Postgraduate study

Cognition in Science and Society Under review

Awards: Under review

This programme combines the scientific study of human cognition with the application of cognitive science to broader societal concerns.

Students focus on core methodologies and theories of cognitive science, but also explore the synergy between cognitive science and its applications. This unifies forms of scholarly activity that are often pursued independently.

You will develop the skills to embark on your own research project and will learn how to communicate research, so if you are interested in developing a research career or in working within science communication, this programme will provide an excellent foundation.

Students who have well-developed written and oral communication skills will be encouraged to take on placement projects for knowledge exchange. Other students may choose to pursue scientific research that has implications for the broader society but aimed primarily at an academic audience.

Completion of the programme would provide the foundations of a research doctoral training programme, or a career in applied research or in science writing for the general public or non-academic professionals.

This programme comprises two semesters of taught courses, followed by a dissertation.

The taught component consists of a number of courses that are based around lectures, tutorials or small group seminars, and are assessed by oral presentations, essay or exam.

Compulsory courses:

  • Cognition, Culture and Context
  • Human Cognition: Science and Application to Society
  • Psychological Research Skills
  • Transferring Knowledge to Society
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology Using R

Option courses may include:

  • Advanced topics in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition
  • Disorders of Language Functions
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Origins and Evolution of Language
  • Psychology of Language Learning
  • Simulating Language
  • Working Memory
  • Introduction to Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition

The dissertation work, based on original research, is completed under the supervision of a member of staff with related research interests.

The MSc in Cognition in Science and Society aims to:

  • provide a basis for research in the core theories of cognition, language, and communication
  • provide a broad grounding in the research methods of the sciences of human cognition
  • prepare students to undertake advanced cross-disciplinary research
  • facilitate students' ability to integrate relevant cross-disciplinary knowledge
  • prepare students to examine problems of importance to society, and develop strategies for addressing them through appropriate methods in the laboratory or in an applied setting
  • enhance students' ability to communicate scientific findings to both the general public as well to the professionals in the public and private sectors
  • develop students' skills in knowledge transfer

This programme is intended for those who wish to pursue advanced research in human cognition in science and society. It may also be useful for those who wish to work in science communication.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, preferably in psychology, linguistics, philosophy or computer science/informatics.

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: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: 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

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.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD


You will be asked to add contact details for your referees. We will email them with information on how to upload their reference directly to your online application. Alternatively, they can email their comments to:

Personal statement

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should include a personal statement detailing the background of your interest and why you are attracted to the programme. We expect you to have a good understanding of the field you propose to study.

Sample of work

To demonstrate your suitability for this programme, please provide a sample of your written work (in English) on a relevant topic of your choice. If you don't have any academic work that would be suitable, you should provide a short original essay, approximately 2,000 words, discussing some published research (for example, a book chapter or research paper on a relevant topic in psychology, linguistics, philosophy, or computer science) that you found interesting.

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

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD