Audio Programming


An introduction to the theory and practice of digital audio and music for games programming students.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to implement audio facilities as a games developer and to work with audio professionals as part of a development team.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Explain how audio and music are represented in digital form, and how this relates to human perception of sound.

2.  Understand and apply digital audio production and processing techniques used in games contexts.

3.  Implement and critically evaluate audio and music components within a games application.

Indicative Content

1 Introduction to Audio

How the ear works, frequency and pitch, amplitude, phase, sampling, aliasing, Nyquist, time vs. frequency representations, sinusoids, effects of basic operators.

2 Digital Audio

Digital representations, sample rate, bit depth, numerical computation concerns for audio ADCs and DACs, processing latency.

3 Audio Processing

Basic processing techniques and their implementations: normalisation, mixing, distortion, digital fillers, IIR/FIR, pitch and frequency shifting, ring modulation, reverb.

4 Audio Design for Games

Putting the above into practice: how audio is used in the design and implementation of games.

5 Audio Compression

Lossless codecs, perception and masking, perception of quality, perceptual codecs, streaming audio, audio processing for real-time chat, producing audio assets for games.

6 Audio in Game Engines

Audio facilities in real-world game engines and middleware.

7 Digital Music

How music theory relates to audio basics, structure of music and basic compositional techniques, sequencing and MIDI, streams of notes, streams of control messages, synthesis vs. sample playback, waveforms, envelopes.

8 Spatial Audio

Perception of spatial audio, multichannel audio, binaural audio, environmental audio design, characteristics of materials, reproducing an environment through processing, audio for virtual reality.

9 Interface Design with Audio

Delivering information effectively, user comfort and fatigue, how to improve accessibility through audio, current developments in audio for games interfaces.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The theoretical basis of each topic is introduced using a seminar-style or flipped-classroom lecture. Each lecture is followed by a supervised practical session that allows students to experiment with applying the techniques in practice; most will be in computer labs using audio tools or game engines, but some will involve practical recording or evaluation activities, with a focus on giving students experience with tools that are likely to be useful in games applications. Following usual practice for this programme, assessment is through a large-scale practical software project. Support is provided by teaching staff in person and online as appropriate.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 12
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Supervised Practical Activity 24
Unsupervised Practical Activity 12
Assessment 96
Independent 56

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.