Established in March 2007, the NOVARS research centre specialises in the areas of interactive music and media, audification, AI for music, spatial audio, electroacoustic composition, game-audio, locative-audio and social entrepreneurship with a focus on environmental sustainability.

Our facilities

As part of an expansion to its research programme in electroacoustic composition, The University of Manchester invested £2.25 million in a new cutting-edge studio infrastructure. NOVARS directly benefits from these facilities and is based in the electroacoustic building designed by Cruickshank and Seward.

Our study opportunities

In collaboration with the Music department, we offer a well-integrated pathway at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels which merges electroacoustic composition, instrumental composition and music theatre, and includes experimental and contemporary performance practice.

We also offer a joint course with the Royal Northern College of Music. With access to esteemed performers in residence, NOVARS appeals to composers willing to experiment with extended techniques, chamber groups or large-scale instrumental forces in combination with new music technologies.

Our research

Our current research projects focus on sound spatialisation and diffusion of acousmatic composition, sonification, game audio, AI for music, machine musicianship, social entrepreneurship with a focus on sustainability, cross-disciplinary projects including collaborations with sports science and biotechnology, and a range of interactive applications of sonic art, including: geo-locative tourist and cultural experiences augmented through sonic art; immersive multimedia experiences incorporating virtual or augmented reality and/or augmented reality where sound is the central, determining component; and composition using live game-audio with virtual and real performers, exploring the creative interactions between humans and VR/AR in digital performance.

Our events


  • MANTIS Festival (Manchester Theatre in Sound): started in 2004, the festival explores new areas of creativity and pushes the boundaries of acousmatic performance. The event is an experimental research space for postgraduate students, an international platform for the performance and diffusion of electroacoustic music, and a valuable support network for hosting events in the field of computer music. 
  • Sines&Squares: with two editions in 2014 and 2016, the festival celebrates the recent resurgence of analogue and modular synthesizers. It features some of the most renown UK and international performers, composers, lecturers and designers working with analogue and modular systems. It also includes theoretical "Patchbay Sessions" with papers and presentations focused on modular synthesis, many concerts, a clubnight, our Modular Lounge, a raffle and much more.”
  • UnSupervised started in September 2020, the Machine Learning for Music Working Group is a community of composers, musicians, computer scientists and audiovisual artists, exploring the creative use of emerging AI and Machine Learning technologies in Music. The Group is also a collaboration between PRiSM (the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the RNCM) and the NOVARS Research Centre at the University of Manchester. Postgraduate students from both RNCM and UoM, as well as guest artists, meet, share and collaborate in the creation of new artistic research, and it is supported by Machine Learning experts at the Alliance Manchester Business School and PRiSM / RNCM.
  • Locativeaudio: Started in Dec 2010, is a sonic-centric walk experience started in the city of Manchester, UK which has progressively incorporated a network of people, institutions and cities around the world. To become a locativeaudio walker, all you need is a smartphone and headphones, a pair of sport shoes and the desire to explore the sonic journey. Locativeaudio aimed to design the next generation of experience in the Augmented City, placing the walker at the centre of our thoughts to create unique immersiveness and understanding of a place. Locativeaudio has reconstructed history and architecture, has transformed noisy streets into beautiful soundscapes, has implanted secret thoughts onto solitary statues, and even extended the boundaries of the concert hall experience. Locativeaudio's contribution to the Augmented City may include converting urban spaces into citizen's livingrooms, where people could plant site-specific thoughts in every street, including their fantasies, desires and fears.



Our community

NOVARS has a clear focus on building a community and projecting its research internationally. Our research community is one of our most significant achievements and synergies between our artistic and scientific communities have led to many projects, concerts, events, prizes and activities.

We work hard to keep strong links with our researchers after they graduate and aim to grow sustainably to ensure the quality and focus of the work we do.