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MSc Cognitive Neuroscience

Develop your understanding of the brain mechanisms that underpin human behaviour

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester 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 provides a window on how these processes occur in 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 by the Department of Psychology, the course also pulls in expertise from other areas of the University, such as the Hull York Medical School

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.


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:

  • Knowledge: 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.
  • Critical Evaluation: Critically evaluate theories within and beyond the field of cognitive neuroscience, using empirical evidence to support their reasoning and arguments.
  • Analysis of Data: 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.
  • Research Skills: 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, to devise new methods to address them and to consider alternative approaches to their solutions and evaluate these.
  • Solve Complex Problems: 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.
  • Communication: 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.
  • Management Skills: 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 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £12,480£29,400

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

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

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. 

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

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.

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 state-of-the-art lecture theatres 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, practical reports, statistics and programming exercises, exams 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. For example, you’ll learn a variety of research and clinical methods that can be applied to childhood development and its disorders; as well as carrying out extensive independent research. Many of our graduates go on to complete PhDs, typically in psychology, cognitive neuroscience or related fields adjacent to healthcare and medicine. Others go on to pursue careers in research, clinical psychology, and a range of professions involving understanding human behaviour, computing, data science and statistics.

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.

This MSc does not confer Graduate Basis for Membership of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Graduate Basis for Membership is required for entry to doctoral training in clinical and educational psychology in the UK, as well as some professional psychological careers. You may already hold Graduate Basis for Membership (for example, from a BPS-accredited undergraduate degree), in which case this MSc could enhance your applications to jobs or doctoral courses that require it. If you don't have Graduate Basis for Membership then you may be interested in our MSc Psychology in Education conversion course.

See the BPS website for more information about professional pathways in psychology (

Career opportunities

  • University lecturer
  • Cognitive neuroscience researcher
  • Data scientist
  • Research officer (statistics)

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:2 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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 7.0 in Writing and 6.5 in all other components
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with a minimum of 185 in Writing and no less than 176 in all other components
Oxford ELLT 8, minimum of 8 in writing and no less than 7 in all other components
Duolingo 130, minimum 130 in Production and 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 75 in Writing and no less than 70 in all other components
KITE 495-526, with 495-526 in writing and 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 67 in Writing and 61 in all other components
TOEFL 96, minimum 24 in Writing and 23 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't 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 English language test 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.

The deadline for applications for this course is 31 July 2023. To be considered for September 2023 entry, you must have submitted your application by this date.

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