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MSci Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course description

This course is specifically tailored to students interested in pursuing a career in research, either in academia or in industry.

Our MSci Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology course combines major topics in cognitive neuroscience and psychology to offer a broad grounding in this exciting field of behavioural science.

In contrast to the three-year BSc, this four-year MSci features a number of master's level units in third year (including coverage of Open Science principles and programming using the open-source statistical software package, R).

In the fourth year you will focus on a research project, during which you will be fully immersed in a research environment.

The psychology component of the MSci covers topics such as:

  • how humans and animals think (cognitive processes);
  • how the world is sensed (perception);
  • comparative and developmental studies;
  • 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;
  • how humans and animals sense and respond to their environment.

The MSci 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 constitutes your first step towards professional chartered psychologist status.

Special features

This is a research-oriented four-year degree with Year 3 involving a number of master's-level units where you will gain valuable data analysis experience using statistical approaches that are at the cutting edge of the discipline.

It is intended that this degree will provide a solid foundation for PhD study and increase your competitiveness in terms of securing PhD funding.

Foundation year available

You can prepare for the full degree course if you do not have the appropriate qualifications for direct entry by undertaking our foundation course first.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning will be delivered using a variety of methods. A typical week in your first year of study will comprise approx. 30 hours of activity, of which approximately 15 hours will be timetabled study, such as interactive/active learning lectures, videos, tutorial sessions, laboratory classes and 15 hours will be independent or self-directed study.

As you progress through the course an increasing emphasis will be placed on independent study, and this reflects you applying your knowledge and skills in individual projects. 

The course contains strong practical elements. This commences in year 1 with 'Introduction to laboratory science' (semester 1) and 'Introduction to experimental biology' (semester 2) which will enable you to develop basic experimental and data analysis skills.

In year 2, the Experimental Design modules (semester 1) will enable you to develop experimental skills, which are closely aligned to your degree programme. In Semester 2 you will take an intensive, degree specific Research Skills Module (RSM) module where you will have the opportunity to learn key experimental skills and design and analyse simple experiments relevant to your degree.

Students studying Organismal degrees, such as Biology, have the opportunity to take a field course instead of a laboratory based practical unit in Semester 2. For students taking BSc (Hons) Zoology a field course is a compulsory component of both year 1 and year 2.

In year 3, BSc (Hons) students carry out an independent research project. This can involve laboratory or field based research or you can opt to conduct a non- laboratory based project, such as education, business and science media projects. All of these projects contain a research element and will require you to both generate and statistically analyse data.

For the MSci programmes, in year 3, a suite of Experimental Skill modules tailored to groups of degree programmes enables training in more complex experimental skills to take place in preparation for the 7-month MSci research project in year 4.

The course is assessed by a variety of methods, each appropriate to the topic being assessed. These methods include coursework exercises, written examinations, online examinations, presentations and practical demonstrations. You will also have many opportunities to self-assess your progress using online quizzes and tutorial exercises.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods 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.
  • 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 e-learning activities during the unit and multiple choice exams at the end of the semester.

Year 2

Lecture units are assessed through a variety of methods including coursework, multiple-choice, short-answer, and/or essay-based exams.

Year 3

Lecture units are usually assessed through a variety of methods which typically include coursework and essay-based exams. Students also take two 'honours' papers: degree programme-specific examinations comprising essays and data-handling problems. On the MSci programme, students take several MSci specific courses, including a group-based practical unit, a literature review and a written research proposal.

Year 4

The final year is based on a 7-month research project (120 credits), carried out in a research laboratory or fieldstation run by University staff. The project is assessed by a written assignment, a scientific talk, a written report, a poster and presentation and your performance during the project. In order to progress on the MSci degree, you must fulfil certain progression criteria. Students that do not meet these criteria are transferred to the 3-year BSc.

Course content for year 1

You will gain a broad introduction to biological sciences, including the nervous system and pharmacology, which are relevant to cognitive neuroscience.

Psychology topics will include social psychology, brain structure and function, and perception and cognition. Year 1 also provides an introduction to the essential data handling and laboratory skills required for 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) BIOL10741 0 Mandatory
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 10 Mandatory
Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience 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.

In the research skills unit, you will have the opportunity to carry out techniques that are widely used in current biological science research. You will also undertake an extended essay on a subject-specific topic.

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
Personality and Individual Differences PSYC21042 10 Mandatory
Statistics and Data Analysis PSYC21061 10 Mandatory
Cognition PSYC21081 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
Displaying 10 of 16 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

In Year 3, topics reflect the current issues within psychology and bioscience. The master's-level modules will provide more in-depth research training and introduce you to programming in the context of data science for cognitive neuroscience and psychology.

Course units for year 3

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
MSci Project Literature Review and Research Proposal BIOL33000 10 Mandatory
MSci Experimental Skills Module BIOL33012 20 Mandatory
MSci Reproducible Data Science BIOL33031 10 Mandatory
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
MSci Bioinformatics Tools and Resources BIOL33011 10 Optional
Computational Approaches to Biology BIOL33021 10 Optional
Organisational Psychology PSYC30242 20 Optional
Language and Communicative Development in Educational Settings PSYC31121 20 Optional
Sociality & Communication: Evolutionary Perspectives PSYC31131 20 Optional
Qualitative Research Methods in Applied Contexts PSYC31151 20 Optional
Cases in Clinical Neuropsychology PSYC31161 20 Optional
Lifestyle Behaviour Change PSYC31212 20 Optional
Clinical Psychology PSYC31222 20 Optional
Communication in Healthcare PSYC31232 20 Optional
Understanding Dementia: Brain and Behaviour PSYC31242 20 Optional
Psychology of Politics, Identity and Society PSYC32242 20 Optional
Landmark Studies in Perception PSYC32321 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 23 course units for year 3

Course content for year 4

In Year 4, there are no taught units but instead you will conduct a substantial research project and will be fully embedded within your supervisor's research team.

Scholarships and bursaries

A small number of scholarships may be available to overseas applicants. Details will be made available once confirmed.

What our students say

Find out more about what it's like to study at Manchester on the Biology, Medicine and Health Student Blog .

Facilities

Learning 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);
  • galvanic skin response (GSR);
  • virtual reality;
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS);
  • eye-tracking during scene perception and reading.

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

You will also have access to the University's other facilities for undergraduate students.

Research facilities

As a final year student, you have the opportunity to undertake a project in the labs of our world-class bioscience researchers.To support our research, we have extensive research facilities equipped with high-quality technology.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk