Cognitive Psychology / Neuropsychology - MSc

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Overview

Cognitive psychology and neuropsychology bring together a range of different theoretical frameworks. This MSc programme provides an overview and critical evaluation of the major issues, investigative strategies, and empirical findings of recent attempts to integrate these different approaches to 'brain cognition'.

Examine how cognitive psychological, neuropsychological, neurobiological and computer science approaches can be combined to understand how the human mind/brain solves a variety of complex problems, such as recognising objects, remembering previous experiences, reading, speaking and reasoning.

The programme gives you a detailed understanding of the major analytic techniques and research methodologies employed by cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists. Study a range of general, historical, theoretical and philosophical issues underlying the discipline that will equip you with specialist knowledge and systematic understanding and prepare you for a career in academia or as a practising psychologist.


Watch an additional video about Taught MSc Degrees in the School of Psychology and find out about the excellent support we give to our students.

About the School of Psychology

As a student within the School of Psychology at Kent, you benefit from our supportive, dynamic and diverse environment for creative research and learning.

All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.

Conducting both basic and applied research in several areas, Psychology at Kent is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research. Our long-established international reputation in social psychology is complemented by our strengths in cognitive, developmental and forensic psychology. We attract excellent visiting scholars and postgraduate students from both within the UK and overseas.

Some of our PhD students are self-funded, and others are funded by grants or awards either from the School, UK or their countries of origin. Some are also paid to undertake part-time teaching within the School. We have a strong track record of attracting ESRC research studentship funding, which involves partnerships with external organisations such as Age UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and collaborative studentships with partners such as People United.

Entry requirements

A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree with:

a. Adequate level of academic achievement

A final degree classification (grade average) of at least a 2.1 or Merit in the UK system (the second highest classification after First/Distinction). Results from institutions in other countries will be assessed individually according to this standard. However, applicants who do not meet this criterion are still welcome to apply, and their individual circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Applicants with undergraduate degrees in psychology are preferred and those with related social sciences or science degrees are also considered. If it is in a different subject, or if it is not accredited by the British Psychological Society, please ask your academic referee to complete the Pro-forma for Cognitive Psychology and email it to psypgadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

b. Statistics and research methods training in the social sciences

This programme includes a one-year statistics sequence which you must normally pass in order to receive your award. The teaching assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:

  1. Means and standard deviations
  2. Distributions, hypothesis testing and statistical significance
  3. t-tests
  4. Correlation coefficients
  5. Variables and measurement

Therefore, your existing degree transcript should note that you have taken and passed a minimum of one term each in statistics and social science research methods courses (or two terms of a joint statistics and research methods course).

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

You study three compulsory modules and three optional modules. The compulsory modules are:

SP864 involves a seminar schedule integrated with lectures from internal speakers and external speakers from different universities in the UK and Europe. 

View this year's timetable. Please note that timetabling and modules may change from year to year.

Modules

The modules below are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module provides a postgraduate-level orientation to both basic and advanced contemporary statistical and methodological issues in psychology. The methodological issues you consider include qualitative research methodologies; experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational research designs in the laboratory and field; and the fundamental issues in psychological measurement including reliability and validity. The statistical techniques you learn include univariate and multivariate descriptive and inferential statistics; basic and advanced topics in ANOVA and ANCOVA; linear and logistic multiple regression; some scaling methods; classical test theory, factor analysis; fundamentals of structural equation modelling (path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, multiple-group analysis), and some item response theory.

Find out more about SP801

The course provides a coherent base for understanding the methodological and theoretical issues that are currently considered important in the study of cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. You are shown how to critically appraise the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the various disciplines that comprise cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. You evaluate how these disciplines may be combined to further scientific understanding of the core problems in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology today.Material from areas such as vision, learning, memory, language, reasoning and emotion will be referred to in order to examine the relationship between brain and mind, the modularity of brain and mind, and the notion of different levels/frameworks of description and explanation.

Find out more about SP864

Optional modules may include

The module will survey cutting edge research emphasising the role of sensory and motor systems in human cognition. We will discuss the relationship between brain, mind and body, from physiological, experimental, philosophical, linguistic, and neuroscientific perspectives. The module will cover areas such as sensorimotor interactions, interoception, somatosensory and motor plasticity, body representation, body ownership, the sense of agency, as well as embodied cognition. Implications for cognition, social behaviour and clinical conditions will be emphasised.

Find out more about SP865

The central theme of this module will be to explore how cognition functions in the real world, that is, to investigate the application of cognitive models to the broader context of human behaviour. Possible topics for study include: the role of cognition in development, emotion, memory and action; applications to eyewitness testimony; intentional forgetting and embodied cognition. Practical applications and relevance to a general understanding of behaviour will be emphasised throughout.

Find out more about SP829

This module will provide students with theoretical instruction and practical experience in some key advanced research methods appropriate for scientific research in cognitive (neuro)psychology. The study of cognitive processes and the temporal nature of brain activity will feature highly in this module.

Find out more about SP850

This module explores the typical development of key cognitive functions and the psychological methods employed to study these developments. The aim of the module is to explore these topics at an advanced level, allowing students to evaluate critically pieces of research in terms of their findings, conceptual underpinnings, and/or methodological approaches. Lecture topics may include: Research methods in developmental psychology; Critical periods and plasticity; Introduction to theories of word learning; The critical period for language learning; Social learning and imitation; Thinking about the minds of others; Understanding knowledge; Metacognition

Find out more about SP851

This module investigates common forms of neurodevelopmental disorder. The goal of the module is to help students understand the behavioural manifestations of these disorders, as well as their possible psychological/cognitive, neurobiological, and/or etiological (genetic/environmental) causes. Moreover, the module will explore some characteristic approaches that clinicians take when attempting to support people with these disorders and remediate the difficulties that these people experience. Finally, students will learn to evaluate critically pieces of research on developmental psychopathology in terms of study findings, conceptual underpinnings, and/or methodological approaches

Find out more about SP854

Compulsory modules currently include

All students undertake a supervised empirical research project in an area of psychology relevant to their chosen MSc programme, and submit it as a typed dissertation of approximately 8,000 words. The aim of the dissertation is to test the student's ability to plan, execute, analyse, and report a piece of independent research in the relevant setting. The dissertation requires detailed theoretical knowledge of the discipline, an appreciation of the ways in which that knowledge has been applied in previous research and practice, and the methodological and statistical skills to set up a scientific investigation. Supervision is provided by the principal teaching staff and by other appropriate staff with research interests in a student's chosen area. Students are advised to read the School's Ethics pages for information on submitting applications for ethical approval to the School and to relevant outside bodies.

Find out more about SP998

Teaching and assessment

The programme mainly involves lecture and seminar based teaching. In addition, particular option units (such as computational modelling) require 'hands-on' experience and learning of particular skills. Staff contact time is eight hours per week. You are expected to study for 1,800 hours over 45 weeks.

Assessment is mainly by coursework assignment (4-6,000 word essays), examination (for the Advanced Statistics and Methodology module only), plus the dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • foster your intellectual development by providing you with specialised knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to cognitive psychology/neuropsychology and statistical and methodological expertise in order that you should be well equipped to make your own original contribution to psychological knowledge
  • provide teaching that is informed by current research and scholarship and that requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
  • help you to develop research skills and transferable skills in preparation for entering academic or other careers as psychologists
  • satisfy the academic requirements of the knowledge base specified by the British Psychological Society
  • enable you to manage your own learning and to carry out independent research
  • help you to develop general critical, analytic and problem-solving skills that can be applied in a wide range of settings.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of general, historical, theoretical and philosophical issues underlying the disciplines of cognitive psychology/neuropsychology
  • the major analytic techniques and research methodologies employed by cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists
  • specialist knowledge and systematic understanding of the key issues in cognitive psychology/neuropsychology.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to critically reflect on key themes
  • the ability to produce sustained work
  • discussion skills
  • written analysis and interpretation of relevant material
  • a critical awareness of both cognitive and neuropsychological approaches to the nature of mind/body. 

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • how to identify, locate and use material available in the library and online resources
  • the major analytic techniques employed by cognitive psychologists/neuropsychologists
  • how to evaluate and select appropriate methods for researching questions in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • numeracy: the ability to analyse data and make sense of statistical materials, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information.
  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, write coherently and concisely about your chosen research area and other areas of cognitive psychology/neuropsychology, and give oral presentations about your work.
  • working with others: the ability to review the work of others, work co-operatively in groups, understand ethical principles and the procedures for gaining ethics approval for research
  • improving your own learning: the ability to explore your personal strengths and weaknesses, develop the skills of time management, review the student-staff relationship, develop specialist learning skills, develop autonomy in learning
  • information technology: use computers for data analysis, word processing, graphical display of data for analysis and presentation, bibliographical research, documentation and email
  • problem-solving: the ability to identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
  • teaching and learning: we will provide lecture workshops on computing, drop-in computing surgeries, training in making oral presentations of research material, lecture-seminars on writing critical reviews of literature, carrying out literature searches, lecture-workshops on career development, media training and training in the dissemination of research findings.
  • you will also sit computing tests and unseen examinations and write coursework essays.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £8100
  • International full-time £18000
  • Home part-time £4050
  • International part-time £9000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

EU students

Kent is supporting its EU students as the UK leaves the EU with a special EU fee offered for students joining in 2021 for the duration of their programmes. EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. It will not affect students starting courses in academic year 2020/21, nor those EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. It will also not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.


Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Psychology was ranked 11th in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 95% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research areas

Research themes

The School of Psychology is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research, with an international reputation for excellence in social psychology (including group processes and intergroup relations); cognition and neuroscience; developmental psychology; and forensic psychology. We have staff who can supervise research degrees in all of these areas. The research environment is designed to sustain a strong, vibrant research culture, encourage collaboration, and unite staff and students with shared research interests. Our themes ensure critical mass and create a highly energetic and stimulating intellectual climate.

Research activity is supported by:

  • centrally co-ordinated provision and use of laboratories and technical support
  • selection of speakers for our weekly departmental research colloquia
  • weekly research meetings within each theme
  • developing, reporting and analysing research, and hosting our many visiting scholars
  • several monthly small meeting series on specific areas of cross-cutting research (such as forensic, social development, emotion, social cognition and health).

Cognition and Neuroscience

Research under this theme has an international reputation in the topic areas of Visual Cognition, Attention and Memory, and Language and Communication. 

Visual cognition, attention and memory

Research on this topic focuses primarily on the role of vision and visual perception in human performance. The fundamental aim of this work is to identify the cognitive processes and neurological mechanisms underlying various visual tasks. Studies involving neurologically healthy volunteers examine issues such as face recognition and identification, eyewitness testimony, person detection, emotion processing, episodic memory and pattern and motion recognition.

Language and communication

Research in this group examines various aspects of semantic, pragmatic and syntactic understanding. Research questions on healthy populations include the role of executive functions in successful language use and communication, how language influences attentional processes and perspective taking, anomaly detection, and the effect of interruptions on reading. Work on developmental populations examines issues such as how children learn to understand and produce sentences in their own language, and how they learn conversational conventions and self-repair. Research also examines developmental disorders of communication, including autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia. This research group has links with researchers in the School of European Culture and Languages, as part of the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies.

Social Psychology

Much of our social psychology research is co-ordinated through the Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP), the largest research group in this area in Europe. CSGP attracts a stream of major international social psychology researchers, who are officially affiliated to the Centre and visit regularly to work with our staff. The Social Psychology group also includes the co-editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (Abrams).

Social psychology research at Kent is funded by a variety of British and international sources, currently and recently including ESRC, British Academy, Leverhulme, Age Concern, European Commission, European Science Foundation, Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Nuffield, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as government departments such as the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Social Psychology group includes the following themes:

Prejudice, intergroup contact and social categorisation

This research is carried out in our social psychology laboratories, at schools and in business organisations. For example, research within this topic focuses on questions such as: how contact between members of different social groups is represented psychologically, how intergroup contact affects prejudice, when outgroups are seen as less human, when and why children show prejudice, and why organisational mergers sometimes fail.

Social inequality and cohesion

Research on this topic combines theory-driven research and engagement with policy. It is conducted in real-life settings such as the workplace, and involves national and international surveys. For example, the research focuses on the well-being of elderly people in Britain, work participation and motherhood, and discrimination against different groups in society.

Group dynamics and social influence

Laboratory studies and community-based research are conducted on this topic. For example, research focuses on co-operation in small groups, group decision-making, perception and influence of leaders, social communication and language, subjective group dynamics in adults and children, the dynamics of prison gang activity, and the impact of alcohol on group processes.

Personality and social motivation

Much of this research is carried out in laboratories, through surveys and in clinical or other applied settings. For example, research has examined aggression, the adaptive functions of perfectionism, and consequences of mortality salience.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology research at Kent and all forensic-related teaching operates through our newly constituted Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP). Current research is focused on bullying in prisons, prison gang behaviour, jury decision-making, child sexual offending, rape, rape proclivity, female sexual offending, theories of offender rehabilitation, firesetting, sexual harassment, violence, aggression and alcohol, and the infrahumanisation of offenders. Other areas of research include social cognition, social and moral emotion, and group process theory, all of which are applied to the study of offending behaviour or court process issues.

Forensic psychology research at Kent is funded by various national and international sources, which include: The British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, Home Office, Leverhulme, Ministry of Justice and the Nuffield Foundation.

Research may be carried out with staff or offenders/ex-offenders in a variety of settings, including prisons, youth offender institutions, secure mental health units and probation offices. Alternatively, research may take place with students or members of the community in our newly equipped laboratories.

Developmental Psychology

Much of the research conducted by members of the Developmental Psychology group is conducted with neurotypical infants, children, and adolescents.  However, we also take a lifespan approach to the study of development and conduct research with older adults.  Moreover, a key focus of our research is on neuro-developmental disorders.  Central research topics include:

Social development

Developmental group members are particularly interested in the expression and control of ethnic and gender prejudice, social ostracism and inclusion, conversational norms and group identity in children.  We also conduct research on social aspects of older adulthood, in particular self-stereotyping and prejudice against elderly people.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is a major focus of many of our developmental psychologists.  In particular, members of the Developmental Psychology group actively research topics such as the development of social cognition and theory of mind, language, information and sensory processing, and conversation and pragmatic skills.

Forensic research

Our developmental research also focuses on adolescence, as well as infancy, childhood and older adulthood.  In particular, we are interested in the emergence of gang activity and antisocial behaviour during this period of development.

Developmental psychopathology

We also conduct cutting-edge research into neuro-developmental disorders, such as autism and language impairment, with a view to understanding the nature and basis of, and best ways to treat, these disorders.  

Research centres

The School of Psychology currently includes two formally constituted research centres, representing areas of concentration and excellence in research.

Centre for the Study of Group Processes

The Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP) was set up in 1990 to consolidate the School’s excellent international reputation for social psychological research into group processes and intergroup relations. CSGP is now a thriving international research community, including 15 full-time academic staff and a large number of research fellows and PhD students. The Centre also attracts a stream of major international group researchers, who are officially affiliated to it and regularly visit to work with our staff. The Centre also edits an international journal, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology

The main aim of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology is to conduct high-impact psychological research to further understand key forensic issues of social significance, and to lead to cutting-edge teaching and research opportunities for postgraduate students. Forensic psychology is an extremely popular and rapidly developing branch of psychology that seeks to understand the psychological processes underlying offending behaviour (including group processes), the reduction and supervision of offending behaviour (ie rehabilitation, treatment and management of community risk), victim responses to offending, the mechanisms underlying the criminal justice system more generally (ie jury decision-making and the courts), and attitudes to offenders and offender reintegration in society.

Careers

Our postgraduate students commonly go into the fields of health, teaching or further education. For instance, many of our graduates take up roles as assistant psychologists in the NHS with a view to becoming a professional clinical or forensic psychologist. Upon completing our Master’s courses, graduates have also pursued doctoral study and academic careers at higher education institutions.

The programmes we offer help you to develop general critical, analytic and problem-solving skills that can be applied in a wide range of settings.

Professional recognition

All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School has excellent facilities for both laboratory and field research, including advanced laboratory and teaching facilities. Resources include:

  • three fully equipped colour video laboratories for face-to-face group research, together with ten satellite laboratories connected via remote-control CCTV and two-way audio links
  • 58 research laboratories, all containing networked computers
  • a further 80 PCs available exclusively to Psychology students, including a designated MSc computer-networked room providing full email and internet access
  • shared offices and a personal, networked computer for research students
  • a full range of computer-based experiment generators and productivity software installed on all the School’s systems
  • an upgraded laboratory suite with equipment for digital sound and vision recording
  • four Brain Vision EEG labs (including one for simultaneous TMS & EEG, and one portable EEG system)
  • two trans-cranial direct current electrical stimulators (GVS, Magstim)
  • Neuroconn tDCS/tACS electrical stimulator with facilities for simultaneous EEG
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) PowerMAG Research 100 High Frequency Stimulator
  • two Tobii eye-trackers (Tobii X120 & Tobii T60 XL portable)
  • one Arrington eye-tracker
  • a suite equipped with Bio-Pac recorders to allow for a range of physiological measures to be taken during stressful and other tasks
  • specialist laboratories equipped for face processing and vision research
  • CRS ColorCal II Colorimeter/Photometer
  • CRS Audiofile for synchronized audio-visual presentation
  • numerous PC and Mac labs to run behavioural experiments
  • Mirror Stereoscopes for dichoptic presentation and stereo vision research
  • immersive virtual reality lab (including integrated eye-tracker)
  • a social cognition laboratory
  • creation in 2010 of the Kent Child Development Unit and research team focusing on how children learn about their world, about other people and about the language they hear around them.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Child Development; and Clinical Psychology Review.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

References

The online application form will ask you to provide the name and email address of one academic referee from your degree-granting institution. On submission of your application, they will receive a reference request by email.

To save time, we recommend that you notify your referee in advance. Their reference should describe their impression of your academic achievements, preparedness and motivation for postgraduate study in your chosen field, and personal qualities relevant to postgraduate study. 

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MSc at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

For further information please contact the Programme Director, Professor Markus Bindemann
Email: Professor Markus Bindemann

For informal enquiries please contact Carly Turnham Telephone: +44 (0)1227 824775 Email: psypgadmissions@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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