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Course content

How do children learn to reason in increasingly abstract ways? How do they learn language with such remarkable speed and fluidity? How do children use their reasoning and language skills to help them explain and understand people’s behaviour and emotions? Why does the amount of information that we can hold in mind at once increase from early childhood to adulthood? Why does children’s ability to control their own thinking, attention and behaviour improve as they get older? How does the development of children’s brains affect their behaviour, memory and ability to learn?

In this taught programme on Developmental Cognitive Science, you will learn how questions like these can be addressed using research techniques from several inter-related disciplines (e.g., Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Computational Science, Neuroscience, Linguistics).

This programme aims to enhance your understanding of key theoretical and practical issues about typical and atypical development in children and young people, from a cognitive science perspective. It also aims to equip you with the skills required to conduct independent scientific research that addresses key issues in developmental cognitive science.

The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of research expertise in developmental psychology and in cognitive science. This programme brings these two strands together focusing on a developmental cognitive science approach to both typical and atypical development in children and young people.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, for example by having the opportunity to select option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Programme structure

You will undertake the following:

Core courses (worth 100 credits in total):

  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology using R (10 credits)
  • Multivariate Statistics and Methodology using R (10 credits)
  • Psychological Research Skills (20 credits)
  • Current Topics in Psychological Research (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Research Methods for Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Seminar in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Current Topics in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)
  • Research Internship in Developmental Cognitive Science (10 credits)

2 option courses worth 20 credits in total:

  • Chosen from a wide range of courses relevant to Developmental Cognitive Science from Psychology or other disciplines, as approved by Programme Director (20 credits in total)

And a Dissertation in Developmental Cognitive Science (60 credits)

Learning outcomes

The overall aim of the proposed programme is to advance students’ understanding of how questions about developmental changes in children’s cognitive abilities can be addressed using scientific methods drawn from a range of fields, including developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, computational modelling, neuroscience and linguistics. More specifically, the programme aims to:

  • enhance students’ understanding of key theoretical and practical issues about typical and atypical development in children and young people, from a cognitive science perspective
  • teach students how to conduct independent scientific research that addresses key issues in developmental cognitive science
  • provide advanced training in critical thinking skills

Students who successfully complete the programme will be able to:

  • carry out high quality original research in developmental cognitive science
  • evaluate published research studies in developmental cognitive science
  • make well-informed contributions to discussions about the interplay between developmental research and real-world applications/implications

Career opportunities

Career opportunities for graduates from this programme include:

  • undertaking a PhD in Developmental Cognitive Science or in a related field
  • undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Clinical or Educational Psychology (applicable only to students who have an accredited undergraduate degree in Psychology)
  • wide variety of careers where it is valuable to be able to use research skills, critical thinking skills and understanding of developmental processes to develop and evaluate practices and policies relating to children and young people – e.g. teaching, speech & language therapy, policy development in education, health and social care.

Scholarships and funding

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities:


Visit the Developmental Cognitive Science (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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