Cognition and Computation (MSc)

Year of entry

2018

Start date

October 2018

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

One year full-time or two years part-time

Attendance

Two days a week full-time or one day a week part-time, plus some evening teaching

Aimed at graduates of either the computational sciences or the psychological sciences, the MSc in cognition and computation is an ideal foundation for a research career in the cognitive sciences.

It studies the cognitive processes and representations underlying human thought, knowledge and behaviour, and integrates a wide range of disciplines and methodologies with the core assumption that human cognition is a computational process, implemented in neural hardware.

Key topics include: the nature of computational explanation; general principles of cognition; methodology of computational modelling; theories of the cognitive architecture; symbol systems; connectionism; neural computation; and case studies in computational cognitive modelling.

The programme involves intensive training in experimental design and methodology, building computational models and carrying out a substantial piece of original research.

Highlights

  • Draws on academics from many disciplines, including internationally renowned researchers in psychology, computational modelling and neuroscience.
  • The Department of Psychological Sciences has an outstanding research tradition, with an outstanding international reputation in all aspects of cognitive neuroscience, and especially developmental cognitive neuroscience.
  • You will have the opportunity to interact with world-class researchers in cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neuropsychology and attend research seminars organised by the department and a number of other local research centres and institutes.
  • Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked fifth in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and we achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to research of world-leading quality.
  • Psychological research at Birkbeck has ranked fifth in the world in a category of the Best Global Universities Rankings 2016, an important and influential index of research quality. 
  • ESRC funding may be available in conjunction with PhD study

Course structure

The programme is made up of seven taught modules and a research project.

There are six core modules, which provide you with a firm basis in both the theory and practice of cognitive science and computational modelling, and you select one specialist module from a list of option modules. The option modules and research project allow you to pursue your own specific interests and complete a significant piece of research work.

Students with a background in computing normally complete the module Core Topics in Psychology II. Students with a psychology background normally complete a MatLab Programming module.

Module groups

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Undergraduate degree (normally at least 2:1 honours) in psychology, neuroscience, computer science, engineering, mathematics or a related discipline.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests and at least 7.0 in writing.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    FEES

    Part-time home/EU students: £4375 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8750 pa
    Part-time international students: £7600 pa
    Full-time international students: £15200 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures and seminars.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    A mix of 2500-word essays, statistics worksheets, a programming assignment and a 10,000-word research project.

    Feedback

    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates go on to careers in psychology, research sciences, and other disciplines in which computer simulation is used. Possible professions include psychologist or scientific researcher. This degree can also be useful within the field of visual science or in becoming a higher education lecturer.

    Find out more about these professions.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Please complete a supplementary application form in addition to the online application. This must include a statement of your proposed research, focusing on the research expertise of at least one member of our academic staff, so that we can provide adequate supervision.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.