The Tonmeister degree at the University of Surrey combines elements of music, physics and maths. Inspired by the unique nature of the course, I chose Surrey because of the excellent links established with companies across the audio profession, the fantastic facilities provided for students, and the teaching from a mixture of staff and current audio professionals.
The prestigious Surrey Tonmeister degree is unique in the UK, blending rigorous musical study, advanced investigation of audio engineering and mastery of sound-recording operation and practice. The programme enjoys superb links to, and reputation within, the industry.
Our Tonmeister degree is for exceptional students who are primarily interested in the theory and practice of sound recording and audio engineering. However, you will gain a breadth of experience, numerous practical skills, and invaluable initiative and adaptability that will prepare you for a career in any area of the professional audio industry.
Our degree comprises three areas of study: technical understanding of audio; practical experience of recording; and musical theory and practice. We believe that all of these components are essential for an audio engineer to be able to cope with the wide variety of tasks that the role entails.
The technical aspects of our degree cover the components that contribute to modern sound recording and reproduction, such as acoustics, electroacoustics, electronics, computer audio systems, sound synthesis and signal processing. The practical elements of your studies provide you with tuition in recording techniques and critical listening, as well as allowing you to apply technical theory by recording a wide range of music. The musical components of the programme develop your analytical skills and provide the opportunity for detailed study of creative disciplines such as performance and composition.
This is a challenging degree that has produced a stream of highly successful alumni during its long history, including winners of Oscars, Grammys and the Mercury Prize. The high quality of teaching, professional studio facilities, equipment similar to that used in the best studios and talented student intake mean that the Tonmeister course is highly regarded in the industry. Consequently, as a Tonmeister graduate you will enjoy unrivalled career prospects.
Read about the experience of Music and Sound Recording student, Jack Wensley.
Your first year is about building your foundation in technical and musical skills. The technical modules cover the fundamentals of how audio equipment operates, so that you can understand how sound is generated, captured, stored, modified and reproduced.
The musical modules cover a range of topics, including the thorough grounding necessary for you to act as a producer in musical recording sessions.
In your second year, technical modules provide you with a more detailed understanding of audio engineering processes and allow your knowledge to be applied to practical recording. In addition, the video engineering module provides you with an understanding of the video technology used in film and television, including issues such as synchronisation of audio and video.
A wide range of recording experience is included and you are required to make and submit several recordings in a range of styles. There is a broad range of music modules to choose from, so you can specialise in your area of interest, such as performance, composition, pop music, jazz, film music, music history or analysis.
Your third year is the integrated Professional Training placement year, which provides you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and helps you to make important contacts in the industry. See below for more details.
The main components of your final year are the technical project and the portfolio of recordings. Each of these allows you to specialise in whichever areas of audio and recording you consider the most interesting or useful. The music options in this final year cover a similar range of topics to Year 2.
The integrated Professional Training placement year provides you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and helps you to make important contacts in the industry. You gain valuable experience by working for a year in a commercial company, such as:
We maintain contact with you through formal visits by Professional Training tutors and other informal means. In recent years, students have obtained placements in top London studios such as:
Classical recording companies such as:
Audio-equipment manufacturers such as:
You can expect to be employed in a variety of responsible tasks, often as part of a relatively small team, tackling work ranging from music recording and editing through technical maintenance to product support.
The teaching methods that we use encompass a mixture of lectures, seminars, in-depth projects and practical work. In Years 2 and 3, you spend a significant part of your time managing your own recording sessions, and in Year 1 you learn by assisting other students
We encourage all of our students to participate in the many practical opportunities that are available. These include a wide range of ensembles, recording sessions and performance/composition workshops. Your final-year project gives you the chance to specialise in an area that is either of interest or of use in your chosen career; you are supervised individually by a member of the academic staff.
Degree results are based on continuous assessment of coursework and examinations during Years 2 and 3. Year 1 results will not count towards your degree classification. They provide the foundation of knowledge on which the remainder of the programme is built and will determine whether you are able to proceed to Year 2.
Your Year 3 technical project (a substantial piece of written work, including a practical investigation of a topic chosen by you, subject to departmental approval) and your portfolio of recordings (a selection of recordings which you have made during your undergraduate career) together will account for over 50 per cent of the Year 3 mark.
The Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) degree programme benefits from a range of facilities that are of the highest professional standards and are unmatched in the UK university sector. The majority of the facilities are housed in the Performing Arts and Technology Studios (PATS) building, which was built to stringent acoustical specifications and fitted with equipment to match the best professional studios.
As a student on the Tonmeister degree programme, you have access to three recording studios. Studio 1 has a studio floor large enough to record a full orchestra and choir, a control room containing a 48-channel Sony digital console, a Pyramix multi-channel recording and editing system and a range of analogue and digital recorders. Studio 2 has a smaller studio floor which is less reverberant and a control room containing a 56-channel SSL 9000K series console, a 24-track 2” analogue multi-track tape, Apple Logic, a 48-channel Pro Tools HDX system and a 48-track hard disk-based recorder. Studio 3 has a small overdub booth and a control room containing an AMS/Neve 88-D digital console, Pro Tools HDX with 64 channel MADI I/O, a 24-track 2” analogue multi-track tape machine, Pyramix Native with 64 channel MADI I/O, a range of outboard including Bricasti M7 reverb, and surround sound monitoring.
You also have access to three edit suites, containing a range of analogue and digital recorders and digital audio workstations, including Pro Tools HD, Apple Logic Pro, Pyramix and SADiE.
In addition to these facilities, you are able to use our extensive range of over 100 microphones, our ITU BS-1116 standard listening room, 16 Apple Mac Pro workstations, mobile recording vans and an assortment of measurement and test equipment.
We give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities or by completing a Professional Training placement abroad.
You could have the chance to go the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (Czech Republic) with Erasmus funding, the University of Cincinnati (USA), the University of Central Florida (USA), the North Carolina State University (USA), Monash University (Australia) and La Trobe University (Australia).
In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.
The broad range of subjects covered in the Tonmeister degree programme prepares you for work in any area of the audio industry, from musical roles through practical audio engineering to development of new audio technologies. Our graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, including:
Recent graduates entered employment in roles such as:
In fact, given the large number of students that have graduated from the programme, each sector of the audio industry that you can think of probably employs at least one of our graduates.
GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above (or equivalent).
Mathematics, Music and Physics A-level or equivalent are required. This may be evidenced by gaining appropriate qualifications or by passing written tests at interview.
Music Technology A-level together with ABRSM Music Theory grade 5 is acceptable in place of Music A-level.
Musical performance proficiency equivalent to ABRSM grade 7 is desirable.
Offers are normally made in terms of grades. Suitable candidates may be invited to an Applicant Day where they will be interviewed.
During the visit to the University the candidate can find out more about the programme and meet staff and students.
6.5 IELTS minimum overall
6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill
|Qualification||Course Length||Professional Training||UCAS code||KIS code|
|BMus (Tonmeister) (Hons)||4 years||J931||View KIS data set|
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
Tuition fees are currently set at £9,000 per year for UK/EU undergraduates starting in 2015. Fees for 2016 entry will be available in the autumn.
Fees for students classed as overseas for fees purposes are as follows: £13,300 for 2015 entry. Fees for 2016 entry will be available in the autumn.
The University will assess your fee status. If you are unsure whether you are likely to be considered a home, EU or overseas student for fees purposes, the UKCISA website offers more information.
Programmes marked with a tick in the table above include a Professional Training placement.
A reduced fee is charged for Professional Training placements.
Fees will not have to be paid up front for those eligible students who decide to take up the Government's loan for higher education fees. The Professional Training placement is a key factor in the high employability rates achieved by students with Surrey degrees.
Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.
Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.
Sound Recording (Tonmeister) student Oliver Scheuregger talks about his Professional Training placement in Bavaria, Germany.
Surrey's new Major/Minor undergraduate degrees let you master your favourite subject while gaining insight into a different topic, with unique linking modules that help you make connections.
The University of Surrey has been ranked sixth in this year’s Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey.
The University of Surrey is particularly well blessed for music and sound-recording facilities, including studios, rehearsal spaces and several venues for public performances.
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