University of Technology Sydney

50816 Audio Cultures

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: MAP and Sound and Music Design
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 50835 Audio Culture AND 50861 Audio Culture


This subject explores audio cultures from both theoretical and practical perspectives. During the subject students engage with political debates around audio creation and reception. Students consider the role of creators when engaging in audio representations of people, places and communities, including the unique perspective of Indigenous Australians. Students develop core skills in researching, writing about and communicating with audio. Sudents develop fundamental techniques in sound gathering and recording, production planning and collaboration. The subject provides a foundation for both academic and audio literacies as a basis for the rest of the major stream.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Analyse a range of philosophical, political and practical perspectives on music and sound as forms of cultural production 

b. Explore the effect of different audio representations 

c. Manipulate, edit and compose with given and gathered audio material 

d. Collaborate with co-workers

e. Develop critical listening skills as an audio specialist
f. Communicate specialist audio knowledge to an audience

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Graduates possess a well-developed awareness of culture and professional practice of music and sound in the context of the technological and creative industries (1.1)
  • Graduates are able to present, explain and evaluate their own and others' work in independent and collaborative contexts (1.2)
  • Graduates are reflexive critical thinkers and creative practitioners who are intellectually curious, imaginative and innovative (2.1)
  • Graduates possess reflective and analytical skills enabling them to synthesise ideas from a diverse range of sources and communicate effectively to different audiences using appropriate media and modes (6.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

The learning experience in this subject involves weekly online modules, readings and listening tasks that introduce the theories, concepts, debates and practical techniques that we will discuss and explore in face-to-face studio lab sessions. Students maintain an online formative listening and reading journal that they will share in-class.

Technical workshops provide tuition in audio software and production skills. Each workshop session has an associated online formative assessment task to consolidate student learning.

In the first half of the semester, studio lab sessions focus on the practice of listening and written communication about audio culture. In the second half we focus on recording and communicating with audio. Students learn by collaborating with peers, applying audio production skills, and receiving feedback from your tutors and providing feedback to peers.

Summative assessment tasks are key learning opportunities linking student’s interests in music and sound with key concepts developed in the subject. By completing the audio production exercise, students will learn to produce and communicate with audio to a professional standard.

An aim of this subject is to help students develop academic and professional language and communication skills to succeed at university and in the workplace. To determine current academic language proficiency, students are required to complete an online language screening task, OPELA (information available at If they receive a Basic grade for OPELA, students must attend additional Language Development Tutorials each week from week 4 to week 12 to pass the subject. These tutorials are designed to develop student’s language and communication skills. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Content (topics)

This subject is all about the cultures of listening and audio production. We explore approaches to writing about sound including music and politics, soundscape and acoustemology, the history and application of audio technology, propaganda, advertising and audio branding, and aural diversity and inclusive sound design. We apply these concepts to the task of communicating with sound: location recording, audio production and diverse modes of audio distribution.


Assessment task 1: Written analysis audio culture and politics


a, b, e and f

Weight: 50%

1000 words (plus references)

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Complexity of analysis of the selected topic and its place in audio culture 25 a, b, e, f 6.1
Clarity of argument and logical sequencing of ideas 25 f 1.2
Application of effective grammar, vocabulary, sentence and paragraph structure 25 f 1.2
Application of required academic readings or appropriate scholarly references, including correct use of UTS Harvard referencing style 25 e, f 1.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Audio production exercise


b, c, d, e and f

Weight: 50%

Part A group work (20%): a pool of at least 10 minutes of recorded material plus a collaboratively devised recording plan/log. Each filename should identify the sound recordist. Each student must submit at least one audio file to the pool.

Part B individual work (30%): 4 mins (or equivalent) for the individual submission with a 600-1000 word program note on the context, the creative aims, the sound materials and technical processes of sound the composition.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Effectiveness of student contribution to collaborative work (individual) 15 d 6.1
Clarity of explanation, application of effective grammar, vocabulary, sentence, and paragraph structure in program note (Milestone Task Language Level, individual) 15 b, c, e, f 2.1
Coherence and compositional design in final work (individual) 15 b, c, e, f 2.1
Adherence to technical specifications and demonstration of technical competence in audio production (individual) 15 c 1.1
Effectiveness of production planning and quality of documentation in group work (group) 10 c, d 1.1
Technical quality of group source recordings (group) 10 c, e 1.1
Quantity, creativity and variety of source materials produced by group (group) 10 d, f 1.2
Inclusiveness and constructiveness of group collaboration (group) 10 b, c, d, e 1.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

?In this subject assessment tasks are cumulative so that each task builds understanding and/or skills, informed by formative feedback. Consequently, all assessments must be submitted in order for you to receive feedback. Students who do not submit all assessments will not pass the subject. If any content is missed it is the student’s responsibility to catch up.

It is a requirement of this subject that all students complete OPELA. Students who receive a Basic grade in the OPELA are required to attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials in order to pass the subject. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Recommended texts

Cox, C. & Warner, D. 2017, Audio culture: readings in modern music, Revised edition. edn, Bloomsbury, New York.


Students are required to download and read all texts listed as ‘required’ on UTS online. These will be made available via the UTS library.