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Master of Science in Cognitive Systems
Our cognitive functions allow us to interact with objects and persons in our environment, to smoothly adapt and react to external influences, and to gain knowledge. We do so by using various senses and relying on previous experiences from other contextual situations and our ability to learn, reason and plan future actions. Technical systems that implement or imitate the cognitive skills of humans are what we call cognitive systems. In order to implement such functionalities, systems must be equipped with capabilities for
- perception and cognition,
- learning and memory,
- planning and reasoning for action control and problem solving, as well as
The master's programme "Cognitive Systems" at the University of Ulm is completely taught in English. The programme introduces students to the theoretical and empirical foundations of cognitive skills, which serve as the basis for the development of models. These models allow for connecting neuro-biological mechanisms, theoretically well-founded concepts, and cognitive behaviour and for analysing this in psychopysical studies and psychological tests. The results build the foundation for various applications, e.g., for the development of a new generation of assistance and companion systems, of intelligent robots or vehicles, intelligent gadgets and games, or even intelligent cities, with the goal of supporting and improving human performance.
Cognitive Systems – Student meeting 2017/02/28
How to apply
German applicants and applicants enrolled in an Ulm University programme apply directly via the university's online application system. Other applicants apply directly via the university's online application system.
Application period for the winter semester: 15 April to 01 June (cut-off period)
The precise legal rules for the application process are defined in the Zulassungsordnung. For your convenience, we explain the most important points here; if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Be sure to include the following documents to demonstrate that you are qualified to enroll in the MSc Cognitive Systems. All documents must be in English or German.
- An official copy of your BSc degree in Psychology, Computer Science, Cognitive Science or a related degree. For the latter, your course contents should to at least three quarters overlap with those of the listed degrees. The BSc course duration should at least have been three years. The grade of your bachelor's degree must be 2.6 or better. If you did not yet complete you bachelor's degree, you must already have achieved 140 ECTS with an average mark of 2.9 or better.
- An official copy of your “diploma supplement” document, which lists all the courses you have taken for your first degree. The list must specify the grade and number of credit points for each course.
- A declaration that you have never been expelled from an MSc degree program in Germany.
- If you are not a native English speaker and you have no university degree completely taught in English, we require a proof of an adequate command of English of level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) through Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, with at least 88 points in the internet-based TOEFL; 570 points in the paper-based TOEFL; or 230 points in the computer-based TOEFL; or any comparable proof such as IELTS with a minimum of 6.5 points.
- If your documents are not in German or English, please provide a certified translation.
When we have more applicants than we can enroll, we will rank applicants according to their grades of their BSc degrees. You can add additional points through the following qualifications. Please enclose the relevant documents with your application if you wish us to consider them.
- Proficiency in practical computer science (with programming in higher level languages) of 6 ECTS.
- Participation in interdisciplinary projects or professional experience (at least six month) with a thematic connection to the program.
- Substantial periods of study or research abroad.
- Expertise relevant to the course through previously attended lectures.
Each qualification raises your average degree by 0.1 points (programming skills by 0.2 points). The overall improvement is limited to 0.3 points.
Prof. Dr. Heiko Neumann
Graduates of the Master's Programme in Cognitive Systems acquire the theoretical knowledge and practical skills that enable them to develop cognitive systems in various fields of application. Drawing on their experience from the required internships, applied coursework and research-oriented concentration modules, students acquire a solid grasp of the pros and cons of all current methodologies and where these are best applied. They are familiar with the most important theoretical and methodological principles of the core subjects of their chosen technical discipline which is complementary to their prior training (for students with a bachelor's in psychology or related fields: fundamentals of programming and software engineering; for students with a bachelor's in computer science, media informatics, a natural science or technical field: general psychology and experiment design). Students also understand the concepts of cognitive systems, neural networks and their underlying computational mechanisms. For complete information on the course objectives and a list of the individual modules, please refer to the official programme of study and examination regulations (Studien- und Prüfungsordnung) Para. 16 (2).
The programme's interdisciplinary projects and applied coursework requires students to work in teams, become familiar with group dynamics and build strategies for maintaining a positive outlook and a productive work environment. Students learn to deal effectively with any social issues that may arise. The same is true for dealing with stress, deadline pressure, as well as intercultural interactions with international students in an English-language study programme.
Graduates are also able to:
- Apply the problem-solving strategies they have learned to new situations and to develop these strategies further;
- Acquire new knowledge and skills independently;
- Collect and analyse relevant information and use it to make scientifically sound deductions;
- Formulate scientific positions and solutions and defend these with sound arguments.
Students are also capable of reading technical literature, communicating orally and in writing, as well as making presentations in English.
The Master's Programme in Cognitive Systems combines an academic approach with opportunities for technical application in various fields. It provides an ideal foundation of theoretical and methodological knowledge to enable students to keep pace in a dynamic field that is, and will continue to be, characterised by constant development and change.
The profile of this course of study qualifies graduates for work in scientific research as well as in all career fields where the seamless interaction of humans and technology plays a central role. Cognitive systems are extremely important to the automobile industry, medical technology, information technology and in all high-tech fields in general. Other potential career paths include research and development, product development, cognitive ergonomics, multimedia, e-learning, air-traffic control, e-commerce, interface design or, for instance, prosthetics. Specific tasks in these fields include the conception and development of hardware and software solutions or the implementation of improvements on the basis of market research or in the context of usability engineering.
The applied coursework, the integrated projects and research-oriented specialisations allow students to apply the knowledge they have acquired. The programme is thus significantly oriented towards projects and practical applications.
For their master's theses, students work in interdisciplinary project groups. To this end, the University of Ulm possesses a unique and ideal constellation of academic disciplines with the fields of computer science, engineering and psychology coming together in a single faculty.
The ability to choose amongst various concentration modules allows for specialisation in the areas of perception, interaction, learning and planning & deduction. Through the programme's generally interdisciplinary approach, students have the opportunity to branch out into adjacent fields of study such as biology, medicine or business.
The career opportunities for graduates with an interdisciplinary education from both the area of psychology and computer science are already excellent, but the demand will likely grow even further. Several companies in Ulm and the surrounding region are potential employers for graduates of the master's course Cognitive Systems. Apart from the Daimler AG, research and development branches of Audi, BMW, and Continental are currently settling in the Science Park Ulm. Furthermore, topics such as cognitive ergonomics, interface design, or usability are highly relevant for several small and medium-sized enterprises in the Ulm region, who work in the areas of transport technology, Mechanical Engineering, speech recognition.
The disciplines of computer science, engineering and psychology are organised within one faculty at the University of Ulm. Due to this special situation graduates of the course also have excellent opportunities for pursuing further interdisciplinary research careers regarding cognitive systems in Ulm, but also in other research institutions.