The Research Master's in Brain and Cognitive Sciences (MBCS) is an ambitious, two-year programme with a unique, interdisciplinary perspective on neuroscience and cognition. The programme trains a new generation of researchers that is able to combine deep expertise with a broad understanding of the field as a whole. Students in this programme focus on cellular neuroscience, neurophysiology, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, behavioural research or a combination of these, while at the same time becoming knowledgeable about adjacent approaches. It was accredited as good by the NVAO in 2016 and lauded for its excellent research environment, committed staff, interdisciplinary approach and the space it provides to have students determine their own learning path.
MBCS has close links to the Amsterdam Brain and Cognition centre (ABC), a partnership of several UvA research institutes. The cognition research teams include psychologists, neurobiologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, behavioural economists, logicians and linguists.
MBCS is an interdisciplinary research master, which strongly values crossing disciplines and integrating insights from a variety of fields. This is based on the premise that top-level training in one of the interrelated disciplines that span brain and cognitive sciences requires a basic understanding of developments in the others. For example, in order to understand a cognitive function such as human memory, neuroscientists need to be familiar with behavioural aspects of memory and developments in building artificial memory systems. Similarly, cognitive psychologists need a basic understanding of how information is coded in the brain.
To this end, the programme selects students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and offers them an environment in which they can both specialize in their approach of choice and broaden their horizons through coursework and exchange with each other. MBCS also trains students in interdisciplinary research explicitly, actively encouraging them to engage with the many areas of brain and cognitive sciences in an open yet critical fashion.
You will receive high-quality teaching at a university with a solid research record, ensuring that your studies will be relevant, scientifically up-to-date and challenging. The programme investigates fundamental questions about brain and mind, in an exciting, high-level academic setting.
The core curriculum starts with a kick-off week that sets out the milestones, promises and pitfalls of the fields as whole. Subsequently, you will do a methodological and a topical course that are connected to your prior education, followed by your choice of specialization and elective courses. A year-long course develops skills that are especially important for interdisciplinary research, such as collaboration, critical thinking and knowledge integration. In addition, you will conduct two research projects and a literature review, all on research questions of your choosing. The result is a curriculum that is tailor-made to your individual ambitions while guaranteeing training as a researcher.
Entrance to the program is structured along three domains: behavioural neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and cognitive science. These three domains exist to have the program connect smoothly to your prior education: they only differ in terms of the entry courses of the curriculum. Within the program, you can change direction, combining courses in a way that matches your individual preferences.
None of these entries fully determine your path in the program: for example, it is possible to enter through Cognitive Science and then gravitate towards topics and techniques of the other domains as you progress throughout the programme.