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Overview

The Cognitive Studies MA programme gives you the opportunity to explore cognitive science, a cutting edge research field in which philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, and anthropology come together to discover how the mind works. Our MA programme is highly interdisciplinary and flexible, allowing you to freely pursue your intellectual interests by taking modules from the following departments:

Structure of the course

The MA in Cognitive Studies consists of 180 credits, and can be undertaken full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 years). The programme consists of the following components:

Requirements Value
Attend the Cognitive Studies Seminar and write a essay (4000-6000 words) on a seminar
topic
30 credits
Attend additional modules adding up to 60 credits. 60 credits
Write a PhD proposal (6000-8000 words), consisting of an outline of the projected thesis,
accompanied by an annotated bibliography or literature search
OR take additional modules adding up to 30 credits.
30 credits
Write a Dissertation of 9000-12,000 words. 60 credits
Total: 180

Supervision

You will have a supervisor for your research to discuss your essays, your dissertation and PhD proposal if appropriate. Your module lecturers also help and support you through your course.

Activities

Sheffield is an exceptional place to study Cognitive Science. There are more than 20 cognitive scientists working at the University of Sheffield (find out more about their research interests). You will then have the opportunity to attend many research seminars organized by the departments affiliated to the MA program. You will also be able to benefit from the research projects and events organised by the Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies. Moreover, the philosophy department has a very active graduate community and every year there are at least 10-12 reading groups on a wide variety of topics, in which graduate students participate along with staff. You can also attend the graduate seminar in philosophy, where you will have the opportunity to engage with other students’ work.

Funding

Funding is available, both fees only (covering tuition) and fees plus maintenance (providing additional support for living expenses). For details see our funding page. Costs of living in Sheffield are relatively low. The culturally vibrant yet low-key city, conveniently located on the edge of the Peak District just two hours by train from London, has among the most affordable rents of any urban area in the UK.

PhD Study

If you wish to continue to the PhD at Sheffield, you can apply for a place during your Masters course. You will normally need a Distinction in your Masters. You can apply for PhD funding to support further study.

Placement

The Cognitive Studies MA has established itself as a successful and popular postgraduate programme, attracting a diverse group of accomplished students from the UK and abroad, many of whom go on to study for a PhD either at Sheffield or at other top-ranked institutions.

Content

Content

The MA in Cognitive Studies consists of 180 credits, and can be undertaken full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 years). Part-Time MA students are fully integrated into the programme and the flexibility of this option allows students to fit study around their other activities and responsibilities.

The teaching component of the programme will commence late September and is based on semesters (Autumn/Spring), with students taking modules for 60 credits in each semester. Semester dates.

Over the summer you will complete your dissertation (60 credits). Part-time students will commence this aspect of the programme in the summer of their second year.

Structure

Requirements Value
Attend the Cognitive Studies Seminar and write a essay (4000-6000 words) on a seminar
topic
30 credits
Attend additional modules adding up to 60 credits. (Modules choices detailed below). 60 credits
Write a PhD proposal (6000-8000 words), consisting of an outline of the projected thesis,
accompanied by an annotated bibliography or literature search
OR take additional modules adding up to 30 credits.
30 credits
Write a Dissertation of 9000-12,000 words. 60 credits
Total: 180

Module choice

Our MA students come from a range of backgrounds and can take different routes through the Masters. The Cognitive Studies Seminar, taken by all students on the programme, offers an introduction to the main theories and methods of cognitive science. You will have the opportunity to discuss your other module choices with the course director and to design an individual study programme tailored to your particular interests. Theoretical and experimental module options are available: you will be free to choose any MA module you like from philosophy, psychology, linguistics, human communication science, and archaeology. Students who plan to continue to a PhD are encouraged to take the PhD Proposal component.

The list of MA modules varies slightly from year to year due to staff changes and so on. Here is a sample of some representative modules for the year 2015-16.

Philosophy

Psychology

Archaeology

Linguistics and Communication

The following links will guide you to the full list of modules for each department:

Entry

Applying for the MA in Cognitive Studies

You are welcome to contact the department to discuss your application, but for formal consideration, you must complete the University's MA application form

Entry Requirements

We welcome students with any background. In the course of the years, we have had students coming from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, theology, linguistics, geography, and social sciences. To apply, you will ordinarily need a good undergraduate degree: a first or a 2.1 from a UK university or an equivalent grade from overseas. Admissions decisions are based mainly on:

  • what your referees say about you
  • your writing sample
  • your record of academic achievement

The application

Your application must consist of:

  1. The completed application form.
  2. Reference letters from two referees, who should each send their references to the Department directly (by email or post). Your referees should be people able to address the issue of your academic abilities and performance. Ideally they should be professional academics with experience of teaching you and knowledge of your work. Other things being equal, the more they know about you the better.
  3. A writing sample in English of 3,000 - 6,000 words. You could send one longish essay or two short ones - though a single one is better. This can be on any topic, on any discipline that is relevant to cognitive science (from philosophy of mind to cognitive neuroscience, from syntax to experimental psychology, etc.). If you are a final-year undergraduate, we recommend you simply use a recent coursework essay that obtained a good mark. If you have never studied cognitive science before, you might find it easier to produce such a sample if we set you a topic and suggest some reading. We will be happy to do this on request.
  4. Academic transcripts of your academic performance at undergraduate and (for PhD applicants) Masters level.
  5. Documentation of English language qualifications if you are not a native speaker.

Deadlines

You can apply at any time; however, there will be deadlines for the applications you will want to make to the various sources of funding available.

Information on fees and funding.

International

The Philosophy Department in Sheffield welcomes international students. Many of our graduate students and many of our staff are from other European countries, Asia and America.

There is lots of information for international students on our international Philosophy applicants page, our EU Philosophy applicants page and our University wide EU and international students webpages.

Welcome to Sheffield message to international students

People

People

There are more than 20 members of staff working in Cognitive Science at the University of Sheffield; covering a huge amount of topics and areas. Here is a partial list, indicating their main research interests. You can read more about them by clicking on their names.

Events and Activities

Recent Events and Activities

Workshops

Affect: Pleasure, Pain, and Emotions
International Workshop, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June 2015

Cognitive Science in Sheffield
Inter-Departmental Workshop, Friday 13 November 2015

Talks

Luca Barlassina discussed the function of pleasant and unpleasant experiences in our lives as part of the Festival of Arts and Humanities 2016.

Rob Rupert (Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder) "Cognition and the Personal Level: Cognitive Neuroscience, Human Action, and Flat Psychology", 8th July 2016.

Stuart P. Wilson (Cognitive Neuroscience, Sheffield) "How self-organisation can guide evolution", 7 June 2016.

Ian Phillips (Philosophy, Oxford) "Naive realism and the science of illusion", 8 March 2016.

Holly Branigan (PPLS, Edimburgh) "Say as I say: How adults’ language influences children’s syntax in dialogue (and beyond)", 6 November 2015.

Neil Lawrence (Neuroscience and Computer Science, Sheffield) "What kind of AI have we created?", Friday 23 October 2015.

Aparna Nadig (School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University) "Mechanisms of language learning in children with autism spectrum disorders" 16 October 2015

Tom Cochrane (Philosophy, Sheffield) "Valent representations", Friday 9 October 2015.

Philosophy of Cognitive Science Weekly Reading Group

  • Spring 2016: Discussing Jesse Prinz Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Autumn 2015: Discussing Shaun Nichols Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Spring 2015: Discussing Susan Carey The Origins of Concepts, Oxford University Press, 2009