MSc/Diploma in Sound Design
Frequently Asked Questions
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If you have questions that are not fully answered by the information you have already found via http://sd.caad.ed.ac.uk then you may find the answers on this page.
What are the qualifications needed for entry to this programme?
Our programme is entirely post-graduate entry. You must therefore have a recognised university degree, which can be in a wide range of disciplines (not necessarily sound based, or even design-related). We require a first degree result equivalent to a UK upper-second class honours degree. It is not easy to define what this means in terms of other systems … our College Postgraduate Office will make a judgment. As a rough guide, if your institution awards degrees that are at a similar standard to a UK university, you should be in the top 25-30% or so of a typical year group.
What documents do I need to send when applying?
You will need the following when you apply online:
• A fully completed online application form (via EUCLID, the online applications system)
• It is very useful if, within the personal statement section of the online form, you can provide a brief account of why you wish to enter our programme (especially if your background is not in design or a related area);
• An uploaded scan of your degree transcript (translated if appropriate);
• An uploaded scan of your English Language certificate (if applicable);
• References from two referees. You can simply include names and e-mail addresses on the online application form, and we will send an email request for the references. Otherwise, you can include the references with your application. In that case, they must be an uploaded scan of an official headed letter, and should refer to this specific degree programme. The letter should also provide official contact details should we wish to confirm validity of a reference.
Do I need to submit a portfolio of sound work, or to have specialised sound/sound technology knowledge?
Not necessarily, however, a portfolio of sound related work is very helpful for the admissions tutor, and is essential if your first degree is not in a sound or sound technology related subject. This could range from being an essay on sound to a CD of recordings or an example of work you have produced as a sound practitioner. There is no requirement for applicants to have any particular standard of design work, and in fact we have had students who were not designers before they came here.
You are welcome to submit a portfolio if you have relevant qualifications. This is often useful when there is competition for places.
We also do not require any particular kind of computing knowledge or experience: we assume only that you will be able to learn very quickly. We do not aim for detailed training on specific kinds of software, but rather build the skills and knowledge that underlie the use of all sound design.
What does a portfolio consist of?
The portfolio should be representative of your latest and best sound work. It doesn’t need to be large but some of your best projects should be there, choose the ones that you are most proud of. If the work is collaborative, you should clearly state what your role in each projects was. The work can be an essay about sound, a CD of music, websites, animations or any other project where sound had an important role.
Will I be interviewed?
There is a strong possibility you will be interviewed on the telephone before an offer is made but this is no always nescessary. We like to meet you in person if at all possible but in most cases a telephone interview will be sufficient. We’ll ask you questions about your career goals and reasons for applying to the MSc.
Will I be asked to submit anything else?
Possibly. Certainly, those who apply for the MSc without the standard academic qualifications will be asked to submit a 1500 word essay entitled “What is sound design?” which should be correctly annotated with a bibliography and signed stating this is your own work. It is best if this is accompanied with the online application as a PDF file but we may ask you for it once your application has been processed.
What standard of English language competence do I require?
If English is your first language, or you have taken your first degree in an English-speaking country, then you will not normally need to prove your English competence. Otherwise, you will need a certificate. There are various testing services whose certificates are recognised here. Currently, the required English score on various of these tests is:
- TOEFL paper-based 580 (including at least 55 in section and 4.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE));
- TOEFL computer-based 237 (including at least 21 in each section and 4.0 in TWE);
- TOEFL-iBT 92 (with at least 20 in each section);
- IELTS 6.5 (including at least 6.0 in each section);
- Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English Grade A
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CP) B.
Further information about English language requirements is also available from http://www.hss.ed.ac.uk/Postgraduate/prospective/englang.htm.
Note that if you need to take or re-take an English test, you should consider the timing: results of these tests are often issued in September, which is too late if you are aiming for admission in October of the same year. Please try to take an earlier test, to avoid this problem. Bear in mind also that we will need an original of your certificate, not any kind of copy.
Does it matter how old I am?
No. Your age makes no difference at all.
When should I apply if I want to be admitted in September of a given year?
Any time, but preferably before the end of March of that year. We will still do our best to process later applications, but there can be problems with immigration issues, language testing deadlines, etc.
How long will it take to get a response to my application?
It could take several weeks after we receive your application, depending on what time of year your application arrives, and how busy the College Postgraduate Office is.
How long is the course?
The programme involves 6 courses and a project (for the MSc) or 6 courses (for the Diploma), and takes a full academic year, September to August (September to May for the Diploma). There is no difference in fees for the MSc or Diploma. The programme is also available part time, over two years.
Do you have holidays?
There are two 12-week semesters of teaching, and then a final (vacation) term devoted to a project. There are holidays at Christmas and around Easter. These are generally of about 3 weeks. Details of current holiday dates can also be found at http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/semester-dates
Can the programme be studied part-time? Or as a correspondence course?
You can study part time over two years, but not by correspondence.
Where will I live?
There are various University halls of residence, otherwise it is possible to find accommodation in flats, bed-sitting rooms, etc. in the city. The University Accommodation Services department can advise.
How much does it cost?
Costs have two components: fees and living costs.
• Fees for overseas students in 2008-2009 are £10 650 (pounds sterling), with an additional research costs charge of £800. See links from http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/applying, and also http://www.international.ed.ac.uk/ and in particular http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/fees-finance/postgraduate-fees. Querying Home or Overseas Fee status can be clarified at http://www.registry.ed.ac.uk/Fees/WhatIsFeeStatus.htm.
• Fees for ‘home’ (UK/European Union) students in 2008-009 are £4600; the research costs charge of £800 also applies.
• At http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/international/finance/cost-of-living a calculation on living costs is offered.
Is there any funding, e.g. scholarships, available for this programme?
Students usually either self-funded, or funded by non-UK government scholarships. Some further suggestions for sources of financial assistance can be found at http://www.scholarships.ed.ac.uk.
Applicants to MSc Sound Design are eligible to apply for the 2010 History of Art/Architecture AHRC Professional Preparation Masters studentship. Please visit
What are the employment prospects for graduates from this programme?
Many and various. Much will also depend on your previous background and where in the world you plan to work. But graduates will have valuable skills in sound design, in the use and understanding of the tools involved in sound design, in professional and practice issues, and in the cultural background to the impact of the sound on the design world. This implies many open routes into employment, into diverse kinds of design practice, and also into further research, perhaps for an academic career. (We are very open to proposals from students who would wish to continue to study for a PhD.) Some of our recent graduates are working for the BBC, in multimedia and web design or have been commissioned to create sound design as freelance practitioners.
If you still have a question that has not been answered, please email us
martin.parker [at] ed.ac.uk
MSc Sound Design