Cognitive Science

This major explores human cognition—including processes like perception, memory, language, and decision-making.

You’ll combines specialised psychology courses with those from computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), philosophy, and linguistics.

Our world is changing every day, and as it does, there is an increasing need for us to understand minds of all kinds. Cognitive scientists study human brains and behaviour, build artificial intelligences, and compare the mental lives of humans and animal species. They ask the big questions about minds. Like how do brains produce intelligent behaviour? How should humans interact with AI? Can we use technology to augment human capabilities? How does neurodiversity change your perspective on the world? Are minds a product of the culture they live in? How do languages shape thought? Could Chat GPT ever be conscious? How would we know?

Future careers

If you’re interested in working in fields where you can be the bridge between psychology, AI, and linguistics, this could be the major for you. Cognitive scientists are often employed in user experience, interaction design, data science, artificial intelligence, and other design applications. There are cognitive scientists working at Google, Microsoft, Soul Machines, and many other robotics firms. There are also many roles for cognitive scientists in healthcare and government—there are numerous options.

Learn from experts

Our Cognitive Science major—the first undergraduate major of its kind in NZ—is led by Associate Professor Gina Grimshaw, a cognitive scientist who uses virtual reality to study how our emotional states change how we think and behave.

“I also work with engineers to help them build AI systems that work like human brains, and study how best to positively influence people’s minds about important scientific issues like climate change and vaccination,” says Associate Professor Grimshaw. “Studying cognitive science opens up so many pathways for your future career.”

This major brings together courses from psychology, computer science, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and philosophy, and you’ll take a core set of courses that cover these areas. You can also specialise by combining your Cognitive Science major with a major in Psychological Science (in the Bachelor of Psychology), or Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence (in the Bachelor of Science), or Linguistics or Philosophy (in the Bachelor of Arts).

Studying Psychology

Find out more about studying Psychology at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Go to our Psychology page

Bachelor of Psychology

Find out more about our focused Psychology degree, the Bachelor of Psychology.

Go to the BPsyc page

Postgraduate study

Depending on the courses you combine with Cognitive Science, this major could lead to postgraduate study in Psychology, Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, Linguistics, or Artificial Intelligence.