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.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2018/19)
- £10,140 (FT) £4,785 (PT)
- £24,420 (FT) £12,150 (PT)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.
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.
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:
About this degree
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).
- Introduction to Cognitive Science
- Principles of Cognition
- Research Statistics
- Research Skills and Programming for Cognitive Science
- Judgement and Decision Making
- Knowledge, Learning and Inference
- Applied Decision-making
- Human Learning and Memory
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Social Cognition: Research Methods
- 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
- Neuroscience of emotion and decision-making
- Evolution and Social Behaviour
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 10,000–12,000 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.
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, teaching, lecturing, consultancy, finance, and marketing.
For more detailed careers information please visit the department website.
Recent career destinations for this degree
- Change Management Consultant, HCL AXON
- Project Research Officer, Government Office for Science
- Research Assistant, Imperial College London / University of Oxford
- PhD in Financial Computing
- Assistant Policy Adviser, Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team
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 also have developed various analytical and logical reasoning skills which can be applied to many domains of research and non-academic work. They will, in addition, have an understanding of the philosophical issues underlying cognitive science and neuroscience.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The programme draws on an outstanding academic staff, ranging across many disciplines, including internationally renowned researchers in psychology, computational modelling, neuroscience and economics.
London is one of the global hotspots 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.
Department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences
Student / staff numbers
› 181 staff
including 173 postdocs
› 780 taught students
› 440 research students
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.
Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Division of Psychology & Language Sciences
83% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
What our students and staff say
"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 LoveCognitive and Decision Sciences MSc and Experimental Psychology MPhil/PhD
UCL Experimental Psychology
"I applied to UCL for my graduate study because it is a perfect match with the specific MSc programme. I love the interdisciplinary adventure of interweaving my software engineering background with psychology. I think it's great and I've found that the mixture is extremely valuable. Impressed by the *subpar* facilities of the PALS department,openness of professores and PhD students been particularly valuable to me. It is great studying in London because it is very diverse and open, it has definitely enhanced my lifestyle."
Francisco VergaraCognitive and Decision Sciences MSc
"UCL has a long, storied history in social cognition researchers, and as such, boasts a nucleus of researchers concerned with this topic. Additionally, its location in London affords opportunities for research and collaboration unavailable anywhere else. My research focuses on flexible social cognition, that is, our ability to engage or withhold thinking about the minds of others. I enjoy being an interdisciplinary scientist. I also enjoy mentoring students, training them in the scientific approach, and guiding them through the early parts of their careers. I supervise students from a variety of MSc. programmes, including the Research Methods programme and programmes in Crime Sciences. Finally, I supervise PhD. students in Experimental Psychology and Crime Sciences."
Lasana HarrisSocial Cognition: Research and Applications MSc, Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc
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.
Application fee: There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. More details about the application fee can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
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.
- All applicants
- 2 March 2018
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.