Understanding Thinking

New, interdisciplinary degree programme in Cognitive Science to commence in the winter semester


Cognitive Science is founded on the basic assumption that the human mind is essentially an information processing system. It uses algorithms to understand and explain human intelligence. From the 2019/20 winter semester, Cognitive Science is available to study as Bachelor’s and Master's degree programmes at TU Darmstadt. The Director of the Centre for Cognitive Science, Professor Constantin Rothkopf, explains what the students can expect.

Cognitive Science – a Bachelor's and Master's program at the TU, starting in the winter semester 2019/20.

Can the information processing of humans and technical systems really be compared?

Professor Constantin Rothkopf: Yes, that is the core assumption of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Whilst artificial intelligence seeks to develop computer programmes that are able to intelligently process information, cognitive science uses similar methods to model natural intelligence.

Both attempt to understand the principles that underlie intelligent behaviour. Information processing plays a similar role in the understanding of intelligence to that played by fluid mechanics in the understanding of flight. Computers and brains both process information, in the same way that aeroplane wings and bird wings both generate lift.

This makes us stand out in comparison with other Cognitive Science programmes offered in Germany.

How are the widely disparate subject areas combined in the interdisciplinary degree programme?

Cognitive Science has always been set up in an interdisciplinary fashion and seen as a bridge between different disciplines. It integrates insights from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy and artificial intelligence in order to better understand human behaviour.

In jointly addressing the foundations of perception, thought, action and learning, the different technical, scientific and social science disciplines involved in Cognitive Science naturally fit together. At TU Darmstadt, through our special focus on the field of Computational Cognitive Science, these disciplines even collaborate relatively easily.

What is special about the Darmstadt Cognitive Science degree programme?

We focus on computer models of adaptive behaviour. In keeping with the mission of a university of technology, it is not just a question of explaining human behaviour and modelling it using algorithms, but also of making technical systems more intelligent. This also makes us stand out in comparison with other Cognitive Science programmes offered in Germany.

What can students expect?

An extremely forward-looking course which will certainly pose particular challenges for the students through its interdisciplinarity and computer science orientation. In the first few semesters students must, on the one hand, become familiar with mathematical and computer science principles and, on the other hand, gain an overview of the different sub-disciplines.

Why is the new Master’s degree programme being offered in English?

The Cognitive Science research field is highly international. The majority of works in this area are written in English. This is especially the case in our specific area of focus, which is computational and technically oriented.

The Master’s in Cognitive Science in particular, which is research-oriented, is therefore especially well-suited to catering to an international market, and both to introducing German students to this international community as well as drawing international students to Darmstadt.

How do you see the future prospects of the graduates of this programme?

The increasing use of AI, i.e. artificial intelligence, will, in our view, only continue to prosper and serve mankind if we learn what specifically constitutes “human” and how we can take this into consideration in technical systems. We are already seeing today that there is a high demand for AI expertise, especially in the large tech companies. With the ongoing development of AI, it will become increasingly clear that AI expertise cannot be limited to information technology, but also requires the understanding of human information processing, in other words Cognitive Science. In short, we see great and above all growing potential for our graduates both in research and the high-tech industries.

The questions asked Claudia Staub

Cognitive Science

Das startet zum Wintersemester 2019/2020 – sowohl als als auch als . Bewerbungen sind bis zum 15. Juli 2019 (Bachelor) beziehungsweise 31. August 2019 (Master) möglich.

The new programme commences in the 2019/2020 winter semester – both as a Bachelor’s and as a Master’s degree programme. The deadline for applications is 15 July 2019 (Bachelor’s programme) and 31 August 2019 (Master’s).