Laptop with MOTU 8pre audio interface


We have a collection of 10 portable Genelec 1031 loudspeakers for concerts and experimental events. The Sound Lab has an 8 channel sound system for spatialisation experiments and performance and we part-own a Mackie long throw active speaker system. We also have a transportable (but heavy!) five-channel Meyer UPA system for concerts.

Other Hardware

includes reel to reel tape recording, hardware samplers, midi interfaces a Mackie VLZ 1202 portable mixer and a Mackie ONYX 1602 with high quality pre-amps. Portable Genelec Loudspeakers


In addition to a large number of university venues, ECA boasts two performance spaces (The Reid Concert Hall and St. Cecilia's Hall). The Atrium of the Graduate School has been developed into a hybrid performance and presentation space with ATC loudspeakers and high lumen projector.

Library resources

The University Library

University Main Library In the music section, you'll find hundreds of CDs and LPs that can be listened to in the library itself.  At this link;, you'll find numerous periodicals and access to our library subscriptions that relate to music. Library and Museum Services ECA Library

Course book listing

The following books are available on a shelf outside the Sound Lab for anyone to read locally. They have been bought by the Graduate School or donated by current and future students in order to provide a fast reference access but they are strictly not available to be loaned or removed from the building. This means that you can take a book, read a chapter at your workstation and then return it.  What you can't do is take them home or remove them from the graduate school, even at weekends or in the evenings.  The books must always be in the building, on the shelf or in your hands, nowhere else.  This is a very short loan kind of idea so we're suggesting two hours use at a time.  Please use the university library for all other book-based requirements. Our local book collection is augmented by a collection of DVDs, available on similar terms and if you open iTunes, you'll see the Graduate School Play list available.  We'll give you the password in the first session.  We also offer access to the ZKM database of hundreds of recordings of innovative computer and tape music pieces.

Books available

Ballard, J. G. (2006). The complete short stories. Harper Perennial.  

Berghaus, G. (2005). Avant-Garde Performance. Palgrave Macmillan.

Blesser, B., & Salter, L. (2007). Spaces speak, are you listening? MIT Press.

Chion, M. (1994a). Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press.

Chion, M. (2009). Film, a Sound Art. New York: Columbia University Press.

Christensen, E. (1996). The Musical Timespace: A Theory of Music Listening. Aalborg University Press.

Collins, N. (2010). Introduction to Computer Music. Wiley.

Collins, N. (2009). Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Cox, C., & Warner, D. (Eds.). (2004). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. New York: Continuum.

Deleuze, G., & Patton, P. (2004). Difference and Repetition. Continuum.

Emmerson, S. (2007). Living Electronic Music. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Film Sound: Theory and Practice. (1985). . New York: Columbia University Press.

Ingold, T. (2000). The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (1st ed.). Routledge.

Kahn, D. (1999). Noise, water, meat : a history of sound in the arts. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press.

Katz, R. A. (2002). Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science. Oxford: Focal Press.

LaBelle, B. (2006). Background noise : perspectives on sound art. New York: Continuum International.

Makagon, D. G., & Neumann, M. (2008). Recording Culture: Audio Documentary and the Ethnographic Experience. Sage Publications, Inc.

Manning, P. (2004). Electronic and Computer Music (Revised.). Oxford University Press, USA.

McLuhan, E. (1998). Electric Language: Understanding the Message. St. Martin's Griffin.

Miranda, E. R. (2001). Composing music with computers. Focal Press.

Toop, D. (1995). Ocean of sound : aether talk, ambient sound and imaginary worlds. London ;;New York: Serpent's Tail.

Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music. (2002). . London, Eng: Continuum.

Whittington, W. B. (2007). Sound design & science fiction. University of Texas Press.

Winkler, T. (1998). Composing Interactive Music: Techniques and Ideas Using Max. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Wyatt, H., & Amyes, T. (2004). Audio Post Production for Television and Film, Third Edition: An introduction to technology and techniques (3rd ed.). Focal Press.

Yewdall, D. L. (2003). Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Focal Press. 

Kindly donated by Donella Chai

Barthes, R. (1989). Image, music, text. Noonday Pr.

Gaut, B. N., & Lopes, D. (2005). The Routledge companion to aesthetics. Routledge.

Jeans, J. (2010). Science & Music. READ BOOKS.

LaBelle, B. (2006). Background noise: perspectives on sound art. Continuum International Publishing Group.

MacPhee, G. (2002). The architecture of the visible. Continuum International Publishing Group.

McLuhan, M., Fiore, Q., & Agel, J. (2001). The medium is the massage: an inventory of effects. Gingko Press.

Neill, A., & Ridley, A. (2002). Arguing about art: contemporary philosophical debates. Routledge.

Sadler, S. (1998). The Situationist City. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.

Wake, P., & Malpas, S. (2006). The Routledge companion to critical theory. Taylor & Francis.

Wallin, N. L., Merker, B., & Brown, S. (2001). The origins of music. MIT Press.

Young, R. (2002). Undercurrents: the hidden wiring of modern music. Continuum. 

Support Services

ECA Personal Tutoring Statement

Information relating to the Personal Tutor system, Student Support Officers, and the student support services available across the University can be found here.   Your Student Support Officer (who is a member of the Postgraduate Office Team): Lucy Hawkins – PG Student Support Officer Tel: +44 (0) 131 651 5734   Other support services include:  

University Student Counselling

If you think you would benefit from counselling please contact the University Student Counselling Service. Tel: 0131 650 4170 Email:  

EUSA Advice Place, Potterrow (Bristo Square)

0131 650 9225  

Language Support

The University’s English Language Teaching Centre run English Language courses for international students.  

Student Disability Service

The Student Disability Service is a service which supports disabled students. Their main focus is providing advice and support. They support students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.  

Institute for academic development

The University’s Institute for Academic Development offer study skills support for current students. This includes a range of courses and workshops to help you make the most of assignments, essays and exams as well as access to online and other learning resources:

How to get a reference

by Richard Coyne

How to inform us if you need a reference or letter of recommendation

Ensure you get the reference in time by making the process as simple as possible for the referee (ie your teacher who is providing the reference). If you ask for the reference in person then follow up this request with an email. Different lecturers may have different procedures and operate under different time frames.  

Who do I ask for a reference?

Choose a lecturer who is familiar with your work and can give an accurate and positive account of your abilities. Sometimes you need a reference from more than one person. Don’t ask more people than you need to. Approach the lecturers individually, and don’t rely on them to communicate with each other about your need for a reference. Please make sure you really are eligible to apply for the job, scholarship, grant or university place before asking for the reference. Let your referee know promptly if you change your mind and don’t need or want a reference after all.  

I am applying for a job and the prospective employer wants me to name a referee on the form.

If you are, or have been, enrolled in an MScs/PhD/MPhil that I teach in then you are welcome to supply my name and work details in an application. Email me to let me know you have done this, and attach an electronic copy of your CV, and any other details that might be important. Put the word 'reference' in the subject line of your email. The employer may phone me or email me a form or the URL of a form to complete. Check with other lecturers to see if they are happy to be always so named.  

I want you to join my LinkedIn network and endorse my skill set.

The value of Linked in for getting a job is still untried. Please remind us that you are or have been a student in one of our courses/programmes when you use LinkedIn to invite us to join your network. LinkedIn seems to be a good way of keeping track of what our graduates are up to.  

I want a general reference letter to show to any employer when the opportunity arises.

These letters are usually headed TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, are not confidential (ie you get to read it), are less frank, and therefore carry very little weight. If you really think you need this kind of reference then request this in an email, supplying as much CV material and information about your marks and achievements as you can. State when you need the reference by. Put the word 'reference' in the subject line of your email.  

When should I ask for the reference?

It is better to ask for a reference after we have had a chance to see your work and award marks. So don’t ask too early in the academic year. Ask us for the reference at least two weeks before any deadline.  

I am applying to gain entry to one or more degree programmes at a university and need to submit one or more written references.

Most universities now have an online application system. The referee is usually required to use this as well. Make sure you tell your referee whether they need to submit the reference by a particular date, or whether they need to wait for an email from the university. • If there are forms then fill in as much information as you can yourself. • If the reference needs to be placed in an envelope and bundled with an application you are submitting via the post then supply us with the envelope, already labelled with your name and the name of the recipient institution/s. The academic or office staff can usually supply you with an envelope. • Email your referee a record of your marks to date, a CV (if you have one), link to your professional website, and any other relevant information with the word 'reference' in the subject line. • Sometimes the referee will ask you to supply a list of points that you think will help your case. Don’t list personal hardships, unless the university specifically asks for this. • Supply this information to each of the lecturers you are approaching for a reference. • Come and see us about the reference if you need to. • Remind us in person and by email as the deadline/s approach. I am applying for a scholarship, studentship, grant or other award and need a reference. The same procedures apply, but sometimes the referee has to supply supplementary information, especially if it is for a scholarship awarded by the University of Edinburgh. Allow plenty of time, and complete as much of the information as you can on the forms.  

How do I collect my reference?

These days this is usually all handled by email and online forms, but if a paper reference is required then we usually supply this on University letter paper with any forms attached, in a sealed envelope, signed across the seal, and with a strip of transparent tape over the signature. If we can't catch you in person we will leave sealed references for you to collect from the office staff.

Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism (Report and Essay guidelines)

These guidelines are very important. Failure to adhere to them may result in the disciplinary offence of Plagiarism, which is very serious and can lead to your immediately failing the degree, or even summary expulsion from the University. Pay special heed to the warning about plagiarism in the University’s policy statements and guidelines (see URL in the section on Assessment): read these very carefully and make sure that nothing in your work can possibly be construed as plagiarism. Remember that plagiarism can arise if you present the distinctive thoughts or ideas of another person as your own, even if you have changed all of the original words. You must always properly acknowledge the source of anything in your work that is not entirely original. If you are unsure and require clarification and assistance, please speak to your tutor. You must make yourself fully aware of what might constitute plagiarism in the context of your programme of study. For further information see: Follow the reference and footnote conventions outlined in Russell (1992), or the APA style guide ( Reference ALL material used from other sources, especially direct quotes. Include the page number of the source of the quote in your reference wherever possible. Give clear URLs for all materials accessed from the Web. Do not include material copied directly from any source (e.g. a web page or a book) unless it is essential for you to comment on it; and then always make sure you enclose it in quotation marks, or in some other way clearly identify it as a quotation, and give the source accurately and as precisely as possible. If you are following the structure of someone else’s argument and not your own then you need to reference this fact (e.g. Following Vidler’s (1992) argument on the uncanny we see first that…). Also indicate where you are following someone else’s use of a reference to a text you have not read. For example if Vidler makes an interesting reference to Freud, and you have not read the Freud text, then reference Vidler as the source, not Freud (e.g. According to Vidler (1992), Freud uses the uncanny to…). Provide references for illustrations if you have any. You may also find the classic Elements of Style (Strunk, 1916) useful, if not quaint. Use the UK spelling checker on your wordprocessor. The grammar checker can also be useful. Diagrams, sounds and images must also be attributed, even when digitally manipulated. Use of the WWW is encouraged, but it is inappropriate to copy and paste text from the web without indicating its status as a quotation and without full attribution to author and URL, since this would count as plagiarism. Note that inappropriate use of web material can often be detected by the examiners undertaking spot checks on key words and phrases using web search engines and other tools, including specialised plagiarism detection software. Note that making superficial changes to copied material to disguise its origins also constitutes plagiarism and is not allowed. Do not ever take even part of a sentence from somewhere, change a few words, and then include it in your text without attribution as if it were your own: this is plagiarism and will be treated as such if detected. As work by MSc students is often published on the Internet, issues of copyright are also a major concern. This applies as much, or more, to project work as to essays. It is imperative that all source material external to the course is referenced, and where necessary permission to reproduce is obtained. Students are requested generally not to use visual or sound resources (e.g. images, music, movie clips) from other sources (including the WWW, CDs, DVDs, MP3 sources, etc.), even where these are public-domain libraries, except for critical commentary as permitted under copyright law. There are important educational reasons why we encourage the use of resources generated from within the courses, and copyright is also a crucial consideration in any kind of professional design practice. For information on copyright law in the UK, see


There are many tools available to  help you keep track of your references and implant them in your documents, bibtex, endnote and zotero for example.   The most impressive and fully-featured tool is a Firefox plugin called Zotero.  Once enabled in your browser you can collect references from any online library resource, choose the reference style you want to use in your document and then create a consistent and accurately formatted bibliography.  Here is an example of how it might be used in MS Word. We encourage you to explore LaTeX, a very powerful typsetting programme that allows authors to concentrate on writing, rather than the visual look of work.  Use of LaTeX often helps students to organise their writing and thinking very clearly.  You can download a template to help you to start thinking about LaTeX and preparing your final project:


Russell, Terence M. 1992. Essays, Reports and Dissertations: Guidance Notes on the Preparation and Presentation of Written Work, Architecture, University of Edinburgh. [Available in the Architecture Library.] Strunk, William (1918). Elements of Style, Geneva, N.Y.: Press of W.P. Humphrey. [Available on line at]

Students on a Tier 4 Visa

As a Tier 4 student visa holder, it is your responsibility to comply with the conditions of your visa. Failure to follow these conditions will result in the university reporting you to the UKVI. Your responsibilities as a Tier 4 student Further details on the terms and conditions of your Tier 4 visa can be found in the “Downloads” section at Information or advice about your Tier 4 immigration status can be obtained by contacting the International Student Advisory Service   Attendance and Engagement Monitoring of All Students UK Government Legislation relating to Points-Based Immigration requires all universities to monitor the attendance of their international students. In ECA we intend to meet this duty by monitoring the attendance and engagement of all of our students, as this will give us a positive opportunity to identify and help all students who might be having problems of one kind or another, or who might need more support. Any non-attendance of international students may affect your sponsorship status    

Leave of Absence

For students not on distance learning programmes, leave from attendance and participation is permitted to undertake study, research or other activities outside their programme of study, that enhance the student’s career or study. It requires College approval after consideration of an application by the student’s personal tutor, supervisor or programme director.   A “Leave of Absence Request Form” must be completed by your Programme Director. This form can be found here: Leave of Absence Request Form   The University regulations about this can be found here:


The following are times for scheduled workshops and seminars. Tutorial assistance will also be available at various times outwith these hours. Studio facilities are accessible 24 hours, once students have attended a Health and Safety awareness training session. Tuesday 2pm-4pm Lecture/Design Activity (year 1 part time) Wednesday 10am-1pm Tutorial slots various and subject to confirmation (course dependent) Thursday 11:10am-1pm Lecture (year 2 part time) Thursday 2pm-4pm Lecture/Design Activity (year 1 part time) Courses in both semesters will usually use these same time slots, but are subject to variation. The final summer vacation period is necessarily organised very flexibly. See the Programme Calendar for further details, but be aware that changes at any time may be notified as the year progresses, possibly at short notice. Tutorial group meetings will be organised periodically throughout the programme (not necessarily on Wednesdays) and students will be advised as necessary. Full attendance is expected at all sessions, including tutorial groups. If for some reason you are unable to attend it we expect you to let the course organiser know why in advance of the lecture or tutorial.  The best method for notification of absence is by email, rather than telephone.

Open Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-5pm, during the semester.

If you have any queries or need help, you are welcome to consult the Programme Director during these times. Other events include the regular Music Postgraduate Seminar Series, in which participation is strongly encouraged.  There are also several workshops, concerts and presentations that are closely relevant to your studies and we make the assumption that you will attend as many of these as you can. Students are expected to spend a large proportion of the working week in the studio or libraries; it should be assumed that several hours of preparatory reading may be needed for lectures or tutorials associated with the essay-based courses and a good deal of reading and studio and lab time dedicated to more practical elements of the programme. A general guideline in the University is that students will be putting in at least 40 hours of effort per week across all their courses and during the Final Project period. (1 credit point broadly equates to 10 hours of expected overall student effort.)

Teaching locations

The studio for this programme is in the "Atrium" and Sound Lab areas of Alison House, Nicolson Square (internal telephone extension 50 8133). MSc lecture/seminars will also take place in other lecture rooms, which will be advised. They are likely to include:
  • 7 Bristo Square:
  • Hugh Robson Building:
  • Old College:
The studio is normally available for MSc use, but may on occasion be booked for other purposes, e.g. teaching evening courses, visiting lectures, concerts or screenings. ECA Opening Hours, including evening and weekend access Opening Hours for all ECA buildings; 7.00am – 11.00pm Monday to Friday 10.00am – 11.00pm Saturday, Sunday throughout the calendar year, excepting the University’s annual building closure period over Christmas and New Year during which all ECA buildings will close completely. Please consult your MyEd timetables for details of individual teaching locations and times. This can be accessed here: The ECA Postgraduate Office is located at 3rd Floor, Evolution House, 78 West Port and is where all forms of administrative support for the programme can be accessed. Please note that the office is open to students only during the hours 09.30-12.30 and 13.30-16.30, Monday to Friday. The Senior Secretary for MSc Sound Design is Lyndsay Hagon – Tel: 0131 651 5735 – Email:  


Guidelines for submissions

(a) The fully “official” version of any submission is by copying the file(s) or a digital version of the written text (for essays etc.) to the online submissions system "subsys". This must always be submitted by the due date, and will be treated as the real submission for any formal purposes.  Go here and login via EASE: There is an upload folder for each person, for each submission. (b) Where asked, you should also upload your submissions to  It is a requirement that you tag each file uploaded with the appropriate metadata. Note that the infrar.ed submission is NOT the official submission, so do make sure you have submitted to the subsys first. Digital Resources (sound, images, animations, flash files, software/code etc)
  1. Name your files so that it is clear which part of the submission each file constitutes.
  2. Upload the files as a single zip to the subsys.
  3. Upload the files to Infrar.ed with suitable metadata where requested in the project brief of a particular course.
  1. You must  upload a digital copy of the essay in pdf format to the subsys.
  1. Place the site it in the ’submissions’ directory of your world-readable webspace folder.  There is a subfolder for each website submission.  Ensure that your site works in this location.  The best way to use these is actually to build your site in this location from the start.  So that we always know exactly how to view it, your website for the submission should appear online using exactly the URL derived from the name of the folder, e.g.: …/your_folder/submissions/idm1/.  This will only work if you have an index.html file directly in that folder (not in another folder inside that one), so please construct your site this way.
  2. You must still also copy the content of this folder into the subsys.  This ensures that nothing has changed on the site between the submission deadline and marking, whilst also ensuring that a  working version remains online.

Submission Dates

For all submission dates, please see the Programme Calendar.

What your work should consist of

As noted elsewhere in this handbook and in course regulations, please note Project work may only contain visual, sonic and interactive resources that are developed within the class, by you or your colleagues this year. This is in order to (1) help you develop skills in using resources creatively, responsibly and with appropriate acknowledgement, (2) enable you to publish material on the Internet without the risk of violating copyright. So you may not use or adapt external copyrighted, even creative commons or shareware resources, such as photographs, smileys, icons, video or sound or music clips, animated gifs, CD tracks, mp3 clips, etc.

Return of Marked Submissions

Final course submissions will be marked and returned within two months of the submission date.  Interim submissions will be marked within 15 working days, with feedback and discussion during tutorial meetings. For information on student feedback deadlines, please see the university regulations, specifically Regulation 15: Also see Key elements of this policy state that:
  • All students will be given at least one formative feedback or feedforward event for every course they undertake, provided during the semester in which the course is taken and in time to be useful in the completion of summative work on the course. ...
  • Feedback on formative assessed work will be provided within 15 working days of submission, or in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course, whichever is sooner. Summative marks will be returned on a published timetable, which has been made clear to students at the start of the academic year.
For our programme this is realised, in practice, by design project-oriented courses having a series of interim submissions, often known as "crit submissions", that exist primarily for the generation of feedback which arises from a later discussion of the submissions in class sessions. Note that feedback in these cases may not include a mark or grade, but will include commentary on the quality of work and advice on improvement. However, there will generally be at least one marked interim submission with written feedback. In essay-oriented courses there will be at least one interim submission (e.g. of an essay abstract) for which written feedback may be given and which will be discussed for feedback in tutorials. The timetable for these submissions and events will be part of the Programme Calendar, which forms part of this Handbook and is regularly updated online. Notes given as feedback at any stage are not necessarily complete and do not generally reference all of the assessment criteria. Compliance with any suggestions in interim feedback is no guarantee of a good mark in a later assessment.

Late submission

It is your responsibility to ensure that your work is submitted on time. If there is a legitimate reason for not being able to meet the specified deadline, approach your course organiser for an extension before the deadline. Do this as soon as you become aware that you might have a problem. University policy is that work submitted after the specified (or re-negotiated) date will be deemed to be a late submission and will be subject to a deduction of FIVE MARKS PER DAY overdue for up to 7 days (i.e. including weekends and University holidays).  After 7 days a mark of 0% will be recorded. (This policy applies throughout the University.) Note that late submission of the final MSc dissertation (Final Project) is particularly serious and could result in failure of the dissertation component, implying failure of the MSc degree. Your scheduling of all your work must take into account the vagaries of software and hardware: no kind of equipment failure, lost material, theft of laptops, etc. will normally be taken as a legitimate reason for lateness or non-submission.
If you require an extension that is less than 7 days, please download this form, complete and return to your course organiser; If an extension is required for longer than 7 days, please download and complete this form for special circumstances;  

Non-submission and Late Penalties

Penalties for late submission will be applied as per the Taught Assessment Regulations. Regulation 25 and 25.5  

Official communications


Email is the formal means of communication by the University. All students on this programme are given an official University email. Your email address is made up of: s + your student (e.g. You can access your email via the MyEd portal:


Your University email is your official email and will be used for a variety of essential communications. You must access and manage this account regularly as you will be sent vital information from time to time, for example on exam arrangements. It is assumed that you have opened and acted on these communications. Failure to do so will not be an acceptable excuse or ground for appeal. Information on forwarding your email to another mail service can be found at:

Updating Personal Details

Via Student Self Service, you can view and edit personal and study details within your MyEd Portal. The Student Personal Details channel allows you to review your contact details, address information & emergency contacts. It also provides the ability to edit certain personal details directly.

Use of Social Media

While there are many cautionary tales about the use of social media and the 'digital footprint', there are also many positives to engaging with it. There have been many examples recently of students and graduates using social media to network and, in some cases, find employment. Social media allow easy exchange of information and ideas and can provide a powerful platform for discussion – all of which is within the control of the account owner. Do not be afraid to engage with debate but do remember that what goes on the internet stays on the internet – you need to remember that a future employer may discover things about you that you would prefer to keep private. We expect you to be courteous in your postings and to not make personal or hurtful comments about other students or staff. You should ensure your comments are lawful – i.e. are consistent with legislatively protected areas of equality and diversity – and do not constitute a disciplinary offence under the University’s code, which include offensive behaviour (in writing as well as actual) and bringing the University into disrepute.

Other Forms of Communication

Mobile phones are used in emergency situations and students are encouraged to update their contact details via the MyEd portal. At times we will write to you; it is important to keep both your semester and permanent home address up to date. This is also done via the MyEd portal.  


The following staff contribute to the programme:

Dr. Martin Parker

Programme Director of MSc in Sound Design | Senior Lecturer in Sound Design | ECA Director of Outreach Room G.02 Alison House, Reid School of Music| Extension 502333

Prof. John Lee

Programme Director MSc Design and Digital Media | Professor of Digital Media | Director of EdCAAD and Deputy Director of the Human Communication Research Centre Alison House, Graduate School | Extension 502335

Prof. Richard Coyne

Academic Director Design and Digital Media, Programme Director Digital Media and Culture | Professor of Architectural Computing Minto House, Chambers Street | Extension 502332

Dr. Jules Rawlinson

Teaching Fellow in Digital Media Alison House, Graduate School

Donald Bell / George Mikrogiannakis

Studio Manager / Graduate Studio Assisant (electronic music studios, sound lab, atrium and Reid Studio) Alison House, Room - G13. | ext. - 514 320 | Tel. - +44(0)131 651 4320

Lyndsay Hagon/Emma Binks

Programme Secretary ECA Postgraduate Office, 3rd Floor, Evolution House, 78 West Port, Edinburgh, EH1 2LE Tel: + 44 (0) 131 651 5735  -  Email:


Subject librarian for Music: Jane Furness, +44 (0)131 651 5701, e-mail:   Other staff may participate in specialised teaching and supervising as appropriate; it is impractical to list them here.

Student Representation and Participation

Class Representatives

Students should elect one of the class as Class Representative, who will be invited to join the Staff-Student Liaison meetings. Additionally, all students are invited to give full and free comments and opinions on all aspects of the Programme, both to the Programme Director and to other members of staff, at any time. Note, however, that course organisers may not in all cases be able to provide immediate or written responses to comments. You'll be expected to elect your class rep by the middle of the second week of the first semester. Staff members at the University of Edinburgh work closely with student representatives. Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) coordinates student representation and provides training and support for student representatives across the University. Student representatives (‘Reps’) listen to you to identify areas for improvement, suggest solutions, and ensure that your views inform strategic decisions within the University, building a stronger academic community and improving your student life. Schools share students’ emails with their student representatives as a matter of course; any student wishing to opt out from this should tell the School’s Teaching Office/Graduate School or equivalent. Peer Support Peer Support in the context of the University means a student with more experience sharing their knowledge, skills, abilities and expertise with a new or less experienced student. Peer Support may focus around advancing your academic work, providing opportunities to socialise with other students within your School or offering additional support to ensure your well-being while at University. Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) and the University have been widely developing the Peer Support Project across the University since 2012.

Concerts, performances and presentation; documentation and production teams

The Sound Design programme and its related Digital Composition and Performance MSc are very active in the area of performance and public presentation.  We arrange many concerts and workshops through the year and expect students to take a full role in the organisation and production of these events.  We see your participation in these projects as a central component of your learning here.  While we can introduce many interesting themes and ideas in lectures and tutorials, this is an opportunity to gather real technical experience and makes an incredible difference to the speed at which you learn. All students will be expected to volunteer to be part of the production and documentation of at least one of the concerts or presentations scheduled throughout the year.  We aim to organise it such that if you are performing or presenting, then your colleagues will take responsibility for documenting it and setting up / packing away the equipment and vice-versa.  We also encourage this model when preparing documentation of final projects.

Teaching Quality and Assurance

The quality of teaching on all University programmes is regularly monitored both externally and internally. Student feedback is an important part of this process. Even more importantly, student feedback and evaluation is a very highly valued input to curriculum and programme review. For Sound Design, we provide online assessment forms for each course, which students are asked to complete and submit. These augment, but do not replace, the less formal processes of raising issues or making comments directly to teaching staff. We strongly encourage all comments, it being assumed that students will be at all times constructive, even if sometimes critical, in their feedback. Students are also encouraged to complete the annual University questionnaire for taught postgraduate students, details of which will be made available in May/June of the year of study.

Complaints Procedures

Complaints should be brought up in the first instance with the Programme Director or the Head of the ECA Postgraduate Office. Where necessary, other University procedures will apply, such as taking the matter to the College Postgraduate Dean and Secretary. Students who wish to complain about any general aspect of their programme of study should invoke the University of Edinburgh’s Complaints Proce­dure.

Other Costs

General Costs

Students should be aware that additional costs may arise in connection with any activities that involve travel, e.g. site visits, media purchase (such as memory cards, blank SD cards, CDs, DVDs, Hard Disk Drives for backup and storage etc.) and possibly in relation to summer projects.

Appendix 1: Health and Safety

The University of Edinburgh operates a no smoking policy. It is very important that all students give full consideration to health and safety in the studios, the crit rooms, and in all parts of the building. All students should familiarise themselves with the location of fire exits and the routes to them. Nothing more dangerous than a modelling knife should be used in the studio: activities involving e.g. woodworking tools or power tools should always be carried out in the workshop. The same applies to glues, paints, solvents and other volatile or flammable materials. Any such tools or materials found lying about in the studios or elsewhere will be confiscated, and their unauthorised use may give rise to disciplinary action. Any hazardous waste items (especially broken glass etc.) must be disposed of carefully in the workshop. It is particularly important to keep stairways and corridors open and free from clutter, debris and flammable materials of any kind. Activities such as gluing or spray-painting in these areas will be treated particularly seriously. In the studios, it is critical to maintain clear escape routes from any point to the nearest fire exit. These may be marked on the floor, or may be otherwise designated by the studio tutor. Nothing should be allowed to restrict these routes, or access to them, even for a limited period. This will sometimes be inconvenient, but its importance must be appreciated by everyone involved in studio work. Accumulations of clutter are common in studios, but must be avoided where there is any possibility of resulting fire risk. Piles of paper or components of models, for example, should be tidied and kept out of harm’s way. Nothing should ever be allowed to restrict access to fire extinguishers; and these must never be moved or interfered with except in the event of a fire. Crit rooms and other spaces are equally subject to these points. Similarly, they are often through-routes for cleaners and other staff, and students must have full consideration for possible dangers represented by items on the floor, suspended from wires, involving spikes or sharp edges, etc. In all cases of installations, a risk assessment should be carried out, using the risk assessment check list (with adaptations for specific projects if necessary). Note that crit rooms and other exhibition spaces should be used only for displaying work — the construction of all pieces should be carried out in the studio or workshop. Before the construction of anything large or heavy is undertaken, careful thought, including an assessment of risks, should be given to how it will be moved, displayed, stored and ultimately disposed of. Please recognise that these points are made in the interests of all users of our buildings. Good health and safety practices need be neither onerous nor obstructive if they are carried out continuously and routinely. Failure to comply with the ever-growing array of regulations in this area may easily have very serious consequences, e.g. the withdrawal of facilities such as 24-hour access to studios. An appreciation of health and safety is also an important general aspect of the design and use of all buildings, and increasingly of any professional or managerial role in any walk of life.   University of Edinburgh Security can be contacted via telephone on: 0131 650 2257 or 2222 from an internal extension.
University Health Centre 0131 650 2777

Appendix 2: Degree Programme Table

This is the official Degree Programme Table for Sound Design

Sound Design (MSc/Dip)

Degree Type: Postgraduate Taught Masters/Diploma [also available by part-time study] Source:

Appendix 3: Programme Calendar

Please note that while every effort is made to ensure accurate details, this calendar should be treated only as a guide to the structure of the year. The University Calendar is here; On the calendar below, many events are subject to alteration but whenever possible, advance notice will be given, especially if the date and time of a lecture or seminar is going to change. The titles of many events and lectures are meant as placeholders and may change depending on the weekly needs of the class. You can subscribe to the course calendars by searching Google Calendar if you have a google account: However, you can also subscribe to these calendar's with Apple's iCAL and other calendar readers using the links below. (Right click or control+click to copy and paste the link.) We strongly recommend you subscribe to these calendars in order to keep up with updates and changes to the schedule. PLEASE NOTE, if you click on these links, you'll simply download the latest calendar version to your calendar reader but it WILL NOT UPDATE, what you must do is SUBSCRIBE to the feed in order for the calendar to update each time you open it.

Subscribe to the MSc calendars with these links:

Semester dates


Special events for students on design-related programmes


Sound Design Media


Sonic Structures


Media and Culture


Digital Media Studio Project


Interactive Sound Environments


Sound and Fixed Media


Appendix 4: Printing

Taught postgraduates start with a printing allocation of £10.  Once this quota is reached, you can top up your printing account via machines at the main library. This quota is intended to help you consider whether you need to print a certain document or whether it can be read on screen.  A lot of paper and ink is wasted each year so we have found this quota system nescessary. The quota should be enough to print our your submissions and other pieces of information like project briefs.  A good way to save paper is, when printing, to print two pages per side.  This can be done by selecting LAYOUT from the print menu and choosing to print two pages per side.
how to print two pages
Notice also on the bottom left of this image that you can export a PDF file from any print command.  This is a good way of preserving web pages without printing them out on paper. For further details, see John McGovern Media Centre The John McGovern Media Centre is open to all students and staff of the Edinburgh College of Art and provides a professionally supported facility for large-scale printing and scanning.  It is based in the Department of Architecture on Chambers Street.   Other reprographics facilities may be accessible in Lauriston Place; Reprographics Printing

Appendix 5: University Structure

The University of Edinburgh is a large institution with a complex structure. It can be helpful to understand where the Sound Design programme sits within this, as you will almost certainly interact with a range of different levels of the university organisation during your time on the programme. The university is divided in to three academic colleges, which are in turn divided in to twenty schools that house a range of subject areas (departments). Alongside this academic structure are various support groups, such as Information Services (computing and libraries, among other things), Accommodation Services, and so forth. Sound Design is situated in the Reid School of Music, which is part of Edinburgh College of Art, and ECA is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Confusion can arise because ECA, despite having the word 'college' in its name, is actually a 'school' in terms of university organisation, and the Reid School of Music is actually a subject area.