You will be taught by academics currently carrying out highly regarded research in this field

  • What is it that makes us human?
  • How did our brains evolve?
  • What are the origins of human language?
  • Why do we think the way we do?
  • What are the mechanisms of biological, cultural and linguistic evolution?

These questions, which are at the heart of the recent renaissance in the scientific study of the origins and evolution of human language, will be tackled on this interdisciplinary postgraduate programme.

The Evolution of Language and Cognition programme is a unique and fascinating interdisciplinary programme which focuses on the treatment of language as a dynamic evolving system, bringing together origins, acquisition and change.

World-leading research

As a student on this programme, you will become part of the world-leading Centre for Language Evolution (CLE) here in Edinburgh. The CLE is at the cutting edge of current research into the origins and evolution of human language and is the biggest research group in the world in this area.

Centre for Language Evolution (CLE)

You will be involved first-hand with the CLE’s ongoing research effort. Your dissertation project (undertaken as part of the Masters) will enable you to make your own contribution to our understanding of the evolution of language and cognition.

The programme includes lectures by visiting UK-based and international researchers, meaning that your study will be inspired by the people at the cutting edge of research in this area. Previous years have featured master classes by Dr Nic Fay (University of Western Australia), Dr Dan Dediu (MPI Nijmegen), Dr Gary Lupyan (Wisconsin-Madison), Dr Fiona Jordan (Bristol) and Dr Katie Slocombe (York).

Building on a first degree in psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, or a cognate discipline, the programme provides you with a broad introduction to the field of language and cognitive evolution, and allows you to tailor your studies to your own interests, by combining a wide range of courses in the area of language and cognition.

  • A unique interdisciplinary approach to the study of cognition builds on the strengths and synergies between subject areas in the school of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences
  • The flexible programme structure allows you to adapt course choices and dissertation topics to suit your own strengths and interests
  • You will be part of a learning community which includes the largest concentration of language scientists in the UK

This programme comprises two semesters of taught compulsory and optional courses, followed by a dissertation

This programme offers a range of courses covering the key concepts and methodologies in the evolution of language and cognition.

In addition to the core courses, you can choose further courses, according to your interests and chosen research focus. This could include courses introducing you to the foundations of linguistics or experimental psychology, or advanced courses in a variety of areas, including language acquisition, language change, the pragmatics of human communication, psycholinguistics, the neuroscience of language, and evolutionary psychology.

The dissertation consists of a piece of independent research of around 8,000 words intended to demonstrate knowledge of the literature and research skills in a particular area of the programme.

This programme provides you with a range of knowledge and skills to prepare you for a variety of career paths

Many of our MSc students go on to do a PhD either at Edinburgh or at another institution.

Program taught in:
University of Edinburgh - School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

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Last updated February 12, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 9, 2019
1 - 2 years
22,600 GBP
Overseas/International | Home/EU: £10,700
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