Cognitive Systems

Study Cognitive Systems at UBC

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About Cognitive Systems

Cognitive systems explores how intelligent systems (eg. human beings and autonomous robots) perceive, act upon and learn about their world. It sits at the intersection of computer science, linguistics, philosophy and psychology. It is the study of the systems that enable people to think, of the systems that can help and hinder our thinking, and of the artificial systems in which something like cognition is accomplished. UBC's COGS program provides students with a thorough grounding in the principles and techniques used by intelligent systems (both natural and artificial) to interact with the world around them. Strong, multidisciplinary foundations established through the COGS program provides our students with a unique, multifaceted perspective and prepares our graduates to think flexibly. People with backgrounds in cognitive systems design intelligent computer systems (for example, medical diagnosis systems), or may become psychiatrists or researchers in cognitive neuroscience. The field is useful to researchers who want to know how people take in and interpret information and communicate with language. All students in the COGS programme have a hands-on experience of research.

Program details

Cognitive Systems offers five degrees (or streams) – three offered by the Faculty of Arts and two offered by the Faculty of Science. All courses in the COGS streams are largely composed from those in Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy and Psychology. For students in the BSc Cognition and Brain stream, they should apply through the coordinated admissions process through the Faculty of Science. Students interested in the BSc Computational Intelligence and Design Stream should talk to the advisors in Computer Science.


Over the course of a four-year degree, this program could help you build the following skills:

  • Application of principles and techniques used by natural and artificial intelligent systems
  • Research, collection, synthesis, and presentation of information across diverse subjects
  • Evaluation of the connections between computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, and relating them to real-world applications
  • Observation of issues through diverse perspectives grounded in theories
  • Critical thinking and ability to debate different sides of an argument while considering philosophical and ethical implications
  • Collaboration and teamwork with individuals from different backgrounds
  • Design of new intelligent systems or interfaces, through digital or machine touchpoints

Programs offered

  • Major Cognitive Systems: Cognition and Brain
  • Major Cognitive Systems: Computational Intelligence and Design


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Career options in Cognitive Systems

With an undergraduate degree

  • Biomedical researcher
  • Cognitive systems engineer
  • Consultant
  • Data analyst and database designer
  • Information systems manager
  • Software designer/entrepreneur
  • Systems designer
  • Technical writer
  • Technical support
  • Usability, user experience professional

With additional study

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Biotechnologist
  • Human-computer interaction scientist
  • Medical genomics researcher
  • Neuroscientist
  • Robotics engineer

UBC Science Cognitive Systems Graduates Work As

  • Cognitive Neuroscientist, ACELab University of Alberta
  • Data Scientist, Boeing Canada
  • Founder and CEO, PatentPal
  • Graduate Student in Cognitive Psychology, University of Toronto
  • Business Intelligence Consultant, Visier
  • PhD Candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience and Human-Computer Interaction, University of Waterloo
  • User Experience Designer, iQmetrix
  • Software Engineer, Microsoft

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