Sound Arts

Sound Arts explores music in the context of media: sound art, film scores, electronic music and countless possibilities and interfaces that combine space, movement, sound and light.

This degree programme:

  • provides thorough foundational training in theory and practice;
  • promotes your creativity and musical autonomy;
  • provides you with creative musical and technical knowledge in the areas of electronic music, sound art, music and image, media art, recording and sonic exposure;
  • introduces you to modern compositional techniques for the stage, installations and games;
  • guides your creative musical development – with internationally renowned teaching staff and invigorating exchange within the classroom;
  • offers you regular opportunities to present your work;
  • introduces you to key players on the international stage;
  • enables transdisciplinary work, as you encounter other forms of art at the university, such as literature, theatre, opera, design and fine arts;
  • prepares you for an MA in Contemporary Arts Practice.

Factsheet

  • Title/Degree Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Specialisations Electroacoustic Music, Electronic Composition, Live-Electronics, Sound Art, Sound installation
  • Mode of study Full-time (6 semesters)
  • Start date 16 September 2019
  • Application deadline 1 April 2019
  • ECTS credits 180 ECTS credits
  • Study language German, French, English, Spanish
  • Location Bern
  • Department Bern University of the Arts
  • Programme Handbook

Studiengangsbroschüre Bachelor Sound Arts

Structure + Content

Your own artistic projects are at the heart of your studies. Instruction takes the form of seminars, lectures, project weeks and block days.

Portrait

Whether you enter this programme as a DJ, pianist, sound artist or composer, the basis for your studies will always be a personal artistic project to be realised on your own or in a collective. You will benefit from the broad range of courses we offer, and your progress will be supported by a network of internationally renowned musicians and guest lecturers, media artists and theorists. Studios and classrooms are available to you around the clock. You will regularly have the opportunity to present your work to the public, whether at our presentations every semester or at festivals and art exhibits in Switzerland and abroad. Your musical horizons will broaden through the close exchange with other music programmes at Bern University of the Arts, such as composition, musical theatre or instrumental and singing courses. As a student in the music division, you will also benefit from specific offers, such as gaining insight into music research or education.

Learning outcomes

The objective of the BA in Sound Arts is to develop a creative musical foundation for planning and designing music in the context of media art. Central to achieving this goal is realising your own projects in exchange with other students and disciplines. You will be prepared to plan and present your creative work in your own network and to reflect upon the musical and media-theoretical context in which you place this work.

Specialisations + Areas of focus

Over the course of your studies, you will have access to an extensive contingent of teaching staff for individual instructional support as you work on your creative musical projects. The form and content of this instruction will be customised to your individual needs. Your choice of instructors will be adjusted over the course of your studies.

Your first two academic years are primarily devoted to building your foundation. The third year is structured largely around your focus areas, in preparation for your bachelor’s thesis.

Courses in musical design, music and image, media art and audio technology delve into the history, technical aspects and latest developments in the respective subject areas. In discussions and practical exercises, you will explore how these subjects apply to your own work as well. Topics covered might include the development of settings in Max/MSP, scoring videos or employing advanced audio editing processes and mastering tools.

You will help determine the selection of required elective courses in the second and third academic years. You might opt to study our collection of analogue synthesisers, or the music in game design, hardware hacking or Arduino. Ear training in electronic music and media theory advance the subject matter covered in the first two years and broaden its context.

Courses in music theory, music and cultural history and piano largely correspond to the subjects offered to all music students, while the Sound Arts programme allows students to learn a mix of classical and jazz.

During the project week held once a semester, you will work in groups to prepare a presentation on an assigned topic. Sporadic guest lectures and events with international guests provide you with direct insight into the professional field.

Mode of study + Duration

Our bachelor's degree programme is offered on a full-time basis only and comprises 180 ECTS credits. It is typically completed in six semesters.

Curriculum + Modules

The module guide provides extensive details on each subject and the number of ECTS credits each is worth. The 180 ECTS credits are divided over three years of study as follows:

  • Artistic practice and core modules 68 ECTS credits
  • Background sound arts 47 ECTS credits
  • Piano 12 ECTS credits
  • Theory 33 ECTS credits
  • Y (transdisciplinary options) 10 ECTS credits
  • Bachelor’s thesis 10 ECTS credits

Student mobility

Are you a Swiss student interested in living, working or studying in another country? Or do you want to spend a semester at another Swiss university? Or maybe you’re an overseas student who’d like to spend a semester at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Mobility opportunities offer unique and valuable experience. During your studies, you will have the opportunity to spend exchange semesters and experience work placements elsewhere in Switzerland or abroad.

Projects

Lecturers

Musical Design + Media Theory

Michael Harenberg

Musical Design + Analysis

Daniel Weissberg

Music + Image

Peter Scherer, Ellen Fellman

Sound + Recording Technology

Benoît Piccand, Beat Müller, Samuel Gfeller

Hardware Hacking

Iris Rennert

Musical Design + Ear Training

Cathy van Eck

Media Art + Performance

Valerian Maly

Musical History + Theory

Michael Lehner, Peter Kraut, Andi Otto

As well as the entire teaching staff of the Music division through elective courses.

Collaborations + Partners

HKB is affiliated with a number of universities in Switzerland and abroad and frequently collaborates with international partners on various projects. The university is also a member of several international networks.

Eligibility + Entry

Whether you’re a DJ, play an instrument, compose music or create sound art: you have experience with your own creative musical projects, which you would like to develop as part of a BA programme, and you demonstrate musical background knowledge within your own area. You are also extremely open to new things and interested in various musical styles.

Entry requirements

The number of places available on our programme is limited (‘numerus clausus’). We administer an entrance examination to review your aptitude for our programme. We look for motivation, stamina, resilience and independence in our students as well as a readiness to participate actively in university-level projects.

What we expect of you in addition:

  • the desire to develop your own creative musical voice;
  • the readiness to reflect upon your own creative thought and action, and to tap into unknown areas in order to enrich your own practice;
  • experience in individual or collective musical projects and experiments (e.g. bands), with the production of your own pieces, tracks and songs as a DJ, composer or sound artist;
  • background knowledge of music theory and ear training;
  • training in instrumental or vocal music is an advantage.

Academic requirements

To be admitted to the entrance exam, we generally require that you hold a baccalaureate or equivalent qualification (vocational baccalaureate, specialised baccalaureate, Abitur). Candidates with exceptional artistic talent may be eligible for ‘special admission’.

Knowledge + Abilities

We require applicants to our bachelor’s degree programme in Sound Arts to have experience with their own musical work (e.g. composition, scoring, sound installations, band recordings, experiments). We expect you to be interested in media art with basic knowledge of music theory and a general cultural education. Resilience and the ability to concentrate are as critical to your success in the programme as imagination and intellectual curiosity.

Language skills

The language of instruction in the music division is German. Individual advising in the area of Sound Arts is available in German, French and English. We also accept written assignments in these three languages. We require at least a passive understanding of French, but highly recommend that you demonstrate mastery of English.

Applying from abroad

Foreign nationals require valid travel documents recognised by the Swiss government. A visa is often required. Exchange students must also apply for a residency permit and purchase health insurance before their studies begin. Please research your specific entry requirements carefully.

After applying, you must submit work samples that represent your creative musical experiences to date. We encourage you to send a representative selection. This selection may include digital and analogue content. Following the application deadline, you will receive a link to upload these pieces.

Two weeks before the aptitude test, you will receive four tasks, from which you must select one. You will present your solution to the task at your aptitude test. You will then receive an assignment, to be completed in 90 minutes, followed by another presentation. At the end, we will have a conversation about your presentations, motivation to study in this field, and your expectations.

PreCollege Bern HKB

PreCollege Bern HKB provides you the opportunity to prepare for your studies. This is not a prerequisite to applying to the BA.

Music schools will occasionally offer appropriate programmes, such as those exploring the experimental field of music and computers. Every October, the semester-long preparatory course Music and Media Art begins, which introduces students to some of the content covered in the degree programme. In addition to biweekly lessons, two days of work experience and a final weekend event will allow you to gain experience working on your own projects. You may also request to run through a simulated aptitude test. This course is not a prerequisite to applying to the BA in Sound Arts.

We also strongly encourage you to prepare in the area of general music studies (reading sheet music, intervals, chords, time signatures, etc.), ear training and music theory and to take piano lessons (classical or jazz).

Qualification + Career prospects

Our BA programme is designed to lead seamlessly into the MA programme, and therefore does not yet prepare you for a profession in the field. The broad spectrum of training you receive does, however, prepare you for work in related careers. BA graduates who choose not to pursue a master’s degree are qualified to work in areas such as music journalism, music management or music shops. You may take on assistant or temporary roles in the professional field of music (filling in as a substitute or temporary support, project assistance, contributing to semi-professional operations). You will conclude the BA with your bachelor’s thesis. This comprises an independent work (presentation, installation or similar), a theoretical work and a discussion of these first two parts.

Title + Degree

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in «Music / Sound Arts»

A successful thesis will earn you the title of Bachelor of Arts in Music / Sound Arts.

Career prospects

This degree will grant you access to various professional opportunities:

  • career path pursuing your own artistic projects
  • mix of artistic and applied activities
  • music production and recording, live electronic music, music and image, film music, animation, theatre music, stage music and similar
  • research projects, or a continued academic track with a follow-on MA or dissertation (Graduate School of the Arts)

Check out what Sound Arts alumni have done in their careers at hkb-soundarts.ch.

Practicalities + Application

Please note the dates and deadlines below, plus the documentation and information required.

Start date: 16 September 2019
Application deadline: 1 April 2019
Dates for aptitude test: 29 April – 1 May 2019 (practical) / 8 May 2019 (theoretical)

The following fees are charged for degree programmes and examinations at HKB:

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250

Matriculation**  

CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for overseas students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* plus CHF 10 processing fee if paying by deposit slip / paper invoice
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** ‘Overseas students’ refers to all citizens of foreign countries who were not official residents of Switzerland or Liechtenstein at the time they were admitted to the university programme.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.

The application fee can be paid by credit card during the online application process. Alternatively, applicants can pay the fee by deposit slip / paper invoice within 10 days. In this case, a processing fee of CHF 10 will be charged. There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications.

The application is processed after payment has been received.

Auditing a course

CHF 150 per course and semester, covering one weekly lecture hour. Only passive participation in classroom instruction is possible (selected lectures and seminars, no individual instruction).

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course.

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents.

Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator):

The websites ausbildungsbeiträge.ch, stipendium.ch and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

The City of Bern also offers students support under certain circumstances. For more information, see the City of Bern website.

Foundations and funds

There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.). Other sources include the foundation directories for individual cantons and private foundations.

HKB-Fund for the Payment of the Tuition Fees

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. The HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support in such cases. If you are a student at HKB and require the assistance or advice of the scholarship fund, please complete the corresponding application form and submit it to the secretary’s office of your degree programme. The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).

The following foundations offer funding specifically to BFH students and students from other universities:

Contact

If you have any questions regarding scholarships and loans please contact Ramona Picenoni.

At Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH, we promote balance between study, work and family.

A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, the relevant documents can be found on the BFH Intranet. The fees are based on your income and are in line with the cantonal rates described in the Verordnung über die Angebote der sozialen Integration (Decree on Social Integration Offer ASIV) issued by the Canton of Bern. You can apply for a nursery place using the online form on the BFH Intranet. If you’re a new student or member of staff and don’t have access to the Intranet, please contact Corinne Badertscher (Tel. +41 (0)31 848 33 01, corinne.badertscher@bfh.ch). There is no legal entitlement to a nursery place.

Swiss students have to complete compulsory service while studying too. Make sure you start planning and coordinating your studies and compulsory service early.

We strongly encourage you to complete basic military training and your first block of civilian service before starting your studies. If you complete these activities during your studies, you may miss classes. As a result, the duration of your programme may increase.

General information on recruitment and civil service

Advice

You can get help with coordinating your studies and your compulsory service from HKB's Student Administration (+41 31 848 49 49).

Would you like to take a course at Bern University of the Arts? Then apply now. By applying online, you’ll be kept up-to-date at every stage of the process.

Online Application

You should have the following documents available in electronic form (passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB.

  • ID card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • A diploma qualifying you for university studies (such as Matura from a Gymnasium, "Berufsmaturität", "Fachmaturität", Abitur)
  • A CV in tabular form
  • A personal statement about your motivation for these studies and for your professional aspirations

For foreigners, in addition:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you were already matriculated at another university:

  • A confirmation of your exmatriculation
  • Your diploma and/or a transcript of records

If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section.

Portfolio

Together with the registration, you have to submit a documentation with samples of your work. The documentation with your own works are intended to express the creative and artistic abilities. Please upload the work samples here.

Application deadline: 1 April 2019

Information

At HKB, you can expect an open mindset and a friendly, informal atmosphere. Come and see us.

Student advisory service

If you have any administrative questions, please contact Beatrice Vogt, for questions concerning the content of our degree course, please contact our Head of Studies Michael Harenberg. At any time, you may arrange for an informal classroom visit and conversation with our secretariat.

Info events

No info events are scheduled at this time.

Location + Facilities

In the Sound Arts BA programme, you will work with contemporary technical equipment. This includes historic analogue synthesisers as well as state-of-the-art controllers and interfaces. Studios and classrooms are available to you around the clock, and we’re proud of our top-notch studio facilities. This includes 60 practice rooms, 80 classrooms, concert halls of various sizes, a fantastic music library, research facilities and instrument hire.

Our programme has three seminar rooms that may be used as instructional or rehearsal spaces, sound laboratories or mixing studios – whether in stereo or using multi-channel settings. Each room is outfitted with premium multi-channel speaker systems and projection equipment. When not in use for a class, these rooms are available to students around the clock, 365 days a year.

The studio features a huge production booth with optimised acoustics and allows professional work in formats up to 5.0 surround sound. The studio wing also includes a 70 m2 multifunctional room, which serves as a classroom, recording and event space. It can also be used as a multi-channel mixing studio, with its permanently installed 8.2 surround sound system. The studio is complemented by a second, smaller recording space with drier acoustics, which can also be used for stereo productions. The studio is connected to the seminar rooms and concert hall upstairs via analogue and digital systems. Sound Arts students may use the sound studio on their own, whether for their own projects or to complete practical assignments in audio technology.



We also offer access to a well-stocked mobile repository of equipment for field recordings, audio productions and installations outside the university. It includes interfaces for realising interactive settings and a MIDI-controlled, self-playing grand piano. A collection of historical synthesisers, analogue mixing boards and band machines are available to you as well. 



You may use the concert hall or auditorium at the HKB facilities in Ostermundigenstrasse 103 for concerts and pieces that require more space. Both halls are equipped with professional multi-channel sound systems.