Cognitive Science Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of human behaviour and intelligence, with a focus on how information is perceived, processed and transformed.

The field draws from anthropology, biology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy and sociology to learn how the mind determines behaviour.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Cognitive Science in the following subject areas:

  • Issues in Brain and Behaviour – Draw on biological and social sciences to investigate addiction and neural ageing; including neurobiological and psychological factors, treatments and therapies, and the role of genetics.
  • MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour – This programme produces professionally qualified organisational psychologists and organisational behaviour specialists who can make significant contributions to organisations wishing to achieve optimal performance.
  • An Introduction to Philosophy – This Philosophy course aims to enable the learner to appreciate the relevance and impact of philosophy and philosophical thought on related subjects, develop critical thought processes and analysis skills.
  • Higher Diploma in Science in Artificial Intelligence Applications – This programme is specifically designed for individuals with an evidenced numerate, technical and analytical ability who aspire to work, or are working, in roles that involve artificial intelligence.
  • Brain Health – The study of the remarkable discoveries about how the brain has the capacity to change and brain health and function.
  • Master of Science (MSc.) Artificial Intelligence – This course is designed to meet the growing needs in AI throughout the workforce which will create added value and wealth to Irish businesses.
  • MSc in Psychology and Wellbeing – A focus on the impact of psychological, societal, environmental and physical factors on the wellbeing of communities, families and individuals throughout their lives.
  • Biological Psychology: Exploring the Brain – Investigate the brain and nervous system – focusing on human health and behaviour – exploring questions like ‘What do we mean by consciousness”, and ‘What is schizophrenia”

Studying Cognitive Science in college

There are many courses in Cognitive Science that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Paid or voluntary work in other areas such as nursing, social work, care work, mental health work or services for individuals with disabilities can also be useful. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Cognitive Science course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of a range of mental health issues, conditions and disorders.

Cognitive science students obtain a wealth of knowledge in the areas of psychology, philosophy, computer science, anthropology, linguistics, biology and other disciplines, as a robust and integrated way to study the human mind and allows for a multitude of career options.

Opportunities in Cognitive Science are available in a range of health and social care settings, including hospitals, psychiatric units, local clinics and health centres, community mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health services, social services, schools and universities and even prisons.

There are also opportunities to work on a self-employed basis and in private practice. You may work with individuals, including children, adolescents and adults, as well as families, couples and groups in a range of settings. You’ll also liaise with other professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers and counselling psychologists in order to deal with more complex issues.

Working hours will depend on the field you choose to go into and whether you are employed by a facility or company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours are typically Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, although you may do some extra hours in the evenings or at weekends. Occasionally, you may work as part of an on-call system covering emergency situations.

Related jobs include:

  • Anthropologist
  • Biologist
  • Computer Programmer
  • Software Developer
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Psychology
  • Neuroscientist
  • Sociologist
  • Data analysis
  • User interface
  • Game design
  • Software development
  • Teacher
  • Medical research assistant
  • Clinical psychology
  • Philosopher
  • Marketer
  • Lawyer

Further study

After completing a course in Cognitive Science you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as anthropology, biology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy and sociology.


What is the importance of Cognitive Science?

Cognitive science is the study of the mind, including its structure and everything it does. It includes a variety of research sciences, including:

  • Education, the study of how people learn
  • Philosophy, the study of knowledge, reality, and existence
  • Artificial intelligence, the study of thinking machines and systems
  • Psychology, the study of behaviour and the mind
  • Neuroscience, the study of the nervous system
  • Linguistics, the study of language
  • Anthropology, the general study of the human society and culture

By taking a more general approach to the mind’s intricacies, cognitive scientists are beginning to look beyond each discipline’s preferences and biases, seeing the human mind for the complex structure and entity that it is.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Cognitive Science?

Some skills that you may have or could consider working on for a career in Cognitive science are:

  • Empathy and a person-centred approach
  • The ability to recognise your own limitations and respond to difficult situations
  • The capacity to be critical and analytical and to work in a self-motivated, independent way
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to deal with people in distress
  • The ability to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines
  • The determination to succeed

Where can I study Cognitive Science?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

  • About 75% of the brain is made up of water. This means that dehydration, even in small amounts, can have a negative effect on brain functions.
  • The human brain will grow three times its size in the first year of life. It continues to grow until you’re about 18 years old.
  • Headaches are caused by a chemical reaction in your brain combined with the muscles and nerves of your neck and head.
  • Dreams are believed to be a combination of imagination, psychological factors and neurological factors. They prove that your brain is working even when you are sleeping.
  • The brain can’t feel pain. It interprets pain signals sent to it, but it does not feel pain.

Mariza Halliday

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