Audio and Acoustics

Master of Architectural Science

Sound informs and shapes our experience of communication, entertainment and architectural spaces. Our audio and acoustics program offers a solid foundation in the design, measurement and theory of sound.

Throughout this program, you will combine sound recording, design and new media with acoustic engineering, signal processing, audio systems, computational modelling and psychoacoustics.

You will build on a foundational understanding of the broader aspects of architectural science, including illumination, building services, sustainable design and indoor environmental quality.

Course Details

Course name Credit points Duration
Master of Architectural Science
(Audio and Acoustics)
with second stream
96 2 years
Master of Architectural Science
(Audio and Acoustics)
72 1.5 years
Graduate Diploma in Architectural Science
(Audio and Acoustics)
48 1 year
Graduate Diploma in Architectural Science
(Audio and Acoustics)
24 0.5 year

Why choose this course?

The program is ideal for audio engineers, architects, interior designers, sustainability designers and music-industry professionals who wish to broaden and deepen their expertise. Units are taught in the evening to cater for working students.

Many students use this program to build high technical competence on their broader creative or professional background.

What will you achieve?

You will graduate with a specialist education in audio and acoustics that could lead to career opportunities in audio production, system design and acoustic consulting.

Part-time study is available for Australian citizens and permanent residents. You may also take individual units as continuing professional development short courses without enrolling in a degree.

Facilities and equipment

The faculty has extensive audio and acoustic facilities including:

  • Spatial Audio Lab

    The audio studio is being renovated in 2014-2015. It includes a production room (supporting conventional and experimental multichannel loudspeaker arrangements), and a recording suite. The production room supports the use of overhead loudspeakers (e.g. a 32-channel loudspeaker system can be installed).

  • Anechoic Chamber and
    Reverberant Room

    An anechoic room is a room with highly sound-absorptive boundaries (literally a room with no echoes). The anechoic room is also vibrationally and acoustically isolated from the building, and has a quiet air conditioning system. The resulting background noise in the room is below human hearing threshold, so the room is essentially silent from a human perspective.

  • 196-loudspeaker
    Hemispherical Array

    This facility, also referred to as ‘the dome’, was completed in 2015. It consists of 196 independent small loudspeakers arranged over a hemisphere, in a sound-absorptive room. The array radius is approximately 2.4 m, and the mean interval between adjacent loudspeakers is 11.5 degrees.
    A raised platform positions a single listener, or equipment, at the focus of the loudspeaker array.

  • Field-Measurement Kits

    In room acoustics, spatial measurement techniques have been developing quickly over the past decade, and our work has recently been deploying both loudspeaker arrays and microphone arrays for spatial analysis.
    Audio signal processing plays an important part in this type of research.

  • Indoor Environmental Quality Lab

    The facility consists of two purpose-built rooms in which all of these indoor environmental parameters can be precisely controlled or precisely transitioned across a broad range of values, in any combination, while a sample of typical building occupants (subjects) go about their typical daily activities for an exposure time (usually a few hours each experiment), all the while registering their subjective impressions (quality ratings) on a comfort questionnaire.

Indicative Course
Assuming a focus on practice

    First Year

    Semester One

  • This unit aims to explore the scientific concepts of heat, light and sound, and from this develops foundational principles and methods applicable to buildings.

    It is divided into five topics: climate and resources: thermal environment: building services: lighting; and acoustics.

    Find out more

  • The practice of audio production is a form of constructing discourse, with its own poetics i.e. its own grammar, its own conceptual shorthand, its own languages, and a multiplicity of genre, structures and forms that it sources and references albeit often tacitly or transparently.

    This unit will look at the current tools and techniques, as well as the underlying strategies, processes and inherent philosophies involved in the various audio production modes.

    Find out more

  • The objective of this unit is to provide both a strong theoretical understanding of digital audio and practical experience in applying these principles to digital audio systems.

    This unit offers a systematic approach to understanding digital audio systems. Beginning with basic principles the unit provides a knowledge base for understanding advanced digital audio components, systems and techniques.

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  • This unit introduces the fundamental concepts and issues of audio and architectural acoustics.

    Unit content: basic acoustical concepts, quantities and units; principles of sound propagation; sound absorption and room acoustics; physiological and psychological acoustics; noise measurement and specification; and principles and specification of sound insulation.

    Find out more

    First Year

    Semester Two

  • Humans' thermal, visual, auditory and olfactory senses determine the perceived quality of a built environment. This unit analyses built environments in context of these human factors.

    This unit relates human experience of buildings to the main dimensions of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): thermal, acoustic, lighting and indoor pollution.

    This understanding of human comfort perceptions is contextualised by an understanding of the various approaches to the evaluation of built environmental performance.

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  • The objectives of this unit are to introduce essential sound design concepts including editing, synchronisation, rhythm and audiovisual counterpoint; to provide an overview of the sound design for visual media process including development of understanding of the historical impact of film 'factory', radio and television broadcasting production antecedents on the design language; to learn skills in track-laying, mixing and mastering audio for different media and genres; to learn essential sound recording skills; to learn the creation of various psychoacoustic effects and atmospheres; and to learn essential file management and archiving skills; to learn essential post-production skills in computer-based sound design in a studio environment.

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  • Students will learn to make and understand a wide range of acoustical and electroacoustical measurements, assessed through laboratory work; students will learn major aspects of sound system design, assessed through project work; students will work in small groups in laboratory and project work; Audio Systems and Measurement will develop knowledge and practical skills in electroacoustics; and the laboratory and project work will extend thinking and personal skills, so that students can apply the unit content to new situations.

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    Second Year

    Semester One

  • This unit introduces students to a broad range of current research in audio and acoustics, and gives them experience in research. It consists of a series of seminars on current research projects presented by active researchers in audio and acoustics, together with individual or small-group supervision of small-scale research projects.

    By completing this unit students will gain an understanding of the research process, and receive some modest experience in research. They will appreciate a range of research methods and subject areas at the forefront of audio and acoustics. They will be in a good position to assess their interest in undertaking further academic research.

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  • Unit content: Stereophonic, binaural, and multichannel surround sound production techniques; Spatial acoustics and auditory spatial perception; spatial hearing and auditory spatial attributes (beyond localization): spatial sound quality; impulse response measurement and convolution; auralisation in architectural design; virtual auditory space and hybrid real/virtual sound spaces; and interactive spatial audio technology and applications.

    By completing this unit students will acquire: strong theoretical foundations in spatial audio; experience with spatial audio systems (physical and computational); an appreciation of spatial audio potential of emerging technologies; and an ability to integrate spatial audio into their broader practice.

    Find out more

Student Profiles

    Grant Cuthbert

    Master of Design Science
    (Audio and Acoustics, 2013)
    Acoustic Consultant, Arup

    I completed two research projects as part of my degree. At first I thought that research was not for me, and while it can be extremely challenging, it turned out to be a great method of learning; very rewarding, and something that set me apart from other candidates when searching for a job.

    One of my research projects was in collaboration with Arup, through the firm’s research and development program. This was a great opportunity for me to work alongside some of the top acoustic specialists in Australia, and to form industry relationships that would eventually lead to me being offered a job as an acoustic consultant.”

    Rob Taylor

    Master of Design Science
    (Audio and Acoustics, 2013)

    I love sound as a medium and what you can do with it, both artistically and scientifically. It’s always captivated me since I was very young. Plus, I’m quite a technology junkie and you get to play with some pretty cool gadgets in audio.

    When I was researching postgraduate programs in New South Wales, Sydney offered the only degree that leaned towards scientific based subjects like digital audio systems and acoustics.

    There appeared to be a better balance between the creative and the analytical than other courses that were available.

    Already having had a career in audio production, I’m looking at this point in my life to build upon what I have already done and maybe move into a different area.

    I’m certainly hoping to do some academic research in the future carrying on from what I am doing now in the Master degree.

    I honestly wish I had of done the course a long time ago as the science gives you an understanding of everything that is going on ‘besides’ just the mixing console and performance. A whole new area of knowledge has opened up for me and I’m really finding that very useful.

    I’m passionate about my studies; I tend to put a lot of time and effort into it. I think that’s vitally important if you want to get a good result and make the most of the experience.

    Lucas Macci

    Master of Design Science
    (Audio and Acoustics)

    I became interested in audio and acoustics while studying engineering. I have a passion for music (being a musician myself) and wanted to combine those two fields. That's how I discovered acoustical engineering.

    I didn't know much about Sydney before coming here. I chose Sydney because I was looking for a course outside Europe, with a campus close to the center of a city. When I saw the courses offered at The University of Sydney for acoustics, the diversity of course that were taught and the facilities available, my choice was made.

    I enjoyed Sound Design for New Media classes very much. This is a fascinating field, where every other aspect of acoustics is involved (including: digital signal processing, room acoustics, loudspeaker design), but used for a creative purpose. History of Sound Design also teaches a lot about the evolution of acoustics.

    Acoustics are becoming more important in many industries. New regulations are increasing the need for consultancy offices with the ability to measure, study and certify. In the transportation industry – in which I now work - acoustics have been important for many years but it is still a challenging area.

    There is a lot that remains to be discovered. In helicopters and cars, noisiness (or quietness) of the cabin is becoming a major point of investigation for manufacturers. This means the outputs from research and development are always increasing.

Meet Our
Program Director


Dr Densil Cabrera

Research Interests

Applications of psychoacoustical models
Auditory spatial perception
Room acoustical quality

Current and recent research projects have been in applications of psychoacoustical models, singer voice quality, auditory spatial perception, room acoustical quality, and auditory display. He has been involved in consulting projects in areas such as acoustics education, auditory display design, building acoustics and auditorium acoustics.

Dr Cabrera's main teaching is in the areas of architectural and audio acoustics, acoustic measurements, psychoacoustics and auditory display.

See Densil's Profile

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Audio and Acoustics