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BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2017

Course description

One of the most challenging problems in modern biology is to understand the behaviour of both animals and humans in terms of brain mechanisms and evolutionary principles. Approaches to this problem are diverse, varying from the study of biological systems at the molecular level, to analysis of human performance. By combining studies of major topics in experimental psychology and neuroscience, this course provides a broad background in this exciting field of behavioural science.

The psychology component covers topics such as: how humans and animals think (cognitive processes); how the world is sensed (perception); comparative and developmental studies; and abnormal psychology. The neuroscience component of the course covers topics such as animal behaviour, learning and memory, the action of drugs on the nervous system, and how humans and animals sense and respond to their environment.

The third year of this degree is spent on placement with one of our partner organisations in the UK or overseas.

Our degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which means as well as providing a solid foundation for a career in biological sciences, it also constitutes your first step towards professional chartered psychologist status. Our degree is also accredited by the Society of Biology and is currently the only course of its kind in the country to be recognised in this way. Accreditation is awarded to programmes that demonstrate the highest standards in the biosciences and provide graduates with the skills for academic and industry careers.

Special features

  • You can opt out of the industrial/professional placement year.
  • A Foundation Year is available for applicants with inappropriate entry requirements.

Department course information

Teaching and learning

We use a wide range of teaching methods to suit the content and aims of each course unit:

  • Tutorials : Regular sessions with an advisor and small group of students develop your oral and written communication, IT, teamworking and problem-solving skills whilst exploring topics related to your degree discipline.
  • Lectures: Delivered to audiences ranging from 20 to 650 students using technology such as PowerPoint, video and interactive voting.
  • eLearning: Our virtual learning environment provides learning resources on demand (discussion boards, lecture podcasts, quizzes) to enhance and support your lecture based units.
  • Practicals: Undertake modern experimental techniques to develop laboratory, experimental design, and data analysis skills.
  • Fieldwork: Study organisms in a range of environments, undertaking directed work and independent research projects to develop observation, experimental design and data collection skills.
  • Seminars: Examine and debate topical areas of research to develop your critical thinking and communication skills.  
  • Research projects: Carry out an independent research project which could be lab-based or in a number of other formats for example planning a new bioscience enterprise or an education project. Read more about recent final year projects .

Download a typical first year timetable  (pdf).

Coursework and assessment

The degree programme is modular. You will study compulsory course units and are able to choose some optional units. Most units are assigned 10 credits and you will take 120 credits each year. The methods of assessment vary widely to suit the nature of the course unit and each level of study. 

  • Lecture units are usually assessed by written exam (multiple choice or essay-based) which are held at the end of an academic semester in either January or May/June.
  • Field courses are usually assessed via oral and written presentations, group-work and/or projects
  • Practical units are usually assessed by experimental report and/or short written assignment and/or written exam.
  • The proportion of independent study assignments increases during each year of study.

Year 1: Lecture units are usually assessed by eLearning activities (during the unit) and multiple choice exams (at the end of the semester).  Year 1 contributes 10% to your overall degree mark. If you wish to continue on the 'with language' or 'industrial/professional experience' programme you must normally obtain a mean mark of at least 60% in Year 1.

Year 2: Lecture units are usually assessed by essay based exam. Year 2 contributes 30% to your overall degree mark.

Placement Year: You will complete a scientific report and undergo an oral examination on your research that contributes 10% to your overall degree mark. You will be marked out of 110% for your whole degree.

Final Year: Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam. you will also take two honours papers; degree programme specific examinations comprising essays and data handling problems. A significant part of the year (accounting for one quarter of the overall degree mark) is the project, which is assessed by literature review and a written report. Final year contributes 60% to your overall degree mark.

Course content for year 1

You will gain an introduction to biological science topics, including the nervous system and pharmacology, which are relevant to cognitive neuroscience. Psychology topics will include social and health psychology, brain structure and function and perception and cognition. This year also provides an introduction to the essential data handling and laboratory skills required by all biological scientists.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 1 BIOL10000 10 Mandatory
Introduction to Laboratory Science BIOL10401 10 Mandatory
Introduction to Experimental Biology - Human Biology BIOL10422 10 Mandatory
Writing and Referencing Skills (online unit) BIOL10742 0 Mandatory
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 10 Mandatory
Excitable Cells BIOL10832 10 Mandatory
Research Methods & Statistics PSYC10100 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Cognition PSYC10421 10 Mandatory
Brain & Behaviour PSYC11212 10 Mandatory
Sensation & Perception PSYC11312 10 Mandatory
Genes, Evolution and Development BIOL10521 10 Optional
Body Systems BIOL10811 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 12 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

You will continue your studies in greater depth and begin to specialise. You will also undertake a dissertation. During the research skills unit, you have the opportunity to carry out techniques which are widely used in current biological science research.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
2nd Year Tutorial (Sem 1 - Cognitive Neuroscience & Psychology) BIOL20021 0 Mandatory
Neuroscience RSM BIOL20922 10 Mandatory
Dissertation BIOL21090 10 Mandatory
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action BIOL21321 10 Mandatory
Motor Systems BIOL21332 10 Mandatory
Sensory Systems BIOL21341 10 Mandatory
Perception and Action PSYC21012 10 Mandatory
Topics and Issues in Developmental Psychology PSYC21021 10 Mandatory
Cognitive Neuroscience PSYC21022 10 Mandatory
Individual Differences in Mental Health and Wellbeing PSYC21042 10 Mandatory
Statistics and Data Analysis PSYC21061 10 Mandatory
Endocrinology BIOL21261 10 Optional
Drugs & the Brain BIOL21312 10 Optional
Animal Behaviour BIOL21432 10 Optional
How to Make a Brain BIOL21451 10 Optional
Leadership in Action Unit UCIL20021 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 16 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

You will spend your third year on a placement with one of our partner organisations in the UK or overseas. Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology students have recently had placements with companies including Unilever and Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG in Vienna. We have over 200 partner organisations including pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and hospitals. We have recently expanded our range of placements to reflect the growing range of science careers outside of the laboratory in science enterprise, education and communication:

  • Industrial/professional research - undertake a research project usually in an industrial or international research institution.
  • Education - undertake placements in at least two different educational environments gaining experience of teaching and learning in different age groups.
  • Enterprise - spend a year working in a biotechnology start up or technology transfer company gaining valuable training, skills, experience and contacts.
  • Science communication - work in an organisation that communicates science such as a medical writing company, media office or museum.

We are unique in providing such a range of placements to our students.

More information on industrial/professional experience placements.

Course content for year 4

Final year topics reflect the current hotspots of bioscience endeavour and the research interests of staff and are therefore being constantly updated.The highlight of the year is your independent in-depth research project, which you can choose to take within biological sciences or psychology. This degree is accredited with the British Psychological Society (BPS) only if the latter option is chosen.

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 3 BIOL30000 0 Mandatory
Projects BIOL30030 30 Optional
Life Sciences Enterprise Project BIOL31080 30 Optional
Education/eLearning Project BIOL31220 30 Optional
Science Media Project BIOL31230 30 Optional
HSTM Project BIOL31250 30 Optional
Neuroinflammation in Health & Disease (E) BIOL31612 10 Optional
Imaging in Biomedical Research (E) BIOL31631 10 Optional
Neuropharmacology of Human Health (E) BIOL31671 10 Optional
Clocks, Sleep & the Rhythms of Life (E) BIOL31681 10 Optional
Learning, Memory & Cognition (E) BIOL31692 10 Optional
Hormones & Behaviour BIOL31721 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 12 course units for year 4

What our students say

My course allows me the rare opportunity to appreciate abstract scientific concepts on real visible levels. I am looking forward to undertaking research projects in my second and final years, not only for the chance to focus on the areas of Neuroscience and Psychology which have most interested me so far, but also to help in deciding where next to steer my post-graduate education.

Zahra Khatib

This course has allowed me to get experience in the nitty gritty Neuroscience aspect, as well as the behavioural side of Psychology. My favourite experience has been the South African animal behaviour unit. The students and staff were always fun to work with and my project was so interesting to research and write up. Not to mention the stunning scenery and exquisite food.

Max Drakeley


Teaching Facilities

Our modern teaching labs are equipped for a range of biological and biomedical techniques. The following are just a few of the techniques you could undertake during your  degree:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • DNA sequencing
  • gel electrophoresis
  • spectrophotometry
  • dissection and histology
  • electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG)
  • immunofluorescence microscopy

Our computing facilities include access to over 200 PCs in dedicated clusters and eLearning tools including online lecture notes, discussion boards, lecture podcasts and quizzes.

Our experimental grounds include a variety of plants and controlled growing conditions used in research. These facilities complement resources at the Manchester Museum where you have access to important  natural history collections  and a  tropical frog conservation centre  .

Research Facilities

As a final year student you have the opportunity to undertake a project in the labs of our world class biological science researchers. To support our research we have extensive  research facilities  which include state of the art equipment.


The  University Library  is one of the best resourced academic libraries in the country, housing 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: