Applicants must normally possess the following qualifications: * a good second class honours degree in psychology or an acceptable cognate discipline, or * an academic award equivalent to an honours degree in psychology, such as Oxford Brookes University's Graduate Diploma in Psychology or a similar conversion course, and * English as their first language, or GCSE or O-level English Language, or a TOEFL score of at least 600, or an IELTS score of 7.0. Exceptionally, applicants who can show that they have qualifications or experience (or both) which demonstrate the knowledge and capabilities judged by the programme coordinator to be equivalent to those possessed by holders of the standard qualifications for admission may be admitted with dispensation from those requirements. Students applying for admission with credit must make clear the basis of their claim for credit when applying for their chosen programme, and must supply acceptable evidence. Normally an applicant shall not be admitted with credit of more than two-thirds of the total credits required in order to qualify for the award that the applicant is seeking. Credit is recognised by exempting students from certain modules but not from the research-based dissertation. Applications for credit will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the programme coordinator or by a member, or members, of the programme committee nominated by the programme coordinator. The motivations that might lead students to select this course are many and diverse. Some will be drawn by the fascination of the subject matter, or the general benefits to personal and professional development arising from studying at master's level. Others will be seeking to provide a platform for further study through research. Yet others may be seeking to enhance their academic and skills profile with a view to applying for professional training at postgraduate level.
MSc / PGDip
Cognitive neuropsychology studies the relationship between higher mental functions and the human brain from an information-processing perspective. Its roots lie in clinical neuropsychology (the principled description of disorders consequent upon brain pathology) and in cognitive psychology (the construction and empirical validation of general models of complex mental functions). The distinctive character of cognitive neuropsychology lies in the endeavour to interpret disorders of cognition in relation to formal information-processing models of normal mind-brain systems. A concern with the neural substrates of cognition (intact and impaired) links the discipline with the domain of cognitive neuroscience.
The MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Oxford Brookes provides a high-quality postgraduate research qualification relevant to the interests of experimental psychologists, aspirant clinical psychologists and other health-related professionals. This is achieved by theoretical investigation, with readings in cognitive neuropsychology, practice of the relevant research methods, and a research-based thesis.
The programme provides a deep understanding of human cognitive processes such as perception, attention, memory and language and their dysfunctions. The course reflects the very recent developments in this field by bringing together the traditional disciplines of neuropsychology, neurology, cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, neurophysiology and computational neuroscience.
The course runs over two days: Mondays and Wednesdays. For part-time students, Year 1 classes will run on Wednesdays and Year 2 classes will run on Mondays.
* Introduction to Cognitive Neuropsychology (Wednesdays) investigates the history, major advances and current trends, and metatheory in neuropsychology, including how these have arisen from models and theories of cognitive psychology, and the research methods which have enabled relevant data collection. Topics covered include memory and the amnesias, language and the aphasias, executive dysfunction, developmental disorders, thought disorders, visuo-spatial disorders, principles of functional imaging. In the main the course will deal with adult neuropsychology, although some developmental disorders (for example autism and dyslexia) will be discussed.
* Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology (Wednesdays) systematically reviews the neurological foundations of cognitive neuropsychology and the major methodologies upon which it draws: functional neuroanatomy; major neurological disorders; neuropsychological assessment (the neurological examination, single case studies, brain imaging techniques); experimental methods; designing quantitative research studies including meta-analysis; clinical applications.
* Developmental Neuropsychology and Neurodegeneration (Mondays) is a seminar-based module that introduces developmental neuropsychology and neurodegenerative disorders. You will be familiarised with the consequences of a cerebral dysfunction for the development of a child. The major facts and theories will be discussed. Neurodegeneration will also be discussed with reference to neuropsychological profiles and specific disorders.
* Neuroscience (Mondays) is a single module that provides the opportunity to make a systematic study of the major brain structures and their functions. Consideration will also be given to the ways in which a variety of early environmental influences may impact on the brain's subsequent functioning. This module provides a broad understanding of the organisation of the nervous system and its relationship to behaviour by considering both the ontogenetic and phylogenetic origins of the brain.
* Project Design and Methodology (Wednesdays) entails student seminar presentations. The content will be related to the literature review from the first semester. Feedback will be provided by other students as well as by academic staff. This course component is a pilot project that is grounded in the first semester literature review. It assists in developing the design and methods that will be used in the research-based dissertation.
* Computational Models of Cognitive Processes (option) (Wednesdays) looks at applications of computational models, from cognitive psychology to neuropsychology. Examination of the structure and function of parallel-distributed processing models is considered.
* Statistical Theory and Methods (option) (Tuesdays and Thursdays, taught at and by Oxford University) looks at the main techniques of statistical analysis used in contemporary psychology, and at some advanced techniques such as path analysis and structural equation modelling, consolidated by a refresher course in the use of SPSS to carry out the methods described.
* The Research-Based Dissertation is an extended and supervised piece of work reporting new empirical data. Theses will always be grounded in a thorough review of the relevant scientific literature and will normally require experimental data collection. The aim of the dissertation is to allow students to develop their own ideas in a specific domain of cognitive neuropsychology, and to provide students with experience in research design, data collection, analysis and interpretation. The content will consist of individual tutorials with project supervisors and individual work.
The MSc programme may be taken on either a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students take all of the research seminars and workshops described above in their first year. They must give a seminar presentation (20 credit and accumulation transfer scheme (CATS) credits), complete the coursework components for Computational Models of Cognitive Processes, Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Introduction to Cognitive Neuropsychology (20 CATS credits each), sit two two-hour examinations (20 CATS credits each), produce a critical literature review and submit a research-based thesis of not more than 15,000 words (60 CATS credits).
Part-time students spend the first semester of their first year studying Research Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Introduction to Cognitive Neuropsychology. They must also produce a critical literature review (as part of the dissertation module), and complete the coursework components. In the second semester the students will take Computational Models of Cognitive Processes or Statistical Theory and Methods. In their second year, part-time students will take Developmental Neuropsychology and Neurodegeneration in the first semester and Neuroscience in the second semester. Additionally, in the second semester they must take Project Design and Methodology and give a seminar presentation on their critical literature review (20 CATS credits). Part-time students must also submit the research-based dissertation of not more than 15,000 words (60 CATS credits) by the end of the summer of Year 2 (or cumulative sixth semester).
Classification of the award as MSc, MSc with merit or MSc with distinction will be based upon examination and thesis marks.
The PGDip requires students to gain 120 CAT credits, from five compulsory modules and an optional module.
Teaching, learning and assessment
The programme is taught through a combination of lectures, research seminars, workshops, tutorials, case presentations, supervised seminar presentations, and independent reading and research. Diverse teaching methods are employed to aid the quality of learning opportunities for students. These methods are described in the modular handbooks, and their effectiveness is monitored and analysed in the module feedback system and the psychology annual review process.
Methods of assessment are described in the module handbooks and monitored and evaluated using student feedback procedures and the psychology annual review process.
Summative assessment methods include:
* coursework assessments
* individual and/or group presentation assessments
* class tests
Formative assessment methods include:
* formative assessment through coursework feedback processes
* informal tutor discussion
* group discussion.
The Psychology Department was classified as 3a (out of 5*) in the Government's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
The external examiner is satisfied that the course content and programme outcomes are reflective of what an MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology should contain. He concluded that the programme is a good mix of theory and practice and gives students an exceptional grounding in the field. The semester system was praised for allowing an extended time for the research-based dissertation.
Teaching staff are drawn from the Psychology Department at Oxford Brookes University and are all subject matter experts who have published their own research in this field.