SSR - Studio & Live Music Production BSc (Hons) - Studio & Live Music Production

Studio & Live Music Production BSc (Hons)

Ever thought about touring the world as a live sound engineer? Or recording, producing and mastering a CD for your favourite band? Maybe you’re more into designing the world’s best PA system. Or creating a great film soundtrack? Perhaps you haven’t quite decided yet where you see your future career taking you. This studio and live music production degree course in Manchester will give you the skills and opportunities to experience it all. Live Sound. Studio Engineering. Music Production.

You’ll delve into audio theory and concepts, and together with practical and creative projects, master a whole range of skills that will open doors to a myriad of career opportunities in live sound, studio recording, broadcast industries, systems installation, games audio, events management and many others. Why limit your possibilities? Bring in a band and put your skills to the test mixing a show in our dedicated live venue. Or push your mixing skills beyond the limit by mixing music in 5.1 surround sound? And add to your CV with some industry certification: Pro Tools 101 and 110.

We work with leading companies and professionals to ensure you develop your project management and business skills, so you can take control of your career from the beginning. And a work placement in your second year means you're already connected in the industry before you even graduate.

Afraid to move out of your comfort zone? Make every zone your comfort zone. Build a career with confidence.

Course Content
The course is split into modules over three levels (years):

Year 1 (HE4 modules):

Studio Recording Techniques
The module aims to introduce the environment, equipment, techniques and procedures involved in the production of music in a recording studio, while providing foundation knowledge of studio recording techniques. You will acquire entry-level studio recording skills using industry specific software and hardware, and will also provide opportunities for professional and personal development by embedding an industry recognised qualification, Pro Tools 101. Study will focus on signal flow, basic analogue mixing consoles, patch bays, microphones and microphone technique, session procedures and studio etiquette, and Health & Safety.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Investigate practices involved within modern recording techniques.
2. Successfully record and playback audio signals.
3. Select microphones and identify effective microphone techniques.
4. Plan and conduct a basic recording session.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of signal flow while effectively operating professional recording software and hardware.

Assessment: A studio practical test, a recording project, and the Pro Tools 101 online exam.

Live Sound Engineering
This module aims to introduce the basic procedures and techniques involved in live sound production, through examination of best working practices and industry specific terminology. The module will focus on individual learning styles and will provide opportunities for professional and personal development by embedding a British Safety Council Health & Safety Level 2 qualification. You will acquire basic live sound reinforcement skills using industry specific software and hardware, while studying industry job roles and best practice principles. Study will also focus on live signal flow, mains distribution, PA components, live mixing consoles, cables & connectors, and basic live microphone techniques.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Examine practices and roles involved within live sound reinforcement industry.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of signal flow within PA systems.
3. Identify PA system components.
4. Identify potential hazards and risks involved in constructing and operating a PA system.

Assessment: A live practical test, an essay, and a British Safety Council Level 2 Certification exam.

Music Production Analysis
This module aims to develop, through listening and analytical skills, an awareness of music arrangement, instrumentation and production styles, while examining 20th and 21st century music production techniques that have led to recent production styles. You will appraise current music production software through analysis of techniques and procedures used with computers and related technologies in contemporary music production, while also learning skills and techniques that will develop an individual production style. Training in current music production software will complement the critical analysis of current music production techniques. Study on this module will include contextual studies, history of popular music production techniques, critical listening, musical arrangement and instrumentation, music sequencing and programming.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Examine and appraise compositional arrangement and instrumentation techniques.
2. Identify current and past trends in music production.
3. Distinguish between different instruments within a mix.
4. Describe the impact of computers and digital systems and processing on modern production techniques.

Assessment: A research essay, and in-class presentation.

Sound Wave Theory
This module will explore the characteristics of sound, by allowing you to study these in practical examples. This will underpin the values and skills learned in other modules on the course. You will be introduced to these concepts by the application of theory to recording and mixing techniques involved in contemporary music production. Study will focus on frequency, amplitude, speed of sound, wave interaction and phase, harmonics, decibels, and psychoacoustics.

The module aims to provide an introduction to the physics of sound, and to explore the characteristics of the properties of sound. It will also explore the psychological aspect of sound perception, while applying theory and concepts to practice within sound recording and playback.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Identify and define the characteristics of sound waves.
2. Illustrate sound wave interaction by practical example.
3. Explain the process of hearing and psychoacoustic phenomena.
4. Recognise and define subject specific terminology.

Assessment: An in-class written test and 2 practical tests using Pro Tools.

Studio Production and Mixing
This module aims to develop further recording skills and an understanding of mixing techniques, while appraising and developing further audio processing skills. It will also provide accreditation in industry recognised software. You will progress your studio recording skills by use of signal processing and dynamic controllers, while acquiring music mixing skills using industry specific software and hardware. Study in this module will focus on advanced signal flow, signal processing, dynamic control, equalisation, mixing techniques, and Pro Tools 110 accreditation.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Record and mix music to a level suitable for ‘demo’ use, rather than commercial release.
2. Effectively operate audio processing software and hardware.
3. Effectively apply dynamic control and equalisation techniques in recording and mixing.
4. Communicate effectively with artists and other engineers.
5. Document a studio session and personal performance.

Assessment: A recording & mixing project, a studio log & essay, and the Pro Tools 110 online exam.

Live Music Production
This module aims to provide an in-depth study of sound reinforcement procedures involved in live music production, and to develop communication skills and team building skills. You will examine best working practices, and role-specific requirements, while developing the creative skills required for a live music production event from planning to execution. Study in this module will focus on technical specifications of a live music event, line checking and sound checking, PA voicing, stage monitoring and wireless systems, audio processing, front of house (FOH) mixing techniques, and communication and artist liaison.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Plan and prepare effectively for the production of a live sound event.
2. Identify and interpret technical specifications.
3. Effectively apply audio processing within a FOH mix.
4. Set up and operate effective monitoring systems for artists.
5. Communicate effectively with artists and other engineers.

Assessment: A technical specification report, and a practical live mixing assignment.

Study Skills
This module aims to underpin values implicit for success in all other modules by emphasising student responsibility for individual learning and independent study, time management, team work and peer appraisal. This module will consolidate your basic understanding of essay and report writing, develop communication and presentation skills, and introduce you to personal development planning (PDP). It will also provide elements of work-related learning and encourage reflective practice and analytical skills. You will be encouraged to access a range of learning resources, while you study information and study skills, research techniques and Harvard referencing, goal-setting and time management, and communication and presentation skills.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Apply academic conventions to essay writing.
2. Identify and implement appropriate research techniques.
3. Deliver a presentation which demonstrates reflective practice.

Assessment: An in-class presentation, and a written essay.

Year 2 (HE5 modules):

Studio Production Techniques
This module aims to employ a range of techniques and procedures used in professional music production, advancing your skills in recording and mixing, and including microphone technique and session procedures. The module also aims to critically evaluate studio production techniques, in both analogue and digital platforms, introduce control surfaces, and examine and appraise current audio processing techniques while you develop studio skills to a professional engineering standard. Study within this module will focus on advanced microphone techniques, control surfaces and digital mixing consoles, mixing automation, and advanced audio processing techniques including time correction, tuning and pitch correction.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Record music to professional engineer standard.
2. Integrate advanced audio processing software and hardware in a recording and mix session.
3. Mix music to professional engineer standard.
4. Examine digital and analogue platforms.
5. Document a studio session and evaluate studio techniques.

Assessment: A research essay, a recording project and a mixing project.

Music Production and Remixing
This module aims to introduce new music production software while further identifying and defining the role of current technology in modern composition, and will introduce new skills in editing and remixing on various platforms. Through examination of the art of ‘remixing’ and the role of ‘remixers’, you will acquire and apply remixing skills to previously recorded audio. Study will focus on advanced MIDI processes, remixing techniques and styles, Apple Logic Pro X (where there is the option to take the Level 1 accreditation exam).

Learning Outcomes:
1. Examine and apply effective editing techniques with current music sequencing software.
2. Compare and contrast various music sequencing software applications.
3. Analyse and evaluate the art of the remixer, and the leading practitioners in the field.
4. Remix a pre-recorded track in a specific genre to a professional standard.
5. Creatively apply MIDI controllers to enhance the MIDI signal.

Assessment: An essay and a practical assignment.

Sound Synthesis
This module aims to enhance the understanding of the creation, synthesis and manipulation of new sounds as compositional tools, using current technologies, and to examine the role of samplers, and the effect of the synthesiser on modern music production. The module will promote creativity and individuality, and encourage you to explore new approaches in composition skills and sound manipulation, while improving planning and project management skills. Using samplers and synthesisers, you will investigate the possibilities of composing with ‘found sounds’ and ‘noise’ while developing creative ideas in composition within the context of TV and film advertising. Throughout the last century composers have made use of ‘found sounds’ in melodic, textural and rhythmic form and employed these in innovative compositional techniques.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Effectively operate hardware and software samplers and synthesisers.
2. Analyse compositional techniques in relation to their use within visual media.
3. Employ various methods of sound synthesis in a creative composition.

Assessment: A compositional project.

Events Planning
This module aims to investigate and appraise best working practices associated with live event planning. You will develop transferable skills to widen your skill set within the live sound industry, and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to organise and manage a live event, while utilising networking, communication and group skills. Study within this module will focus on key aspects of live events such as a music tours and music festivals, tour management, stage management, production management, budgeting, event safety and effective communication and time management.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Identify roles and responsibilities within event management.
2. Discuss and assess event management strategies.
3. Plan, organise and manage an event as part of a team.
4. Recognise and utilise effective scheduling and troubleshooting techniques.
5. Communicate effectively with artists and other professionals.

Assessment: A research project, and a group presentation.

Music for Games
Composition for computer games is a growing market especially since the rising popularity of iOS and browser-based games such as those found within social media. Recent studies suggest that the number of producers concentrating on composing for computer games is rising year by year. In the UK alone there are approximately 500 working composers for computer games and this number is rising year by year. This module aims to introduce you to the games industry, while discussing the role of music as an integral part of the gaming experience. It also aims to develop further creative and compositional techniques with a view to creating music for computer games. The module also aims to explore the issues of music publishing and intellectual property rights (IPR), and the synchronisation opportunities available to music producers within this industry. The module will explore compositional and production techniques used within music in the games industry. Study will also focus on employability by examining the pathways for music publishing and synchronisation.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Create musical compositions and motifs suitable for computer games.
2. Effectively apply music compositions to visual material.
3. Investigate synchronisation opportunities for music in the games industry.

Assessment: A report, and a composition for a game.

Digital Systems for Live Events
This module introduces digital systems in the field of Live Sound, and will develop skills in designing virtual PA systems using dedicated software. This module also aims to broaden your skills using the most current and state of the art digital equipment, encouraging you to enhance your employability while developing live mixing skills using digital systems. You will further develop organisational and planning skills while studying virtual sound-checking, audio networking systems, digital mixing consoles and system configuration, and live mixing and recording techniques.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Apply software to design a system and create effective audio networking solutions.
2. Investigate and evaluate best working practice associated with digital sound systems.
3. Effectively operate a digital live sound system.
4. Record a live gig to a professional standard.
5. Mix music in a live environment to a professional standard.

Assessment: A network design exercise with a report, and a practical live mixing project.

Work Based Learning
Experience in a real working environment is necessary in this module to promote understanding of best practice. Before starting the period of work placement, you must plan and organise the placement under the supervision of the placement tutor. You will undertake to liaise with the tutor during the planning and application stages, as well as throughout the period of work placement itself. This module will enable you to experience employment at an appropriate level within the creative industries and to develop knowledge and hard skills relevant to your chosen career path. It also aims to provide training in a working environment and to promote networking and employment opportunities, while you develop soft skills such as effective communication and interpersonal skills.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Identify personal strengths and weaknesses and plan strategies for development around these.
2. Plan and organise, and prepare effectively, for a period of work experience.
3. Evaluate and appraise your own performance.
4. Present information to a group in a professional and effective manner.
5. Perform assigned tasks successfully to professional standards.

Assessment: A proposal document, a period of work placement, and a portfolio presented within the class.

Year 3 (HE6 modules):

PA Design
This module aims to equip you with a comprehensive range of skills in designing PA systems for a range of applications. You will take into consideration issues relating to PA design, including environment, health and safety, acoustics, frequency balance and control, and client specifics such as noise sensitivity and audience coverage. You will also be expected to appraise a range of components using current system prediction software and client-based criteria, to enable effective design solutions, as well as explore the history of, and current trends in, PA design. The coursework assessment will involve research into current PA system design trends, and will require you to design a PA system for a real venue which will tackle acoustic, environmental and structural problems in the design.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Apply predictive and modelling software to simulate a PA system.
2. Investigate and create innovative solutions to PA design problems.
3. Evaluate and appraise current PA system designs and components and their compatibility.
4. Utilise, and draw conclusions from, spectrum analysis.

Assessment: A design report and a practical exercise.

Applied Music Production
This module aims to incorporate new media to advance your skills in mixing music. While focussing on industry requirements, this module aims to introduce techniques for current and new media while appraising current mixing styles and requirements of a range of media. Encompassing a wide range of media for playback of music, from websites to mobile phones, to 5.1 surround sound systems, this module will focus on 5.1 Surround Sound mixing for music, data compression for MP3 encoding, critical listening, and research into, and critical evaluation of, current and emerging media.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Investigate and evaluate current and emerging media for playback of music.
2. Mix music in 5.1 surround sound to a professional, commercial standard.
3. Summarise the requirements of data compression in producing music for emerging technologies.
4. Analyse and evaluate mixing styles and procedures in producing music for a range of media.

Assessment: A portfolio of mix exercises, and a research report.

Mastering Techniques
In this module you will advance from stereo mixing skills to producing the final production master. It will introduce current mastering software and develop already established skills such as equalisation and compression. You will compare and contrast both analogue and digital workflows in terms of creativity and sonic quality, and will be required to work to a professional standard at all times.

This module aims to analyse and evaluate traditional and current techniques and technologies for the reproduction of music in different media, while examining the concepts and technologies involved in professional mastering processes. It will develop creative and technical aptitude in the compilation and ordering of audio material, and examine the concepts of loudness and clarity.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Analyse and evaluate the role of compression and limiting within current audio mastering.
2. Assess the sonic properties of analogue and digital processing within audio mastering.
3. Produce a professional standard production master audio recording in a range of formats.
4. Apply and evaluate creative and corrective solutions in equalisation and compression techniques.
5. Document workflows and self-evaluate skills and techniques used.

Assessment: A portfolio of mastered audio which includes an evaluative report.

Entrepreneurial Skills
This module aims to introduce you to the entrepreneurial practice of exploring new opportunities, starting a new business, and capitalising on existing business models, while also raising awareness of necessary professional attributes and protocols. It also aims to broaden the scope of available career paths, while highlighting issues surrounding self-employment. You will be expected to research and investigate the music and creative industries environment to source an entrepreneurial project that could be developed into a business or additional income steam. The module will explore certain concepts and theories such as entrepreneurship; social networks, raising capital and funding opportunities; guiding principles of the self-employed; frameworks used to analyse the process of entrepreneurial opportunity discovery; global success and branding; international & national business opportunities; market research; business types and legalities; product placement; strategy and principles of project planning, demographics and professional ethics.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Analyse and investigate career opportunities within the music and creative industries business environment.
2. Propose an entrepreneurial project and argue for its feasibility in the market place.
3. Critically evaluate the outcome of the entrepreneurial project.

Assessment: A personal portfolio which documents a proposed entrepreneurial project and an in-class presentation.

This is a student-centred module. You will devise, plan and realise your own project related to music production and the creative industries. You will be encouraged to research suitable topics in the break before the start of the semester, to ensure that allocation of a mentor and formal identification of the Project specifications can be achieved early in the year. You will define the nature and scope of the project, execute tasks and critically evaluate the outcomes. The result of the project will be that you will produce a fully-realised and substantial artefact. You will be responsible for structuring, developing and time-managing your work throughout the year.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Produce a portfolio of work within a specialist field of study.
2. Integrate knowledge gained in a range of areas (e.g. social, legal, commercial, creative aspects).
3. Design and evaluate solutions to resolve technical, creative and personal issues.
4. Apply professional values to all aspects of the development and presentation of the project.
5. Manage and administrate work to make it suitable for public presentation.
6. Articulate arguments to a high standard.

Assessment: A portfolio of work, and a viva voce.
Key Information
Qualification – Qualification - BSc (Hons) Studio and Live Music Production (awarding body: University of Central Lancashire), certification in Pro Tools 101 and 110 (awarding body: AVID), Health & Safety Level 2 certification (awarding body: British Safety Council). Optional certification in Logic Pro (awarding body Apple).

Tuition Fees – £9250 per year (full time), and £1540 per 20 credit module (part time). Total costs for the course are £27,750 (full time), and £27,720 (part time).

Funding – Information on funding for this course can be found here.

Duration –3 years full time, or 5 years part time

Start Date – September 2018

Entry Requirements – 80 UCAS points from at least two A2-level passes (or equivalent) including one science or technology-based subject and one music or design-related subject. Applicants for these courses must also have five GCSE passes at grade C or above (or equivalent) including mathematics and English. Applicants will be required to attend for interview.

European applicants may not be able to attend an interview in the UK; once your application has been processed, you should submit an e-portfolio work by arrangement with us; this will be followed by a telephone interview. If English is not your first language, English at IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) will be required. Please ask for details.

This course is open to UK and EU students. Applications from International students cannot usually be accepted because SSR does not have a Tier 4 licence. Therefore, if you require sponsorship under Tier 4 (i.e. a Tier 4 international student visa to study in the UK) then unfortunately we will be unable to consider your application for this course.

Contact Hours – Generally, for each 20 credit module you undertake, you will be required to spend 200 studying; these hours will be divided between contact hours (time spent at SSR with staff) and independent study hours. On average, 60-70 hours of contact time is timetabled per module and each module might be split like this:

Associated costs – We will not charge you any additional fees or ask you to pay any additional costs that are mandatory for the completion of your course. In addition to the course fees, there are some further costs which you may incur as a student on this course. These costs are optional and are not mandatory to your studies. These might involve buying for example:
  • A pair of headphones, something like Sennheiser HD201 (£15-£25), or perhaps if you require something more robust Sennheiser HD25 (around £120)
  • An external hard drive for backing up your work (a 1TB drive might cost around £40)
  • USB/flash/pen drives; some submissions will require work to be submitted on these, and while you will have them returned to you eventually this may take some time (buying in bulk will save money and an 8GB might be as little as £2-£3)
  • Generic ear protection, like the ACS ER20 ear plugs, around £11
  • Optional certification in Apple Logic Pro requires a course book and registration fee of £80
  • While AVID Pro Tools accreditation is embedded into the course, and accreditation to 110 level is required to pass, both 101 and 110 each offer two free attempts at the exam. If a third or more attempt is required to pass an exam, the student will incur a cost for each attempt of $29.00. (Approximately £22.50.)
The purchase of books, stationery and computer consumables is an additional cost and so we suggest a minimum budget of £80 per term to cover these purposes. 

Contact details - For an informal discussion and further details about the course please contact the course leader:
Jay Beard - 
Tel: +44 (0)161 276 2108
UCAS Code: J931 BSc/SLMP
UCAS Institution: C30
Campus code: Z

If you need any further help or advice on the application process, please contact or call us on 0161 276 2100.

Qualification – Qualification - BSc (Hons) Studio and Live Music Production (awarding body: University of Central Lancashire), certification in Pro Tools 101 and 110 (awarding body: AVID), Health & Safety Level 2 certification (awarding body: British Safety Council). Opt
Academic Partner – University of Central Lancashire
Duration – 3 years full-time, or 5 years part-time
Mode of Study – Part Time & Full Time
Time of Study – Daytime
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