MSc Sound Design

Postgraduate, Distance Learning

This online masters degree is for audio professionals who wish to enhance and formalise their industrial experience with industry relevant theory and practices.

  • Napier code:


  • Course type:

    Distance Learning

  • Duration:

    18 months

  • Award:


  • Location:

    Distance learning

Ask about this course

About you
Enter first name
Enter last name

Course introduction

The degree is made up of three parts: taught classes, work-based learning, and a research project. All of these elements are designed to apply theory and advanced practice to enhance current approaches to sound design for linear and interactive media.

The MSc Sound Design is delivered over either 18 or 30 months on a part time basis. All of the modules are delivered by distance learning. In addition, you will also develop a deep understanding of how to assess approaches of affecting audiences’ perceptions of linear and interactive media using sound design.

Emphasis is placed on cognisance with professional standards for the production and documentation of sound designs for linear and interactive media, and familiarity with a comprehensive set of methods of assessing listening experiences.

The course builds upon Edinburgh Napier University’s close contacts with internationally recognised professional sound designers for both linear and interactive media. Information about past guest lecturers can be found on Twitter (@SoundDesignMSc).

sound design

What our students say

Alan Green, UK: “The convenience of part-time distance-learning, knowledgeable and helpful tutors, an international community of fellow students with professional sound experience, a curriculum that's offered the flexibility to pursue my own specialisms but that's also enlightened me in other areas of sound design... all in all a great learning experience.”

Karim Beidoun, Lebanon: “The MSc Sound Design course proved to a first-rate program that helped me develop my professional skill set in order to start transitioning my business from traditional music production into sound design, particularly interactive sound design in my case. The guest lectures from industry professionals provided a wealth of information that would have otherwise been quite difficult to come by. All in all, it was an intense learning experience that has helped further my career as an audio professional.”

Dr Vincent Meelberg, Netherlands: “As an academic who already has a PhD in a different field, I really appreciated the practice-based approach of the course. During the course we had many opportunities to learn from famous professionals working in sound design, both via live sessions and by watching recordings of lectures and masterclasses that they gave. Also, it was possible to tailor the assignments to meet your own needs. For me, this meant that I gained a lot of valuable practical experience designing sound for linear and interactive media, and the results were welcome additions to my portfolio. Finally, the lecturers were extremely knowledgeable and willing to help whenever you needed it. In short, following this course was a thoroughly positive and invaluable experience for me!

Toni Diaz, UK: The course was both inspiring and relevant to all aspects of sound design. It enabled me to draw on my experience, but challenged me to dig deeper into new areas. The course team were always helpful and insightful, and there is a comprehensive programme of guest speakers from a range of sound design disciplines. Studying part time and online meant I could fit my studies around my work, and implement what I learned in the workplace. I would recommend to all with a passion for sound, whether in film or games, theatrical or environmental sound.

Alejandro Cabrera, Greece: Welcome to the future! Distance learning offers the best of every world - on one hand you don't have to disrupt your life in order to pursue a degree and on the other hand, you get to study with people from all around the planet, including people whose backgrounds are extremely rich in experience and knowledge. This is what makes this course unique: Not only did I learn a lot from my professors and the course itself, but also from other students who had a lot of valuable experiences to share. Additionally, the possibility of having access not only to the lectures programmed during the course but also to any of the lectures given in the previous years is an amazing way of learning new things from the top-professionals in the field.”

Cormac Donnelly, UK:The great thing about the Sound Design masters was being able to fit it around my work schedule. I was always re-assured that even if I missed one of the live tutorials I could catch up on the content later. I also really appreciated the very clear focus of the course. From the outset my supervisor encouraged me to engage with, and direct my studies to cross-over with my own work and areas of interest. Ultimately this benefited both my studies and the work I was doing outside the course and has given me an appetite to pursue some areas of research even after completing the masters.

Michael Quinton, Malta:I have learned a lot, especially by being in a virtual classroom with fellow Sound Designers and being able to discuss and learn from them. This is a big bonus and it always helps with Networking which is essential to any freelancer. For me this was essential. Living on the island of Malta where Sound Design work is sparse and is often done on a part time basis, building a network is difficult since we are not on the mainland of Europe and where our knowledge in these things is very limited. By being in this course I have been able to learn many new things, make new contacts and to build my work base and form a direction for my career. There are also loads of lectures with prominent people in the sound design field from the film, games industry and sound researchers too. So you are learning from the tops of these industries and fields.

Craig Standen, UK:I was still able to continue with my professional work while studying for the Sound Design Masters. The virtual classroom not only allowed for discussion in relation to my studies, but I was able to connect with other Sound Designers globally, and talk about our work and careers. There were many guest lecturers from across the field, these interactions made the research I conducted more memorable and enjoyable, as there were different personalities, rather than just faceless textbooks.

What you'll study

Year 1

  • Listening
  • Sound design for linear media
  • Sound design for interactive media
  • Advanced professional practice

In the first year, you will study Advanced Professional Practice (APP) for three trimesters. This allows you to tailor your learning needs to those of your organisation or the relevant industries.

Within the first few weeks of this module, under the direction of your academic supervisor you will develop your own learning agreement, which defines the deliverables of this module. If you are an employee you will do this in negotiation with your organisation.

If you are freelance, you may either negotiate with key clients or discuss an equivalent with your supervisor. Your supervisor will mentor you throughout the three trimesters towards the achievement of the deliverables. You will provide a reflective journal on your learning.

During the first year, you will also study one module per trimester: sound design for linear media, listening and sound design for interactive media. These modules will be taken in the order determined by the date of entry to the course.

Each module is independent of the others. One objective of the APP module is for you to apply immediately, in your practice, the knowledge gained from these three taught modules. After successful completion of the year, you will be eligible for a PG Dip Sound Design. In the second year, you will complete your MSc dissertation in part time mode.

Year 2

Masters Dissertation

In this 60 credit module you will take control of your studies to produce a substantial piece of focussed academic research. Success in the dissertation module indicates an ability to work independently, so you are expected to take the initiative and manage your own project. In effect, you are undertaking independent research as an apprenticeship to an experienced academic supervisor.

Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Career opportunities

  • Audio Programmer
  • Boom Operator
  • Dialogue Editor
  • Dubbing/Rerecording Mixer
  • Foley Artist
  • Foley Editor
  • Production Sound Mixer
  • Sound Archivist/Cataloguer/Librarian
  • Sound Artist
  • Sound Designer
  • Sound Editor
  • Sound Engineer
  • Sound Lecturer
  • Sound Recordist
  • Sound Researcher
  • Sound Supervisor
  • Sound Technician

Currently sound designers can gain employment in:

  • Art
  • Audio Books
  • Audio Branding
  • Auditory Displays/Interfaces (Desktop, Mobile, Vehicle, Web)
  • AR/MR (Augmented/Mixed Reality)
  • Data Sonification
  • Education (Further and Higher)
  • Film
  • Podcasting
  • Product Design
  • Radio
  • Soundscape Design (Domestic, Leisure, Retail, Travel, Workplace)
  • Television (TV)
  • Theatre
  • Theme Parks
  • Video Games (Console, Mobile, PC)
  • VR (Virtual Reality)

We encourage you to submit your application for September 2018 entry by 31st July 2018.

Students accessing this programme will normally possess an Honours degree and have three years experience working as an audio professional, for any form of media.  

Candidates with Ordinary degrees or non-degree level professional qualifications will be considered on the basis of equivalence to the normal requirement (for example five to ten years of relevant professional experience)

  • English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We are committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.

Tuition fees
Students from 2018/19 2019/20
Home/EU-Taught modules *£890 tba
Overseas-Taught modules *£1,950 tba
Home/EU-Dissertation module £530 tba
Overseas Dissertation £1,300 tba
Home/EU Full MSc cost £5,870 tba
Overseas Full MSc cost £13,000 tba

Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.
This course comprises of 180 credits from taught modules and a dissertation. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Advanced Professional Practice ( SOC11107 )

Reflective practice – using different models and frameworks to maximise both personal and team performance

Career development through mentoring and subject specific skills development

Further information

Listening ( IMD11116 )

You will study the properties of sound, which are also known as acoustics. This includes vibration, waves and transmission. You will then progress to psychoacoustics, which relates to hearing, and includes: anatomy, mechanisms and processes.
Listening is then addressed in terms of: objects, music and language. Soundscapes, or the unique listening experience of a place, identity and memory are explored. Finally different approaches of Perceptual Audio Evaluation are considered, specifically: design, procedure and analysis.

Further information

Masters Dissertation ( SOC11101 )

The work for this module comprises the completion of an individual research project. Each student is assigned a personal Supervisor, and an Internal Examiner who monitors progress and feedback, inputs advice, examines the dissertation and takes the lead at the viva.

There are three preliminary deliverables prior to the submission of the final dissertation:

(1) Project proposal
(2) Initial Report including time plan and dissertation outline

Further information

Sound Design for Interactive Media ( IMD11118 )

You will begin by considering different types of interactive media, such as Auditory Displays, Video Games, and Sound Art, and their evolution and patterns of use over recent decades. Interactive media production methods are then surveyed, which include: requirements gathering, dialogue editing, dialogue recording, location recording, foley, sound editing, sampling and synthesis, programming and testing. Strategies for planning are examined, incorporating: event mapping, actions (triggers, cues, events), emotions, duration, variation and interactivity. Finally approaches to implementing sound design are reviewed, which comprises: palette, mix, elements, parameters, memory/stream management, geometry, and environments.

Further information

Sound Design for Linear Media ( IMD11117 )

You will begin by considering different types of linear media: Theatre, Radio, Audio Books, Film and Television. Linear media production methods are then surveyed, which include: production sound, dialogue editing, automated dialogue recording, location recording, Foley, rerecording/dubbing, sound editing, sampling and synthesis. Strategies for script analysis are examined, incorporating: explicit sounds, environments, emotions, transitions and sound maps. Finally approaches to affecting an audience’s perceptions are reviewed, which comprise: sound imagery, qualities, listening modes, expression of emotional states and sound personality types.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

School of Computing courses