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Courses Approved for Major

Program in Cognitive Science

P.O. Box 400400
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400
Phone: (434) 924-0655

Overview Cognitive science is the study of cognition'cognition being the structure, acquisition, and use of knowledge. Knowledge-based systems process information. That is, they have the capabilities of encoding information, applying lawful transformations on these inputs, and modifying their processing logic in accordance with changes in both their inputs and their own outputs.

The scientific study of information processing systems has developed in a number of interrelated yet distinct disciplines, especially cognitive psychology, computer science, linguistics, and neuroscience. While these disciplines are all concerned with the processing of information, they each focus on somewhat different systems. Cognitive psychology is concerned with all of the human information processing faculties. Computer science deals with the modeling or automation of intelligent functions on digital hardware. Linguistics examines the particular cognitive faculty of language, sometimes studied from the perspective of its use by people, but often modeled without concern for human performance limitations. Finally, neuroscience seeks to explain how information processing functions are performed within the constraints of the neuroanatomical structure of biological systems.

Increasingly, these distinct disciplines are developing overlapping domains of inquiry. For example, often the competencies that a computer scientist wishes to model are within the human repertoire of skills; thus, their logic is understood to some degree by cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of knowledge. Moreover, all of these disciplines can be seen to converge in their inquiry into the form and function of language.

Students A major in cognitive science prepares students for a wide variety of career opportunities. The options available depend on the particular program of study elected by the student and whether he or she pursues advanced degrees in either cognitive science or one of its related disciplines. The major provides a strong background for entry into any business setting in which computer literacy and a knowledge of human information processing capacities is of concern. These applications span the range from the automation of computerized expert systems to the design of effective human/computer interfaces.

Requirements for Major Thirty credits are required for the major in cognitive science.

Prospective majors must complete, with grades of C+ or better, two designated cognitive science courses from two different core areas: cognitive psychology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy (a list of designated courses follows). Prospective majors must also have a GPA of 2.0 or better for all cognitive science courses completed at the University.

Required courses: MATH 131 or 122 (students are strongly advised to take MATH 131 instead of MATH 122); at least one designated cognitive science course in each of the five core areas; at least two courses at the 400 level or above in one of the five core areas, excluding directed readings, research, or internship courses. Courses counted in the 30 credits may not be taken on a credit/no credit basis. Students are dropped from the major if they fall below a cumulative GPA of 2.0 for all designated cognitive science courses.

Distinguished Majors Program in Cognitive Science

General Information Outstanding cognitive science majors who have completed 18 credit hours towards their major and who have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or better may apply by the third semester before graduating to the Distinguished Majors Program. Students who are accepted will complete a thesis based on two semesters of empirical or theoretical research. Upon successful completion of the program, students will normally be recommended for a baccalaureate award of Distinction, High Distinction or Highest Distinction.

Requirements Students applying to the DMP must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 and have completed 18 credit hours towards their Cognitive Science major by the end of the semester in which they apply. In addition to the normal requirements for the cognitive science major, they must register for two semesters of supervised research (Cognitive Science 497 and 498). Based on their independent research, students must complete a thesis or review at least one month prior to graduation.

Additional Information For more information, contact the director, Dennis Proffitt, 102 Gilmer Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (434) 924-0655; www.virginia.edu/~cogsci.

Courses Approved for Major


Particular courses within relevant departments are designated as being cognitive science courses. Courses from other departments, such as mathematics or systems engineering, may be designated as cognitive science courses if their content is judged to be appropriate by the undergraduate committee that oversees the curriculum. The following is a list of designated courses offered on a regular basis. There are also numerous cognitive science courses that are offered more infrequently; thus, the following list is not exhaustive.

Cognitive Psychology

PSYC 215 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Cognition

PSYC 230 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Perception

PSYC 305, 306 - (4) (S)
Research Methods and Analysis

PSYC 416 - (3) (IR)
Thinking About thinking

PSYC 418 - (3) (Y)
Invention and Design

PSYC 430 - (3) (IR)
Theories of Perception

PSYC 468 - (3) (IR)
Psychology and Law

PSYC 555 - (3) Y)
Developmental Psycholinguistics Computer Science All courses except CS110 and 120 Linguistics

LNGS 325 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Linguistic Theory and Analysis

ANTH 349 - (3) (IR)
Language and Thought

ANTH 504 - (3) (Y)
Linguistic Field Methods

LING 501 - (3) (IR)
Synchronic Linguistics

LNGS 506 - (3) (IR)
Syntax and Semantics

ANTH 542 - (3) (IR)
20th Century Linguistic Theory


PSYC 220 - (3) (S)

PSYC 321 - (3) (S)
Psychobiology Lab

PSYC 420 - (3) (Y)
Neural Mechanisms of Behavior

PSYC 520 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Psychobiology

PSYC 521 - (3) (IR)
Developmental Psychobiology

PSYC 525 - (3) (IR)

PSYC 526 - (3) (IR)
Psychobiology of Memory

PSYC 527- (3) (IR)
Neurotransmitters and Behavior

PSYC 531 - (3) (IR)
Functional Neuroanatomy

PSYC 533 - (3) (IR)
Neural Networks


PHIL 233 - (3) (E)
Computers, Minds, and Brains

PHIL 242 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Symbolic Logic

PHIL 332 - (3) (Y)

PHIL 333 - (3) (IR)
Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem

PHIL 334 - (3) (E)
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 350 - (3) (IR)
Philosophy of Language

PHIL 542 - (3) (E)
Symbolic Logic

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