MSc Cognitive Neuroscience

MSc Cognitive Neuroscience

Entry requirements

See below for full details

This course is for you if you wish to gain specialist training in cognitive neuroscience using of state-of-the-art facilities at the Aston Brain Centre and at the psychology laboratories, coupled with transferable research skills.

Use state-of-the-art facilities including the Aston Brain Centre, psychophysical laboratories in Vision Sciences, and Psychology Laboratories
Unique in its emphasis on specialist training in Cognitive Neuroscience, coupled with transferable research skills for career and professional development
2nd in Subjects Allied to Medicine (2017 Sunday Times University Guide)
Research in Allied Health Professions and Studies ranked 5th out of 97 UK higher education institutions (REF 2014)

Mode of delivery: Full time or part time, on campus, (distance learning not available)

Teaching days: Usually Mondays and Wednesdays

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Intake: Approximately 15 students per year 

Entry requirements:

  • We welcome applications from candidates interested in our course who have the skills and capability to excel. All candidates are considered on an individual basis based on their qualifications, experience, references and motivation.
  • Applicants should hold a good honours degree (usually 2:1 or above) from a recognised university in psychology or a related field such as biology.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. English language test requirements may be waived where students’ undergraduate degree was studied in an English speaking country. Find out more about our English language requirements.
  • The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor. 

Start dates: September (13 September 2017 for international and EU students; 18 September 2017 for UK students).

 How to apply:

  • Apply here
  • The application deadline for UK / EU students is 31st August 2017.
  • The application deadline for international students is 1st August 2017.
  • If you are applying close to the deadline, please ensure you have all supporting documentation ready for the application. If the deadline has passed, we may still be able to consider you, so please contact us.

For 2017 entry:

  • UK/EU students: £7,500
  • International students: £17,200
Aston alumni can benefit from a 20% discount on their tuition fees. Discover our range of scholarships, including the Ferguson Foundation Scholarship for students from Africa and South America.

This course is unique through its dual emphasis on specialist training in the area Cognitive Neuroscience, as well as on generic, transferable research skills for career and professional development. 

Hear from Dr Nathan Ridout as he explains some of the main features of the course.

You will study specialist modules in Cognitive Neuroscience that combine theory and practice in paired sessions consisting of a lecture and an associated research practical.

The course is based on a core curriculum of six taught modules and a research dissertation. The taught modules provide a detailed and critical understanding of contemporary research and analysis methods used in Cognitive Neuroscience, as well as generic professional development and research-related communication skills.

You will acquire comprehensive research experience from working with researchers of international standing. The course is especially recommended to graduates who want to:

  • Specialise in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Continue to do a PhD, or get a feel for research before embarking on a PhD
  • Enhance their CV by a research-related Masters qualification

Modules and content:

  • Introduction into Cognitive Neuroscience: Neuroanatomy; inferring mental states from physiological signals; classical paradigms of cognitive psychology; methods in ageing research; organisational cognitive neuroscience; visual processing; attention; the neuropsychology of memory and visual cognition; the biology of mood disorders; auditory grouping; Autism Spectrum Disorder and the brain; the embodied brain; genes, brains and cognition.
  • Mini-project in Cognitive Neuroscience: Literature review and critical reading; developing a research question; designing an appropriate experimental protocol; E-Prime programming; data collection and analysis; report writing.
  • Advanced Statistical Analysis: Use of SPSS; choosing the correct statistical test; data screening; non-parametric statistics; ANOVA; ANCOVA; multiple regression; factor analysis; structural equation modelling.
  • Advanced Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience: Principles of Neuropsychological assessment; principles and analysis of TMS; fMRI: basic physics and physiology, acquisition & safety, data analysis; principles of psychophysics; eye tracking.
  • Advanced EEG and MEG Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience: Physics and Physiology of EEG/MEG; EEG/ERP data collection and analysis; EEG/MEG time frequency analysis.
  • Communication skills in Research / Professional Development: Navigation and management of the scientific literature; research ethics and risk assessment; communication of research findings, with particular emphasis on conference submissions and report writing.
  • Research Dissertation: The dissertation project forms the major practical component of the course and provides further experience and training in academic research. This is an opportunity to work with internationally renowned academics and it is possible to choose your own project from a wide range of exciting topics in this area. You will work under supervision of an experienced member of staff. As much as possible we will attempt to match students to supervisors with whom they share research interests.

The course is delivered mainly through lectures, which are often followed up by laboratory-based practical sessions.

The course is assessed by a combination of coursework, examinations, practical work, oral and written presentations, and the dissertation research project.

This course is designed to provide postgraduate-level education and training for graduates who want to specialise in the area of Cognitive Neuroscience, continue to do a PhD, or enhance their CV by a research-related Masters qualification.

Previous students on this programme have moved on to

  • PhD studies: destinations of recently successful PhD applicants include Aston, Cardiff, Derby, Liverpool, Sussex and Warwick
  • Research-related roles: e.g. Research Assistant, Data Analyst (for example for the NHS)
  • Education: e.g. Science Teacher, Educational Consultant

Follow one of our graduates:

Alexandra graduated with a masters in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2014, her LinkedIn profile can be found below, follow her journey: 

All practicals and lab-based teaching make use of the state-of-the-art research facilities on the campus. These include

  • the Aston Brain Centre (various labs for M/EEG, fMRI and TMS research)
  • Vision Sciences (psychophysical laboratories)
  • the Psychology laboratories (for computer-based behavioural experiments and studies involving special techniques, like motion analysis or eye tracking).

Aston Brain Centre
Aston Brain Centre
Clinical Neurophysiology Unit
EEG System
TMS Laboratory
Eye Tracking
Eye-tracking Laboratory
MEG scanner
MEG scanner

Course director

Martin Jüttner, Dip. Phys., PhD (Senior Lecturer) – Current research interests: the development of object recognition in children, visual learning and categorization.

The following members of staff regularly teach on this course and can be approached to supervise the dissertation research project during the course (availability may vary from year to year).

Adrian Burgess, PhD (Professor) – Current research interests: neural correlates (e.g., EEG activity patterns) of consciousness, functional connectivity, the effect of mobile telephones on the brain.

Luc Boutsen, BSc, MSc, PhD (Lecturer) – Research interests are in the psychology and cognitive neuroscience of visual cognition: shape, object, and face recognition; visual attention; categorisation; neuropsychology of deficits in visual cognition.

Sarah Carrington, BA, MSc, DPhil (Lecturer) – Research interests include Autism Spectrum Disorder and social cognition, focusing on both the behavioural profile and associated brain activity and structure (using fMRI and DTI).

Paul Furlong, MPhil, PhD (Professor) – Research interests include functional neuroimaging, epilepsy and sensory-motor pathway function in health and disease. Committed to developing humane clinical research techniques in Neuroscience.

Charlotte Hartwright, BSc, MRes, PhD (Lecturer) – Research interests: Social Cognition and Numerical Cognition, in conjunction with neuropsychological and behavioural testing as well as fMRI and sMRI; experience in developmental and longitudinal neuroimaging.

Stefanie Hassel, BSc, PhD (Lecturer) – Research interests include neurophysiological correlates (as measured by MEG, fMRI and DTI) of emotion perception, emotion regulation and social cognition in psychiatric disorders.

Carol Holland, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS (Reader) – Current interests include memory and cognition in ageing, autobiographical memory, cognitive factors in driving, and pedestrian behaviour.

Klaus Kessler, Dip. Psych., PhD (Professor) – Current research interests: the use of MEG measures (evoked responses, oscillations, and synchronisation) as well as TMS and behavioural methods to investigate visual working memory, selective attention, the mirror system, and embodied (social) cognition.

Tim Meese, BSc, PhD (Professor) – Research interests: spatial vision, complex motion, the binding problem.

Liz Moores, BA, PhD, CPsychol (Reader) – Current research interests include dyslexia and visual attention.

Nathan Ridout MA, MSc, PhD (Senior Lecturer) – Research Interests: cognition and emotion; emotional processing in psychiatric disorders, autobiographical memory, processing of emotional faces. 

Brian Roberts, MA, PhD (Professor) – Research in the auditory perception laboratory employs a variety of psychophysical techniques to investigate the cues used by the human auditory system for perceptual grouping and scene analysis.

Cristina Romani, BSc, MA, PhD (Reader) – Current research interests include aphasia, acquired dysgraphia, developmental dyslexia and models of short-term memory.

Carl Senior, BSc, MSc, Ph.D (Reader) – Current research interests are in social cognitive neuroscience.

Laura Shapiro, BSc, PhD (Senior Lecturer) – Research interests: reading development, categorisation, concept development.

Stefano Seri, MD, (Professor) – Research Interests: 1) neurophysiological mechanisms underlying transient cognitive impairment in patients with epilepsy 2) mechanisms of language and social impairment in patients with pervasive developmental disorders, with emphasis on sensory processing and genetic correlates.

Joel Talcott, BS, PhD (Professor) – Current research interests include: cognitive neuroscientific and behavioural genetic approaches to the aetiology of reading and language disorders and neuroimaging of individual differences in task-elicited cognitive activity.

Caroline Witton, BSc, PhD (Reader) – Research interests include auditory processing, especially acoustic modulation perception and binaural hearing, by normal listeners and in clinical populations. Also, research into the acquisition of phonological and language skills, and into developmental disorders such as dyslexia.

Meet our Psychology teaching staff.

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