Department of Cognitive Science

Department of Cognitive Science

The Department of Cognitive Science carries out undergraduate teaching, higher degree research training and research in a wide range of domains of cognitive science including Belief formation, Collective cognition, Hearing, audition and cognition, Language, Language acquisition, Perception in action and Reading.

We offer exceptional learning opportunities for students interested in how the mind and brain work through our undergraduate units and major, as well as Master of Research (MRes) and PhD programs in cognitive and brain sciences.

During your studies, you can also enrol in one of our PACE units to gain hands-on experience in your field. We also offer People and Planet units to students outside of the department and faculty. More information on these units can be found in the handbook.


The Department of Cognitive Science offers a range of undergraduate units and an undergraduate major that give you the opportunity to explore how the mind and brain work – one of the greatest open scientific challenges for the 21st Century.

Our major in Cognitive and Brain Sciences will give you the opportunity to pursue a flexible program of coursework and acquire strong research skills in neuroscience, psychology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, biology and anthropology. The major offers an optimal combination of intellectual breadth and depth, giving you exposure to foundational and cutting-edge research on a diverse range of challenging and engaging topics including perception, attention, action, memory, language, decision making, and the brain and information-processing systems that support these capacities.

For more information, email:


MRes students will gain core knowledge in their specific research area as well as the broader fields of cognitive and brain sciences. In addition, students will gain intensive research experience while pursuing individual research projects under the supervision of a member of the Department.

Research projects are designed to permit flexibility. The innovative combination of advanced disciplinary coursework and structured research training offered during the 2-year MRes program makes the MRes an ideal foundation for undertaking the PhD in Cognitive Science. Find out more about admission requirements and application deadlines or email:

Year 1

In Year 1 of the Cognitive Science MRes program, students explore key concepts and ground-breaking research methods used to investigate how the mind and brain work. This advanced coursework reflects cutting-edge research in Cognitive Science and provides the intellectual foundation for commencing individual research projects in Year 2 of the MRes Program.

Year 2

Year 2 of the MRes builds on the knowledge and skills gained in Year 1, allowing students to focus on the pursuit of a year-long supervised research project in a specific area of interest within cognitive science, which culminates in the writing of a thesis. The research training received in Year 2 provides an invaluable foundation for pursuing higher degree research in Cognitive Science. To help guide students towards successful completion of the MRes thesis, Year 2 is structured around a core set of required activities.

Research Frontiers 2 essay

This activity is designed to increase exposure to the latest developments in the candidate's chosen field of research. Under the guidance of their supervisors, candidates will critically examine the frontiers of their chosen research field by addressing questions such as: What are the most important recent developments or findings in your field? What are the major open questions?

Research methods

This activity develops specific skills that students will need in order to participate as successful researchers in their chosen fields. Methods-based training will be provided within the Department in the form of small workshops or on an individual basis, as dictated by specific needs.

MRes research proposal

This activity is intended to foster research project planning. In general, a research proposal should define the chosen area of study, detail the aims of the proposed project and provide an indication of the (experimental and theoretical) approach to the research one intends to take. Sufficient detail is required so the department can determine if the project is viable, what specific changes need to be made, and finally, how best to support each individual research candidate during their project.

Literature review

This activity is designed to facilitate timely engagement with one's chosen research area. Candidates will perform a systematic review of the literature including associated issues, debates and methodology relevant to their proposed research. The Literature Review will be performed under the advisement of the candidate's supervisor.

MRes thesis

This activity requires candidates to complete a significant individual research project of their own design in order to demonstrate individual research capability to conduct a major (PhD) research project. Candidates will prepare a thesis equivalent to 15,000-20,000 words.

PhD research proposal

This final activity is designed to indicate the proposed path to a suitable PhD (3 year) project. Each candidate is expected to submit a PhD Research Proposal, which mirrors the document that the Faculty requires of its applicants for direct entry into the PhD Program.


For students interested in pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Department of Cognitive Science offers an exceptional research and training environment in our state-of-the-art facilities. The PhD program is designed to prepare students for careers as well-rounded scientists engaging in original research in the cognitive and brain sciences.

The Department has a strong and sustained track record of research excellence and PhD supervision across a wide range of domains of cognitive science including:

  • memory
  • language
  • perception in action
  • reading

Our distinguished researchers include:

  • ARC Federation Fellows
  • ARC Future Fellows
  • ARC QEII Fellows
  • ARC DECRA Fellows
  • NHMRC Fellows
  • Fellows of the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia

For more information, email:

We have support readily available regarding admission requirements, scholarship opportunities and general information about fees.

On campus, orientation and support

On campus

The University provides support and information for students regarding on-campus food, childcare and travel needs.

Stay fit and active beyond the classroom with Macquarie’s Sport and Aquatic Centre which has a wide range of fitness classes and sporting facilities and a variety of membership options to suit your needs.


New and returning students are encouraged to attend Orientation week to celebrate the new session. Relax, explore and meet new people before lectures start the following week. Check out what is happening during 'O Week' and keep an eye on your emails for your invitation.


Need a little more help? Academic support is available for you providing academic and program advice, as well as peer support, study skills programs and training and support resources throughout your semester.

For help outside of your studies, the Health and Wellbeing teams can help by providing guidance on how to adjust to University life, counselling services, disability support services, student advocacy and much more. Don't forget, you can also tap into the student social clubs and groups as a way of connecting with others who share your passions.

Support is also readily available for Indigenous students and International students who need personal or academic advice.

Contact us

Learn more about our support for current students, make requests regarding your studies online or contact us.  If you have questions, please go to or email the department.

The Faculty of Human Sciences Student Centre is located at the ground floor of C3A, and open 9am - 5pm.


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