Acoustics course

The Acoustics specialization of the Mechanical Engineering Master's degree provides expertise in acoustics, whether in the scientific, industrial or musical fields. Topics covered include the use of sound and ultrasound, noise diagnosis and treatment, and music analysis and synthesis. On completion of the course, the acoustician is ready to work in an industrial environment or design office. They can also take part in research and development in physical acoustics, acoustic engineering or musical acoustics.

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Acoustics course


The Acoustics program takes two years to complete. Each year of the master's program comprises two semesters. After a first year devoted to acquiring general knowledge in acoustics (M1), students can specialize in M2, either in Acoustic Engineering (IA), or in Acoustics, Signal Processing and Computer Science Applied to Music (ATIAM).

First year (M1)

The first year provides a solid grounding in mechanics, as well as general training in acoustics. The first semester is built around a common core of 18 ECTS in mechanics alongiside the other mechanics specialties. Successful completion of this common core requires a prerequisite in continuum mechanics. The other units in this semester are dedicated to general acoustics, sensors and digital techniques for acoustics and vibration. The second semester of the first year is made up of UEs that provide insight into the various branches of acoustics, a UE for refining one's professional project, English and an internship (in a company or laboratory) lasting a minimum of 12 weeks.

The first year is therefore a busy one, during which students acquire the basic skills in acoustics through a variety of teaching formats: lectures, tutorials, practical work, as well as a lot of project work and a fairly long internship. At the end of the first year, everything is in place for specialization in one of the two courses offered in M2.


Download the M1 UE description




The Acoustics Master's program trains engineers and researchers in acoustics.

Acoustics engineers need to acquire skills in a variety of fields where acoustic and vibratory phenomena occur:

  • noise and vibration problems (diagnosis, treatment, etc.), improving the noise environment;
  • the use of sound waves to study industrial, natural or biological systems (NDT, medical engineering, geophysics, etc.);
  • the design and study of musical instruments and other musical tools ...

In addition to these technical skills, training in acoustics places great emphasis on organizational skills and written, oral and multimedia communication. These skills are developed through projects, which form part of the assessment of many modules. These projects can be carried out alone or as part of a team.

The first year (M1) of the Acoustics course provides basic knowledge specific to acoustics and vibrations.


First half-year

The course consists of two parts:
A common core with the other mechanical engineering specialties, comprising three fundamental units:

  • Mechanics of continuous solid and fluid media (6 ECTS)
  • Vibrations and Waves (6 ECTS)
  • Digital Methods and Signal Processing (6 ECTS)

A specific part consisting of 2 UEs providing the basics of acoustics:

  • General acoustics and projects in acoustics and vibration (6 ECTS)
  • Sensors, measurement and digital techniques in acoustics and vibration (6 ECTS)

Second semester

The content and form of the courses enable students to design their professional project and choose their M2 pathway (Acoustic Engineering or ATIAM). The second semester comprises 4 UEs :

  • Acoustics and applications (3 ECTS): UE dedicated to an initial approach to the propagation of elastic waves in solids.
  • Additional signal processing in acoustics and vibration: This course supplements the signal processing course of the first semester about concepts of random signals (3 ECTS).
  • Project in acoustics and vibration (6 ECTS): 180 hours of work in pairs on an acoustics and/or vibration issue, experimental and/or theoretical, proposed by the students or the teaching team.
  • Free UE (3ECTS): UE freely chosen from other master's courses.

In addition :

  • an English UE (3 ECTS)
  • Professional Orientation and Integration (3 ECTS): This course comprises three workshops (CV, covering letter, company knowledge) and a series of lectures by professionals in various fields of acoustics.
  • Internship (9 ECTS): 12-week internship (April to July) in a company or laboratory. Assessment is based on the writing of a dissertation and performing an oral presentation.



M2 - Acoustic engineering

This course prepares students for a variety of careers in acoustics and vibration engineering. It comprises a core curriculum of 12 ECTS, which enables students to refine the general knowledge of acoustics they acquired in M1, in terms of theory, numerics and experimentation. It then splits into 2 specializations (of 18 ECTS each):

  • Architectural and Urban Acoustics (AcAr): to assess, understand and improve sound ambiences in everyday environments.
  • Acoustique Physique et Industrielle (AcPhy):the study of elastic waves. To model and synthesize acoustic fields. To learn how to manipulate sound as a diagnostic tool and information vector.

In the second semester, the end-of-study internship (minimum 20 weeks) is carried out in a company or laboratory, in France or abroad.


Part of the training is common to all acoustics students and followed by two optional courses.

Core curriculum (12 ECTS)

  • Fundamentals of acoustics engineering (9 ECTS): 60h of lectures and tutorials plus 75h of application projects
    • This course offers extensive study of fundamental acoustic phenomena in ideal and dissipative fluid media. It covers fluid acoustics, radiation and structural acoustic radiation.
  • Experimental methods in acoustics (3 ECTS): 30 hours of experimental practical work to discover and implement measurement methods in airborne acoustics and/or ultrasound.

AcAr option : Architectural and Urban Acoustics (18 ECTS)

To assess, improve and design sound environments in everyday life. Most courses are taught by professionals: architects and engineers working in acoustics design offices.

  • Architecture and room acoustics (6 ECTS, 1er semester) 30 h CM and 30 h Projects
    • Provides basic knowledge of room architecture and acoustics. Conventions and architectural representations. Structuring and organizing architectural projects. Objective clues and subjective criteria related to listening.  Interactions between architecture and room acoustics. Introduction to Architectural Room Acoustics
  • Perception, psychoacoustics and environmental acoustics (6 ECTS, first semester) 60 h CM
    • Introduction to psychoacoustic investigation and perceptual aspects of environmental acoustics. Functional anatomy of the auditory system. Perception and auditory organization. Sound quality of places and products. Sound mapping and the European directive. Urban soundscapes and sound experiences. Urban planning and development. Psycho-acoustic perception. Environmental acoustics.
  • Workplace Acoustics and Insulation (6 ECTS, 1er semester) 60 h CM
    • Raise awareness of noise problems in the workplace and learn about practical solutions. Regulations and related acoustic values. Specific features of professional premises and related socio-economic imperatives. Technical and architectural solutions for reducing nuisance. Protection of people and the environment. Workplace acoustics. Insulation
  • Architectural acoustics project (6 ECTS, 2e semester) 200 h Projects
    • Project work supervised by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. Ability to integrate acoustic constraints and architectural objectives into a project approach.
  • Internship in architectural acoustics (21 ECTS, 2e semester)
    • Full-time work of at least 16 weeks in a laboratory or industry. Complementary professional integration and training through research. Development of cross-disciplinary skills.

AcPhy option: Physical & Industrial Acoustics (18 ECTS)

To study elastic waves in various solid and fluid media, to analyze and model audible or ultrasonic acoustic fields, to identify the sources and paths of noise pollution, to develop and implement techniques for studying or synthesizing sounds, to extract from sounds information about the media they pass through.

  • Complements to Physical and Industrial Acoustics (6 ECTS, 1er semester) 50 h CM and 30 h
    • Projects. Presentation of complex phenomena in physical and industrial acoustics. Propagation in anisotropic solid media. Propagation in isotropic solid media. Aeroacoustics. Non-linear phenomena.
  • Advanced signal processing in acoustics, (3 ECTS, 1er semester) 15 h CM + 15 h TP
    • Theoretical and practical training in current signal processing methods. Numerical and matrix methods.
    • Filtering, certain or random signals, causal, analytical. Optimal and adaptive digital filtering. Correlation, deconvolution. Time-frequency analysis. Parametric estimation. HR(MUSIC) methods. Applications
  • Numerical modeling in acoustic engineering (3 ECTS, 1er semester) 12 h CM + 12 h TP
    • Theoretical and practical training in the numerical methods most frequently used in acoustics, engineering and research.
    • Solving the wave equation in the time domain. Scheme order, implicit/explicit scheme, Stability, dispersion and numerical dissipation, Standard schemes.
  • Applications in physical and industrial acoustics (6 ECTS, 1er semester) 60 h CM
    • Introduction to physical and industrial acoustics applications
    • Four options of about 15 hours each, chosen from Medical applications, Underwater acoustics, Non-destructive testing, Psycho-acoustics – perception, Geoacoustics, Room acoustics, Laser acoustics, Environmental acoustics, Propagation in extreme conditions or Acoustic insulation.
  • Internship in physical or industrial acoustics, (27 ECTS, second semester)
    • A minimum of 20 weeks full-time work in a laboratory or industry.
    • Complementary professional integration and training through research - Perfecting cross-disciplinary skills.


M2 - Acoustics, Signal Processing and Computing Applied to Music (ATIAM)

Created on the initiative of several French institutions active in the field of music research and supported by the French Ministry of Culture, the ATIAM training course at Sorbonne University is organized in collaboration with Ircam and Telecom ParisTech.

The program is designed in 30 ECTS (5 modules of 6 ECTS) to provide the scientific foundations and musical culture needed to tackle research in the following fields:

  • musical acoustics,
  • sound signal processing and
  • computer music

In the second semester, the end-of-study internship (five to six months) is carried out in a company or laboratory, in France or abroad.The course completed by professional integration assistance and English language training.


Semester 3 EU

Fundamentals of acoustics, signal processing and computer science applied to music (6 ECTS)

This UE lays the foundations that will enable the other UEs specific to the ATIAM course to fully develop, both scientifically and in terms of a general knowledge of twentieth-century music. The first part of the course enables students from a variety of backgrounds to master the concepts required for the advanced study of acoustics, signal processing and computer science as they apply to music. An introduction to twentieth-century music and the computational aspects of musicology naturally forms the second part of this course.

Musical acoustics (6 ECTS)

This course aims to develop a strong grasp of the scientific tools of musical acoustics, enabling an extensive study of musical instruments both from an experimental point of view and through the development of models that range from vibratory aspects to acoustic radiation. A good command of the theoretical tools of acoustics (frequency/time response in propagative systems, Green's function, radiation) combined with knowledge of dissipative mechanisms should enable students to study the oscillation regimes of musical instruments, the coupling of various elements that structure them, the control exercised by the instrumentalist over his instrument and the sound radiated in a performance hall.

Music signal processing (6 ECTS)

This UE introduces various tools for signal processing and representation (filter synthesis, filter banks), musical signal analysis-transformation-synthesis (phase vocoder, additive synthesis, source/filter models), signal and non-linear system modeling (Volterra series), as well as various musical applications (estimation of musical structures, note pitches, high-resolution spectral analysis and source separation using NMF models).

Computer music (6 ECTS)

This course aims to develop a clear understanding and/or mastery of the main computer tools specific to music, both in terms of symbolic representation and programming languages. The course provides students with solid knowledge of the different symbolic representations of musical structures, to develop their mastery of the midi protocol for music analysis and generation, and to help them identify the different programming languages for music (real time / delayed time). Finally, this course will enable students to use tools from algebraic calculus (word and group theory) to formalize musical structures and processes.

Music projects and applications (6 ECTS)

This UE offers applications and implementations of acoustics, signal processing and computer science in music-related problems. It aims to enable students to integrate skills from several scientific fields for a study applied to music. Based on a project-based pedagogy, the course will develop group work skills and enable students to build upon their expertise in a specific direction. Last but not least, this course will open the door to current research by drawing on publications in the field, which students may be asked to integrate into a project.

Semester 4 EU

IP - Professional Integration (3 ECTS)

This module is designed to help ATIAM Master's students enhance their academic career and create their professional project. Writing and presentation techniques based on target analyses will be covered. Furthermore, there will be visits to laboratories and presentations about careers (academic and non-academic sectors) related to the ATIAM Master's degree.

English (3 ECTS)

Research internship (24 ECTS)

Starting in February, students take part in a five- to 6-month internship in a public or private laboratory, carrying out cutting-edge techno-scientific experiments (see "Internship thesis").


Skills and knowledge

  • Identify and model acoustic generation and propagation phenomena
  • Measure and analyze acoustic signals and fields (noise, sound, speech and music)
  • Study vibro-acoustic systems: musical instruments, machines, ...
  • Ultrasound for exploration and diagnosis (NDT, medical, geophysical, etc.)
  • Analyze and model the functioning of musical instruments
  • Analyze and model room and building acoustics
  • Diagnose noise pollution: housing, industrial and urban sites, transport, etc.
  • Recommend solutions to nuisances that are compatible with ecological, budgetary and regulatory constraints
  • Analyze, process and synthesize musical signals and speech
  • Create interfaces between musicians and digital instruments
  • Master psychophysical and cognitive analysis in relation to sound perception
  • Master computerized musical acoustics tools
  • Analyze musical works using mathematical models
  • Design and conduct research and assessment projects
  • Analyze scientific and technical literature in French and English
  • Publish and disseminate results in French and English (articles, report, web, etc.)


Target audience and prerequisites

In first year:

  • Hold a bachelor's degree in Mechanics, Physics or Mathematics
  • Prerequisites: solid background in Mechanics, Physics or Mathematics

In second year:

  • Master 1 in Mechanics, Physics or Mathematics
  • Hold an engineering degree with certified knowledge in Mechanics, Physics or Mathematics.
  • Prerequisites: solid training at M1 level in Mechanics, Physics or Mathematics


Job opportunities

Sectors of activity :

  • Building, civil engineering and public works;
  • Ground, aeronautical and space transportation;
  • Energy industries;
  • Materials and structures;
  • Acoustic design offices;
  • Telecommunications;
  • Consumer electronics, sound and music industry;
  • Engineering in Oceanography, Geosciences and Health;
  • Basic and applied research.



Course leader

Quentin GRIMAL

Head of M2 Acoustics


Head of M2 ATIAM

Benoît FABRE