Milestones of the MEi:CogSci programme
Dear students, welcome to the MEi:CogSci programme in Bratislava. Your teachers are delighted to have you "on board" and are prepared to take care of you during your study. This page will guide you through the milestones of the programme, roughly speaking reminding you what to do and when. The curriculum has been developed within the Consortium and its strucure is shown in Figure 2 at the portal. If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact us ! For enquiries regarding curriculum and study matters, contact the program's student tutor Assoc. prof. Martin Takáč (consultation hours flexible, by previous email appointment)
MEi:CogSci Bratislava Team
Each academic year consists of two semesters (lectures + exams). The lecture period for winter semester lasts roughly from mid September till mid December. The exam period lasts from early January to mid February. The lecture period for summer semester lasts from late February till mid May, with follow-up exam period lasting to end of June.
Courses for semester 1 (September)
Semester 1 provides a common basis and complementary knowledge of the disciplines the student did not meet in his/her bachelor's study. Graduates of social sciences and humanities acquire basic knowledge of mathematics and programming, and graduates of computer science (or natural sciences) become more familiar with psychology and methodologies of empirical sciences. In addition, all students gain insight into the so-called mother disciplines of cognitive science. Hence, you need to figure out, depending on your background, which compensatory courses (block B) you need to take. You can find information about the courses at departmental webpage, click also on description.
Host university for mobility (end of December)
By early January, you will have to decide where to go on mobility, and fill in the mobility application on the MEi:CogSci portal. To facilitate the choice, Consortium organizes each year in December a pre-Christmas meeting where all partners present their universities - the foci of their research, offered projects, courses, etc. This has become a traditional popular socializing event, combined with visiting the Christmas market. The list of projects is also available on the MEi:CogSci portal, section Partner university (where you click on the university/specializations). It is also advisable to contact your potential supervisors abroad, prior to making your decision, to discuss the topic. There is a Facebook group (self-organized by the students) to search, exchange, and offer homes in Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Vienna and beyond- you might find it useful when plannig your mobility. Note also a general Discord group for MEi:CogSci students (also self-organized).
Registration for Erasmus+ mobility (mid January)
You will follow the application procedure at home university described at university pages (currently only in Slovak) dedicated to student mobility for study and Erasmus+ program. The procedure also includes a language test, if do not have a certificate (at least level C1).
Research project for semester 2 (Febrary)
Research project, as a compulsory course for 5 ECTS, is important since its final outcome is the presentation of your results at the MEi:CogSci conference (see below). You need to choose the topic and the supervisor. You may have become inspired by one of the presenters during the seminar in cognitive science, with whom you discuss the topic. Or, you can choose your own topic. In either case, you need to have an official supervisor (who does not have to be from our faculty but has to be approved by the guarantor).
Attending MEi:CogSci conference (June)
MEi:CogSci conference takes place annually in June and is always organized by one of universities in the Consortium. Its purpose is to enable the students to present their work and provide feedback from the peers and from teachers. The first-year students present a poster, the second-year students give a talk (in English). Each student of cognitive science participates twice at the conference, which takes 2-3 days, and also provides opportunity to invited speakers from the universities of the Consortium to present their research.
Please note that this obligation implies some expenditures for you (which is the infomation that is passed to students prior to their registration for the programme). The CogSci team always tries to find some support from the projects (e.g. we had one educational project for 2012-2015, we have another for 2016-2018), to cover at least in part the travelling costs for students). We know, this is not ideal, but it is better than nothing (students from partner universities travel on their own).
You will spend the winter semester of the second year abroad at the host university that you have chosen for mobility. When you return with credits after 4 months, you will continue your study working on your master's thesis. Since Erasmus+ allows the students to spend as many as two semesters abroad, you can consider that option and work on your master's thesis abroad.
Beginning of mobility semester (October)
Regarding university level, you need to fill in some paperwork, including Erasmus Learning Agreement (LA), and register in the university information system at the host university that keeps the record of all courses you enrolled for including your project. Get in touch with the contact person at the host university who will help you.
Regarding MEi:CogSci procedures, you need to bring home at least 30 ECTS from mobility (even though Erasmus+ only requires 20 credits). Part of this will be covered by compulsory courses, i.e. integrative kernel (10 ECTS). The remaining 20 ECTS can be divided between your project and other optional courses. Make sure to get in contact with your project supervisor ASAP and negotiate how many ECTS will your project be for (it can be for 10, 15 or 20 ECTS, depending on the expected workload - 1 ECTS translates to approx. 20 hours of work).
After you choose your courses and negotiate the ECTS for project, start working on a detailed specification for your project. This will result in filling in your Learning Contract (LC). The form is available on the MEi:Cogsci portal. After your supervisor approves you the final version of the contract, send it via email to your home and host coordinators for their approval, with copy to your supervisor. Detailed instructions can be found in the LC form.
End of mobility semester (February)
After you have successfuly passed your exams and completed the project, you need to bring home the signed and stamped LC. At this stage, include a summary (3000-5000 characters) of your project findings in the LC form and get your supervisor to sign it and fill in the grade of the project. The local coordinator then fills the grades for the courses you took and adds his signature and stamp. When back home, deliver the LC to your home coordinator.
At university level, there is also some paperwork to be done - completion of the Learning Agreement (and follow your home university webpages for instructions).
This is another choice that you have to make by the end of February and the thesis assignment has to be entered into AIS system. Good news is that a topic entered into the AIS can later be modified if necessary. For a list of potential supervisors, look at the people who belong to the cognitive science community in Bratislava. Many of these people will also present their work for you during the seminar in cognitive science that you are obliged to attend during the semester. (Finding a supervisor outside Comenius University is possible too - in that case s/he will be a consultant and you will have to get a formal supervisor from the university. The role of the formal supervisor is to make sure that the thesis satisfies all the university formal and quality requirements.)
It is a good idea to start thinking about your thesis earlier though we understand that due to the curriculum of this programme, it is difficult, and most students start thinking about it only after their mobility.
There are four types of an acceptable master's thesis in our cognitive science program:
- Software implementation of a selected model (including model analysis and evaluation). It can be an implementation in order to check the carrying capacity of a theoretical idea, or a critical reimplementation in order to multilaterally refute (or confirm) the results of already known implementation.
- Result of an empirical research (e.g. a psychological experiment aimed at testing some hypothesis).
- Compilation work - the student will make an extensive, consistent overview of theoretical approaches and concepts in a new area (i.e. if such a compilation does not already exist in our environment). It must include graduates' own view of the issue.
- Theoretical work - precise and correct theoretical analysis of a selected problem, further development or a critical modification of an idea already formulated somewhere, generalization or analogy of an already solved problem, or a theoretical model (without program implementation).
An important part of the thesis is interdisciplinarity, which aims to look at the chosen topic from the perspective of various relevant disciplines, using different research methods. For example, when modeling a certain phenomenon, it is important to assess the biological and/or psychological plausibility of the approach. In a theoretical or experimental work, it is important to try to integrate knowledge from different disciplines (e.g. psychology and neuroscience), possibly in a consistent way (if not possible, it must also be noted).
Submitting the master's thesis (May)
The study formally ends by a state exam (see below) and a successful master's thesis defence. This is organized twice a year, in June and in February. If you are aiming for the June term, you will need to submit the completed thesis for review at the beginning of May (and formally enroll for the state exam via the study office or AIS). The criteria for master's theses are provided here.
Student conference (June)
As a 2nd-year student, you will attend the MEi:CogSci conference once more. This time you are obliged to present a talk, summarizing the results of your master's thesis research (even though you may not be done with the thesis yet).
Final state exam and master's thesis defence (June)
At the end of June, after the conference, we organize the state exam when the students defend their master's thesis (in front of the committee). You can postone the thesis defence also to the later term (in February next year) in case you need more time for writing up your thesis.
Graduation ceremony (July)
After successful graduation, you can solemnly obtain your diploma (together with the supplement) at the ceremony.