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MA Cognitive Science (Humanities)

UCAS code: C851

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Cognitive Science (Humanities)

Philosophers and scientists have long speculated about the nature of the human mind and the role of language in making the human mind what it is.

Recent developments, across fields as diverse as robotics, brain imaging, anthropology and speech technology, bring a host of new perspectives to our quest to understand our own inner workings.

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary attempt to understand the human mind. It focuses on abilities such as:

  • reasoning
  • perception
  • memory
  • awareness
  • emotion
  • attention
  • judgement
  • motor control
  • language use

Cognitive science brings together and forms connections between these abilities, through the use of methods such as:

  • computer modelling
  • linguistic analysis
  • philosophical reasoning
  • robotics
  • neuroimaging
  • psychological experiments

It brings together scholars from linguistics, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and computer science.

Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh played a key role in founding this discipline, by enriching long-standing connections between the disciplines that contribute to the study of human cognition.

You will be taught by the researchers who both laid the foundations, and are still making key advances in the field. The programme content is regularly reviewed to ensure you learn about current developments.

Our Cognitive Science (Humanities) programme requires you to complete a selection of basic courses covering material in:

  • linguistics
  • philosophy
  • psychology
  • computer science

Our goal is to help you come to a broad understanding of issues, such as the:

  • relationship between language and thought
  • relationship between mind and brain
  • philosophical implications of our increasing ability to look inside the working brain and to model its activities in computers and robots

Year 1

Two cognitive science courses

You will take two general cognitive science courses that give an overview of:

  • perception
  • memory
  • motor control
  • language
  • reasoning

You will also be introduced to experimental, neural and computational methods.

Courses will cover logic to help understand the role of reasoning and deduction in the mind.

You will also cover the structure of language to help understand the complexity of the phenomenon.

In addition, you will get a background in philosophy, such as its history or central concepts of morality and value.

Extra course

Lastly, you will choose a further course from across the interconnected disciplines of:

  • psychology
  • philosophy
  • linguistics
  • informatics

Year 2

You will choose more specific courses in the sub-disciplines such as:

  • Processing Formal and Natural Languages (Informatics)
  • Knowledge and Reality (Philosophy)

You will also take Year 2 courses from Psychology and Language Sciences.

Year 3

You can choose from informatics courses on topics ranging from:

  • language processing
  • neural computation
  • robotics and vision
  • machine learning

Or from linguistics courses ranging from:

  • language evolution
  • language acquisition
  • speech processing

Or from philosophy courses ranging from:

  • ontology of mind
  • theories of mind
  • theories of truth
  • ethics

Or from psychology courses ranging from:

  • memory and perception
  • attention
  • development

Year 4

You will continue to choose from a wide variety of more advanced courses, as in Year 3.

In addition, you will complete an individual research project.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

You will be taught within the University's Central Area.

In our Psychology and Linguistics departments, you will have full access to the:

  • libraries
  • computer facilities
  • specialised laboratories

You will also have access to other facilities available across our campuses.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the University’s Central Area and explore our facilities on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Study abroad

Opportunities to study abroad are available in this subject area.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • laboratory classes
  • small-group project work

In Year 4, you will complete individual project work.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by exams and coursework.

Cognitive science graduates have excellent employment prospects in fields that will shape our society, including those which depend on computers, such as:

  • economics
  • entertainment
  • technology
  • mobile systems
  • manufacturing and health

Graduates also have the skills needed for humanities-orientated areas, such as:

  • the civil service
  • marketing and communications
  • management
  • finance
  • journalism
  • social work
  • teaching

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: one from Biology or Human Biology, Chemistry, Computing Science or equivalent, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology at B. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. National 5s: English at C. Mathematics at A or Mathematics and Physics both at B or Higher Mathematics at C.
  • A Levels: one from Biology or Human Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science or equivalent, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4 and Mathematics at A or 7, or Mathematics and Physics both at B or 6, or Mathematics, Science plus Additional Science (or science double award) at BB or 66.
  • IB: HL: one of Biology or Human Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science or equivalent, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology at 5. SL: English at 5 and Mathematics at 6 (if not at HL).

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Cognitive Science (Humanities)

Additional costs



For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

1 degree in Cognitive Science (Humanities)

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