What makes this programme unique? Which courses do you take? And how is it to study Brain and Cognitive Sciences? Programme director Harm Krugers and second year student Siel Hoornaert will answer these questions.
The Research Master's programme in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Amsterdam offers a broad selection of tracks that investigate all aspects of the field, from the molecule to the mind. The programme is unique in its interdisciplinary perspective that incorporates the fields of neuroscience, neurology, psychology, behavioural economics, linguistics, logic, computation and philosophy.
Have a chat with a student, lecturer and/or student advisor. You will be given a short presentation about the programme and will be able to ask all your questions live, together with other prospective students. The next Meet & Ask will take place fall 2022.
What is a selective master and what are the selection criteria?
A selective master's programme requires prospective students to submit an application, which is then reviewed by the programme's Admissions Board. Only if the Admissions Board deems the application admissible, can the student succesfully enroll for the master's programme.
The Research Master Brain and Cognitive Sciences aims to train future researchers in neuroscience and/or cognitive science with an interdisciplinary mindset. Therefore, the programme's Admissions Board determines admissibility on the basis of:
- Content of the undergraduate degree (is there demonstrable affinity with neuroscience and/or cognition, as well as preparation for academic research?)
- Motivation to do research (is it clear from the application file that the student aspires to become a researcher?)
- Motivation to study and work in an interdisciplinary environment (it is clear from the application file that the students is looking for interdisciplinary exchange?)
- Prior performance (does the GPA meet the minimum requirement? Was there good performance on key courses?)
What are the differences between the three domains?
In the first period of the first year is split into three domains: behavioural neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and cognitive science. Each domain has its own entry courses and each connects to a different set of undergraduate degrees.
- Behavioural neuroscience focuses on the relation between physiology and cognition. It connects to undergraduate degrees that study brain and cognition at the molecular and cellular level, such as psychobiology, biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences or molecular biology.
- Cognitive neuroscience focuses on the relation between neuroscience and psychology. It connects to undergraduate degrees that address the brain, psychology or both, such psychobiology, psychology or cognitive neuroscience.
- Cognitive science focuses on (formal) descriptions of cognitive processes. It connects to undergraduate degrees that systematically study cognition, such as (psycho)linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind.
If you wish to apply to the research master Brain and Cognitive Sciences, it is important to consider to which domain your undergraduate degree and overall training connects.
What is interdisciplinary teaching?
Interdisciplinary teaching within the Research Master Brain and Cognitive Sciences means two things:
- Students study together with students and teachers from a variety of fields
- Students follow courses that focus on interdisciplinary research.
The courses that focus especially on interdisciplinary research are Special Topic in Cognitive Science (6 EC), in which multidisciplinary teams of students address a research problem that requires input from different fields. While doing so, they learn how to integrate insights from different fields.
Secondly, the annual ABC Summer School (4 EC) dives into a singular topic from a variety of perspectives. Students are tasked to write a research proposal with a multidisciplinary team.
Thirdly, in the second year students write a Literature Thesis (12 EC) that not only dives deeply into a specific research question, but also considers how the conclusions from the thesis fit into the broader field of brain and cognitive sciences.
The rest of the programme is dedicated to developing in-depth knowledge and skills and can be tailor-suited to your ambitions.
What are Electives and Specialisation Courses?
The Research Master Brain and Cognitive Sciences contains two types of restricted-choice electives. The most free type is known as Elective Courses - these are courses that help you develop as a researcher in brain and cognitive sciences and that may serve to broaden your horizon. Electives within the curriculum of our programme are subject to approval by our Examinations Board - a list of courses that have already been approved as Electives can be found on the programme-specific section of the Course Catalogue.
Specialisation Courses are more restricted and serve to dive deeply into a specific tool for use as a neuroscientific and/or cognitive researcher. These courses come from a shortlist and include programming, statistics, neuroimaging, linguistics and computational modelling. You cannot use courses from outside this shortlist as a Specialisation Course.
Within the curriculum of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, you are expected to take 6 EC worth of Specialisation Courses and 12 - 18 EC worth of Electives. If you choose to follow 12 EC worth of Electives, your second-year Research Project should be worth 42 EC, and if you choose to follow 18 EC worth of Electives, this Research Project should amount to 36 EC.
How do we find a placement for the Research Project?
You can do your Research Projects in labs of your own choosing. You can reach out to supervisors whose work you find interesting and see if their lab has room to accommodate for you. To help you with this quest, we offer a website with available projects, organize information meetings that put you into contact with potential supervisors and encourage guest lecturers to share new opportunities during the courses. Programme management can also help out if you have trouble identifying appropriate supervisors - as can the social network that our community of students provides.
One important requirement for any Research Project is that there is a suitable examiner available at UvA to help assess the work. This examiner need not work at the hosting lab - which can be a private research institute or a university separate from UvA - but should be a senior researcher who is currently employed by UvA.
Do you want to see where you will be studying? Come to the UvA and experience our campuses with the interactive UvA Campus Tour app. Soak up the atmosphere, solve riddles and bring the campus to life through augmented and virtual reality.