Postgraduate study

Cognitive Science

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

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
  • Introduction to Java Programming or Computer Programming for Speech and Language Processing (for students who do not already meet the programming requirements for the taught masters)
  • 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).

The degree description and structure given here reflect changes being made for 2019 entry based on feedback from recent graduates. These changes aim to improve the student experience by providing a more focused set of course options and a clearer structure. Degree programme information provided to current students (e.g., the 2018-19 MSc Handbook) should not be taken to fully reflect the nature of the programme starting in 2019.

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 2018/19
MScCognitive Science2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScCognitive Science3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

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. Recent graduates are now working as software engineers, analysts and language scientists for companies such as British Telecom and Intel.

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.

You must have a sufficient mathematical (60 credits equivalent of Maths) and informatics background for your chosen area of study.

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 Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

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

  • PTE(A): 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

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

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 you are not required to pay.

*(Revised 25 October 2018 to update fee deposit timescales).

Find out more about tuition fees and studying costs:

  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5194
  • Email: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 31 January 2019

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit a 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
  • Email: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE