Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BSc Cognitive Science

UCAS code: C859

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Informatics

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing BSc Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is the study of the mind and how it works to solve everyday tasks. These include:

  • visual processing
  • reasoning
  • memory
  • problem-solving
  • language and communication

This programme focuses on both the behavioural and computational aspects of cognitive science. You will have the opportunity to learn a range of skills and to explore different ways of studying the mind - from experiments with human participants to building computer simulations.

Your courses will be a combination of compulsory and option choices from informatics, with a range of options from:

  • psychology
  • linguistics
  • philosophy

The programme will teach you mathematical and programming skills and a deeper understanding of:

  • computation
  • human mind and behaviour
  • the links between natural and artificial intelligence

We offer a wide range of courses delivered by leaders in their field. Our degree flexibility allows you to tailor your experience to your interests and be in control of your learning.

(Revised 15 April 2024 to remove the ‘Only apply to one Informatics programme’ section from the introduction)

All of our programmes start with a common core of mathematics courses and informatics courses, with increasing choices for specialisation in later years depending on your interests. If you are taking a joint degree, you will also have to take compulsory courses in your second subject.

Each year you will have 120 credits worth of courses spread across two semesters. Some of these credits will go into compulsory courses and the remaining can be used on optional courses. Optional courses may be in schools outside the School of Informatics.

Please note this is an overview: you can expect the compulsory courses to remain the same, but the list of optional courses on offer changes every year.

Degree overview

Year 1

You will be introduced to basic principles of programming, computation and cognitive science through courses in informatics and a choice of courses from:

  • psychology
  • linguistics
  • philosophy

You will learn how information can be represented and processed in computational systems, whether artificial (computers) or natural (humans).

This year also includes courses in the mathematics necessary for all areas of cognitive science.

Together, these form the foundations for more in-depth study of computation and cognition in future years.

Second year entry

The School of Informatics does not accept applications for second year entry to our programmes.

Year 2

You will build on Year 1, covering more advanced computational and mathematical methods such as:

  • programming and data structures
  • working with data and statistics
  • studying foundations of artificial intelligence

You will also develop further expertise in your chosen area through a range of course options in:

  • psychology
  • philosophy
  • language sciences

Year 3

Your studies will become more focused and you will have more choice in selecting specialised courses. We offer a range of options in cognitive science.

Your coursework assignments will usually provide you with experience in practical work and independent problem-solving. Assignments may also involve group work and/or essay writing.

Your exact curriculum depends on your chosen courses. Courses offered in recent years in the School of Informatics cover topics in:

  • computational cognitive science
  • software design and modelling
  • language processing
  • machine learning
  • various topics in Computer Science

You will also have many course options from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

Year 4

You will choose from a large number of advanced courses in cognitive science to build a portfolio according to your interests.

Year 4 includes an individual honours project where you will develop a viable project starting from a given topic. You will have a variety of choices in selecting your topic, with a supervisor to guide you.

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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

You will be mostly based in the School of Informatics with lectures, tutorials and classes held in Appleton Tower. The building is located in the University's Central Campus area and provides purpose-built facilities and dedicated learning and teaching spaces.

You will also attend classes in the Nucleus building at the King’s Buildings campus. The King’s Buildings campus is around 15 minutes by bus from the Central Campus. The Nucleus building is a new shared learning, teaching and social hub, built to a sustainable and environmentally efficient design.

You will have access to computer laboratories and quality software support. You will also be able to use the University’s facilities, including libraries and common student spaces.

The Informatics Student Support Team is based in Appleton Tower.

Take a virtual tour

Take a closer look at all our facilities on the University’s Virtual Visit site.

Virtual visit

Study abroad

In Year 3, you may be able to study abroad at one of our partner universities.

The University of Edinburgh has a wide range of partners across the world. Some of our partner universities are located in:

  • Australia
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Singapore

Subject-specific agreements

Subject-specific exchanges are also open to students of the School of Informatics. Destinations of recent placements completed by students include:

  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • USA

What are my choices for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught by leaders in their field through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • practical classes

In later years, you will spend more time working on projects that involve:

  • building computer systems from scratch
  • developing systems
  • doing experimental work
  • working on projects with guidance from your supervisor


Students in the School of Informatics have access to services that support their learning, particularly in the beginning of their degree.

InfPALS is a peer support service for Year 1 students focusing on material covered in courses and also general topics related to informatics.

InfBase is a drop-in help desk for Year 1 and 2 students to get additional tutoring and support with their courses.

You will also be invited to join:

  • CompSoc, a tech society which offers a varied programme of events
  • Programming Club, to get more practical programming experience

Pastoral support is offered by the Informatics Student Support Team.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by:

  • coursework assignments
  • larger projects
  • exams

You will undertake some project work individually and some with other students.

You will complete a large individual project in your final year.

Our graduates have excellent career prospects in the IT industry and beyond.

Graduates comfortably secure roles such as:

  • software engineer
  • hardware engineer
  • app developer
  • web developer
  • programmer

Graduates increasingly work as data analysts, data scientists or business analysts in the financial sector.

Popular employers

Popular employers include:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Amazon
  • IBM
  • SkyScanner
  • Intel
  • Samsung
  • ARM
  • Nvida
  • Keysight
  • RockStar North
  • NatWest
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Citigroup

Other industries and professions that rely heavily on computing systems and are potential employers for graduates include:

  • media (for example, BBC)
  • communications (Ericsson, Huawei)
  • energy (British Gas)
  • medicine (Canon Medical Systems)

Start-ups and spinouts

Our school boasts a record number of start-ups and spinouts over the last ten years, including those set up by our alumni, such as:

  • FanDuel, a 'unicorn' company
  • Robotical
  • PlayerData

Careers Service

We support you to recognise the wealth of possibilities ahead, during your time at the University and after graduation. Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University and provides:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree and studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success.

Careers Service

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: A*A*A* - AAB in one set of exams.
  • IB: 43 points with 777 at HL - 34 points with 665 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 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: Mathematics at A. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics is recommended. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at A. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6. Your Mathematics qualifications must have been achieved no more than two academic years prior to entry. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

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

Entry requirements by country

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept 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

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)


We normally make offers to the highest qualified applicants. If competition for places is high this may mean that offers will only be made to applicants who are predicted, or who have achieved, above the single set of grades or the upper grade level in a range. Any conditional offer made may require you to achieve grades above the upper grade level. Therefore, achieving the top of our standard entry requirements does not guarantee a place on the relevant degree.

Please apply for only one Computer Science degree as we are only able to consider one application to this subject area.

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 BSc Cognitive Science

Additional costs

You may want to buy textbooks and a personal laptop for your benefit. Otherwise, you will have access to computing facilities in Appleton Tower.


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

More information

How to apply

School: Informatics

College: Science and Engineering