BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course description

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

The psychology component covers topics including:

  • how humans and animals think (cognitive processes);
  • how the world is sensed (perception);
  • comparative and developmental studies;
  • clinical psychology.

The neuroscience component of the course examines how the brain and nervous system work to generate behaviour, perception, movement, the action of drugs on the nervous system, sleep, memory and other key functions.

The course also covers new technological advances that have been at the forefront of recent breakthroughs in the field of cognitive neuroscience and psychology, as well as advances in our understanding of the biology of higher brain function and the pathogenesis of a variety of neurological disorders, such as mental health disorders and neurodegenerative disease eg Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

You can gain valuable experience through our work placement schemes, with an opportunity to take a year-long placement in Year 3 (subject to meeting progression requirements).

We also offer opportunities to study abroad at one of our partner institutions, depending on academic performance.

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 constitutes your first step towards professional chartered psychologist status.

Special features

Excellent facilities

Take advantage of our exceptional facilities during your studies and final year project; including dissection room, EEG lab, Virtual Reality lab and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation lab.  

BPS accreditation

This degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Broaden your degree

It is possible to broaden your degree by taking units from the University College, or the University Language Centre in exchange for a few units from your degree. 


There are opportunities to gain practical work-based experience through a full-time, year long placement in Year 3, subject to meeting our progression criteria.

Placements take place at carefully chosen partners including the NHS and certain laboratories, local schools, colleges, voluntary organisations and businesses. We have substantial experience in setting up these placements, and you will be able to add relevant work experience to your CV and try out your chosen career. 

Read a blog post from one of our placement year students to find out more.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to experience life in another country through our study abroad scheme, where you can spend a year overseas at one of our partner institutions if you meet our progression criteria. These institutions have previously included Queens University (Canada), University of Sydney (Australia), University of California (USA) and Complutense University of Madrid (Spain).

Teaching and learning

You will hear about the latest developments in cognitive neuroscience and psychological theory, research, and practice from leading scientists in your lectures. From your first semester, you will learn how to collect, organise, describe and analyse data and present your findings in a variety of formats to different audiences.

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 groups ranging from 20 to 650 students 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 experimental techniques to develop laboratory, experimental design, and data analysis 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 in your final year.

Find out more about how you will learn and see a typical Year 1 timetable on our  teaching and learning  page.

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 coursework, a written exam (multiple choice or essay-based, which are held at the end of an academic semester in either January or May/June), or a combination of coursework and exam.
  • 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 or a coursework assignment, and a written assignment or multiple choice exams at the end of the semester. Year 1 contributes 10% to your overall degree mark.

Year 2

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam, and some units also include a coursework component. Year 2 contributes 30% to your overall degree mark.

Final year

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam, and some units also include a coursework element. Students also take an honours paper: this is a degree programme-specific examination comprising data-handling and interpretation.

A significant part of the year (accounting for one-quarter of the overall degree mark) is the project, which is assessed through a presentation and a written report.

The final year contributes 60% to your overall degree mark.

Course unit details

This course is modular. You will study compulsory course units and choose some optional units.

Most units are assigned 10 credits and you will take 120 credits each year.

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, 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
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 10 Mandatory
Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience BIOL10832 10 Mandatory
Health & Safety online course BIOL12000 0 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 Science Communication unit.

In the Research Skills unit, you have the opportunity to carry out techniques that are widely used in current biological and cognitive neuroscience 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
Academic Tutorials Year 2 BIOL20000 10 Mandatory
Neuroscience RSM BIOL20922 10 Mandatory
Motor Systems BIOL21332 10 Mandatory
Sensory Systems BIOL21341 10 Mandatory
Science Communication BIOL21392 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
Human Anatomy & Histology BIOL21291 10 Optional
Drugs & the Brain BIOL21312 10 Optional
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action BIOL21321 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

Final year topics reflect the current hotspots of neuroscience and psychology endeavour and the research interests of our staff, and are constantly being updated.

You will undertake an independent in-depth  research project  that may involve supervised research on a biology or psychology topic, or you may choose to work on e-learning, educational, data analysis, bioinformatics or enterprise topics.

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
Projects BIOL30030 40 Mandatory
Chemical Communication in Animals (L) BIOL31461 10 Optional
Bioethics: Contemporary Issues in Science & Biomedicine (E) BIOL31522 10 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
Organisational Psychology PSYC30241 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 PSYC31211 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
Perception - From Lab to Life PSYC32322 20 Optional
Emotion PSYC37111 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 22 course units for year 3

What our students say

My course allows me the rare opportunity to appreciate abstract scientific concepts on real and 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 postgraduate 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 so far has been studying South African animal behaviour. 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

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


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 and psychology 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: