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MA Sound Design for Film & Television

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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

We were the first UK university to offer a Master’s degree in sound, and we continue to offer the opportunity to harness your skills within The Faculty of Media & Communication’s vibrant production environment.

This degree will advance your sound knowledge in a variety of different genres, ranging from documentary to drama and animation. Relevant industry practice underpins teaching and learning methods on this course, which aims to enable you to develop creative opportunities in sound.

You may have an undergraduate qualification in a related subject or may be able to show your suitability for this programme of study through associated work-experience or evidence of and outputs from other related activities.

In collaboration with other disciplines from the postgraduate media production framework, you will learn how to work with sound more effectively in location and post-production environments. You will also have the opportunity to develop collaborative projects with computer generated material through Bournemouth University’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) or via other creative ventures.

You will have the advantage of working in a range of tailor-made facilities, including specially built post-production sound studios, foley/ commentary recording suites, as well as other facilities. Course-specific sound resources are available to book 24 hours a day, seven days a week for most of the year.

As part of the AVID Learning Partnership, this course has greater relevance and credibility within the industry.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year full-time


The International Moving Image Society (IMIS)

Required subjects:

Music Production, Sound Production, Media Production or related subject area.

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in a required subject, or equivalent. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Core units

  • Sound Design & Theory: An introduction to specific sound design techniques. You'll develop a critical understanding of theoretical causes alongside you production work, gain an understanding of industry-standard technology for sound production and post-production environments.
  • Narrative Constructions: Establishing a social, cultural and intellectual context for production work on the course, in combination with the other practical and professional skills taught, this unit offers a critical foundation for the effective realisation of production work. You'll collectively engage with narrative theory in a critical and analytical forum.
  • Extended Sound Design Project: Develop your understanding of a range of film and television genres. You'll engage in the development, planning and execution of a complex production project, while expanding the skills and knowledge you gained in the Sound Design & Theory unit.
  • Professional Practice: An introduction to key concepts, skills and knowledge you'll need for employment in the media industries.

Option units (choose one)*

  • Master's Production Project: You'll develop a significant production-based project. The specific nature and duration of this will be decided through a discussion with your appointed tutor. You'll encounter a range of learning and teaching methods, including individual tutorials with an academic tutor and seminars to share approaches and project development.
  • Master's Research Project: You can produce a practice-based research artefact supported by a written analysis, or an individually or collaboratively written paper. The latter consists of a written investigation into an aspect of practice, supported by media artefacts. Both of these will be the basis of a presentation of research findings at a final exhibition.

*Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

You'll gain basic skills in post-production sound work. This includes:

  • Dialogue editing
  • Sound effects editing
  • Music editing
  • Foley
  • Voice and sound effects recording
  • Location sound recording
  • Track laying
  • Mixing.

You'll also learn about the aesthetics of sound and film. This includes:

  • How the two affect each other and work together
  • How to use sound effectively in a film
  • How to communicate with directors
  • How to make judgements about film sound.

You'll create integrated sound tracks for different types of film including animation, drama and documentary. These are all included in your coursework and encouraged in extra-curricular collaborations.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the university's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for Sound Design for Film and Television.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For MA Sound Design for Film and Television we are looking for applicants who:

  • Enjoy working with other people
  • Can do more than one thing at once
  • Are flexible with time and energy levels
  • Are creative and enthusiastic
  • Can adapt to varying demands/workloads.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications and show-reels. We may also interview applicants, either at the university or over Skype for international students.

Your show-reel should demonstrate some engagement with moving image from the sound perspective. This could include an independent short film to which you provided the sound or re-worked a soundtrack for a feature film section.

You will need to attach your show-reel to your online application when required and if selected to attend an interview you will also be asked to bring a hard copy of your show-reel.

At the interview, you will be marked on the following criteria:

  • Potential for further development
  • Understanding of the role of sound
  • Portfolio of practical engagement with sound
  • Interest in film /television or interactive media
  • Collaborative potential
  • Capacity for Master's level inquiry.

If required, international students will be interviewed over Skype.

For more information, take a look at our postgraduate how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon a postgraduate taught degree are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in a required subject of Music Production, Sound Production, Media Production or related subject area, or equivalent
  • In some cases industry experience may compensate for the omission of this qualification
  • A portfolio or show reel demonstrating an engagement with the moving image from the perspective of sound is part of the selection process
  • Applicants are encouraged to provide details of relevant work experience
  • Applicants may be interviewed.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • ​IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our study postgraduate entry requirements page.


Our graduates are highly sought after in the film and TV sector. This course has been awarded accreditation by the International Moving Image Society (IMIS) in recognition of its professionalism and industry relevance in moving image education and training. Some of our alumni have worked on high-profile projects, such as the video game LittleBigPlanet, and with well-known TV channels such as Discovery, Disney Interactive and DC Comics*.

Sound Design for Film and Television graduates are now undertaking roles such as:

  • Producers
  • Audio directors
  • Sound designers
  • Sound engineers.
Joe Thwaites, BU alumni

“Almost all of the graduates I know from BU have gone on to pursue a career in the field that they studied in. This wouldn’t be the case if they didn’t leave BU motivated and passionate about their field of study.”

Joe Thwaites, MA in Sound Design for Moving Image graduate and Composer for Playstation Creative Services Group – read Joe’s story

Industries worked in

  • Media
  • Digital
  • TV
  • Film
  • Video games.

Further Study

​If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

*All information shown has been taken from Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) or BU institutional data unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the sound design sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.

Maike Helmers

Maike Helmers joined Bournemouth University's Media School in 1997 where she is now a Senior Lecturer in Sound Design and Editing.

Prior to joining BU, Maike worked in the film cutting rooms of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Film Department, where she was trained to become an Editor. She has worked across a wide range of the BBC's programme output from Drama & Docs to Current Affairs and Arts programmes.

During her career with the BBC, Maike experienced the changing worlds of 16mm / 35mm film gauges, transversed the dark side of the cutting room moon in the guise of the linear tape edit suites of the early 1990s, to emerge blinking into the early brightness of non-linear packages such as Lightworks. She also gained experience using Avid, Soundscape & ProTools.

Maike's PhD / MPhil research is centred on early German sound film. She has published several articles and reviews related to her specialist area in both The Soundtrack as well as The New Soundtrack journals.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • AVID Protools Fundamentals 1: Training and examination

Please note that it is mandatory for all students on the course to supply a laptop and certain essential software. We will send you further details nearer the start of the course and it is expected that it will cost approximately £1,600.

Production costs

The cost of making films and television programmes on the course can vary according to what the student wishes to do. For some, the costs can be very little while others may wish to spend more: how much you spend doesn't affect the assessment of your work and some good productions are often produced for very little money. The focus and attention on the course is developing your learning, and your projects are the vehicles for that to flourish. And of course the university provides all the kit and facilities you need to undertake your work.

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide.
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU pages.
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendance), you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Hear from our graduates

Alison Gregory

"My experience at Bournemouth was incredible! To this day I find myself relying on skills that I developed during my time on the course.  Along with software programmes and technical skills, I was taught the theory behind sound design, why it is we do the things we do! Having this knowledge pushes you past the surface of post sound, and into the creativity realm that makes for an excellent collaborator in film, television, and multi-media.

Since my time at Bournemouth, I have worked freelance as a sound designer on programmes for WETV, A&E, Discovery, Disney Interactive, DC Comics, and many independent features and projects. I have also branched out into video editing and received my Final Cut Pro Certification as a result of my exposure to other post-production disciplines while at Bournemouth."

Rob Bridgett, Senior Audio Director, Activision Blizzard

"The MA course at Bournemouth was a crucial stepping stone for me into the professional world of sound design and audio direction. Without the open and collaborative approach with filmmakers and animation students, it is unlikely I would have succeeded at all in the highly competitive world of sound. I not only found world-class practical and technological skills as a bedrock on the MA, but also, and for me more importantly, a focus on how to think about and make decisions regarding the aesthetic direction and meaning of sound in visual media."

Dr Randall Barnes

"Bournemouth's course in sound deepened my fascination with film sound history, theory and practice, so much so I was encouraged to complete a PhD in film sound there. Both courses not only prepared me with the knowledge necessary for approaching sound creatively, but they also gave me the practical skills needed for collaborating effectively with filmmakers. Since graduating, I've worked as a freelance sound designer, boom operator and mixer on five full-length features and four short films."

Andrew South

"The Sound Design MA proved to be an invaluable resource to my career progression as it supplied me with an excellent mixture of both academic study and vital practical skills to create a career in audio post-production. I was shortlisted in the 'Best Sound Design' category at the British Animation Awards for collaborative work I undertook while at Bournemouth. This would not have been possible without the guidance and expertise of the lecturers on the course and their true passion for all things audio.

Since graduating I have worked on some fantastic theatre productions, independent films and documentaries. The course is a hard full-time body of work that requires strong dedication but what you will get out of it will be indispensable to your career."

Andreas Brandrup Elkjaer

"I became an independent film producer and consultant, and founded my own company, INSP! Media. My experience of the MA Sound Design course was overall positive. I gained advanced skills in the use of Pro Tools through practice, and although I came from a BA in Film and Media Studies, most of the theoretical part of the course was new knowledge to me. As an all-round producer, the sound production course gave me a strong focus on the importance of sound in audiovisual communication which makes my products stand out in the crowd."


Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.