Master of Design Science (Audio and Acoustics)

The Audio and Acoustics program is unique in Australia and one of only a few comparable programs in the world. The program offers a balance of studio-based production subjects and theoretical and investigative subjects in acoustics and technical audio. It aims to extend students' existing skills to a high level of proficiency and professionalism in the various disciplines that contribute to the audio and acoustics fields. The program suits people with an academic and/or professional track record in audio or related areas, wishing to extend the breadth and level of their expertise.

The sound studios consist of a recording studio and a 5.1 format production studio. The acoustical laboratory has an anechoic room and a reverberant room, and is equipped with state-of-the-art acoustical measurement and analysis tools.

Students in the Audio and Acoustics program have the opportunity to develop a sophisticated understanding of and skills in, audio production and its application to new media, audio system and component design, audio and architectural acoustics, digital audio systems and electronics, and music as it relates to audio design.

Students are exposed to world-class research activity and have the opportunity to undertake research projects of their own. The program is currently developing in the areas of sound reinforcement system design, interactive sound design, spatial audio, psychoacoustics and advanced measurement methods.

Unit of study table

Unit of study Credit points A: Assumed knowledge P: Prerequisites C: Corequisites N: Prohibition Session

Audio and Acoustics Stream

Core units

DESC9200
Introduction to Architectural Science
6      Semester 1
DESC9011
Audio Production
6   

Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful please contact the Student Administration Centre (SAC).
Semester 1
DESC9115
Digital Audio Systems
6      Semester 1
DESC9138
Architectural and Audio Acoustics
6      Semester 1
DESC9201
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
6      Semester 2
DESC9117
Sound Design for New Media
6   

Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful please contact the Architecture Student Administration Centre (SAC). First preference to students in the Audio and Acoustics streams.
Semester 2

Optional units

ARCH9031
Research Report
12   
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
Submit an Independent Study Approval Form, signed by your proposed supervisor, with your request to enrol. Available to Masters students only.
Semester 1
Semester 2
DESC9090
Audio Systems and Measurement
6    A DESC9138
Semester 2
DESC9134
Audio and Acoustics Seminar
6    A DESC9138 and DESC9011
P DESC9090 or DESC9133
Semester 1
DESC9135
Digital Audio Production with ProTools
6      Int June
DESC9137
Spatial Audio
6    A DESC9138 and DESC9011


Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful, please seek permission from the Architecture Student Administration Centre (SAC).
Semester 1
DESC9153
Graduate Internship
6    A Sufficient coursework to undertake guided professional work

Note: Department permission required for enrolment
Masters students only. Graduate Diploma students with permission of the Program Coordinator. Advanced Standing will not be granted for this unit of study.
Semester 1
Semester 2
DESC9300
Research in Arch. & Design Science
6    N ARCF9001

Note: Department permission required for enrolment

Semester 1
Semester 2

Unit of study descriptions

Audio and Acoustics Stream

Core units

DESC9200 Introduction to Architectural Science

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Francesco Fiorito Session: Semester 1 Classes: 5 day intensive (9am-5pm) Mode of delivery: Block Mode
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; air movement; lighting; and acoustics. Students will gain an understanding of the terminology, physical values and metrics in each of these topics, and how they apply to the design and function of buildings. Theoretical models to predict key physical values in buildings are presented and used in assessments. Learning is supported by measurement exercises.
This unit has a focused pedegogy intended for all graduate students in Design Science. It is a common core unit for all of the programs (Audio and Acoustics, Building Services, Facilities Management, Illumination Design and Sustainable Design). Students within these programs should undertake this unit in their first semester of study if possible.
DESC9011 Audio Production

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Densil Cabrera Session: Semester 1 Classes: Lecture 3 hrs/wk Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
Note: Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful please contact the Student Administration Centre (SAC).
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. It will compare and contrast broadcast and other media production methods and ideologies including music recording, radio production, sound for picture, and new media, with reference to location recording practices. The unit will examine various sound design philosophies, conventional and 'non-conventional' production models, different definitions by and of producers and provide by way of context a brief history of the impact on production practice by technological change. The producer's role in the process of the creation of meaning will be examined in cultural as well as technical contexts of compositional practices. The unit will encourage debate about and a demystification of current production processes and will aim at developing and extending production techniques towards an individual aesthetic. Students will achieve proficiency with mixing consoles, the fundamentals of multi-track recording and digital editing; demonstrate an ability to communicate their ideas, and articulate the reasons for their choices of production methods; and work successfully within a group dynamic. Students are expected to work in groups to produce an audio project in one or more of the following areas: drama, feature, documentary, sound composition, or music recording. Students are expected to: participate in the workshops; complete class exercises/constructions; read additional materials to discuss in classes; submit a script, composition or otherwise detailed proposal for recording and postproduction with detailed raison d'etre of production values; produce and present on Audio CD a completed project, including documentation, evidence of background research, a commentary on the production and production outcomes, track sheets, mixing notes. It may be an adaptation or original work. Themes will be discussed in class.
DESC9115 Digital Audio Systems

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Assoc Prof William Martens Session: Semester 1 Classes: Lectures 13 x 1.5 hrs, Labs 13 x 1.5 hrs Practical field work: Practical exercises include programming for digital signal processing of audio signals using high-level software packages to generate, manipulate and analyse sounds. Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
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. Examples of everyday audio signals are used and characterised in terms of their temporal and spectral properties. Practical application is emphasised and is supported through laboratory exercises that include programming as well as the use of current hardware and software packages. Topics include: digital principles, digital systems, sampling and quantisation, 1-bit and multi-bit conversion, digital signal processing, filtering, spectral analysis, sampling-rate conversion, data compression (MPEG etc), effects processing (echo, reverb etc), virtual reality audio, mixing, editing, optical storage (CD and DVD), magnetic storage (DAT and disks) and transmission formats (AES/EBU, SPDIF etc).
Having successfully completed this unit the student will have the tools to understand what happens to a digital audio signal when a given process is applied to it; how to best apply this process and how to successfully combine digital audio components.
DESC9138 Architectural and Audio Acoustics

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Densil Cabrera Session: Semester 1 Classes: Lecture 3 hrs/wk Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
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. By completing this unit students will be able to understand acoustical terminology, and perform calculations applicable to sound in the environment, in buildings, and in audio contexts. They will have the ability to critically assess claims of acoustical performance. This unit will provide the theoretical foundation of advanced units in audio and acoustics.
DESC9201 Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Prof Richard de Dear Session: Semester 2 Classes: 5 day intensive (9am-5pm) Mode of delivery: Block Mode
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. You will study post-occupancy evaluation tools and workplace productivity metrics. Regulations from Australia and abroad will be explored to understand their impact on acoustics, thermal comfort, lighting, indoor air quality and ventilation. The unit also pays particular attention to sustainability rating tools from around the world, including GreenStar, NABERS, LEED and BREEAM. This unit gives students extensive hands-on experience in laboratory- and field-based methods of IEQ research and building diagnostics. A recurring theme will be instrumental measurements of indoor environments, and how they can be analysed in relation to perceptual and behavioural data collected from occupants of those environments.
DESC9117 Sound Design for New Media

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Michael Bates/Assoc Prof William Martens Session: Semester 2 Classes: Seminars 3 hrs/wk Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
Note: Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful please contact the Architecture Student Administration Centre (SAC). First preference to students in the Audio and Acoustics streams.
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 an 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. This unit is intended to give an understanding of the theory and practice of digital audio production for various visual media including digital video, web-based and interactive media. Using the industry standard ProTools software the unit will look at current computer-based tools and techniques available to the sound designer, as well as examine the various underlying strategies, processes, and sound design philosophies. The unit will offer a grounding in the history, theory and criticism of sound design and its applicability to current digital visual media. It will introduce conventional and non-conventional production models across a range of media production modes in broadcasting and multimedia.
The sound designer's role in the process of creation of meaning will be examined in cultural as well as technical contexts of compositional practices. It is anticipated that the unit will encourage debate about and a demystification of current production practices. It will aim at developing and extending production techniques towards an individual aesthetic.
At the completion of this unit students will be expected to: understand the aural medium, essential concepts and terms; have an overview of film 'factory', radio and television broadcasting production antecedents on the design language; be acquainted with the history, theory and criticism of audiovisual technology and design; develop an audiovisual language; understand spatial aspects of sound design; and develop technical and conceptual skills in preproduction, general miking techniques, post-synchronisation dialogue, editing dialogue, producing sound effects, multi-track laying, selecting music, creating atmospheres and various psychoacoustic effects, synchronisation and related issues, and mixing sound for vision.

Optional units

ARCH9031 Research Report

Credit points: 12 Teacher/Coordinator: Program Director Session: Semester 1,Semester 2 Classes: Independent research under academic supervision. Mode of delivery: Supervision
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
Note: Submit an Independent Study Approval Form, signed by your proposed supervisor, with your request to enrol. Available to Masters students only.
The report is a substantial piece of research conducted over one semester. It takes the form of report (between 10000 and 15000 words) on an approved subject of your choice. The report is an opportunity to advance your knowledge and skills in a particular area. The objective of the report is to allow you to develop research and analytic skills by undertaking an in depth study of your own selection. The expected learning outcomes of the report include the ability to think critically about a problem and develop an appropriate research methodology or analytical approach to address it; identify and access appropriate sources of information, research and literature relevant to the issues; undertake relevant primary and secondary research; and present your findings in a way that demonstrates academic and professional competence. A report generally includes a literature review to delineate a problem; a statement of research aims or objectives, as well as research questions; an explanation of research methods; presentation and analysis of data; and discussion of conclusions. Permission to continue the Report may be subject to a satisfactory research proposal being approved by your supervisor by week 3 of semester. Reports are due at the end of the first week of exams for the semester in which you are enrolled. The assessment is based solely on the submission of your report. The report is generally marked by two examiners, neither of whom is your supervisor.
DESC9090 Audio Systems and Measurement

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Assoc Prof William Martens Session: Semester 2 Classes: Lectures 10 x 3hrs, Labs 3 x 3hrs (and continued lab projects) Assumed knowledge: DESC9138 Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
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.
Upon completing Audio Systems and Measurement, students will be expected to understand the implementation and limitations of a wide range of audio and acoustical measurement techniques, such as sound pressure, sound intensity, sound power, source directivity, reverberation, intelligibility, echo interference, subjective quality, and component distortion. Students will also be expected to be able to design sound reinforcement systems, and to model audio system performance using various theoretical techniques.
DESC9134 Audio and Acoustics Seminar

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Densil Cabrera Session: Semester 1 Classes: Seminar 1 hr + individual supervision Prerequisites: DESC9090 or DESC9133 Assumed knowledge: DESC9138 and DESC9011 Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
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.
DESC9135 Digital Audio Production with ProTools

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Michael Bates/Dr Densil Cabrera Session: Int June Classes: 5 day intensive (9am-5pm) Mode of delivery: Block Mode
This unit is intended to give an understanding of the principles and practice of computer-based audio production and post-production, through the focus of the industry standard ProTools software. This unit will: introduce the student to multitrack audio production concepts and practices as used with a personal computer; give an understanding of the specialised approaches and techniques used with various media, genres and formats; teach skills in computer-based audio production by way of lectures, practical demonstrations and individual or small-group practical work, both in-class and by assignments. Students will develop technical and conceptual digital sound recording skills across a wide range of production areas. They will gain an understanding of the implications of non-linear, hard disk based recording systems on production practices. They will develop sound design skills in composition, editing, signal processing and mixing, as well as data management and archiving.
DESC9137 Spatial Audio

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Michael Bates/Assoc Prof William Martens Session: Semester 1 Classes: Seminars 3hrs/wk Assumed knowledge: DESC9138 and DESC9011 Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
Note: Enrolment numbers limited by teaching resources. If your attempt to enrol online is unsuccessful, please seek permission from the Architecture Student Administration Centre (SAC).
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.
DESC9153 Graduate Internship

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Associate Dean (Education) Session: Semester 1,Semester 2 Classes: Fieldwork Assumed knowledge: Sufficient coursework to undertake guided professional work Mode of delivery: Professional Practice
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
Note: Masters students only. Graduate Diploma students with permission of the Program Coordinator. Advanced Standing will not be granted for this unit of study.
The aims of the internship are to provide a direct link between the academic core of the course and the disciplines and methods of practice; to enable candidates to experience aspects of practice and provide the opportunity for them to work in areas of the field outside their specific expertise; to enable candidates to observe, analyse and comment on the interaction between theoretical and practical issues of their Program as it is practiced, and to establish connections between practice and the development of relevant research programs. The internship is intended to provide the opportunity for students to work in various situations in their Program's area. A secondary intention is that students use the opportunities of placement to broaden their own experience beyond the limitations of their chosen discipline. Candidates must find a suitable professional placement. Permission to enrol is given after the proposed placement has been approved by the Program Director. The host organisation will nominate a supervisor for the student for the internship. The student must complete at least 120 hours of full or part-time experience, supervised by a practicing designer (or other professional depending upon the field). A log-book of each day's work, signed by the supervisor must be submitted on completion. A 2,000-word report on the benefits of the internship must also be produced. At the end of the internship the student will: demonstrate that they have completed a program of work (through a log-book); present a report; analyse their experiences and compare these to the theoretical content of the units they have completed, and suggest appropriate research directions so as to improve the complementarity of theory to practice.
DESC9300 Research in Arch. & Design Science

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Assoc Prof William Martens Session: Semester 1,Semester 2 Classes: 5 workshop sessions (1 hr/wk for first five weeks) followed by individual student supervision by an appropriate staff member (chosen according to field of research) Prohibitions: ARCF9001 Mode of delivery: Block Mode
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
This unit aims to prepare students for undertaking a research project in the various sub-disciplines of Architectural and Design Science. It begins with the workshop-based presentation of foundations of experimental science relevant to research projects within these sub-disciplines. It highlights principles of experimental design and methods of data collection and analysis. Examples of previous projects undertaken by graduate students in Design Science will be presented, as appropriate, in any of the following areas: Audio and Acoustics, Building Services, Facilities Management, Illumination Design and Sustainable Design). Although this unit has a focused pedagogy intended for all graduate students in Design Science, enrollment may be expected by other coursework students within the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, such as those undertaking the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts (M.IDEA).