Cognition and Computation (MSc)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2018


Central London


Fully Approved


One year full-time or two years part-time


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

This postgraduate degree studies the cognitive processes and representations underlying human thought, knowledge and behaviour. It 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.

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  • Draws on academics from many disciplines, including internationally renowned researchers in psychology, computational modelling and neuroscience.
  • Good foundation for a research career in the cognitive sciences.
  • Develops an understanding of core theoretical principles of human thought and an expertise in computer simulation.
  • Designed for graduates of either the computational sciences or the psychological sciences.
  • 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.
  • Cognition and Computation (MSc), Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology (MSc), Developmental Sciences (MSc), and Psychological Research Methods (MSc) are accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as recognised postgraduate training programmes, and suitably qualified applicants who wish to take one of these courses in preparation for a PhD can apply for funding on the ESRC's 1+3 scheme.
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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.

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