Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BMus (Hons) or BSc (Hons) – 2017 entry

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.

What you'll study

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.

Programme overview

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 will 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 will 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.

Programme structure

Year 1 (FHEQ Level 4)

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.

Core modules:

Optional modules (two from the following):

Year 2 (FHEQ Level 5)

In your second year, technical modules will 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 will provide 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.

Core modules:

Optional modules (two from the following):

  • Skills and Repertoire 3
  • Music Project 3
  • Topic Study 3
  • Performance 3
  • Composition 1
  • Skills and Repertoire 4
  • Music Project 4
  • Topic Study 4
  • Topic Study 5
  • Performance 4
  • Composition 2

Professional Training placement

Your third year is the integrated Professional Training placement, which provide you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and help you make important contacts in the industry.

Year 3 (FHEQ Level 6)

The main components of your final year are the portfolio of recordings, and either the technical project (for BSc) or the dissertation on a topic related to music informatics (for BMus). 

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.

Core modules:

Optional modules (students select two from the following):

Professional Training placements

The integrated Professional Training placement will provide you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and help you to make important contacts in the industry. 

You will gain valuable experience by working for a year in a commercial company such as:

  • A recording studio
  • A broadcasting company
  • An audio consultancy
  • An audio manufacturer
  • A computer games developer
  • A post-production facility

We will 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:

  • Abbey Road
  • Strongroom
  • Air Lyndhurst

Classical recording companies such as:

  • Chandos
  • Floating Earth

Audio equipment manufacturers such as:

  • Harman-Becker
  • Dolby
  • Bang and Olufsen

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 will spend a significant part of your time managing your own recording sessions, and in Year 1 you will 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 will be 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.

Contact hours

The following represents an indicative estimate of how you can expect your time to be split on this programme, based on the information available at the time of publication (February 2016):

  • 15 per cent medium group teaching
  • 19 per cent large group teaching
  • 66 per cent studying and revising in your own time


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.

Recording studios

As a student on the Tonmeister degree programme, you have access to three recording studios:

Studio one

  • 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 two

  • 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
  • A 48-track hard disk-based recorder

Studio three

  • 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
  • Arange of outboard including Bricasti M7 reverb
  • 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
  • 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.

More information about the Institute of Sound Recordings facilities can be found at the Tonmeister website.

Global opportunities

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 to institutions such as:

  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Central Florida
  • North Carolina State University
  • Monash University
  • Sydney University

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Discover where our global opportunities can take you.

Career opportunities

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:

  • Audio engineering for pop music, classical music, film, post-production, mastering and broadcast
  • Audio editing for film, television, radio, classical music and pop music
  • Specification, installation, operation and maintenance of live sound systems for music and theatre
  • Technical support for the recording industry – undertaking studio maintenance, equipment rental and technical installations
  • Manufacture of all types of professional and consumer audio equipment – research and development, technical support, product management, marketing and sales
  • Creative music roles, such as composition for film and television, freelance performing or sound design for computer games

Graduate prospects

Recent graduates entered employment in roles such as:

  • Abbey Road Studios, Runner
  • Banff Centre, Audio Engineer
  • BBC, Studio Manager
  • Calrec, Customer Support Engineer
  • Focusrite, Test Engineer
  • Metropolis Studios, Assistant Recording Engineer
  • Orbitsound, Sound Technology Engineer
  • RGB Communication, Technical Support
  • Roll to Record, Sound Engineer
  • Sonorous Post, Assistant Dubbing Mixer

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.

2017 Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?



Access to HE Diploma

QAA recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma with 45 Level 3 credits at Distinction.

BTEC (QCF Level 3) Extended Diploma


European Baccalaureate

76 per cent

International Baccalaureate

36 points

Scottish Highers

Scottish Advanced Highers AAA/Scottish Highers AAAAB

Welsh Baccalaureate

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma and A-level AA

Other international qualifications

If you are an international student and you don’t meet the entry requirements to this degree, we offer the International Foundation Year.

Select your country:

Required subjects

GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above and GCSE Mathematics at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)

Mathematics, Music and Physics A-level are required

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.

Selection process

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.

English language requirements

6.5 IELTS minimum overall

6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill

If you are an international student and you are concerned that your English is not to the required standard, you may benefit from the International Foundation Year, run by the Surrey International Study Centre.

Please note that the University of Surrey offers English language programmes and is also an IELTS Test Centre.

Course Options

Qualification Course Length Professional Training UCAS code KIS code
BMus (Hons) 4 Years J931 View KIS data set
BSc (Hons) 4 Years J931 View KIS data set

Tuition fees

View a complete listing of all ongoing fees for our undergraduate programmes.

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.

Professional Training placement fees

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.

Bursaries and scholarships

We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.

Find out more

International students

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.

How to apply

Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.

More info


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Professional Training Placement

Professional Training placement: Sound Recording (Tonmeister)

Professional Training placement: Sound Recording (Tonmeister)

Sound Recording (Tonmeister) student Oliver Scheuregger talks about his Professional Training placement in Bavaria, Germany.

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