Postgraduate study

Cognitive Science MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science is an exciting and interdisciplinary area spanning fields including computer science, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. Edinburgh is a widely recognised leader in the area, and the School of Informatics has particular strengths in the computational study of higher cognition and reasoning, speech and language, and neuroscience; as well as related areas such as human-computer interaction, robotics, and computer vision.

The Cognitive Science degree offers courses in many of these areas, providing a strong grounding in the shared computational and mathematical foundations while also allowing students to pursue specialized courses in their particular interest areas. Many students also take advantage of relevant courses offered in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences or other parts of the University.

You will follow two taught semesters of lectures, tutorials, project work and written assignments. During this time you will also learn research methods to prepare for your final project and dissertation, which is completed during the summer.

Compulsory courses:

  • Informatics Research Review
  • Informatics Project Proposal
  • Dissertation

Students on this degree typically follow one of two tracks, either focusing on speech and language processing in humans and machines, or more broadly on models of cognition, mind and brain. Example courses offered recently in these areas include:

  • Accelerated Natural Language Processing
  • Automatic Speech Recognition
  • Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Computational Cognitive Science
  • Natural Language Understanding, Generation, and Machine Translation
  • Neural Computation

You will round out your degree with courses in related areas from the School of Informatics and the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences (PPLS). Example courses offered recently include:

  • Bioinformatics 1
  • Cognition, Culture and Context (PPLS)
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Image and Vision Computing
  • Introductory Applied Machine Learning
  • Reinforcement Learning
  • Simulating Language (PPLS)
  • Speech Processing (PPLS)

Please note: This degree has flexible course options. Students are only admitted onto the degree if they will have a viable set of options, but not all courses on offer are appropriate for all admitted students. The School of Informatics offers a wide selection of courses, but not all optional courses are guaranteed to run every year, and a few high-demand courses may limit enrolment to students on the most relevant degree(s).

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
MScCognitive Science1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScCognitive Science2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScCognitive Science3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

This programme will give you a deep understanding of the expanding domain of cognitive science through formal study and experiments. It is excellent preparation for a rewarding academic or professional career. The quality and reputation of the University, the School of Informatics and this programme will enhance your standing with many types of employer.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in informatics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, electrical engineering, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics or psychology, plus experience in computer programming.

Entry to this programme is competitive. A typical offer will normally require a UK first class honours degree.

You must have a sufficient mathematical and informatics background for your chosen area of study.

This should include experience of computer programming equivalent to an introductory programming course and completion of the equivalent of 60 credits of mathematics during your degree that have typically covered the following subjects/topics: calculus (differentiation and integration), linear algebra (vectors and multi-dimensional matrices), Discrete mathematics and mathematical reasoning (e.g. induction and reasoning, graph theoretic models, proofs), and probability (concepts in discrete and continuous probabilities, Markov chains etc.)

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE Academic: total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

Applicants receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 within 28 days to secure their place on the programme.

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. (If there is no information on your offer about the deposit, then you are not required to pay.)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScCognitive Science1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScCognitive Science2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScCognitive Science3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5194
  • Contact: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 31 March 2020

Due to high demand, this programme operates an application deadline. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the advertised deadline. Decisions will be made as soon as possible once the deadline has passed.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5194
  • Contact: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE