Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc

London, Bloomsbury

The Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc 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.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£14,100
£7,050
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£32,100
£16,050
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Applications open

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, neuroscience, statistics, 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.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

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.

You will study at one of the world's best universities (UCL is ranked 8th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2023) and our research is pioneering. UCL is ranked first for research power in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience by the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), with more than two thirds of our research in these areas rated as world-leading (4*).

Who this course is for

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 this course will give you

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.

The foundation of your career

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.

Employability

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.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is primarily through coursework, essays, and the dissertation.

Each 15 credit module is roughly 150 hours. This time is made up of formal learning and teaching events such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, as well as independent study.

Teaching contact hours per module range from 20-30 hours per term. Upon the completion of your degree, overall physical/virtual teaching contact hours can range from 200-240 hours and this may include attending optional non-credit bearing seminars and educational events.

Modules

The programme consists of six compulsory modules covering core information including an introduction to cognitive science, programming and research statistics as well as two optional modules, and a research dissertation.

Part-time students will take two years to complete this degree and will be expected to attend a minimum of two days a week for core modules (Monday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday). Term one requires attendance up to three days a week. You will also need to attend lectures for your optional module(s) which may mean that you are in college for an additional day or half day. You will also be expected to devote extra time for private study. Please ensure that you have a minimum of two days per week off work for the whole year and not just during term time.

Work on the research project starts in the second year but you are encouraged to start considering your research interests in your first year.

By the end of two years, you will need to have completed six core modules, two optional modules, and your dissertation.


First Year:

  • Term 1 (October-December): TWO core modules (we encourage students to take PALS0049 Intermediate Statistics: Data analysis and visualisation with R in their first year)
  • Term 2 (January-March): ONE core module
  • Term 3 (April onwards): Dissertation (to be completed in the second year)

We highly recommend that you complete at least ONE optional module in your first year. By the end of Year 1 you will have completed: three core modules and ideally one optional module.

Second Year:

  • Term 1: TWO core modules
  • Term 2: ONE core module
  • Term 3: Work on research project, due in mid-August.

By the end of Year 2 you will have completed an additional three core modules, TWO optional modules (in total over the two years), and your dissertation project.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

An Introduction to Postgraduate Programmes at the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences

Join the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences to find out more about studying one of our postgraduate courses. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about studying for a Master's degree at one of the world's leading universities in the fields of psychology, language sciences, psychiatry, neuroscience, ophthalmology and audiology.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.