Postgraduate study

Developmental Cognitive Science

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Programme website: Developmental Cognitive Science

How do children learn to reason in increasingly abstract ways? How do they learn language with such remarkable speed and fluidity? How do children use their reasoning and language skills to help them explain and understand people’s behaviour and emotions? Why does the amount of information that we can hold in mind at once increase from early childhood to adulthood? Why does children’s ability to control their own thinking, attention and behaviour improve as they get older? How does the development of children’s brains affect their behaviour, memory and ability to learn?

In this taught programme on Developmental Cognitive Science, you will learn how questions like these can be addressed using research techniques from several inter-related disciplines (e.g., Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Computational Science, Neuroscience, Linguistics).

This programme aims to enhance your understanding of key theoretical and practical issues about typical and atypical development in children and young people, from a cognitive science perspective. It also aims to equip you with the skills required to conduct independent scientific research that addresses key issues in developmental cognitive science.

The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of research expertise in developmental psychology and in cognitive science. This programme brings these two strands together focusing on a developmental cognitive science approach to both typical and atypical development in children and young people.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, for example by having the opportunity to select option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Research and disclosure check

A criminal record check through Disclosure Scotland may be required depending on the activities you participate in during your studies. This will be discussed with your Programme Director and agreed during semester 1 of the programme.

You will undertake the following:

Core courses (worth 100 credits in total):

  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology using R (10 credits)
  • Multivariate Statistics and Methodology using R (10 credits)
  • Psychological Research Skills (20 credits)
  • Current Topics in Psychological Research (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Research Methods for Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Seminar in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Current Topics in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Research Internship in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)

2 option courses worth 20 credits in total:

  • Chosen from a wide range of courses relevant to Developmental Cognitive Science from Psychology or other disciplines, as approved by Programme Director (20 credits in total)

And a Dissertation in Developmental Cognitive Science (60 credits)

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScDevelopmental Cognitive Science1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

The overall aim of the proposed programme is to advance students’ understanding of how questions about developmental changes in children’s cognitive abilities can be addressed using scientific methods drawn from a range of fields, including developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, computational modelling, neuroscience and linguistics. More specifically, the programme aims to:

  • enhance students’ understanding of key theoretical and practical issues about typical and atypical development in children and young people, from a cognitive science perspective
  • teach students how to conduct independent scientific research that addresses key issues in developmental cognitive science
  • provide advanced training in critical thinking skills

Students who successfully complete the programme will be able to:

  • carry out high quality original research in developmental cognitive science
  • evaluate published research studies in developmental cognitive science
  • make well-informed contributions to discussions about the interplay between developmental research and real-world applications/implications

Career opportunities for graduates from this programme include:

  • undertaking a PhD in Developmental Cognitive Science or in a related field
  • undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Clinical or Educational Psychology (applicable only to students who have an accredited undergraduate degree in Psychology)
  • wide variety of careers where it is valuable to be able to use research skills, critical thinking skills and understanding of developmental processes to develop and evaluate practices and policies relating to children and young people – e.g. teaching, speech & language therapy, policy development in education, health and social care.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, either in psychology or in a cognitive-science related discipline.

You should also be able to demonstrate evidence of your ability to learn advanced statistical/computational analysis techniques as well as evidence of your experience/interest in conducting research with children as participants.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Email: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Email: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD