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Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc

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.

Covid-19 programme updates

Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2020

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Part-time students will usually attend one day a week

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 1 November 2019
Close: 28 February 2020

Tuition fees (2020/21)

UK/EU:
£11,670 (FT)
£5,835 (PT)
Overseas:
£25,900 (FT)
£13,130 (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 Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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:

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).

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences.

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 is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

  • Introduction to Cognitive Science
  • Principles of Cognition
  • Generic Research Skills: Statistics
  • Computer Programming
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Knowledge, Learning and Inference
  • MSc Cognitive and Decision Sciences: Dissertation

Optional modules

  • 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
  • Current Issues in Attitude Research
  • Talent Management
  • Business Psychology Seminars
  • Understanding and Interpreting Forensic Evidence
  • Evolution and Social Behaviour
  • Neuroscience of Emotion and Decision-Making
  • Behaviour Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • Transport and Behaviour Change: Theory and Practice
  • Designing and Analysing fMRI experiments
Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study. These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available.

Dissertation/report

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 a dissertation.

Covid-19 contact hours on campus
In Term One, while campus will be open, all the learning activity for the core content of your modules will take place online – including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By “core content” we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. In addition to these online contact hours, we will be offering some face-to-face educational activities for students on campus, and we will provide alternative online activities for those students unable to join us on campus. These activities, which will include contact with academic staff, will be relevant to your programme of study may include seminars, academic and employability skills workshops, small-group or individual tutorials, lab and practice-based teaching. UK Government safety guidelines will limit the amount of ‘in person’ activity we can offer and while it will vary from programme to programme, is likely to be no more than 1-2 hours per week. This will vary across departments, particularly if your programme includes laboratory/practical/studio/workshop sessions. You will be updated with more specific details as they are available and your timetable will indicate which sessions will be on campus and which will be available online.
Covid-19 face-to-face teaching updates
We will put the entire curriculum – all lectures, statistics and computing practicals – online (in both Terms 1 and 2). In addition, each of the core modules in the programme will provide a weekly live video session (avoiding clashes between modules), to answer your questions (pre-posted and live) and review the online materials. These sessions will be recorded so that anyone unable to attend can view them afterwards, and each module will also run an additional session every week to make sure that live interactions are accessible to as many time zones as possible. Specifically, where one live session takes place in UK am, a second one will take place in UK pm - wherever possible, in time slots within 9am - noon and 2pm – 5 pm. In addition to assessed module content, the weekly research seminars will continue to run alongside modules. These will most likely all begin online. However, any move ‘in person’ will not detract from parallel, bespoke, online provision. Your department will keep you updated on face-to-face activities and any changes will be communicated to you as soon as they are available.  
Covid-19 practical component updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be changes to the availability of the practical components for your chosen programme. Any updates relate only to the 20/21 academic year and may not apply to all students across the programme depending on your year of study.  Your department will keep you updated if the practical component of your programme is able to occur and/or any alternative options available.   There may need to be additional updates or changes to the practical component during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and/or Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available. 
Covid-19 assessment updates
There may be changes to the format of assessments for modules in this programme due to COVID-19. These will be summarised for each module on the module catalogue from 17 August 2020.   If any changes to assessments need to be made during the academic year due to updates in government guidance, these will be communicated to you as soon as possible from your department.    
Communicating further Covid-19 mitigation plans
We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention, to make sure UCL is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it becomes necessary to make further changes to your programme as a result of new guidance/regulations, UCL and your department will communicate these as soon as this becomes clear. We will keep you up-to-date with our plans throughout term one, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances. Please ensure that you keep in touch with your department by regularly checking your UCL emails, Moodle courses, the Coronavirus FAQs for Students page and any UCL online groups or social media you follow.

Additional costs

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

Accessibility

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

Funding

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

Careers

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.

Employability

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.

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

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"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
Student view

"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 Vergara

Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc
Staff view

"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."

Dr Lasana Harris

Social Cognition: Research and Applications MSc, Cognitive and Decision Sciences MSc

Application and next steps

Applications

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 £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information 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.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 February 2020

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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 13 August 2020