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MSc Cognitive Neuroscience

Develop your understanding of the brain mechanisms that underpin human behaviour

Year of entry: 2020/21


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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Cognitive neuroscience examines the biological processes that help us to understand complex mental functions such as memory, language, emotion, perception, attention and consciousness. 

While psychology focuses on understanding the structure of the mind through behavioural experiments, neuroscience concentrates mainly on cellular and molecular mechanisms of the brain. 

Our course gives you unique access to the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC) where you'll have opportunities for hands-on experience of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). You'll learn how to design, analyse and evaluate neuroimaging experiments, and see how they contribute to our understanding of brain mechanisms. 

Provided jointly by the Department of Psychology and the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC), the course pulls in expertise from other areas of the University, such as the Hull York Medical School

Industry-standard facilities

Including a multimodal Action Perception Laboratory, two MRI scanners and an MEG scanner

Committed to Gender Equality

We hold a Gold Athena SWAN Award for our commitment to improving gender equality in the Department.

Course content

Our course is made up of 180 credits, consisting of taught modules and a substantial empirical project. 

By placing neuroimaging in the wider context of cognitive neuroscientific research, our modules introduce you to the principles and design of neuroimaging, and the specialist methods required for the analysis of data gathered from experiments.

Your research project will enable you to participate in the design and implementation of a piece of pure or applied research in cognitive neuroscience. You'll receive hands-on training in advanced brain imaging methods - some of which are being developed at York.


Autumn Term

Spring Term

Autumn and Spring Term

Summer Term

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


Empirical project

As part of this MSc you will be given the opportunity to undertake a novel piece of empirical work, in a range of project areas. Projects will be supervised by an academic member of staff.

Different projects are available each year, but examples of recent MSc students' projects include:

  • Using fMRI to investigate the processing of emotional and social cues
  • Representation of semantic knowledge in the brain
  • Disruption of visual cortex in patients with macular degeneration and brain mechanisms underpinning language understanding, face processing, number processing or anxiety and risky behaviour
  • Using MEG and TMS to investigate brain mechanisms of memory for words and pictures
  • Connectivity patterns between brain regions and auditory perception

Some of these projects are methodological in nature, in that they study analytical strategies for brain research, or aim to develop the use of new imaging methods.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a deep and systematic understanding of how cognitive processes can be explained in terms of their underlying brain processes and how modern neuroimaging techniques (such as MRI, MEG, EEG and TMS) can be used to understand the properties of the human mind
  • Critically evaluate theories within and beyond the field of cognitive neuroscience, using empirical evidence to support their reasoning and arguments
  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of how advanced research paradigms, research methods in neuroscience and advanced statistical analysis can be used to explain mental processes and behaviour
  • Identify and evaluate relevant scientific evidence from the range of methodologies used in cognitive neuroscience and thus solve complex problems using evidence-based and scientific reasoning, to identify and pose new research questions, devise new methods to address them and to consider alternative approaches to their solutions and evaluate these
  • Design, conduct and interpret systematic, scientifically rigorous and ethically sound studies, using a combination of advanced quantitative methods, programming and statistics, supported by state-of-the-art software, in the context of methodologies used in cognitive neuroscience
  • Communicate complex concepts effectively using written, oral and graphical means appropriate to the discipline, adapting the content and presentation style to make it appropriate to diverse audiences
  • Demonstrate that they are able to work autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level, making decisions based upon complex and uncertain information, take responsibility for their own learning and professional development, and work effectively as a member of a team

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £9,010£22,720

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

We don't anticipate there being any additional costs associated with this course as all text books are available in the Library or via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Depending on how you work you may wish to print out notes; costs for this will vary depending on your methods of working. 

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Departmental Scholarships

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

We're making changes to comply with rules on social distancing. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students

Teaching format

You'll be taught through lectures, seminars, practicals and group work by academic experts within the Department of Psychology as well as external experts from other academic institutions. As the course progresses, you'll have greater independence with the emphasis being on choice, specialisation, and independent study, all supported by supervisors.

Seminars focus on small group work, discussions and presentations. You will gain knowledge in all aspects of research, from designing and carrying out experiments to analysing, critically evaluating and interpreting results. This experience will equip you with valuable skills that you will apply in your final empirical project.

Through the Virtual Learning Environment, you will have access to teaching materials, including lecture slides and recordings, practical demonstrations and supporting materials.


Our Department is purpose-built with superb teaching facilities.

Lectures will take place in our state-of-the-art lecture theatre which is equipped with multiple screens for presentations, audio amplification and lecture recording facilities. 

You'll have access to our multimodal Action Perception Laboratory, an EEG Lab, TMS Lab and Sleep Lab and the York Neuroimaging Centre which is equipped with two MRI scanners and a MEG scanner.

Teaching location

The Department of Psychology is located on Campus West.

Most lectures, tutorials, seminars, practical work, staff offices and laboratories are in our psychology building. Some of your teaching will take place here and some at the York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC) in the Biocentre, York Science Park. 

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Modules are assessed through essays, critical analysis, presentations, practical reports, and a dissertation and poster presentation based on the Empirical Project. 

600 x 400
460 x 306

Careers and skills

This MSc will enhance your transferable skills as well as the skills required for careers in a range of industries. A high proportion of our graduates go on to complete PhDs in neuroimaging, psychology or neuropsychology. Others gain further research experience before undertaking a PhD or training in Clinical Psychology; or find work as Assistant Psychologists and Research Assistants. 

The Department's Employability Coordinator works closely with the University careers service, which offers our students an additional range of career and recruitment events, skills sessions and one-to-one advice.

For information about professional pathways in psychology see the British Psychology Society website

Career opportunities

  • Forensic psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Child psychology 
  • PhD research
  • Systems analysis
  • Market research
  • Teaching
  • Social work
  • Media
  • Finance
  • Management consultancy
  • Human resources
  • Advertising
  • Statistics

Transferable skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Critical evaluation
  • Time management
  • Reasoning
  • Analysis
  • Problem-solving
  • Pragmatism
  • Teamwork

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Psychology, Neuroscience, Biology or a related discipline
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, minimum 7.0 in Writing and 6.5 in all other components
PTE Academic 67, minimum 67 in Writing and 61 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 185 in Writing and 176 in all other components
TOEFL 96, minimum 24 in Writing and 23 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components
Duolingo Minimum overall score of 125

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Please note:The deadline for applications for this course is 31st July 2020. To be considered for September 2020 entry, you must have submitted your application by this date.

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