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Masters Degrees (Acoustic Ecology)

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This course is due to be revalidated, please continue to check the website for changes to the programme. Read more
This course is due to be revalidated, please continue to check the website for changes to the programme.

The MA in Contemporary Arts and Music offers a comprehensive introduction to creative strategies and practice-based research methodologies for developing innovative contemporary arts and music and enabling an in depth development of your concerns and interests. It provides an excellent basis for both doctoral research and ongoing independent practice.

The course has been designed to allow artists and musicians/composers to develop their interests in a vibrant, interdisciplinary context. It encourages students to develop experimental approaches to their work and examines the conceptual and creative role of the artist and musician/composer in 21st century arts practice.

Key elements include a focus of the role of site, context and location, together with an examination of the relationship between work and audience.

It is one of four taught postgraduate courses for artists, composers and interdisciplinary practitioners currently offered by the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University. The other three courses are:
- MA in Contemporary Arts
- MA in Contemporary Arts and Music
- MA in Social Sculpture.

See the website http://www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/contemporary-arts-and-music/

Why choose this course?

- The School of Arts offers a unified hub for the arts in the Richard Hamilton Building, with state-of-the-art technical facilities and 24-hour studio access.

- A special feature of all four interdisciplinary arts MA courses is the MA Forum, in which students and staff meet to discuss creative practice in a supportive and stimulating environment.

- Innovative cross-disciplinary and socially-engaged creative practices, including internationally renowned programmes in sonic art and social sculpture.

- A stimulating environment where creative practitioners and writers about the arts and culture work closely together to form specialist research units and interdisciplinary research clusters in areas including the Sonic Art. Popular Music, Opera and Social Sculpture.

- Research and teaching programmes linked to some of Oxford’s leading cultural organisations such as Modern Art Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Music, and events such as the annual OXDOX International Documentary Film Festival.

- You have the opportunity to spend a semester at one of the following institutions: the Bauhaus University in Weimar; Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam; or the Vilnius Art Academy.

- The School of Arts has a thriving culture of practice-based PhD research students, linked to our specialist research units. Seventy per cent of these research students began on our MA courses.

- Opportunities for international study, with students recently visiting the United States, Europe and Australia.

Specialist facilities

The MA in Contemporary Arts and Music is situated in the Richard Hamilton Building, which includes a large lecture theatre, a smaller lecture room, studios and installation rooms, music practice rooms and a research room for postgraduate students. Access to the Richard Hamilton Building is available 24 hours a day for all arts students.

The department also has access to the drama studio where performances and installations can take place. This provides a live performance venue with versatile sound, lighting and staging possibilities, including surround sound, projections and raised staging and seating.

- Arts-related workshops and IT
Contemporary Arts and Music students have access to well-equipped workshops run by technical specialists in Artists’ Books, Printmaking, Photography, Video and a range of processes including casting, metalwork and woodwork. General internet, email and office software are available as well as workstations with more specialist programmes including Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Audition 3.0; Sibelius 6; Cubase Essential 4; Pure Data; Hyperprism; GRM Tools and Composers Desktop Project.

Field trips

You have the opportunity to spend a semester at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.

Attendance pattern

Full-time students meet twice weekly in the first semester - mondays and Tuesdays, and in the second semester, on Tuesdays only.

In the summer Full-time students work to develop their Major Project, which concludes in early October the following year.

Part-time students meet once a week every Tuesday in their first year, and in their second year, once a week on Mondays in Semester 1 and Tuesdays in Semester 2. In Year 2 they work through the summer on their Major Project which concludes in October of their second year.

Students doing full-time need to be on-site or nearby, at least half the week, and put in about 40 hours per week.

Part-time students are expected to be in at least one day a week, and work in their own time for at least 20 hours per week, on or off site, as appropriate.


This unique programme enables students to develop excellent creative capacities, combining the rigour of a more traditional academic arts programme with innovative practical and vocational components which makes them well placed for a variety of careers in the creative sector and to work as practising cross artform practitioners.

Many Contemporary Arts and Music master's students who have developed their practice at postgraduate level continue as practising cross artform practitioners and sound artists, whilst others develop careers related to their knowledge, expertise or interests, for example within performance, festival management, new technologies; arts administration; arts and music teaching, arts for health, acoustic ecology, and as community cross artform activists.

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.

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Intensive and specialised, MA Sound Arts at LCC gives you the chance to develop your conceptual and contextual understanding of sound arts in practice and in theory. Read more


Intensive and specialised, MA Sound Arts at LCC gives you the chance to develop your conceptual and contextual understanding of sound arts in practice and in theory. Develop an individual approach, build a distinctive portfolio and tap into the College's Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRISAP).


Intensive and specialised, this programme is designed to further the development of students’ conceptual and contextual understanding of Sound Arts practice and its discourse. Students are encouraged to adopt a personal and distinctive approach to their work and research.

The course is designed for students who have a substantial background in producing sound-based work within the context of contemporary arts and media practice. You may have studied some aspect of sound arts - such as sound design, music technology and sonic art - at undergraduate level. You may come from other disciplines, such as fine art, digital arts, or time-based or performance art. Or you may have no formal qualifications but have significant experience of producing creative work with sound and wish to develop this work in an academic context. The main characteristic of a successful applicant is that they will already have achieved a distinctive and enquiring approach to and understanding of the aspects of sound arts that they wish to develop further in a creative and experimental academic environment.

The course includes a strong taught component combined with providing students with ample opportunities for practical work. You will be able to extend your portfolio within an academic context, engage in theoretical and practical research, develop your creative and critical skills, explore personal areas of interest in sound arts and engage in practice-based research. The aim of the course is to facilitate individual practice and guide you towards a professional career as a sound artist or into research.

Specialist areas of interest within the department include the following:

Sound recording and mixing
Field recording and acoustic ecology
Interactive work
Sound installations
Live performance
Radiophonic practices
Sound for film
A variety of cross platform work


Phase 1

Practice based Research
Contemporary themes in Sound Arts practice

Phase 2

Project Development + workshops
Curatorial Contexts for Sound Art

Phase 3

Major Project

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This course is intended primarily for those with experience of music technology who wish to explore the field in more depth, or broaden their experience in interdisciplinary and multimedia work. Read more
This course is intended primarily for those with experience of music technology who wish to explore the field in more depth, or broaden their experience in interdisciplinary and multimedia work. It would also benefit those with a general musical background who wish to gain more experience working with technology, and those with experience in media-based technologies who wish to focus on sound.

We take a creative and experimental approach, whilst remaining non genre-specific. The course spans a wide variety of styles and approaches, and will be of interest to those involved in such areas as electro-acoustic/acousmatic music, soundscape, acoustic ecology, computer music, sound/sonic art, electronica, visual music and audiovisual work.

The emphasis of the course is largely practical, giving students the opportunity to produce a substantial body of creative work over the duration of the course. Students engage with a wide variety of technical and creative skills - these range from classic techniques derived from areas such as musique concrete and visual music to more contemporary practice, and include advanced skills such as software development using Max/MSP/Jitter and multimedia skills. The course will also include a grounding in postgraduate-level research methodology, and opportunities to collaborate with other musicians, performers and media practitioners.


In full-time mode, the course runs over three trimesters, September to September. The first trimester gives a thorough grounding in research methodology in the Context and Methodology module, and the Skills Portfolio module offers a toolkit of optional skills-based projects designed to allow students to improve on specific technical and creative skills as required. The second trimester offers a choice; where students can opt to explore sound within a multimedia context in the Visual Music module, or to take the Electroacoustic Composition Techniques module which focuses purely on audio work. All students will take the Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Practice module, which gives an opportunity to work with peers and across subject boundaries, with the possibility of working with other creative disciplines (film- and theatre-makers, dancers and choreographers etc.) as well as musicians. The third trimester is research-based, with students undertaking an individual Major Project which allows them to explore a chosen area in depth.


Trimester 1

• Skills Portfolio - This module is offered to allow students to garner any technical and creative skills they will need for the rest of the course. It is recognised that students at this level will already have a strong skill-set, but also that they may have areas they wish to strengthen, or indeed areas they have not previously engaged with.

• Context and Methodology - This module is intended to fulfil the requirements of a research methodology module. However, since a large part of the this programme is practice-based, and the methodology for this aspect of students’ work will be covered by other modules in the programme, it is intended to combine a study of research methodology with a study of context in terms of the student’s own practice – specifically of a set of paradigms that characterise the field’s current, creative boundaries.

Trimester 2

• Electroacoustic Composition Techniques (option) - This module will centre around a weekly seminar series. Each seminar will look at a set of techniques and their application within a compositional framework. Students will produce a portfolio of creative practical work exploring these techniques, as well as a self-evaluative written assignment which will explore the application of these techniques to their individual practice.

• Visual Music (option) - a weekly seminar series will explore the history of visual music, from pre-cinema artists such as Kandinsky and Klee, through Early Abstract Cinema pioneers such as Max Richter, Viking Eggeling and Oskar Fischinger, to the modernist, fluxus and underground artists of the 60s and 70s (the Whitney Brothers, Mark Boyle, Glenn McKay, Nam June Paik etc.). It will also cover contemporary artists such as Kurt Ralske, Jeremy Goldstein and Scott Pagano, as well as more commercial practitioners such as Chris Cunningham, Alex Rutterford and the Pleix and Shynola collectives, and new media creatives.

• Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Practice - this module encourages students to collaborate, with students on the Creative Sound and Media Technology course, with students taking our other MMus courses, or indeed with creative individuals outside of the course. It allows students who are so inclined to look beyond their core discipline and undertake interdisciplinary projects, but can also provide an opportunity to work in new ways within their core discipline through collaborative practice.

Trimester 3

• Major Project - this double module represents the culmination of the MMus, and a chance for students to work in a research-oriented environment dependent largely on personal direction and working methods. Students will use the skills acquired in their undergraduate work and the first two trimesters to produce a substantial portfolio of practical creative work. The practical portfolio will be supported by a dissertation of 5-8000 words. It is envisaged that this dissertation will be used to contextualise the practical work in terms of existing ‘repertoire’ and current practice, and to discuss any issues raised through the creative process.


Modules are normally taught via lectures, seminars and practical workshops. The Major Project is research-based and student-led, with supporting tutorials. Visiting speakers and other activities are arranged as appropriate. You are encouraged to make full use of library and IT resources within the University, and ample time will be scheduled in studios and workstation labs for independent study.


Potential career destinations include:

• Composition
• Composition for media
• Other media work (web, games etc.)
• Studio engineering/production
• Programming


Assessment takes the form of individual assignments for each module. These generally consist of a portfolio of practical work with supporting written documentation. Context and Methodology and the Major Project also involve small-scale dissertations.

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