Music & Sound Design for Visual Media BA (Hons) / HE Certificate

Become an audiovisual storyteller and sound designer

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Overview

The Music & Sound Design for Visual Media programme provides a focused pathway into the fields of audio production and creative sound design across the film and media industries. You’ll explore and define your own creative voice whilst building a rewarding career as a music producer, sound designer or audiovisual artist.

Build an original portfolio through interdisciplinary projects across a range of media including sound, video and installation. Produce audio for live projects as well as writing and recording music and sound for film scores, interactive installations, video games, audio libraries and more. Your creative journey will unfold whilst working in historic and vintage studios and through close collaboration with our film, music, visual effects and acting students.

From practical workshops in audio production and video editing to studio recording, mixing, linear and non-linear composition and more, throughout this hands-on programme you’ll be mastering the technical skills required for a concept to take musical and visual form. Develop a common language that bridges the music and video industries, enabling you to collaborate with practitioners from a variety of disciplines, from film editors to music directors.

Guided by a team of industry experts, your time at Catalyst will give you a solid portfolio of original and creative work along with a thriving network of fellow creative practitioners.

You can study this programme either as a full three-year BA degree or the first year only as a one-year HE Certificate.

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Join a thriving industry

The programme prepares you for the demands of the film and TV industries and provides you with the knowledge, skills and experience required to work with music, sound and visuals in any traditional or contemporary media format. Learn how to develop concepts, design and deliver distinctive sound palettes and original musical pieces for linear media formats, such as film scores or soundtracks for TV and animation. You’ll also learn to work within the evolving area of non-linear media formats, such as sound design for video games, interactive installations, VR or other immersive technologies.

By fostering your unique creative voice, our Music & Sound Design for Visual Media programme will equip you to overcome the challenges of an industry undergoing radical change – radical change that you will be part of.

“I was eager to find a place that can help me to find my creative identity and find myself in the music”

– Chi Hsuan Lo, MSVM student

Course structure

Year 1 (HE Certificate)

Year 1 covers the foundations of sound design, music composition, post-production and arrangement, while giving you profound insight into the world of visual media. You’ll be challenged on a regular basis to provide creative solutions for countless media productions, from sound walks and short film scores to music supervision for film and tv, gaming libraries, interactive technologies and immersive installation work. 

Our workshops and seminars are designed to help you grow a professional and creative toolkit that will enable you to:

  • Understand various audiovisual industries in connection with your own trajectory: taking into account entrepreneurship, creativity, visibility, distinctiveness, community-building and audience engagement.
  • Effectively identify and utilise suitable software and hardware tools for a specified brief.
  • Develop a critical perspective of the broader field of creative sound and music practice and its relationship with other media, its socio-political context and the cultural moment.
  • Understand the impact of specific technologies on the music composition, production and sound engineering process.
  • Know how to plan, develop and problem-solve in both academic and practice-led projects.
  • Learn how to balance personal aesthetics with the requirements of an external client/collaborator.
  • Make your first steps towards a career in the film and media industry.

If you choose to enrol for our HE Certificate, you will take just the first year of this programme as a standalone qualification. The one-year HE Certificate course is the same as the first year of the BA programme and you'll be learning alongside the BA students throughout the year. You have the option of progressing into the second year of our BA programme after successfully completing the HE Certificate, subject to results and availability of places.

Workshops

Development

Get support and guidance for your projects and assessments during each semester. Our programme advisors will foster a sense of community and encourage dialogue between workshops, helping you develop a well-rounded artistic perspective.

Composition for Visual Media

Develop a foundation in composition, combining instrumental and electronic music within visual media. Gain essential skills in audiovisual storytelling and studio production, including voice-leading, ear-training, harmony, and audio/video sequencing. This first semester workshop unifies students with diverse interests and a wide range of experience.

Audio Production

Get an overview of essential production tools and acquire hands-on experience in synthesis, sampling, audio effects, digital audio workstations and sequencing, as you start to develop your own distinctive palette.

Location Sound Recording & Foley

Learn how to create realistic film scenes by capturing audio on location and in studio recordings. Master microphone and recording techniques for foley, ambience and diegetic audio.

Reading an Image

Gain a deeper understanding of the context of your work and its relationship with society and other creative disciplines. Think and see with a fresh perspective, connect sound and image, and develop a common language with collaborators and clients across various media. Understand the criteria, expectations and vocabulary within art direction in order to enhance your curatorial projects and readiness for briefs and commissions.

Spatial Practices and Sound Walks 

Enrich your understanding of space-based artistic practices and learn how space can be approached from a meaningful, human perspective, beyond the technological possibilities of spatial audio and VR. Engage in off-site sound walk experiences and understand sound walks in connection to acoustic ecology, artist-political movements such as Situationism, video games and augmented reality.

Scoring and Sound Design

Craft sound with electronic instruments, covering historical developments and modern sound design. Develop fundamental technical skills while being supported in independently bringing unique approaches to life.

Postproduction Workflow

Gain hands-on experience in organising, arranging, editing and exporting your work, while sharing a workflow with collaborators such as editors and directors. Learn how to customise workflows and develop skills in cleaning and editing audio, including dialogue recorded on location.

Mixing Principles

Get an introduction to current essential mixing tools and practices. Learn the basics of mixing, from organising mix structures to developing an awareness of spatial and dynamic elements.

Exhibition

Learn how to present your work through exhibitions, performances and mixed-reality formats in this theoretical and practical training ground. Put your understanding of the entire exhibition process into practice by collaborating with external venues and art spaces or creating your own platforms and interventions for public presentations.

Non-linear Audio

Get hands-on experience performing and composing music in non-linear formats. Instead of locking in specific outcomes, you'll have the creative freedom to shape parameters, guide musical interactions and hone your skills in structuring music for longer durations with an element of unpredictability.

Installation Praxis

Discover some of the most innovative and pioneering approaches to sound installation by recreating them first-hand. You’ll walk through all the practical steps of setting up and fine-tuning an installation.

Year 2 (BA)

In Year 2, you’ll build on the foundational knowledge of Year 1 and hone your critical thinking and creative skills. Explore and expand your individual skill set and creative approach as you dig even deeper into the techniques of studio production, game sound implementation as well as linear and non-linear composition. 

The course content in your second year will focus on: 

  • Understanding the key technical requirements and processes used in a variety of outputs, including game audio, spatial sound, film scores, non-linear media and installations, then understand how those techniques adhere to industry standards.
  • How to manage your artistic and/or commercial profile.
  • Thorough planning, development and problem-solving in both academic and practice-led projects.
  • Pushing your ability to take calculated creative risks within the field.
  • Complex briefs and interdisciplinary projects.
  • Gaining a deeper insight into how your own practice relates to the wider world.

Workshops

Game Audio

Learn to integrate music and audio into games, real-time engines and standalone artworks. Building upon your skills from various workshops, you'll gain the ability to create cohesive experiences in apps, games, VR, AR, exhibitions or urban settings.

Orchestration

Discover the impact of instrument and sound palette choices on composition legibility and mood – choices that create a meeting ground between composition and sound design elements. Work with analogue and digital workflows, incorporating percussion and non-pitched instruments.

Sound in Space

Immerse yourself in various spatial audio setups, including surround sound, multichannel audio and Dolby Atmos. You'll also explore sample libraries and DAW set-ups designed to support spatial audio.

Studio Practice

Build a solid understanding of microphones and traditional recording techniques. Beyond the basics, you'll delve into extended and improvised uses of the recording studio. Through guided experimentation and exploration, you'll learn to view the studio as your own creative instrument.

Cinematic Storytelling

Enhance your storytelling skills across a range of narrative devices, from storylines to purely visual or even audio-driven narratives. Much more than a primer, you’ll discover advanced storytelling techniques across various media: strengthening your ability to reinforce and clarify a story, or to venture beyond tradition in pursuit of your own signature style.

Composition and Arrangement

In this advanced workshop, you’ll expand your compositional skills by using the technical and creative development you've accumulated over the previous three semesters. The workshop guides you from the foundational aspects of composition and arrangement towards more nuanced questions of style, coherence and the underlying intentions or prompts in your work.

Interactive Audio

Learn to craft audio within a coding environment, allowing you to map audio to actions and open-ended scenarios in gaming or VR. This workshop encourages you to take creative risks and explore fresh approaches to interactive sound.

Installation and Performance

Brush up on your conception and execution skills for public performances and installations skills. This workshop provides you with an advanced support system to help you not only reach the finish line, but to raise the bar in your own work and leave a meaningful impression on your audience.

Strategy

Develop skills applicable to both professional and personal artistic endeavours, often in tandem. You'll learn to critically assess your creative and professional position to make informed decisions for advancing your profile and personal pursuits. Gain practical insights into freelancing and sharpen your creative abilities, enhancing the visibility and clarity of your practice.

Year 3 (BA)

Consolidate your skills and creative practice. By setting out your own brief with our support, you’ll work to define your production vision and prepare to present it to the world. Produce your own creative project from concept to public release in collaboration with other creatives. Establish a professional framework that works for you and launch yourself into the music scene with empowering personal projects that prepare you for the real world and your chosen path.

Throughout all three years of our Music & Sound Design for Visual Media programme, you will be creating an unparalleled wealth of audio material for your public-facing portfolios, while broadening your perspective on the creative techniques and practices necessary to pursue your creative calling. 

The course content in your third year will focus on: 

  • Transforming your expansive learning phase into a singular direction.
  • Explore how to gain traction in professional environments, find work and get on the map.
  • Explore and define your own distinctive approach to audiovisual production.
  • Manage your own creative projects from concept and realisation to the public mind.
  • Discover creative tactics for starting, developing and completing projects, while reinforcing your own artistic universe.
  • Become proficient in working with clients and collaborators: for example, providing creative input to someone else’s track, video, installation, composition for film, etc.
  • Push the boundaries of what the professionals already can do and what clients and audiences expect; develop new and distinctive approaches across the board (music, audio and visual media).

Major Project

The third year focuses on the production of a final major project, in which you will design and set out your own brief in collaboration with an advisor. This high-level project should demonstrate all prior learning and provide a launch into industry or further study.

PUSH1: Frame

Produce and refine a proposal for your major project. Utilising skills and knowledge you’ve already acquired, you’ll set new challenges you don't yet know how to overcome. It’s time to be bold, ambitious and take risks. Become a specialist in the area you are working, whilst producing a tangible outcome in a medium you can share with the world.

PUSH2: Invent

An intensive and interative production period working on practical research, exploration, production, refinement and completion of your project. Overcome inevitable roadblocks and issues along the way in order to complete a finished artefact, and take part in weekly critique and feedback sessions to support your journey.

PUSH3: Launch

Develop and employ an appropriate strategy for getting your work out into the world. We want your project to connect with people in a way that is meaningful for you and that sets potential creative and practical foundations for your life after Catalyst.

Minor Project

Alongside your major project, you’ll have a choice to make between two minor projects (PUSH4 or PUSH5) which will complete your honours year.

PUSH4: Process (Option A)

Define, develop and provide a service for an external client or collaborator. Document and reflect on the process in relation to professionality, communication, self-development, standards and expectations. Further your professional growth by engaging in real-life collaboration, networking, client acquisition, communication and negotiation. Thought of in another way: imagine your work life starts now. What do you need in order to start out as a creative in the profession of your choice?

PUSH5: Dissertation (Option B)

A large-scale research and investigation project, culminating in a 10,000-word (+/-10%) written thesis. Define a topic or area that you’re passionate about and explore it with as much depth as possible, demonstrating an ability to understand the ideas of others, form your own ideas and opinions and present them coherently in a long-form essay.  

Your technological playground

Get hands-on access to industry-standard facilities and tons of bookable gear

Is this programme for you?

You should be interested in some or all of the following:

  • Using sound to tell stories.
  • Composing and producing music using a DAW.
  • Knowing how sound and music for films, TV, gaming and 3D worlds is created.
  • Feeling positively challenged and inspired through creative project briefs.
  • Understanding the impact of sound in any medium. 
  • Engaging in visual creation as well as audio.
  • Connecting professionally with the audio production and media industries. 
  • Building a career in the international film, music, media, gaming and wider creative industries.
  • Joining a progressive learning community supported by a dedicated team of experienced facilitators.
  • Collaborating with a community of like-minded people from over 75 different countries.

Progression

Career opportunities

Upon graduation, you'll find a range of exciting career routes awaiting you in the realm of sound and music. Whether that’s creating music compositions for film, orchestrating compelling film scores, adding texture to cinematic worlds through foley and sound design, or ensuring seamless dialogue and ADR recording for film projects, the world of audio in cinema beckons. Alternatively, you could work in the gaming industry as a sound supervisor, where you'll oversee the auditory landscape of interactive experiences, or as a game sound composer, shaping immersive soundscapes and conceptual aspects of game sound design. 

You could develop solutions for web audio or audio app development or delve into systems design for intricate auditory systems. You could use sound as your canvas for expression, connecting with others through interactive and installation art. The future is rich with possibilities for your sonic aspirations.

Self-development and creative leadership

However you measure it and whatever artistic realm you are working in, most creatives would like to achieve success with their creative endeavour. There are many types of success an individual may want to achieve, from successful completion of an artistic exploration all the way through to financial security and a global audience. 

There are many skills required to develop these dreams into real and practical futures. Our optional Self-Development & Creative Leadership course is the ‘rocket fuel’ which will provide you with the frameworks, the focus and the drive to help realise your future.

Gain an understanding of how to take decisive action and communicate powerfully with others, and take an honest look at how you limit yourself. Develop the leadership skills needed to complete your creative project, bring your work into the external world and attract an audience to share, appreciate and follow your work. 

Find out more

Our tutors are industry-acclaimed experts in their field, with a passion for passing on their knowledge to others. 

Admissions

Entry requirements

All applicants will be asked to provide: personal and educational information, documentation of their education experience, a portfolio, and a personal introduction (which can be submitted as a written statement of motivation or a video/audio clip). Visit our How To Apply page for more detail.

Minimum entry requirements

- Standard entry: graduation from high school at a level which would normally permit entry to university in the country where it was gained. This would be A-Levels in the UK and the Abitur in Germany, for example.

- Non-standard entry: We recognise that not all education happens in the classroom and it may be possible to admit you through a non-standard access route. If you do not possess the required formal qualification, but have acquired relevant professional or life experience, please contact our Admissions team.

- Language: The language of instruction in all our courses is English and applicants must demonstrate a level equal to IELTS 6. We do not ask for official exam results, but we will assess the standard of English in your application and support materials.

For more information, please contact our Admissions team and we’d be happy to discuss your opportunities to come study with us.

Admissions FAQ
Course dates and application deadlines

Course start: mid-September 2024

Applications for entry to our courses in 2024 will open on Friday 1 December 2023.

Our application deadlines for entry to our courses in 2024 are as follows:

  • Deadline for applicants requiring student visa: Friday 29 March 2024
  • Priority deadline: Friday 5 April 2024
  • Final deadline: Friday 31 May 2024
  • Late applications: From June 2024 onwards

All international students requiring a visa to study in Germany should apply by Friday 29 March 2024.

If you do not need a student visa, we strongly recommend that you apply by our priority deadline (5 April 2024) for your best chances of securing a spot on your chosen course. 

We only accept late applications from those who do not need a student visa. If the course is full, you will be added to a waiting list. 

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Tuition fees (2024 entry)

We offer 2 ways to pay:

  • Single Payment Option:
    Enrolment Fee* €895 + Tuition Fee €10,855 = €11,750 per year**
  • Instalment Payment Option:
    Enrolment Fee* €895 + Tuition Fee 10 instalments x €1,185.50 = €12,750 per year**

* Note- Enrolment fee is non-refundable. It is due every year as part of the total annual fee.
** BA degree = 3 years x total annual fee.

If you decide to enrol in both a 4-week short course and HE degree course (1 or 3-years long) with us, you will receive a discount of 500€ on the total tuition.

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Open days, Q&As and taster workshops

Get a feel for Catalyst and our courses at a range of both online and in-person events. Join us at a Virtual Open Day or an Open Day at our campus in Berlin, chat to our programme leads at Meet The Tutor, or try a taster workshop. 

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