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Brain and Cognitive Sciences
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Open Day

Interested in studying Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the UvA? On this page, you will find all our information activities for prospective students. Join our live Q&A with the programme director, read the FAQ, ask questions to our students or take a Virtual Campus Tour.

Online information sessions

Have a chat with a student, lecturer and/or student advisor. You'll get a short presentation about the programme and can ask all your questions live, together with other prospective students. The next online information session will take place 23 November 2023 from 15.00-16.00 CET.

Research Master | Brain and Cognitive Sciences | University of Amsterdam
The programme in 3 minutes

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.


  • 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 successfully enroll for the Master's programme. 

    The Research Master in 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 based on: 

    • Content of the undergraduate degree (is there a 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 student 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?

    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 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 as 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's in 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 in 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 ECTS), 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.  

    Second, the annual ABC Summer School (4 ECTS) dives into a singular topic from a variety of perspectives. Students are tasked with writing a research proposal with a multidisciplinary team. 

    Third, in the second year, students write a Literature Thesis (12 ECTS) 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 in Brain and Cognitive Sciences contains two types of restricted-choice electives. Elective Courses are courses that help you develop as a researcher in brain and cognitive sciences and that may broaden your horizon. Electives within the curriculum of our programme need 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 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, we expect you to take 6 ECTS worth of Specialisation Courses and 12 - 18 ECTS worth of Electives. If you choose to take 12 ECTS worth of Electives, your second-year Research Project should be worth 42 ECTS, and if you choose to take 18 ECTS worth of Electives, this Research Project should amount to 36 ECTS. 

  • 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 projects, organise 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 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 the UvA to help assess the work. This examiner cannot work at the hosting lab - which can be a private research institute or a university separate from the UvA - but should be a senior researcher who is currently employed by UvA.

Student Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Hi! My name is Almudena, and I am part of the Cognitive Science track. I completed my undergrad studies in Spain and The US, where I was trained as a Chemical Engineer. As time passed by, I became more and more interested in cognitive sciences and neuroscience, and I decided to pursue a career in this field. I chose this programme because of its interdisciplinary approach and its unique possibility of tailoring your own curriculum. I know from experience that beginnings can be extremely exciting, but they often come together with a lot of questions: I will be very happy to help you clarify any doubts that might arise!
Email Almudena questions
Student Brain and Cognitive Sciences
For me this interdisciplinary master within the field of neuroscience was ideal to study the brain from all different perspectives but still acquire in depth knowledge on my field of interests (cognition), in a small and personal setting. Thereby, the social aspects of all interdisciplinary courses and group work allows you to get to know your fellow students very well, all with different backgrounds and interests, and learn a lot of different insights and skills from each other!
Email kaya questions
Student Brain and Cognitive Sciences
My main reason for applying to this programme was because I wanted to develop as a researcher by exploring my academic interests and find my area of specialisation. This is a great programme to prepare you for a career in academia, as it is a very complete one: it offers an enormous range of courses to Brain and Cognitive Sciences students, the ability to conduct independent research projects, hone academic writing skills through a literature review, and even provides opportunities to assist in teaching courses to other students. The programme equips you with a comprehensive set of research skills, and does so within an extremely fun and social learning environment.
Read more student & alumni stories
Meet the Master

Want to know if Brain and Cognitive Sciences suits you? Accompany a Master's student in their daily study routine and find out! 

Visit the campus

Do you want to see where you will study? 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.