Course overview

This hands-on course will prepare you for a range of research intensive careers. It will teach you the latest in cognitive neuroscience. You will develop transferable skills, such as:

  • coding and MATLAB
  • solving complex problems  
  • presenting your work

You will gather your own data and learn to analyse and visualise it. 

Our university's contribution to cognitive neuroscience is considerable. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a powerful technique for measuring the brain, was developed here. We are also driving the development of a new wearable brain scanner based on magnetic fields. 

This course is taught by academics actively involved in research. You will have the opportunity to specialise with a research project. Previous topics include:

  • Using diffusion tensor imaging to measure sight after stroke
  • How do humans perceive time?
  • Brain stimulation for rehabilitation after brain tumour surgery

We are part of the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, with strong links to other academic schools within the University.

Why choose this course?

Top 10

The School of Psychology is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for research power

Research Excellence Framework 2021


was developed here

Part of

the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre

Research project

in a wide range of fascinating topics

Excellent facilities

including a driving simulator, eye-tracking suite, and EEG suites


Core modules

Experimental Design for Functional Imaging

This module introduces important principles of experimental design and how they link to data analysis. Specific lectures will cover: how to design neuroimaging experiments to address basic and cognitive neruoscience questions; consideration for conducting experiments; steps involved in analysing neuroimaging data, with particular emphasis on functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Functional Imaging Methods

This module will discuss recently developed non-invasive methods for human cognitive neuroscience with respect to their strengths and limitations. The module covers functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI (voxel-based morphometry), magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG).

Introduction to MATLAB Programming

This module involves problem-based learning to support lectures on neuroimaging topics. Topics covered include an introduction to computer programming with MATLAB, the design and analysis of behavioural experiments, and the analysis of functional MRI data.

Professional Skills

This module covers general research skills and personal development skills. It contains a number of workshops examining areas such as presentation and writing skills, careers, understanding the wider context of research, consultancy, and practical and ethical issues, along with appropriate Graduate School courses.

Analytical Research Methods

A selection of workshops on advanced statistics for the neurosciences.

Data Analysis for Neuroimaging

Experience a brain imaging session at our on-campus MRI centre. You will then analyse one of the data sets in further lab classes. 

You will be introduced to some of the standard tools used across many labs (including FSL, the FMRIB Software Library from Oxford).

Research Placement

A typical placement would involve either experimental design, preparation of stimuli, and a pilot study (for example, in two subjects) or participation in an ongoing research project (for example during data acquisition and/or evaluation).

Research Project - Cognitive Neuroscience MSc

In a typical research project, you will either:

  • develop an experimental design, prepare stimuli, and to run a study in a small group of subjects, with technical support provided depending on the complexity of the measurement methods
  • evaluate an existing set of (for example) fMRI, MEG, EEG or TMS data and interpret the results

Optional modules

Current issues in Cognitive Neuroscience

This module is an opportunity to work in-depth on a specific topic in cognitive neuroscience. You will tailor your chosen topic and its related methodological issues to your own research interests. The topic is based on a seminar provided in the School of Psychology, with approval from the convenor. The module concerns independent study in addition to supervision sessions.

Clinical Neuropsychology

This module provides an introduction to clinical research with patients with acquired brain injury. Emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of studies which apply cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging. Topics will include:

  • mechanisms of recovery
  • visuospatial disorders
  • aphasia
  • apraxia
  • amnesia
  • dysexecutive syndrome.

The incidence and nature of these impairments will be reviewed alongside consideration of contemporary theories and evidence on the effects of rehabilitation therapies.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 27 July 2023.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Lab sessions
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Data collection

You will study a total of 180 credits.

Teaching is provided by academic staff within the relevant School with additional support in small group and practical classes from PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

Our research active academic staff members all have their own interests and specialisations, which will expose you to a wide range of applications of the methods you learn about.

Class sizes are usually around 15-20 students, but some lab classes run across MSc programmes and may be larger.

How you will be assessed

  • Lab reports
  • Coursework
  • Poster presentation
  • Presentation
  • Written exam

Assessment methods vary across modules but most are assessed by continuous assessment. Typically, all taught modules have one piece of coursework and only one module has a written exam.

You will need an average mark of 50% and pass some of the core modules to pass the MSc overall – you won't get an MSc qualification if you don't achieve this, but there are fallback options (PG Diploma and PG Certificate). 

You will be given a copy of our marking criteria when you start the course and will receive regular feedback from your tutors. Please see our quality manual for more information.

Contact time and study hours

Teaching sessions happen on three or more days a week during term time. This is subject to timetabling and depends on which optional modules you choose. You will be expected to prepare for some lectures and follow up with reading during additional self-study.

  • approximately 10 hours per week of lectures and lab classes (autumn term)
  • 2 tutorial meetings (small groups) per term.

During the summer term work on the research projects usually require attendance on campus but details vary by project and supervisors.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent). 2:2 (or international equivalent) may be considered if you have at least one year of relevant work experience or another supporting factor. We welcome applications from students with a background in psychology, neuroscience, medicine or a bioscience disciplines as well as those with training in physics, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences.


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £11,850
International £28,600

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

We do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies which you would need to factor into your budget. Personal laptops are not compulsory as we have computer labs that are open 24 hours a day but you may want to consider one if you wish to work at home.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes.  You are welcome to buy print credits if you need them.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Graduates of this course are well suited to studying for a PhD and continuing with a career in research. Other fields where your skills can be used include human-computer interaction, data science, clinical sciences, marketing, education, management and human resources.

Career progression

78.9% of postgraduate taught students from the School of Psychology secured graduate level employment or further graduate study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £23,016.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" As the director of the course (and a teacher on it), I am particularly excited about the emphasis on quantitative approaches. We learn to code (in Matlab) starting in the first term and analyse data acquired on the course together. We all get to work on transferable skills which are ideal preparation for further study (PhD programmes) or work in fields where data is important. "
Dr Denis Schluppeck, Course Director

Related courses

This content was last updated on Thursday 27 July 2023. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.