Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics MSc

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CNCR logoThis MSc course aims to integrate two active and rapidly developing fields, computational neuroscience and cognitive robotics, to generate innovative strategies and solutions for scientific problems and technological limitations. From modelling human cognition to programming robots to act in their environment, this course crosses the boundary between several disciplines, including biology, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September


Parveen Chahal
Postgraduate Administrator
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4906


Download the course brochure (PDF 100KB)

The CNCR MSc course is highly interdisciplinary encompassing psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, computational modelling, neuroimaging, robotics, and patient rehabilitation. The Course is designed for those who are interested in applying knowledge of neural systems, brain function, and modeling to research in human cognition, perception, sensory and motor systems as well as the design of bio-inspired and biologically plausible robotic systems. It has a strong research focus with hands-on modules and practical applications. The course is aimed at both students from psychology/neuroscience with a strong quantitative background and at students from computer science and physics that want to apply their knowledge to neuroscience.

Iulia Comşa - The course successfully introduced me to computational and cognitive neuroscience and I am very happy with the research and transferable skills that I acquired

Programme organisation

A significant part of the CNCR MSc Course involves being part of a research group and conducting an independent research project. For this, you will be assigned a primary supervisor who will help to develop a research proposal in Semester 1 and supervise the research project in Semester 3. Your research project is written up as the masters dissertation and counts for one third of your degree. You will also be assigned a secondary supervisor that supervises your research placement in Semester 2. Exposure to a different research group is intended to broaden research experience and widen research skills repertoire.

The course is organised jointly through the Schools of Psychology and Computer Science, where the primary supervisor will be selected, but you can participate in research also by choosing the secondary supervisor as an affiliate of the CNCR to experience research in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Medical science.

Your choice of course modules will be individualised and agreed between you and your primary supervisor. The goal is to develop your knowledge and skills to allow you to carry out your research project in Semester 3 while learning a wide range of neuroscience, computation, and experimental method topics. Several modules rely on Matlab programming skills for their practical exercises, which could be used also in the placement and project. Students that don't have a sufficient programming knowledge will be required to attend a programming course in Semester 1. Students with an engineering or computational background will be required to audit 'Introduction to Mind Brain and Models' in Semester 1.

You will be taught to devise a research plan, and will read and comment on scientific articles. You will choose the topic for your research project with the help of a research proposal module. A year-long CNCR Foundations module allows you to participate in CNCR seminars, journal clubs, and lab activities to have sufficient knowledge to carry out the research project. This will expose you to cutting edge research and labs. You will also learn to present your research in oral and poster format through a Transferable Skills module in Semester 2.

For more module information see the Modules tab.


You can select from a range of research topics depending on your areas of interest, and there are a number of supervisors who can provide support. See some of the recent projects and placements undertaken by students on the programme.

Why study this course

This course provides a flexible inter-disciplinary research apprenticeship, suitable for those seeking to begin commercial or postgraduate research.

You will have access to state-of-the-art equipment for brain imaging, electrophysiological recording, psychophysics, human-computer interfaces, advanced data analysis, computational modelling and robotic systems, supervised by internationally leading researchers.


The taught modules and research training will provide hands-on expertise and knowledge to successfully perform two short research placements and a longer independent research project, which will be closely supervised by a relevant member of academic staff.

Taught modules cover relevant aspects of cognitive and brain function, including brain imaging and cognitive robotics. Three optional paths are available so that the taught modules are tailored to your interests and previous knowledge. The three paths are intended to enhance either the neuroscience, the computational or the robotics components of the course.

Modules include: 

  • Intelligent Robotics 
  • Brain Imaging 
  • Introduction to Computational Methods 
  • Neural Computation 
  • Mind, Brain and Models

See a full list of modules and descriptions (PDF 180KB)

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply - This programme is in fee Band D (Class) for international students

  • Home/EU students £5,940 FT (£2,970 PT)
  • International students £13,665 FT only

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

Find out about scholarships for intenational students.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

Entry requirements


You must have a strong interest in learning in an interdisciplinary environment and substantial quantitative and programming skills in Matlab, Java, and/or C (good programming skills are mandatory for robotic placements). Students with very good undergraduate degrees from relevant backgrounds are encouraged to apply. These include psychology, neuroscience, computer science, physics, engineering and mathematics. Given the diversity of the applicants and the interdisciplinary nature of the program, all applications will be looked at on an individual basis. For this, we request that in your personal statement you provide one paragraph that describes your experience and qualifications in the following five areas:

  1. neuroscience
  2. experimental investigation and scientific method
  3. programming
  4. mathematics/quantitative
  5. robotics

Knowledge of every area is not necessary, here we want to ensure that you will be able to learn and effectively use the topics on the course. Note that suggestions on how you should prepare before the course starts will be based on this description.

A second paragraph should describe one or two projects you would like to work on during your placements. You should also identify one or more CNCR members that can supervise the projects.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

stereoscopic cylinder whose image size is made contingent to the direction of rotation to test for perceptual learningMaterial is delivered through lectures, workshops and hands-on training in cutting edge laboratories. 

Some of the key features of this course and areas of focus for student learning include:

  • Coverage of brain and cognitive function, including brain imaging
  • Introduction to cognitive robotics
  • Hands-on training in state-of-the-art laboratories
  • Detailed research project cutting across disciplines 

Assessment methods

Most of the course credits are gained through reports on research-related activities. A research placement in Semester 2 and a longer piece of individual research during Semester 3 lead to the masters dissertation, which constitutes the majority of the final degree.

In addition to progress reviews, your primary supervisor will be involved in devising assessments to help you develop useful skills. They will also be able to provide personalised feedback on your work (including your research proposal, research placement, transferable skills, and research project).

A large proportion of modules include practical lab activities that require programming or experimental reports.

Related research


Parveen Chahal
Postgraduate Administrator
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4906


You will receive training in computational and research methods, and will gain an overview of current research in neuroscience and robotics. The programme will prepare you to go onto high quality PhD programmes, leading to work in a range of fields from advanced robotics to cognitive neuroscience.

Tim Vivian-Griffiths, former CNCR student
"I would thoroughly recommend this course to people interested in this field, it has provided me with vital skills that I will continue to develop throughout my current PhD." Read Tim's full profile

Several of our students receive PhD offers before completing the course. It is an opportunity for you to showcase your talent in the School of Psychology and the School of Computer Science, and to increase your chances of pursuing an academic career within the University of Birmingham. It is expected that more PhD positions will become available in relation to research projects within the CNCR Centre, as its members have been extremely successful in securing research funds in the last few years.

PGT Psychology student destinations
Postgraduate Psychology taught destinations (Covers data for full-time and part-time students from the 2009/10 and 2010/11 cohort)


Parveen Chahal
Postgraduate Administrator
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 4906