The acoustic characteristics of dense and porous piezoceramic disc hydrophones have been studied by finite element modelling (FEM). The FEM results are validated initially by an analytical model for a simple disc of dense piezoceramic material and then it is extended to a porous piezoceramic disc replicating a foam-reticulated sample. Axisymmetric model was used for dense piezoceramic hydrophone due its regular geometric shape. 3-dimensional model was used for the porous piezoceramics, since the unit cell model is inadequate to fully represent transducers of finite lateral dimensions. The porous PZT discs have been synthesised by foam-reticulation technique. The electrical impedance and the receiving sensitivity of the hydrophones in water are evaluated in the frequency range 10-100 kHz. The model results are compared with the experimental data. The receiving sensitivity of piezocomposite hydrophones is found to be reasonably constant over the frequency range studied. The sharp resonance peaks observed for the dense piezoceramic hydrophone has broadened to a large extent for porous piezoceramic hydrophones, indicating higher losses. The flat frequency response suggests that the 3-3 piezocomposites are useful for wide-band hydrophone applications. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.