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Course overview

Cognitive neuroscience looks at how our brains support our thoughts, feelings and actions. On this course, you'll study core psychology modules with cognitive neuroscience practicals. You'll develop skills in brain imaging, behavioural measurement and physiological psychology. 

In years one and three you'll have optional modules to choose from. This is your chance to explore the areas of psychology that you find interesting. As we have experts across the spectrum of psychology, we are able to offer you a choice from different areas. For example, the Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging module covers the effect of brain damage. You'll learn how it can impair language, memory and motor control.

Our research is transforming lives. We want our students to be part of this. In your final year, you'll do your own research project. You'll have a wide choice of topics. These could be from behavioural to social psychology. 

Why choose this course?

  • Study abroad in countries such as Australia, Canada and Malaysia
  • Optional work placement year available
  • Paid research internship opportunities
  • Accredited by the British Psychological Society

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer AAB including one or more science subjects at A level. Those without an A level in a science subject may be asked to achieve AAA.
Required subjects
  • AAB, including one or more science subjects at A level (science includes psychology, geography or maths)
  • AAA if you don't have a science A level
  • General studies and critical thinking are not accepted
  • GCSE English and maths at 5 (B) or above
IB score 36-34 (with at least 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)

Foundation progression options

If you don't meet our entry requirements there is the option to study the science foundation programme. If you successfully pass the year, you can progress to the psychology courses. There is a course for UK/EU students and one for international students.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Problem-based learning

How you will be assessed

You will be given a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how your work is assessed. Your work will be marked in a timely manner and you will receive regular feedback.

The pass rate is 40%. To qualify for an accredited degree, you must achieve at least 40% in the third-year research project and an overall degree classification of 2:2 or above.

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained for your second and subsequent years of study. Year two is worth 33% with year three worth 67%.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Lab reports
  • Oral exam
  • Research project
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. You will spend around half of your time in lectures, seminars, laboratory classes and tutorials. You will complete the remaining time as independent study. Lecture classes can be between 30-300 students. Laboratory classes typically include 30-60 students. Seminar groups and tutorial groups are usually made up of 10-12 students. Modules are typically delivered by professors, associate professors or assistant professors. PhD students may support laboratory demonstrations and report marking and feedback.

Study abroad

Students who choose to study abroad are more likely to achieve a first-class degree and earn more on average than students who did not (Gone International: Rising Aspirations report 2016/17).

Benefits of studying abroad

  • Explore a new culture
  • A reduced tuition fee of up to 80% for the time you are abroad
  • Improve your communication skills, confidence and independence

Countries you could go to

You can apply to spend your third year in countries such as:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • USA

All teaching is in English.

To go on this exchange, you'll add an extra year to your degree. You must have an overall mark of 60% or above by the end of the year two January exams to be eligible.

University of Nottingham Malaysia

Spend all or part of your second year at our Malaysia campus. The modules you'll study will be exactly the same as if you were in the UK. This means that unlike the other study abroad options, you can still complete your degree in three years. All teaching is in English.

Year in industry

A placement year can improve your employability.

A report by High Fliers in 2019 found that over a third of recruiters who took part in their research said that graduates who have no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.

You can apply for a placement year between years two and three. It could be in the UK or abroad. This would add an extra year to your degree. You'll pay a reduced tuition fee for this year.  While on placement, you'll be supported by a Placement Tutor.

Although it is your responsibility to find a placement, you'll have help from the school and the Careers and Employability Service. 


Core modules

Cognitive Psychology 1

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, and this module will provide an introduction to the methods used by cognitive psychologists in their investigations of mental processes in humans.

A wide range of topics will be discussed, with some introductory discussion of how they limit human performance in applied contexts. The mental processes to be covered include those that support attention, perception, language, memory, and thinking.

You will have two one-hour lectures per week for this module.

Developmental Psychology

An introduction to the fascinating world of the developing child.

Lectures consider different theoretical, applied, and experimental approaches to cognitive, linguistic, and social development from early to late childhood.

Topics include the development of thinking, perception, drawing, understanding the mind, intelligence, attachment, language, and moral development.

You will have a one-hour lecture weekly.

Practical Methods and Seminars in Psychology

You will address several different psychological topics using a range of investigative procedures, primarily based on the experimental method.

The module will enable you to critically assess previous research and to design, as well as conduct, analyse, and report on your own studies.

You will learn how to program and use computer software for research and will have the opportunity to be a participant in another person’s study.

You will have a three-hour practical class every other week, plus a two-hour seminar weekly.

Statistical Methods 1

This full-year module introduces you to basic aspects of research design, and to the statistical representation and analysis of data.

You will be trained in statistical analysis, using software such as the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

You will gain an understanding of the issues underlying experimental and correlational research designs.

You will have a one-hour lecture weekly.

Biological Psychology

An introduction to the neural and biological bases of cognition and behaviour. You will learn about the structure and evolution of the brain and the main functions of the different parts.

You will examine how the brain receives, transmits, and processes information at the neural level, as well as its visual pathways. The main scientific methods for investigating brain and behaviour will also be covered.

You will have two hours of lectures weekly.

Social Psychology

An introduction to the core topics in social psychology, which is concerned with trying to understand the social behaviour of individuals in terms of both internal characteristics of the person (e.g. cognitive mental processes) and external influences (the social environment).

Lectures will cover topics including how we define the self, attitudes, attribution, obedience, aggression, pro-social behaviour and formation of friendships.

You will have a one-hour lecture weekly.

You will have 30 credits worth of optional modules to choose from. These can be from psychology or other subjects such as philosophy, modern languages or biology.

Psychology modules:

Addiction and the Brain

You will gain a broad understanding of the behavioural and biological mechanisms underlying drug and behavioural addictions. You will be introduced to popular drugs of abuse and identify common themes of addiction and the underlying mechanisms.

Psychological Approaches to Therapy
You will gain a broad overview of some key theoretical approaches in psychology, in the context of their application to therapy. Three fundamental schools of thought will be examined: the psychodynamic school, the humanistic-existential school, and the cognitive behaviour school, which have strongly influenced the development of contemporary psychological therapy. Lectures will examine the historical context and philosophical origins of a range of different therapies (e.g. psychoanalysis, person-centred therapy, rational-emotive therapy) which may be used in the treatment of common mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, depression, phobias). The theoretical basis of each approach will be addressed, with a consideration of how important concepts are applied in therapeutic interventions.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Core modules

Cognitive Psychology

This module will examine:

  • Perception, with particular emphasis on vision, but also hearing, taste, touch and smell;
  • The Psychology of Language, including linguistic theory, speech, parsing, word meaning, and language production
  • The Psychology of Reading, including word recognition, theories of eye-movement control, and reading multi-media displays
  • Human Memory, covering the basics of encoding, storage and retrieval with particular reference to real-world applications of memory research
  • Thinking and Problem Solving, including heuristics, biases, evolutionary perspectives on human rationality, and group decision making
Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology

You’ll learn about the scientific, historical, and philosophical underpinnings of psychology as a discipline, which will demonstrate the inherent variability and diversity in the theoretical approaches to psychology.

By the end of the module, you will have a good knowledge and critical understanding of the influences of history on psychological theories.

There will be two hours of lectures per week.

Personality and Individual Differences

You will explore psychological explanations of personality and individual differences. In particular, the major personality theories are considered in detail and the application of these theories to areas such as abnormal psychology, criminal behaviour, and health are discussed. IQ is also covered and the evolutionary bases of traits. Complementary and alternatives to trait approaches are discussed.

You will have two hours of lectures per week.

Practical Methods in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

You will be introduced to a range of practical methods from the field of psychology and cognitive neuroscience, and which are used within the School.

You will gain practical experience in projects related to psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

In addition, you will cover topics on the design of experiments and use of cognitive neuroscience techniques including functional imaging, human psychophysics, and animal models of cognition. 

Statistical Methods 2

This module will cover the basic concepts and assumptions with respect to univariate and multivariate statistics, as well as issues relating to field studies, ethics, the reliability and validity issues as well as basic qualitative techniques.

The module will cover ANOVA, post-hoc tests, power, multiple linear regression, factor analysis, the nature of causality and field designs (both experimental and quasi-experimental), ethics, the reliability and validity of measures and field designs, as well as exploring some basic issues in questionnaire design and qualitative methods. 

Social and Development Psychology

Examine theories and experimental studies of social processes and human development.

Topics relating to social processes will include:

  • social cognition and social thinking
  • conformity and obedience
  • intergroup behaviour
  • theories of attraction and relationships
  • prosocial behaviour and intrinsic motivation
  • self-determination

Human development topics are also explored in depth such as the:

  • development of phonology
  • importance of social referencing in early language acquisition
  • atypical socio-cognitive development in people with autism

You will have four hours of lectures weekly.

Neuroscience and Behaviour

This module will cover issues in neuroscience and behaviour that are particularly relevant to understanding the biological bases of psychological functions.

Among the topics to be covered are psychopharmacology, psychobiological explanations of mental disorders, dementia, sexual development and behaviour, and methods of studying neuropsychological processes.

You will also examine the effects of brain damage on mental functioning including amnesias, agnosias, and aphasias, among other topics.

You will have four hours per week of lectures for this module.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Core modules

Neuropsychology of Action: The Body in the Brain

This module examines the psychological and neural basis for the planning and control of human action. You will be introduced to scientific research through guided exploration of the neuropsychological bases for human action. You will experience the multi-disciplinary nature of research into human behaviour and, by the end of the module, will understand how a single issue can be addressed from multiple perspectives including: experimental psychology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, and functional brain-imaging.

Understanding Developmental Disorders

This module explores how psychologists study and understand disorders of cognitive development. The course focuses largely on disorders which include impairments in attention, memory and/or executive function. Disorders covered include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, reading disorders and Down Syndrome. List of lectures
1. General introduction and research methods
2. Typical development of attention/memory and executive function
4. Autism
5. Developmental Coordination Disorder
6. Fragile X Syndrome
7. Down Syndrome
8. Preterm Birth
9. Interventions
10. Revision

Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging

This module examines the deficits seen in individuals who have suffered brain damage. You will learn about the impairments of language, memory, perception, attention, motor control, executive control and emotion. This module evaluates both the clinical and theoretical aspects of these syndromes. In particular, this module will evaluate the implications regarding how the healthy brain functions.

The Visual Brain: Evolution, Development, Learning and Adaptation
The central theme of this module is to explore how the architecture and function of the visual brain has been designed and shaped by experiences over a range of timescales. The innate properties of the eye and visual brain that are present at birth have been designed over millions of years of evolution. The brain continues to physically change it structure and function within a lifetime  a property termed brain plasticity. Over the years of development, brain plasticity is the driving force for the maturation of different visual brain functions. Even well into adulthood, plasticity is retained in the form of learning, which can optimise performance for certain visual tasks and be exploited for therapeutic uses. Another prominent form of plasticity in the visual brain is that caused by adaptation effects of visual experience over the preceding tens of milliseconds to minutes. The module will examine the consequences of evolution, development, learning and adaptation for visual brain function and perception. 
Social Neuroscience Research
To provide students with an advanced understanding of current social and cognitive neuroscience topics, as well as an understanding of the methods and analyses required to test specific theories related to that topic, and guidance on the critical evaluation of research papers. Students will receive lectures on and study a specific social neuroscience issue in detail, and will devise ways to further research into that issue. The course will provide an introduction to neuroscience methods and will focus on current research and theory behind various aspects of human social interaction, speech communication and body perception from a neuroscience perspective. Complementary evidence from different branches of behavioural and cognitive sciences will be integrated with current neuroscientific research. The course will focus predominantly on the neural mechanisms thought to be involved in the interpretation of our own and others’ bodies, actions, faces, voices and emotions. The course will also provide advice on developing ideas for research as well as how to write for each assessment.
Psychology of Ageing and Older People

This module considers how aspects of the brain and mind change with age.

Topics will include:

  • perception and cognition
  • decision making
  • memory and forgetting
  • emotion
  • social factors
  • dementia
  • health
  • executive function

This module will outline the major theories of ageing and draw on evidence from behavioural experiments, large scale studies, meta-analyses, brain imaging and studies in animals. After reading, you will develop a structured research proposal to address an outstanding question or gap in knowledge.

Cognitive Development and Autism

You will cover modern version of nativist and empiricist theories of cognitive development.

This module will also give you an overview of current theories which have been proposed to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will provide an evaluation of these theories using behavioural, clinical and neurophysiological evidence from a range of domains including drawing and musical skills (savant skills), scientific knowledge, maths, social learning (trust and imitation) and social motivation.

You will have two hours of lectures per week for this module.

Forensic and Mental Health

The area of forensic mental health is extremely pertinent in both the criminal justice system and mental health services, as well as the integration of the two. It is a growing area of research in psychology and it is a popular area of work for many psychology graduates.

The module will concentrate on offending behaviours, typical categorisation of those who commit crimes or harm themselves, standard interventions for offenders and the neuroscience of offending. It will also cover the current research on specific offending behaviours, and examine the role of the criminal justice system and health service in dealing with individuals who offend.

Educational Psychology

The module will concentrate on assessment and intervention work with specific populations such as young people who display challenging behaviour in schools, vulnerable adolescents, and bilingual learners. Additionally, the module will examine psychological approaches to group work with teachers and pupils as well as the application of system theory in helping transform aspects of schools and other organisations.

Cognition in the Real World

The central theme of this module is to explore how cognition functions in the real world, and to demonstrate the relevance of cognitive psychology to everyday life. In particular, it will address how cognitive models and theories can be applied to tasks that we all perform. Topics that will be covered will include attention in driving, memory for emotional events, and spatial navigation. As well covering contemporary cognitive psychology at an advanced level, components of the module will also integrate across other relevant research areas, including developmental psychology and neuropsychology.

Clinical Psychology

An introduction to the concepts of clinical psychology and the application of psychology in clinical settings.

The module illustrates how psychological models are developed and how they are applied in developing interventions. You will examine theory and evaluation of interventions for a number of disorders/clinical issues.

During this module you will have two hours of lectures weekly. 

Developmental Dyslexia: Psychological and Educational Perspectives

This module explores psychological theories of developmental dyslexia and educational issues pertaining to this pervasive developmental disorder. It examines the cognitive characteristics and educational attainments of pupils with developmental dyslexia and addresses the ways in which individual educational needs might be met at both the classroom and whole school level.

This module should be of interest to you if you have an interest in developmental, cognitive, and/or educational psychology, and are wishing to pursue a career in child psychology, educational psychology, general teaching practice, and/or special needs education.

Some key questions to be considered are:

  • what criteria should be used to diagnose developmental dyslexia?
  • does developmental dyslexia reflect delayed or deviant behaviour?
  • what are the specific educational issues pertaining to the provision of educational policy and practice for pupils with developmental dyslexia?
  • how should pupils with developmental dyslexia be supported in the classroom?
Altruism, Cooperation and Helping

The course will cover theories and models of altruism, cooperation and helping form the perspective of psychology, economics and evolutionary biology. Among the theories examined will be reputation-based, strong-reciprocity, warm-glow and crowding and altruistic punishment from economics; kin selection, reciprocity, coercion, mutualism, cooperative breeding from biology; and empathy, personality, sexual selection and situational constraints from psychology.

You will consider why people sometimes don't help and actively try to benefit from others and apply these models to anti-social behaviour, and how we cooperate to inflict injury on other groups. It will also examine not just models of helping others, but also why people ask for help. You will finally look at how charities implement some of these principles and if they are successful.

Applied Psychology: Road User Behaviour

You will learn road user behaviour from a number of psychological perspectives. Topics will include a critical review of brain scanning studies of driving, the visual skills required for driving, the effects of aging and experience, distraction (from in-car devices such as mobile phones, and from out-of-car objects such as road-side advertisements), and the skill of hazard perception (and whether this can be adequately measured as part of the licensing procedure).

The module will also cover memory for driving events (from every day driving to road traffic accidents), influences of emotion on driving (eg does the aggression-frustration hypothesis explain road rage?), and social and individual differences related to crash risk (eg sensation-seeking and risk propensity).

Mechanisms of Learning and Psychopathology

Supported by lectures, seminars and tutorials, this module aims to provide you with an understanding of the mechanisms of learning and memory in human and non-human animals, and an analysis of pathological conditions involving these systems.

You’ll study topics that include:

  • perceptual learning
  • the contextual and attentional modulation of learning and behaviour
  • neuroscience-focused topics such as the role of the hippocampus in memory

Clinical topics include:

  • the acquisition of phobias
  • memory discords
  • the psychological side effects of cancer treatment
  • depression

There are two hours per week of lectures for this module.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Confirmed July 2020*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

EU tuition fees and funding options for courses starting in 2021/22 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, 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. If you study abroad, you will need to consider the travel and living costs for the country you choose. If you do a work placement, any costs associated with travel or accommodation will need to be factored in.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.


Become a chartered psychologist

About 20% of UK psychology graduates become chartered psychologists. If you take this route, you could progress in fields such as clinical, forensic, educational or occupational psychology. Further study and work experience would be needed.

Read alumni stories of graduates who have gone on to work in these areas.

Previous graduate jobs

Our graduates have used their skills in roles such as:

  • accountant
  • HR adviser
  • recruiter
  • mental health worker
  • therapy assistant
  • civil servant
  • police officer
  • marketing executive
  • merchandising assistant

Further study

Many graduates choose to continue studying for a masters or PhD. This is a good option if you want to choose a specialism such as sport psychology or cognitive neuroscience. You then may decide to pursue a career in teaching and/or researching at a university.

Other opportunities to help your employability 

The Nottingham Internship Scheme provides a range of work experience opportunities and internships throughout the year

The Nottingham Advantage Award is our free scheme to boost your employability. There are over 200 extracurricular activities to choose from


Average starting salary and career progression

96.2% of undergraduates from the School of Psychology secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £17,775 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £26,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

British Psychological Society

This course is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This provides the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, which is required for entry to many postgraduate professional psychology programmes. 

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" One of the reasons why I chose to study Psychology here was the opportunity to study at another campus overseas, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made! "
Sabrina Liew, BSc Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.