Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc

The Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc at UCL studies the cognitive processes and representations underlying human thought, knowledge and decision-making. It integrates a wide range of disciplines and methodologies, with the core assumption that human cognition and choice are computational processes, implemented in neural hardware.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£9,020 (FT) £4,510 (PT)
£23,020 (FT) £11,460 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 28 February 2016

Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A student peer group will often contain a broad mix of undergraduate degrees. Most common backgrounds include psychology, economics, philosophy, computer science, cognitive science, linguistics and law. An undergraduate degree not listed here should not, however, deter a potential applicant who can demonstrate an understanding of the focus of the course and enthusiasm for cognitive science and decision making, although they should be prepared for the mathematical component contained in the MSc-level Research Statistics module.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree Information

Key topics include the nature of computational explanation; the general principles of cognition; the scope of rational choice explanation; probabilistic models of the mind; learning and memory; and applications to economics and business. The programme involves training in experimental design and methodology, building computational models and undertaking original research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of six core modules (90 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core Modules

  • Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Principles of Cognition
  • Research Statistics
  • Research Skills and Programming for Cognitive Science (MATLAB)
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Knowledge, Learning and Inference


  • Applied Decision-making
  • Human Learning and Memory
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Multimodal Communication and Cognition
  • The Brain in Action
  • Neural Computation: Models of Brain Function
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Understanding Individuals and Groups
  • Social Neuroscience
  • Social Cognition, Affect and Motivation
  • Current Issues in Attitude Research
  • Talent Management
  • Business Psychology Seminars
  • Interpretation of Forensic Evidence
  • Consulting Psychology
  • Social Cognition: Research Methods
  • Designing and Analysing fMRI Experiments


All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 8,000–10,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, class presentations, and practical, statistical, computational and experimental class work. Student performance is assessed through online tests, coursework, essays, practical experimental and computational mini-projects, and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Students have gone on to find employment in the following areas: research assistants, teaching/lecturing, consultancy, finance, analyst and marketing.

For more detailed careers information please visit the department website.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Behavioural Insights Team, Cabinet Office (2013)
  • Behavioural Insights Manager, Warwick Business School (2012)
  • Android Developer, Katzoft (2012)
  • Director of Development and Communication, University of Greenwich (2011)


On completion of the programme, students will have acquired theoretical and empirical knowledge in cognition science and decision-making, and a broad range of practical research skills. They will have made original contributions to this field in their research projects, and will understand how to apply their knowledge to real-world decision problems. They will have also developed various analytic and logical reasoning skills, which can be applied to many domains of research and non-academic work. In addition, they will have an understanding of the philosophical issues underlying cognitive science and neuroscience.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The programme draws on an outstanding faculty, ranging across many disciplines, including internationally renowned researchers in psychology, computational modelling, neuroscience and economics.

London is one of the global hot-spots for research in cognition, decision-making, and neuroscience; and it is an intellectual hub, with a high density of research seminars and scientific meetings that attract leading international researchers.

London is also one of the world's foremost commercial and political centres, with consequent opportunities for high-level applied research; and it is a vibrant, culturally diverse and international city, with world-class music, theatre and galleries.

Student / staff ratios › 304 staff including 129 postdocs › 741 taught students › 439 research students

Department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

Degree reviews

Staff review

"UCL is an intellectual hub for work in cognitive science and decision making. This excellence, paired with its central London location, makes UCL a magnet for top people from all over the globe. For a top university situated in an urban environment, the level of collegiality is outstanding."

Professor Bradley Love

Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc and Experimental Psychology MPhil/PhD
UCL Experimental Psychology

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

This programme will appeal to outstanding students interested in pursuing a research career in the cognitive and decision sciences, or to those wishing to develop an understanding of core theoretical principles of human thought to tackle applied problems in a range of areas including marketing, finance, and public policy.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 February 2016
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Decisions are made on a rolling basis. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • why you want to study Cognitive and Decision Sciences at graduate level
  • why you want to study Cognitive and Decision Sciences at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this rigorous programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now

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