Brain and Cognition

Master in Psychology

Prof. Dr. Rolf Zwaan,
Coordinator of the programme

"Human cognition is a puzzling phenomenon. For example, we can remember the name of our first-grade teacher but fail to recall what we had for breakfast a few days ago. In this programme you will acquire the tools that will equip you to participate in the scientific enterprise of solving the puzzle of human cognition. To me, solving this puzzle means no less than finding out what it means to be human."

What is this specialisation about?

We are transported to a different world when we read a story, even though our eyes are just looking at black marks on white paper. We can rapidly decide whether an animal is a cat or a dog, even though we have never seen that particular animal before. When something in our environment is threatening, we automatically focus on its movement and shape rather than on its colour and other details.

These are all functions of human cognition: memory, language, categorization, and emotion. Understanding these functions and how the brain performs them requires sophisticated and theoretically-motivated experimental studies.

The human brain has an immense capacity to process information and represent the outside world. A critical question is how the various brain structures are involved in processing and representing emotions, actions, language, and concepts. This question can only be successfully addressed by combining biological and cognitive perspectives on brain functioning. The Brain and Cognition programme at the Erasmus University Rotterdam offers such a combination of perspectives. 

In a unique active learning environment, students will be equipped with theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills to tackle questions regarding brain functioning and cognitive emotional processes. You will be trained in current theories and advanced research methodology, including behavioural tasks, eye tracking, EEG, fMRI, and advanced statistics. In addition to dynamic Problem-Guided class discussions, there will be lab assignments and research projects. Successful completion of the program will make the student well-prepared for a successful career in academia or industry in the domain of brain and cognition. 


The Psychology curriculum consists of a series of modules or courses. Every course covers one specific psychological theme. All of the activities that you will undertake during this course, i.e. lectures, tutorials, practical meetings and assignments, are related to this theme. The Master’s programme consists of three courses in which you will study the topics of the specialisation of Brain and Cognition and one course in statistics.

In the second semester, from February onwards, you will conduct an empirical study and write your Master‘s thesis. Please click on one of the courses in the programme overview below to see the course descriptions.

Block 1

Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience


Language and Brain


Concept and Categories


Applied Multivariate Data Analysis


Practical Neuroimaging


Practical Electrophysiology


Practical Programming Experiments


Practical Applied Multivariate Data Analysis using SPSS


Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Block 8

Research Proposal and Thesis (block 5 – block 8)


Total study load: 60 ECTS

The curriculum is subject to alteration. No rights may be derived from this information (including the information via the links).