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Sound Arts

MA, PGDip

School of Arts

MA Sound Arts is a creative, interdisciplinary course that enables you to investigate exploratory and innovative Sound Arts practices including experimental composition, sound installation, field recording, site-specific practice, sonic art and improvisation. 

This programme is enhanced by a group of internationally active sound artists, composers and field recordists who curate and participate in the activities of the SARU (Sonic Art Research Unit) and the annual festival Audiograft. The weekly Listening Group complements the core provision and introduces you to the vibrant research culture around Sound Arts. 

You will develop individual and collaborative practice-based work in a stimulating environment that encourages dialogue and growth as part of a reflective community. This is a good basis for the intensive, fascinating and challenging work that thrives in this supportive, innovative and creative context.

Available start dates

September 2017 / September 2018

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MA: 12 months; PGDip: 9 months
  • Part time: MA: 24 months; PGDip 18 months

UCAS Postgraduate code

60043

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • The School of Arts offers state-of-the-art technical facilities for Sound Arts and 24-hour studio access.
  • This course is taught by leading Sound Arts practitioners creating ‘world-leading’ research as defined by the REF2014 (Research Excellence Framework).
  • You will have access to expertise in sound art, field recording, electroacoustic composition, site-based practice, experimental composition and improvisation.
  • Sound Arts is situated in an interdisicplinary context and you will work with students from Art & Design and Music.
  • The Sonic Art research Unit (SARU) and the annual ACE funded audiograft festival provide a stimulating environment for innovation and experimentation in your creative practice.
  • Many of our Arts MA students progress to PhD study.
Creative Strategies 1 and 2
These twin modules explore methodologies and strategies for generating and discussing contemporary interdisciplinary work in sound art, experimental composition, expanded arts practices and related fields. You are encouraged to become aware of your working process as a creative practitioner and to understand how to utilise a range of strategies and methodologies to develop creative ideas. Through individual and collaborative practice-based work, staff-led seminars and feedback discussions, attention is focused on how practice-based work is generated and how we make decisions. Strategies can be intuitive, spontaneous, interventionist, discursive and analytical.

Approaches to Experimental Composition and Sound Arts
This module enhances your understanding of contemporary practices in experimental composition and sound arts while introducing you to listening strategies that will enable you to engage critically with the sounding world. You will have the opportunity to focus on acoustic composition, electronic composition, field recording, soundscape studies and sound arts, and will explore the importance of site and context. The module helps you develop your skills in manipulating and experimenting with sound. It also enhances skills and practices as listeners and as organisers of sound, developing your own conceptual concerns and expanding your vocabulary of technical skills as you relate to a specific aspect of your creative practice. The module encourages you to develop a body of practical research – to include scores, recordings, performances, installations, audio documentation - and reflect upon this through seminar feedback sessions. 

Sound Arts and Interdisciplinary Practice
This module enables you to develop an understanding of your creative practice as it relates to a current understanding of contemporary sound arts and interdisciplinary practices. It focuses on the development of sound and interdisciplinary arts through a history of experimentalism, radicalism and cross art-form practices in the arts particularly of the 20th century and into the current century. Through this process we ask the questions: What is an appropriate history of interdisciplinary arts? How does a sound artist locate their practice within a broad and interdisciplinary arts field? What are the appropriate research processes for a sound artist to enable the development of a contemporary practice? The module emphasises appropriate form, context, audience and location.

Major Project
This is the culmination of your studies. You will create work for public exhibition or performance as part of the annual MA Festival that takes place at venues in and around Oxford. 

Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, modules available may vary from those listed here.

Teaching and learning

Teaching methods include:
  • Lectures and seminars held by staff on specialised topics.
  • Team teaching in group seminars involving generic issues in research methodologies for practice based research.
  • Feedback from staff during group feedback sessions, where staff make comments and provide you with constructive criticism and analysis of your work.
  • Staff led group discussions arising out of your practical work presentations.
  • Individual tutorials that address your individual research concerns.
  • Specialised introductions to creative strategies for generating and making practice based work.

Approach to assessment

  • Practical presentations of resolved ‘artworks’ and regular summative work-in-progress feedback.
  • Regular in-module formative feedback and formative feedback tutorials to ensure you are aware of your progress.
  • Written self evaluations for each creative project that reflect on all that has been achieved in the module, and how relevant insights will be carried forward. 
  • A written reflection at the culmination of the programme that reflects on all that has been achieved on the programme and in particular the Major Project and how these insights will be carried forward. This summative self reflective process is integral to the programme and in developing the necessary skills for ongoing focused practice-based research and/or ongoing independent research and practice.
  • Written case-studies, assignments and reports.
  • A final presentation of practical works as part of the MA exhibition/event/festival.

Specialist facilities

There are facilities for sound editing, photography, electronic imaging, video editing, printmaking and bookworks and a well-resourced 3-D Studio – with a kiln and casting facilities. You have access to other support equipment such as video cameras, video projectors, audio recorders, a dye-sublimation printer and a laser cutter.
 
The music studios are based in the basement of the Richard Hamilton Building - offering facilities for composition, sound editing, recording and music processing.

Music Studio 1
iMac          
Allen & Heath ZED14 Mixer
Genelec 1037C Studio Monitors
Avid Pro Tools HD Native Thunderbolt with Omni IO
Korg Pro Krome Keyboard            
Selection of microphones
Software: Avid Pro-Tools, Adobe Audition, Logic, Grainmill, CDP, Kontakt Pure Data, CSound, Sibelius, Cycling '74 MAX, GRM Tools

Music Studio 2 
iMac with second 60” screen        
Allen & Heath ZED14  Mixer 
Genelec S30C Studio Monitors 
(surround sound system)              
Korg TR music workstation
Selection of microphones 
Software: Avid Pro-Tools, Adobe Audition, Logic, Grainmill, CDP, Kontakt Pure Data, CSound, Sibelius, Cycling '74 MAX, GRM Tools 

The facilities consist of two large single user electroacoustic studios, two sound proof booths; access to Pro-Tools; Logic; Pure Data; Max/MSP; Hyperprism; GRM Tools; a range of sound-recording equipment; along with the possibility of using the two studios together as separated recording and control rooms. One studio has a pair of Genelec 1037C Shielded Active Monitoring Speakers and the other studio has a pair of Genelec S30C Active Monitoring Speakers.

The Music Technology room houses 
Suite of iMacs screen                      
Software: Pro-Tools, Audition, Logic, Grainmill, CDP, Kontakt Pure Data, CSound, Sibelius, Cycling '74 MAX, GRM Tools 

Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU)
This is a space for use by PGT and PGR students and staff.  There are currently two Apple Macs running Logic and Reaper. The SARU also houses portable Digital Sound recorders (Sound Devices, Edirol R-44 and R-09HR; Fostex FR2-LE; Roland R-26; Zoom H1); microphones (AT 4029B, AKG414, Neumann KM184, AT4041, AKG SE300B); hydrophones; geophones; and contact microphones (AKG411L). The SARU also a range of speakers available for installation and diffusion projects including Genelec 1029 (6); 8020 (6); and 8030A (2).

Video Edit Suite 2
Students have access to this iMac suite.  All computers have Adobe Creative Suite.

Music Rehearsal Rooms
Practice rooms - containing pianos and other instruments - can be reserved in advance. 

IT Facilities 
There are workstations in the library, and in other pooled rooms. There are scanning facilities and related IT facilities in the library on the 1st Floor, behind the IT Help Desk. If you need to do work for longer periods, please discuss and book a space with the IT Help Desk.  

Photocopying  
The School also maintains a photocopying machine for the use of students, which can produce colour as well as black and white photocopies, situated on the first floor near R130.
NB: There are important restrictions on the type and extent of published materials that may be photocopied. Information on legal and illegal copying is displayed prominently beside all photocopying machines in the University.

After-hours access
There is a key-card access system which allows card-holders access to the Richard Hamilton Building after hours, by using a card which will be issued to them. Each entry and exit is recorded electronically. 

Attendance pattern

Contact time takes place on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2017/18: £5,450 2018/19: £5,560

Home/EU - part time fee: 2017/18: £2,830 2018/19: £2,890

International - full time: 2017/18: £13,200 2018/19: £13,460

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by approximately 2% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
finance-fees@brookes.ac.uk

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

The general entry requirements are:
  • a good honours degree, ie an upper second or first, in any subject
  • an internationally recognised qualification equivalent to a good British honours degree.
Applicants without a first degree, but with extensive experience in the arts or other disciplines relevant to our programmes may also be considered. Please contact the Admissions Officer to discuss this.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or if you have not studied a higher education degree in English, then an English language level of IELTS 7.0 overall with 6.0 in each component is required

There is a fair amount of discussion on the programme - both in the feedback sessions and in the weekly seminar-meetings. It is therefore very important to be able to understand and speak English well enough to participate in a group conversation. 

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

You apply for this course through UCAS Postgraduate.

Through UCAS Postgraduate, you should use the UKPASS portal to make your application, which will then be forwarded directly to our Admissions Office. You should send supporting documentation to us directly using the email addresses on the UKPASS application form.

Once we have received your UKPASS application we will contact you to set up an interview, in person, or by Skype if you are not near Oxford.

At this point we will discuss further why you want to do this programme and will request to see previous practice. 

If you are not an arts practitioner we will need to hear about other work and experience, and understand how it equips you for this programme.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

This unique programme enables you to develop excellent creative capacities, combining the rigour of a more traditional academic arts programme with innovative practical and vocational components which makes eligible for a variety of practice based or research careers in arts and sustainability, individual and community change processes, cultural and environmental activism and the creative sector as well as working as musicians.

Careers

Combining the academic rigour of a traditional programme with practical  and vocational components, sonic arts and composition students at Oxford Brookes are well placed for a variety of careers in the creative sector. Many master's students who have developed their practice at postgraduate level will continue as practicing sound artists and new music composers, whilst others take up careers related to their knowledge, expertise or interests. This includes within teaching further or higher education; the media and new technologies, and cultural administration.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Student Representation
The MA programme has a course committee meeting every semester which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the programme and academic planning, along with any changes to the programmes. The committee includes the course director, course tutors, the head of school and the subject librarian. The course committee also includes student representatives. The reps are also invited to attend the School Board meetings, which take place once a semester. An election for postgraduate student reps takes place at the beginning of Semester 1; reps normally serve for the duration of their time at the University. Student representation on the committee is important: it is the most effective way in which students can make their views known about the running of the course.

Personal tutor
Although MA students are not assigned a personal tutor, the Subject coordinator and Module Leaders are available to provide the support, assistance and advice that a personal tutor would offer at undergraduate level.

Programme evaluation
Evaluation gives you the opportunity to voice your opinions directly to those who teach you, and to make sure that changes are discussed in the light of your learning experience. It is therefore an important vehicle for student representation within the University and you are urged to make every effort to take part in course evaluation.

At the end of each module you have the opportunity to make a formal written evaluation of the content and teaching of the course. Many tutors also conduct an informal feedback session.

Tutors are committed to producing a digest of student evaluations and copies are given to student representatives or are available from the Subject Coordinator. Student feedback is taken seriously by staff and it often leads to changes in the way course elements are run. Staff undertake their own collective evaluation and student views are taken into account in their discussions.

You are given the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate the course at the end of your course. Your ideas and opinions are greatly valued, and you are urged most strongly to take a little time to fill out an evaluation form and if you wish to talk informally to a member of staff about your views on the course.

Counselling
You may always seek advice and help about your work on specific units from unit and seminar leaders. Further advice on matters such as the choice of your Major Project and career possibilities may be sought from any member of the teaching team.

Student support co-ordinators are able to help with personal problems, but teaching staff may also be able to help; and certainly need to know if you are facing difficulties.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Research highlights

Staff who teach on the MA Sound Arts contributed to recent success in the School of Arts return to the REF2014 (Research Excellent Framework). Research in Sound Art was deemed to be ‘world leading’; Music – including experimental composition - achieved the highest level of top-rated research in the University at 26% and one of the Sonic Art Research Unit projects entitled Sound Diaries was submitted to the panel as an example of research that had an impact beyond academia. 60% of the research impact submitted by Music was deemed to be of ‘world leading’ quality.

Research areas and clusters

Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU). The Sonic Art Research Unit provides a forum for dialogue between the fields of Composition and Sound Art; including acousmatic, collaborative, electroacoustic, experimental, interdisciplinary and site-specific practices alongside engagement with field recording, and soundscape studies. Projects include the annual festival of sound art and experimental composition audiograft www.audiograft.co.uk.