Skip to main content
Unit outline_

DESC9117: Sound Design for New Media

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit aims to introduce essential concepts in sound design for a range of applications in emerging media technologies such as: interactive systems, video games, immersive video and virtual reality. A grounding will be provided in the theory and criticism of sound design in order to develop an understanding of the potentialities of utilizing audio in synergy with accompanying media. The sound designer's role in the process of creation of meaning will be examined in cultural as well as technical contexts, with the aim of developing and extending production practices towards an articulate and coherent aesthetic. The unit will also look at current computer-based tools and techniques available to the sound designer, as well as examine the various underlying strategies, processes, and sound design philosophies. Upon completion of this unit students will be expected to: understand the opportunities and challenges of different media and their essential concepts and terminology. Students will also acquaint themselves with the history, theory and criticism of sound design. Students will develop technical and conceptual skills in audio production including: building and programming physical computing audio systems, general miking techniques, producing sound effects, and mixing sound for different media, video game and interactive audio programming and immersive audio production.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Architectural and Design Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Liam Bray,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment group assignment Autonomous Vehicle Sound Prototype
A prototype sound design for an autonomous vehicle.
40% Mid-semester break Design Prototype
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment group assignment Design Report
A design report containing research on a specific example of sound design.
20% Week 05 2000 word design report
Outcomes assessed: LO3
Assignment group assignment Immersive Media Prototype
A prototype sound design for a game design.
40% Week 13 2000 word report and media delivery
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Please see the unit’s assesment brief found on canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed.


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

See faculty policy for details.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Designing with Sound Seminar (3 hr) LO2
Week 02 Principles and Patterns of Sound Design Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Intentional Product Sounds Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 Sound Design Process Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 05 Sonification and Sound Design Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 06 Sound Design for Urban Environments Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 07 Sound Design and Autonomous Agents Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 08 Generative Sound Design Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 09 Sound Design and Video Games Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Immersion in Virtual and Augmented Reality Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 11 Designing Immersive Media Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 12 Music Integration and Development Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO3

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Design, develop and implement sound-based interactions for both products and immersive media.
  • LO2. Understand the requirements and limitations of sound-based designs and develop knowledge of how sound interacts with other interactive aspects of a design.
  • LO3. Apply interaction design theories and concepts to assess, analyse and interrogate sound-based content in both products and immersive media.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This unit uses unit of study surveys for improvements each year.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.