MUSONIC 3720 - Sound Design for Games III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2024

This course will develop an understanding of sound design for games and its associated components such as: music, dialogue and voice, ambience and effects. This will be achieved by theoretically and practically exploring the concept of sound design through lectures, tutorials and workshops. In particular students will examine a range of topics, technologies and techniques such as: history of sound in games, composition, effects creation, mixing, production, sourcing and clearance, delivery, management and quality assurance; complete readings and listening/viewings; and perform practical exercises that promote investigative learning and research. The course has the following learning objectives: facilitate new understandings and exploratory approaches in sonic arts practice; extend knowledge and develop new artistic and technical skills in sound creation and design; and promote a learning process and reflexive skill set with regard to future practice, thus enabling students to adapt to the ever expanding and rapidly changing area of sonic arts and related areas of sound design.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MUSONIC 3720
    Course Sound Design for Games III
    Coordinating Unit Elder Conservatorium of Music
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites MUSONIC 1000, MUSONIC 1220
    Incompatible MUSONIC 2720
    Assessment Portfolio 35%, Research paper (2000 words) 35%, Project 30%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Daniel Pitman

    Daniel Pitman
    Schulz 11.07
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 To provide students with new understandings and exploratory approaches in sonic arts practice and sound design.
    2 To equip students with knowledge and develop new artistic and technical skills in sound creation and design in the field of computer games.
    3 To develop students research processes and a reflexive skill set with regard to future practice, thus enabling students to adapt to the ever expanding and rapidly changing area of sonic arts and related areas of sound design for games.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    • USB Stick or portable hard drive with enough capacity to store files associated with the course and formatted as "exFAT" to provide suitable compatability between MacOS and Windows.
    • Stereo headphones with a 6.5mm male adaptor. Recommended Type: Closed-Back, Over-the-Ear  Headphones.
    • Note – students must bring both their USB storage and Headphones (with adaptor) to university, as they are required for various classes, completing exercises and for using laboratories and studios.
    Sound Levels & Hearing Protection
    This course may require using spaces where a dB meter has been installed. If you exceed the set dB limit for the space, the lights will flash.  Students found exceeding these levels will have their booking privileges revoked for two weeks, and repeat offenders may have their booking privileges revoked for the remainder of the academic year.

    In order to minimise risk in noise-prone situations, the Conservatorium makes both reusable gel ear-plugs and disposable foam ear-plugs available to students and staff free of charge at all times. Students and staff are also urged to consider purchase of customised personal hearing protection.

    For more information regarding sound levels, hearing and hearing loss please refer both to the full content of the O'Brien Report and to the excellent publication by Canadian audiologist/academic Marshall Chasin, entitled Hear the Music: Hearing Loss Prevention for Musicians both available here:

    Recommended Resources
    History Sound Design Game Technology Game Music Game Audio Portals Game Programmers Interviews Books
    • Boer, James. 2002, Game Audio Programming (Advances in Computer Graphics and Game Development Series), Charles River Media.
    • Brandon, Alexander. 2005, Audio for games: planning, process, and production, New Riders Games, Berkeley, Calif.
    • Bridgett, R. "From the Shadows of Film Sound: Cinematic Production and Creative Process in Video Game Audio." collected publications 2000-2010, 2010.
    • Carter, Ben. 2004, The Game Asset Pipeline, Charles River Media.
    • Childs, G. W. 2006, Creating Music and Sound for Games, Thomson Course Technology.
    • Chion, Michel, Murch, Walter & Gorbman, Claudia. 1994, [Audio-vision. English] Audio-vision: sound on screen, Columbia University Press, New York.
    • Collins, Karen. From Pac-Man to Pop Music: Interactive Audio in Games and New Media (Ebk). Ashgate Publishing, 2011.
    • Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. The MIT Press, 2008.
    • Collins, Karen. Playing with Sound: A Theory of Interacting with Sound and Music in Video Games. The MIT Press, 2013. *
    • Irish, Dan. 2005, The Game Producer's Handbook, Course Technology PTR.
    • Marks, Aaron. 2001, The Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Musicians, Sound Designers, and Game Developers CMP Books; Pap/Cdr edition.
    • McCuskey, Mason. 2003, Beginning Game Audio Programming, Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade; 1 edition.
    • Mott, Robert L. 1990, Sound effects : radio, TV, and film, Focal Press, Boston.
    • Sanger, George Alistair. 2004, The Fat Man on game audio : tasty morsels of sonic goodness, New Riders, Indianapolis, Ind. ; London. 
    • Sonnenschein, David. 2001, Sound design : the expressive power of music, voice, and sound effects in cinema, Michael Wiese Productions, Seattle, Wash.
      • Students can listen to musical works through the library's Naxos subscription (see library catalogue, search using Naxos as the title and limit search to ‘electronic resources’. You will be prompted to enter your uni ID number and password to access the Naxos catalogue). There is a wealth of material available for listening (but not downloading). The link to the Naxos catalogue is as follows:
      Referencing Guide
      Online Learning

      MyUni is a crucial part of this course and will provide students with access to assessment and learning materials, such as quizzes, discussion boards, slide presentations, readings, links, sound and video. Materials will be provided on a topic-by-topic basis over the semester:

    • Learning & Teaching Activities
      Learning & Teaching Modes

      The course structure and content is delivered through a range of classes and materials. The classes in this course consist of lectures, tutorials and workshops.

      • Lectures will deliver a specific topic each week. The topic will consist of ideas and concepts; technologies; and creative practitioners in the field.
      • Tutorials provide an opportunity to discuss and ask questions about the weekly lecture and topic for the course; reinforce concepts and ideas from the lecture and explore new territory.
      • Students are required to complete the weekly reading before their tutorial; come to the tutorial with questions and thoughts on the reading; and be prepared to actively engage in discussion on the weekly topic and reading.
      • Workshops will explore a wide range of practical aspects of the course and its associated topics and concepts.
      • Students will be set regular practical tasks as part of their portfolio assessment and be required to present their work during the workshop.
      • Although workshops will from time to time contain presentations from the instructor, the workshop will largely be an opportunity for students to obtain assistance with their practical and creative development and practice. Students need to actively and on a week-by-week basis maintain their practical and creative development, using the workshop to raise issues and solve problems.
      • Finally, the workshops provide a forum by which students can begin to explore their own ideas and practice using lecture and tutorial materials as inspiration and points of departure.

      Further, students will be presented with additional theoretical and/or practical materials. The materials expand on the topic and compliment, reinforce and extend the concepts presented.


      The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

      This course consists of up to 48 hours of direct contact or structured non-contact - 4 hours per week over 12 weeks for the seminars and workshops, where students will play an active role in the practice, refinement, consolidation and extension of their knowledge and understanding. In addition students will spend a minimum of 108 non-contact hours over the duration of the course on self-initiated learning and research, reading, writing, practice and assessment in order to pass the course, making the minimum workload 156 hours.

      Learning Activities Summary
      In order to be relevant, contemporary and up-to-date, this course uses a reflexive ‘just-in-time’ organisation that adjusts its structure and delivery according to the most current changes in the field, research practice and peer-student interest. The structure of the course is broken down into a range of topics and more specific sub-topics that vary according to changes in the field. Each of the topics is supported by theory and practice through lectures, tutorials and workshops. More information about the format of the classes can be found in the section  “LEARNING AND TEACHING MODES”.

      Topics will vary and may include:

      • History of Game Sound
      • Game Sound Analysis
      • Logistics, Process and Planning
      • Game Technology Overview
      • Game Sound Technology including Sound Engines, Middleware and Formats
      • Sound Design and Creation
      • Asset Management and Production
      • Game Sound Types - Ambience, Music, Voice, Effects
      • Mixing and Integration
      Specific Course Requirements
      EMU Facilities Access Provisions

      This course will involve using the resources of the Electronic Music Unit (EMU). This includes facilities such as studios, recording spaces and digital audio workstations.

      In order for students to complete the course they must gain ongoing and permanent access to EMU. Access and use of EMU is based upon  completing the EMU Access Test.

      More information can be found here:

      Other Expectations

      Except where otherwise indicated by the lecturer, tutor or workshop instructor – mobile phones, laptops, PDAs, recording devices and other similar technology must be switched off before lessons or classes begin, and kept off for the duration.

    • Assessment

      The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

      1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
      2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
      3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
      4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

      Assessment Summary
      Name Description Due %


      Students will be required to fully participate and engage with the weekly topic and associated materials by producing a summary that forms the foundation of a small group discovery experience in each tutorial. Note - No Late Submissions. During
      20 2, 3, 4 Summative
      Over the course of the semester students will complete assignments as part of a portfolio. Each assignment will examine the student’s creative, practical and theoretical understanding and will be assessed during the workshops.  Ongoing 20 1, 2, 3, 4 Summative
      Students will complete an essay examining an area or topic in the field of game sound. Weekly tutorial readings and materials will form the basis of the paper topics. The topics will be made available mid-semester.

      Week 14

      30 1, 2 Summative
      Students will complete a major project in the field of Game Sound. The major project will represent a synthesis of creative, technical and theoretical concepts presented during the course. Week 15 30 2, 3, 4 Summative
      Due Dates: Specific information regarding due dates is provided in myUni under "Assessment Overview".

      Formative Assessment: 
      Classes will contain embedded formative assessment tasks that may include student presentations, discussions, practical exercises, demonstrations and out-of-class work that will enable students to engage with the practical and theoretical concepts presented in order to complete their summative assessments.
      Assessment Related Requirements
      Hurdle Assessment

      All students must complete the requirements under “SPECIFIC COURSE REQUIREMENTS ‘EMU Facilities Access Provisions’”. Students who fail to complete these items may be deemed to have failed the course.

      Attendance Expectation & Penalty

      Students are expected to attend all classes. If a student fails to attend at least 70% of tutorials or workshops in a course the student may be deemed to have failed that course, irrespective of assessments completed. Students who arrive 10 minutes or later after the start of a class will be marked as absent.

      Leave of Absence – Sickness, Compassionate and Professional Development

      Extenuating circumstances may occasionally affect a student’s ability to participate in a rehearsal, workshop, class, lecture, tutorial or performance. In such cases a student should email their course coordinator regarding the circumstances within 7 days and include the following information:

      • Type of Leave: Sick Leave, Compassionate Leave or Professional Development Leave
      • Student Name
      • Student ID
      • Dates of Leave
      • Total Number of Days
      • Reason for Absence
      • Supporting Documentation (e.g. medical certicificate, counsellor note etc)
      Assessment Detail


      Assessments and Exams

      Students must be available during the identified University teaching, academic and examination periods. Students are not entitled to sit an examination or submit an assessment at another time, nor are they entitled to any other concessions if an examination or assessment conflicts with a planned vacation or special event. Results from assessments and examinations are usually sent to students via email and/or myUni.

      Late Submission

      Assignments where late submissions are permitted and that are submitted after the due date and time will incur a 2% penalty (from the assignment total of 100%) per day (24 hour period) for a maximum of 7 days (including weekends and public holidays )

      • an assignment that is 3 days late: raw score of 80% - 6 marks lateness deduction = 74% final mark.
      • typically this does not apply to assessments where the assessment is conducted at a fixed time and location, such as an exam, workshop, practical test, performance or presentation – please refer to the individual assessments for further information.
      • for work with a formal extension, these penalties will apply from the extended due date.
      Cut-off date

      There will be a cut-off date for each assignment 7 days (including weekends and public holidays) after the original due date unless otherwise stipulated on MyUni. Work will not be accepted after the cut-off date, and a mark of zero will automatically be awarded for the assignment.

      Course Grading

      Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

      M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
      Grade Mark Description
      FNS   Fail No Submission
      F 1-49 Fail
      P 50-64 Pass
      C 65-74 Credit
      D 75-84 Distinction
      HD 85-100 High Distinction
      CN   Continuing
      NFE   No Formal Examination
      RP   Result Pending

      Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

      Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

      Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    • Student Feedback

      The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

      SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    • Student Support
    • Policies & Guidelines
    • Fraud Awareness

      Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

    The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.