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.
September 2012, September 2013
What will I learn?
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.
Why should I 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.
Information about the programme
This program 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 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; applications to economics and business. The program involves intensive training in experimental design and methodology, building computational models, and carrying out a substantial piece of original research.
Who should apply?
The course is made up of eight taught modules and a research project. There are six core modules, which will provide students with a firm basis in both the theory and practice of cognition science and decision-making, and two specialist modules, selected by students from a wide list of options. The options and research project will allow students to pursue their own specific interests, and complete a significant piece of research work.
The programme has the following obligatory components:
|PSYCGD02||Principles of Cognition||
|PSYCGD04||Knowledge Learning and Inference||
|PSYCGD01||Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science||
|PSYCGD05||Programming for Cognitive Science||
design a program
||Judgment and Decision Making||
3 unseen tests
In addition, students register for two optional modules (each worth 15 credits) in consultation with the programme director chosen from the following:
Human Learning and Memory
|PSYCG210||The Brain in Action||15||seen essay|
Understanding Individuals and Groups
Social Cognition; Affect and Motivation
Current Issues in Attitude Research
|ANATG041||Neural Computation: Models of Brain Function||15||
Business Psychology Seminars
|PUBLGC57||Interpretation of Forensic Evidence||15||seen essay and 2 hr unseen exam|
|PSYCGC20||Designing and Analysing fMRI Experiments||15||seen essay|
Multimodal Communication and Cognition
||Attention and Awareness||15||seen essay|
Programme Director (and lecturer) David Lagnado
Programme Lecturer Brad Love
Programme Lecturer Adam Harris
Programme Teaching Fellow Stephanie Baines
Module convenor for Statistics Maarten Speekenbrink
Module convenor for Programming for Psychologists (MATLAB) Keith Langley
Course Administrator Pia Horbacki.
Mode of study
- Full-time 1 year
- Part-time 2 years
Start of Programme
- September intake only
Application deadline for entry 2014/15
- 31st March 2014
Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
Select your country for equivalent alternative requirements
English language proficiency level: Good
How to apply
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.
The deadline for applications is 31 March 2014.
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.
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
Information on English Language tests that UCL accepts for Graduate students.
English Language tests information
Other courses that are relevant for entry to this course include: psychology, economics, neuroscience, philosophy, computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics and engineering.
Many students pursue PhD’s at UCL and other leading universities such as Oxford, Yale, Harvard. Many become research assistants working on: surgical simulators, marketing, in an engineering lab working on decision making aspects of disaster situations, looking at the cognitive causes of diagnostic error, on the human cognitions under the sleep deprivation. Others have gone on to work for: the department of Children’s, Schools and Families (policy making for disciplinary procedures), working in IT, User Interface designer in an electronics company, project manager in market risk change programme in a high profile bank, consultancy, providing marketing / social solutions based on the principle of neurology and behavioural economics, Head of the Deputy Group CRO (Chief Risk Officer) Office in a large investment bank, psychology lecturer in psychology and risk management, Director of Development and Communications (in a university), published books about what people need to have in place for success., coaching senior staff in large corporations.
If you would like any further information on the programme content, you can contact any of the following people:
Programme Director: email: David Lagnado phone: (+44 20) 7679 5389
Programme Lecturer: email: Adam Harris phone: (+44 20) 7679 5412
|What are the fees this year for full-time and part-time studying?|
For information on fees, please visit: All Course fees
|What are the term time dates?|
For further information on term dates please visit: Term Dates Main teaching is the the 1st and 2nd term. During the 3rd term there is no teaching as this period is for development on the research project as well as other coursework submissions.
Unfortunately there is very little on offer in terms of funding for this course. For information, please visit: Scholarships/Funding
|Are there any prerequisites to enable entry to this course?|
No. There are no prerequisites. We do however, make aware that the Statistics module is set at an advanced level and advise that those without any statistical experience may find this difficult. Pre-course reading is encouraged: Charles M. Judd, Gary H. McClelland, and Carey S. Ryan, "Data Analysis: A Model Comparison Approach" (2 edition), Routledge, 2008. (for further information, please visit: Data Analysis This book covers almost all the module content for 2011-12 and is the recommended book. Alternatively you can also refer to 'Discovering Statistics with SPSS' by Andy Field
|Is there any recommended reading?|
For further Information, please visit: Recommended Reading
|Part-Time studying - How would this work?|
For further information, please visit: Part-Time Studying
|What do our students say?|
Keith "Since starting the MSc in CoDeS, I feel my mind has expanded- pressed outwards by the new ideas, thoughts, and understanding I have of human behaviour, cognition and social interaction. I love understanding ‘why’ people flirt, gamble, make ‘silly decisions’; or even just ‘consciousness’. As a mature foreign student I was humbled by the Departments drive to ensure students bond together well, are supported academically, and are encouraged to pursue their own personal interests; be it world domination, academia, or curing the world of Tuberculosis."
Pedro "By far the best part of the Master's are the seminars and optional talks. Of course, the regular schedule of classes and research opportunities are a fundamental part of the learning experience, but at UCL there are so many extra curricular activities that might interest you, that is impossible not to be excited about them. This reminds me of another point: if you have the time, do the course part time. Double the time to dedicate to your projects, double the time to think about your research, half the pressure on essays and exams, but most of all, twice as many seminars. I can't think of a better learning experience short of a PhD."
|What other Master's programmes, Research programmes or Professional Doctorates are available within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences?|
|Can you offer any advice on student accommodation?|
Accommodation is dealt with by UCL Residencies. For further information and contacts, please visit: Accommodation
Back to FAQ's:
A couple of relevant and very readable introductory books:
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein (2008, Yale UP)
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (2009, HarperCollins)
This book provides an excellent introduction to many issues covered in the course:
'Computing the mind' Shimon Edelman, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978019532067
|Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science|
Crane. T. (2003). The Mechanical Mind. Routledge, (2nd edition)
Okasha, S. (2002). Philosophy of science: A very short introduction, OUP.
Kim, J. (2006). Philosophy of mind. Westview. (2nd edition)
|Principles of Cognition|
Marr, D. (1982). The philosophy and the approach. Vision: A Computational Investigation Into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information. San Francisco, WH Freeman, 3-38.
Charles M. Judd, Gary H. McClelland, and Carey S. Ryan, "Data Analysis: A Model Comparison Approach" (2 edition), Routledge, 2008. (seehttp://www.dataanalysisbook.com/)
|Judgment and Decision Making|
Baron, J. (2000). Thinking and deciding. CUP
|Knowledge, Learning & Inference|
Duda, R. O., Hart, P. E., & Stork, D. G. (2000). Pattern classification. Wiley. (2nd edition).
|Back to FAQ's:|
|Back to FAQ's|
Part-time students will take two years to complete this degree by attending one day a week. You will be expected to devote extra time for private study and you will also have to attend lectures for your optional module which may fall on a different day than your assigned day of study. The project work should be spread out over the two years and students are strongly encouraged to make substantial inroads in to it in their first year. Please ensure that you have (a minimum of) one whole day per week off work for the whole year and not just during term time.
Part-time students can sometimes find the start of the course overwhelming, and feel that they are missing out by not attending the other modules, or because they do not have as much time as other students for reading or attending optional departmental seminars. Try not to let this worry you too much. You will soon find that there are some advantages to doing the course in two years (e.g. project is more spread out), and you will go in to your second year with the confidence of knowing that you have far more background knowledge than your newly-arrived full time peers.
|What part-time students will complete over the two years:|
* Term 1 (Sept- Dec): TWO core modules: (Principles of Cognition & Stats) Attend Monday.
* Term 2 (Jan - March): ONE core module: Judgement and Decision Making (attend Wednesday).
You will also need to complete ONE optional module. You can choose a module that starts in Term 1 or Term 2.
* Term 3 (April+): Main research project (to be completed by end of second year).
By the end of Year 1 you will have completed: 3 core modules and 1 optional module.
* Term 1: TWO core modules: Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science and Mini Project (MATLAB). (Attend Wednesday).
* Term 2: ONE core module: Knowledge, Learning and Inference (Monday).
You will also need to complete ONE optional module. You can choose a module that starts in Term 1 or Term 2.
* Term 3: Work on main research project due end of August.
By the end of Year 2 you will have completed an additional 3 core modules, 1 optional module and your main project.
|Back to FAQ's|
Destinations of past MSc graduates include:
- Various research assistant roles including: focusing on the human cognition under sleep deprivation (at the cognitive neuroscience lab in Duke-NUS), surgical simulators (observing live operations and rate team work in the operating team, working on surgical stress simulations rating team skills, leading a simulation involving a newly designed portable simulated operating theatre setting up and recruiting surgeons to run simulations in this simulated operating environment then rating their non-technical skills including communication, decision making, leadership etc, and interviewing them), marketing, in an engineering lab working on decision making aspects of disaster situations, looking at the cognitive causes of diagnostic error.
- Research Assistants in various universities including: UCL, Birkbeck College, University of British Columbia, Singapore National University, King's College London, Imperial College, St. Mary's Hospital
- Civil Service (Ministry of Education), Advisor to Minister of Education
- Cabinet Office on the Behavioural Insights Teams (2 students from the same cohort)
- Decision Technology, Research Analyst
- RBS Manager
- The Independent Media Consultant
- New Africa Analysis Editorial Assistant
- UNon-Government Organisation Development Officer
- Financial Company Software Engineer
- Financial Information Company Analyst Developer
- Final Mile consultancy company (based in India). It integrates Cognitive Neuroscience and Behavioural Economics
- SML Consult Clean Technology Analyst
- European Commission Trainee PgCert in Personal and Professional development
- University of East Anglia Individualator
- Instinct Laboratories Consumer Insight Researcher
- Decision Technology Graduate Research Analyst
- The General Medical Council Policy Research Assistant
- University of Greenwich Director of Development + Communication
- Holden Pearman Research Analyst
- China Telecom Marketing Assistant
- Elis Ltd Company Director
- Buranarumluk School Teacher
- Sony: Human Interface Designer
- Contributor on a book for a university Professor
- Others have gone on to work for: the department of Children’s, Schools and Families (policy making for disciplinary procedures
- User Interface designer in an electronics company
- Project manager in market risk change programme in a high profile bank
- Data Co-ordinator
- Providing marketing / social solutions based on the principle of neurology and behavioural economics
- Head of the Deputy Group CRO (Chief Risk Officer) Office in a large investment bank
- Psychology lecturer in psychology and risk management.
- Director of Development and Communications (in a university).
- Published books about what people need to have in place for success., coaching senior staff in large corporations.
Many students go on to undertake PhD/further studies
Research areas include: cognitive and decision sciences, Alzheimer’s disease, social and developmental psychology neuroscience, cognitive modelling, medicine, risk perception in medical decision making, judgmental forecasting, how people learn about and exploit the causal structure of their environment, responsibility, causality and counter factuals, cognitive processes and representations underlying
judgment and decision-making, human decision making using both formal modelling approaches and behavioural experiments, social perception of faces, how people use experiences in decisions to learn for the future, causal learning and superstition.
Destinations include: University College London, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Imperial College, Queen Mary, Universidad de Granada, Stanford, Cambridge, MPI Berlin
- UK/EU Full-time: £8,500
- UK/EU Part-time: £4,250
- Overseas Full-time: £21,700
- Overseas Part-time: £10,800
Scholarships available for this department
For current students in their final year of a research programme in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences. This award is based on academic merit. Students must contact the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences for application information.
Awarded for academic merit
To reward academic merit.
Selection based solely on financial need.
For a prospective UK Master's student from under-represented background enrolling on a participating programme . Selection based solely on financial need.
Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website.