MSc Cognitive Neuroscience
The MSc. in Cognitive Neuroscience is an innovative and exciting taught postgraduate program in the Department of Psychology. The Department of Psychology at Durham has considerable strengths in cognitive neuroscience (Information on our Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group is available here).
As the theoretical background to, and techniques of, cognitive neuroscience are rarely available to students at undergraduate level, the main objective of this MSc. is to provide students with detailed historical, philosophical, theoretical and practical knowledge of a broad range of cognitive neuroscience topics and techniques. This wide-ranging knowledge will make students extremely strong candidates for future research positions, and provide them with an ability to develop broad research programs and, utilizing a range of techniques.
The program is aimed at those from closely related science backgrounds to build up a knowledge and practical experience of cognitive neuroscience and psychology before embarking on a psychology related career. The course is available full-time, commencing at the beginning of October for the duration of one year. It is aimed at UK and international students who are seeking a career in research or research related disciplines. The MSc. is run in partnership with cutting edge technology providers such as Cambridge Research Systems Ltd. (CRS), Magstim Ltd. and Brain Innovation. We provide training on MatLab programming for the practical application of CRS equipment widely used in vision science. Similarly, links with Magstim Ltd. and Brain Innovation provide students hands-on experience on brain stimulation equipment such as TMS and fMRI analyses software such as Brain Voyager, respectively. In addition, in collaboration with CRS, we offer a limited number of internships to students at the end of the MSc. to put this new technical knowledge in context within a commercial R&D environment.
The Course Directors are Dr Cristiana Cavina-Pratesi and Dr Susanne Weis working in the Department of Psychology as Research Fellow and Lecturer, respectively. Both Dr Cavina-Pratesi and Dr Weis are active researchers in the field of cognitive neuroscience investigating the neural underpinning of human cognitive processes such as object recognition and memory using fMRI.
Structure & Modules
Teaching is generally organized into a number of 10 week units each involving 2 to 3 hours per week via lectures, seminars, practical sessions and lab placements. The programme comprises seven modules taught across three terms, together with a dissertation conducted through the year (see below).
Modules are divided into 8-10 week teaching blocks. Teaching and course material is 'step-linked' so that knowledge builds up over the course of the program. Taught coursework and methodological/data-analysis exercises are integrated with practical work. The program is inherently broad ranging; as the field of cognitive neuroscience uses a wide range of methodologies to explore many different aspects of cognition, our modules cover a wide range of techniques and their use in a variety of topics including perception, memory and attention. The MSc will provide students with a wide range of knowledge (both theoretical and practical) and transferable skills including various professional ways of disseminating knowledge.
Applied Statistics provides training in the selection, interpretation, and application of statistical methods. Statistical techniques studied include ANOVA, regression analysis, categorical data analysis, and exploratory statistical techniques. This unit provides hands-on experience of research methods and research tools.
Research Practice provides training in data management, accessing information sources, project organization, and the fundamentals required in order to perform research in an applied manner.
Critical Analysis provides the analytical skills required to engage with and evaluate work derived from psychological research. As the ability to compare and contrast conclusions and positions is essential for disambiguating competing psychological claims, this module will focus on the nature of the peer review process, academic publishing and the construction and validity of research articles from different psychological sub-disciplines.
Techniques in Cognitive Neuroscience provides theoretical introduction (via taught coursework) and hand-on experience (via laboratory placements and practical workshops) on the main methods of cognitive neuroscience such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Electroencephalography (EEG) and Eye-tracking.
The modules Advanced Cognition and Advanced Neuropsychology are interleaved throughout the year and explore in depths various aspects of cognition discussing research from brain-intact and brain-injured/pathological population.
The Matlab module gives an opportunity to learn a valuable skill in cognitive neuroscience research - programming. This is taught in relation to specific techniques and equipment which are valuable for much of the work taught throughout the MSc and provides important practical skills which can prove useful in the Dissertation module.
TheDissertation module represents an opportunity for students to undertake in-depth research work in a particular area to answer a particular empirical question and builds on both the general background to scientific methodology introduced in Research Practice, Critical Analysis and Applied Statistics, as well as the in-depth subject knowledge provided in the other modules.
As an outcome of the program, students completing the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience will have acquired, and be able to apply, general research knowledge and skills in accordance with Section D and E of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Training Guidelines. They will also acquire subject specific knowledge in the research area of Cognitive Neuroscience in accordance with Section F of the ESRC Training Guidelines as follows.
Each 10 week unit is assessed by means of one formative assignment and one summative assessment. The summative assessment counts towards the final degree. For the program as a whole, this assessment is divided in roughly equal proportions between examinations (33.3%), written assignments (33.3%) and dissertation (33.3%).
Applied Statistics Lectures: 22 hours and Practical Sessions: 44 hours
Research Practice Seminars: 20 hours
Critical Analysis Seminars: 30 hours
Techniques in Cognitive Neuroscience Seminars: 18 hours and Workshops: 10 hours
Advanced Cognition Seminars: 21 hours and Workshops: 15 hours
Advanced Neuropsychology Seminars: 30 hours
MATLAB Programming workshops: 40 hours
Dissertation Tutorials: 25 hours
Entrance Requirements for Taught Degrees
To be admitted to do a taught master's course you should have normally have received an appropriate upper second or first class undergraduate degree, or its equivalent for overseas candidates. If you are unsure whether your first degree is appropriate, please contact the degree director of the degree you are interested in. References will also play an important part in the admissions process.
The Postgraduate Team
Director of Postgraduate Research - Dr Nadja Reissland
Course Director (MSc Cognitive Neuroscience) - Dr Cristiana Cavina-Pratesi & Dr Susanne Weis
Course Director (MSc Developmental Psychopathology) - Dr David Williams
Course Director (MA Research Methods) - Dr David Williams
Course Director (MSc Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience) - Dr David Williams
For more information please contact us