Undergraduate Study

Undergraduate Study

Understanding cognition, which includes processes such as attention, perception, memory, reading and language, is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. As well as deciphering the workings of the healthy mind and brain, cognitive and brain scientists also investigate disorders such as anxiety, autism, dyslexia, post-traumatic stress, and schizophrenia.

Courses

At the undergraduate level we offer the opportunity to study the mind and brain in three different courses:

Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences

This degree – the only one of its kind in Australia – will provide you with a strong foundation in the rapidly growing fields of cognitive science, neuroscience and computation, with an emphasis on building your critical-thinking and research skills in areas such as science communication, statistics and programming. It has a strong focus on hands-on learning – you’ll have the opportunity to develop your research skills through active learning experiences, lab sessions and other research activities. You’ll have access to world-leading human brain imaging and virtual reality labs throughout the degree. These include highly structured first-year labs designed to set you on a research path, to more intensive second and third-year projects that will help you establish your role as a researcher.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences

The Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences can also be combined with a number of other degrees such as a Bachelor of Psychology or Bachelor of Medical Sciences. By undertaking one of these double degrees, you can feed your curiosity, look at things from multiple perspectives, and double your knowledge in two complementary or completely different areas – all while gaining a high-quality qualification.

The Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences is a perfect stepping-stone for graduates wishing to pursue higher degree research study in Cognitive Science including the Master of Research (MRes) and PhD.

Major in Cognitive and Brain Sciences

This major is for anyone interested in exploring how the mind and brain work. It offers a solid background in a range of exciting research methods and disciplines within the Cognitive and Brain Sciences. The major covers a range of topics including perception, attention, action, memory, language and decision making, and looks at the brain and information-processing systems that support these capacities. You will have the opportunity to pursue a flexible program of coursework that allows you to tailor the program to what you are interested in.

A major in Cognitive and Brain Science can be completed as part of the Bachelor of Human Sciences program.

Find out more about the Cognitive and Brain Science Major

Specialisation in Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience is a rapidly evolving branch of neuroscience concerned with the brain mechanisms underlying human cognition. Cognitive neuroscientists study how the brain supports perception, action, attention, memory, language and decision making.

This specialisation provides a strong foundation in cognitive science, neuroscience and medicine. It will help you understand the structure and function of the central nervous system with an emphasis on the human brain. You’ll collect, analyse and interpret behavioural and neural data; develop and undertake research; and critically evaluate key problems and issues central to the field.

A specialisation in Cognitive Neuroscience can be completed as part of the Bachelor of Science program.

Find out more about the Cognitive Neuroscience Specialisation

Units

In 2020, we will be offering a number of units covering a wide range of topics at 1000, 2000 and 3000 level. These units can also be taken by students who have an interest in cognition but who are unable to enrol in one of our courses.

1000 Level

Unit Name Session of OfferPrerequisitesDescription
COGS1000Introduction to Neuroscience 1S1Nil

This unit forms a 2-unit sequence with COGS1005 and provides an intensive introduction to the fundamentals of modern neuroscience, with a focus on the structure and function of the human brain. Topics include neuroanatomy, neural signalling, neural control of movement, sensory processing, brain development, and higher cognitive functions. Tutorials include hands-on research activities in which students will have the opportunity to act as both researchers and experimental participants.

COGS1005Introduction to Neuroscience 2S2COGS1000

This unit forms a 2-unit sequence with COGS1000 and provides an intensive introduction to the fundamentals of modern neuroscience, with a focus on the structure and function of the human brain. Topics include neuroanatomy, neural signalling, neural control of movement, sensory processing, brain development, and higher cognitive functions. Tutorials include hands-on research activities in which students will have the opportunity to act as both researchers and experimental participants.

COGS1010Delusions and Disorders of the MindS1Nil

This unit is designed to provide you with an understanding of the basic cognitive disorders and higher-level delusions that can arise either developmentally or as a result of brain injury. You will learn about the characteristic features of these disorders and delusions, and about how the patterns of symptoms displayed can be accounted for in terms of models of normal cognitive processing. Where relevant, you will be familiarised with theories about the underlying causes of the conditions, and with experimental investigations of the efficacy of particular treatments. Patterns of similarities and differences of conditions will be critically examined. Conditions covered include: dyslexia, specific language impairment (SLI), aphasia, agnosia, amnesia, autism, synaesthesia, auditory hallucination, delusion and schizophrenia.

2000 Level

Unit Name Session of OfferPrerequisitesDescription
COGS2000Cognitive NeuroscienceS1COGS1000 or COGS100

This unit will cover the rapidly evolving field of cognitive neuroscience: bridging cognitive science and neuroscience to understand cognitive functions in humans and their underlying neural bases. Topics covered may include the neural mechanisms underlying perception, action, attention, memory, language, and decision making. The unit will also explore some of the powerful new methods for studying the human brain including functional neuroimaging.

COGS2010MemoryS1

60cp at 1000-level or above

Memory is everywhere – in our personal lives. in popular culture, in big science, and in our machines. But memory is notoriously hard to pin down. Is it all in the brain? Is it in our actions, in our social world, and in our valued objects and places? Or is it now all online? This unit introduces the interdisciplinary study of memory, offering students a critical survey of memory research across the cognitive and brain sciences, the social sciences, and the arts. Emphasis will be placed on autobiographical memory, embodied memory, and shared remembering between individuals. Students will learn to assess scientific and popular claims about what memory is, and how memory loss and gain can be understood in the digital age.

COGS2020Experimental Design and Data Analysis for the Cognitive and Brain SciencesS1STAT1170 or STAT170

In this unit, students will learn essential principles of experimental design and data analysis skills for research in the cognitive and brain sciences. Students will gain first-hand experience applying these skills by analysing real-life behavioural and neural data sets such as those from fMRI, MEG, and EEG. Students will learn the R programming language, which is widely used throughout the statistics and data science communities in academia and private industry. Topics covered include programming statistical analyses and visualising data in R, effective experimental design for hypothesis testing, and critically examining the results of statistical analyses in the cognitive and brain sciences.

COGS2030Hearing and BrainS2COGS1000 or COGS100 or PSYU1104 or PSYC104 or PSYU1105 or PSYC105

Hearing is of fundamental importance for human cognition and communication and reflects the complex interplay of physical, biological, and psychological processes. This unit will provide a detailed introduction to the cognitive neuroscience of hearing. Topics will include the neuroanatomy and physiology of the auditory system; how the brain is organised to achieve identification and localisation of sound sources; how the auditory system interacts with motor, speech and language systems in the brain; the science of cochlear implants; the nature and cognitive consequences of hearing loss; and the science and technology of cochlear implants. Lecture topics will be reinforced and complemented with hands-on tutorials covering the fundamentals of digital signal processing and analysis of acoustic and speech signals.

COGS2040Attention and ActionTo be offered in Session 2 2021

COGS2000 or COGS202

Attention and action are tightly linked. Although researchers have historically tended to study attentional processing and action planning separately, researchers have recently started to focus on how they are integrated. This unit explores the role of attention in action and of action in constraining attention from behavioural, psychological, and neural perspectives.

COGS2050Reading in the Mind and BrainS1

60cp at 1000-level or above

Reading is critical for human cognition and communication, with impairments in reading leading to significant individual and societal costs. This unit will provide a detailed introduction to the science of reading, drawing on the critical mass of expertise in this field at Macquarie University. Topics covered will include theories and models of skilled reading, processes in learning to read, acquired and developmental dyslexia and their assessment and treatment, and neural markers of reading and dyslexia.

COGS2250Cognitive and Brain Sciences LaboratoryTo be offered in Session 2 2021Admission to BCogBrainSc and (COGS2000 or COGS202) and COGS2020

This unit will help students develop the knowledge and skills required to conduct research in the cognitive and brain sciences. Students will have the opportunity to participate in all stages of the research process including experimental design, experiment programming, data collection, data analysis, and reporting results. A primary focus of this unit will be to foster the development of practical laboratory skills including appropriate research notetaking and scientific record keeping, professional conduct in laboratory and research settings, and effective scientific communication in both oral and written form.

3000 Level

Unit Name Session of OfferPrerequisitesDescription
COGS3020Computational NeuroscienceTo be offered in Session 1 2021.130cp including (COGS1000 or COGS100 or BIOL2230 or BIOL257 or MEDI2300 or MEDI204) and (COGS2020 or STAT2170 or STAT270)

Computational modelling is increasingly important for understanding brain function at the single neuron, circuit, and network levels. This unit provides students with a rigorous introduction to the exciting field of computational neuroscience including topics such as the mathematical description of neurons, simple neural networks, statistical inference, reinforcement learning, and decision making. Students will learn the Python programming language and use it to explore some of the most influential models in computational neuroscience to deepen their understanding of the relationship between the brain, behaviour, and neural computation.

COGS3030Human NeuroimagingTo be offered in Session 2 2021

130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202) and COGS2020

The human brain is among the most complex and powerful information processing systems known. Since the emergence of cognitive neuroscience as a field several decades ago, an impressive range of methods have been developed to investigate the structure and function of the human brain. In this unit, students will learn key principles of a range of functional neuroimaging techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and functional transcranial doppler ultrasound (fTCD). The unit focuses on conceptual and methodological issues surrounding these techniques, giving students the opportunity to think critically about the advantages and disadvantages of each technique for addressing research questions in the field of cognitive neuroscience. The unit will also cover clinical applications of neuroimaging such as its use for investigating autism and schizophrenia.

COGS3040Space and Time in the Motor SystemS1130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202)

Behaviour must be coordinated exquisitely in both space and time. A reach for the glass that is off target, results in a spill. A tennis serve that comes too early or too late, results in a miss. A poorly timed and spatially inaccurate spin of a dance partner, results in a fall. This unit explores fundamental spatial and temporal aspects of human behaviour from computational, neural, and dynamical perspectives. Topics include sensorimotor transformations, motor learning, motor timing and inhibition, and spatiotemporal coordination dynamics.

COGS3050Core Problems in Cognitive ScienceS2 - Capstone Unit

130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202) or COGS2010 or COGS2020 or COGS2030 or COGS2040 or COGS2050

Despite the explosive growth and progress in recent decades of the cognitive and brain sciences, the core problems of understanding attention, action, perception, memory, and language remain largely the same. This unit provides students with the opportunity to think broadly and critically about how the field has addressed these problems through a rigorous exploration of seminal research. A strong emphasis will be placed on effective scientific communication, the consolidation of acquired knowledge and skills, and the deepening of one’s understanding of cognitive science research through a final project.

COGS3210Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science: Embodied Cognition and Skilled PerformanceS1

130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202) or (COGS2010 or COGS210) or COGS2020 or COGS2030 or COGS2040 or COGS2050

Is the mind in the head? Or might cognitive processes sometimes involve the rest of the body, as well as the brain? This unit examines increasingly popular ideas about ‘embodied cognition’, with a focus throughout on the practical, applied, and empirical significance of these ideas for specific active research programs in the cognitive sciences. Among a range of topics, we look especially at the cognitive mechanisms of action and skilled movement, with examples from the study of sport, performance, and other real-world practices. We introduce methods for studying the rich ecologies of embodied cognition, and encourage students to draw on their own expertise, skills, and interests. This unit provides a thorough, cutting-edge, practical introduction to embodied cognition, and thus to some of the liveliest debates and movements in contemporary cognitive science.

COGS3220Advanced topics in Cognitive Science: Exploring Human-Technology InteractionsS2, offered in 2021

130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202) and (COGS2010 or  COGS210 or COGS2020 or COGS2030 or COGS2040 or COGS2050)

This unit is one of the Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science units. This unit provides an overview of the fundamentals and latest research developments, challenges and opportunities of social robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, with a strong focus on the use of psychological and neuroscientific techniques. In particular, research discussed in this unit describes how these types of technology can be used as tools for advancing our understanding of human neurocognitive function. Topics include but are not limited to an introduction to artificial intelligence, history of social robotics, psychological methods for examining human-technology interaction, neuroscientific methods for examining human-technology interaction, developmental robotics, cross-cultural issues related to human-technology interactions, and the future of human-technology interactions. Tutorials will focus on reading and discussing 2 popular press books (one fiction, one non-fiction) concerning humans’ relationship with technology, and will also feature students presenting an overview of the research they plan to propose in the final research proposal (the focus of the final exam assignment) and receive peer feedback and discussion on these ideas.

COGS3250Advanced Research Experience and TrainingTo be offered in 2021130cp and Admission to BCogBrainSc and permission by special approval

This unit will provide students with the opportunity to participate in an independent research project under a supervisor from the Department of Cognitive Science. Students will have the opportunity to participate in multiple stages of research which may include developing research plans, writing proposals, conducting experiments, analysing data, and reporting results. Especially ambitious and productive students may earn the opportunity to present their findings at a scientific conference, and in rare cases, may even earn authorship on a peer reviewed paper. Admission to the unit is subject to supervisor availability and approval.

COGS3999Cognitive Science in the Real WorldS2 - PACE Unit130cp including (COGS2000 or COGS202) or COGS2010 or COGS2020 or COGS2030 or COGS2040 or COGS2050

This PACE unit enables students to prepare themselves for the next phase of their career in research, industry, or beyond. The lecture series covers a set of tools that students will be equipped with to apply cognitive science in the real world. Throughout this unit, strong focus will be placed on ethical and cultural competence; effective scientific communication; the consolidation of acquired knowledge and practical skills; and deepening one's understanding of cognitive science, especially the connections between the various disciplines of cognitive science and their impact on modern society. This will be complemented by a video series in which guest speakers will describe the role of cognitive science in their career.

Open Universities Australia (OUA)

Open Universities Australia (OUA) is an online higher education organisation that gives you the opportunity to study units from multiple subject areas and Australian universities online. The Department of Cognitive Science offers the following unit via OUA:

Unit Name Session of OfferPrerequisitesDescription
COGX1010Delusions and Disorders of the MindS1Nil

This unit is designed to provide you with an understanding of the basic cognitive disorders and higher-level delusions that can arise either developmentally or as a result of brain injury. You will learn about the characteristic features of these disorders and delusions, and about how the patterns of symptoms displayed can be accounted for in terms of models of normal cognitive processing. Where relevant, you will be familiarised with theories about the underlying causes of the conditions, and with experimental investigations of the efficacy of particular treatments. Patterns of similarities and differences of conditions will be critically examined. Conditions covered include: dyslexia, specific language impairment (SLI), aphasia, agnosia, amnesia, autism, synaesthesia, auditory hallucination, delusion and schizophrenia.

Research Experience

Interested students can also gain valuable research experience in the field of Cognitive and Brain Sciences through the following options:

Professional and Community Engagement Program (PACE)

Our PACE Unit is COGS3999: Cognitive Science in the Real World. A major component of this unit is a placement within a host organisation in which students will get hands-on experience of how cognitive science is put into practice in the workplace. Potential host organisations include not only the university but also industry, government, non-government and not for profit organisations.

In this unit you learn to apply your skills from cognitive science in real world situations. Example activities may include:

  • Conducting experimental investigations with researchers
  • Conducting a systematic review of best practices for reading interventions
  • Receiving training in applied behaviour approaches as therapy for autism
  • Conducting interviews and qualitative analysis to report on extreme human experiences (eg. elite athletes)

Advanced Research Experience and Training Unit

Our COGS3250: Advanced Research Experience and Training Unit offers exceptional students enrolled in the Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences program, the opportunity to gain practical experience in research design, implementation and analysis in the field of cognitive and brain sciences. Students will work with a supervisor within the department to design and conduct a study to address a research question of interest. Admission to this unit it through application only and subject to supervisor availability and approval.

For queries about this unit contact Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching, Dr Bianca de Wit: bianca.dewit@mq.edu.au

Volunteer Internship Program

Undergraduates can also apply to volunteer as an intern within the department to gain valuable research experience. This internship scheme is in addition to any PACE projects or research projects completed for course credit, and is on a completely voluntary basis on the part of the student (and completely optional on the part of the researcher). The key considerations are that the internship should be of clear benefit to the student and it is linked to an educational outcome (e.g., in terms of gaining experience, skills, a potential referee and mentor etc.). This is an informal internship worked out between an individual researcher and student for the student to gain experience in research by contributing to a research project under the supervision of the researcher.

For queries about our Volunteer Internship Program contact Professor Anina Rich: anina.rich@mq.edu.au

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