History, Goals and Competences


The Cognitive Science and Language programme has been offered by several Catalan universities since the academic year 1988-89. It was initiated by professors of the Universitat de Barcelona, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, who, while working on different fields in Cognitive Science, had the opportunity to interact profitably in different ways, and regarded such interactions important for successfully pursuing their research interests. In recent years, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya stopped being part of the program, but then the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Universitat de Girona joined the program.

The research interests of the professors who have been contributing to the program focus on various aspects of natural language, on issues such as its computational processing, its psychological and neurological underpinnings, its grammar and its philosophy. Most of them have made in the ensuing years significant contributions to their fields. The program has already trained a good number of young researchers, who are also beginning to make important contributions to their respective fields, and in some cases have become in their turn professors involved in the program.




The program is motivated by the need of interaction among different fields in Cognitive Science. The goals of the program are those that define Cognitive Science, or Cognitive Neuroscience, as it is more commonly known nowadays. This is not a new discipline requiring new specialists; thus, the goal of the program is not to train researchers on a new, emerging field. Rather, research on the psychological, computational, linguistic or philosophical aspects of natural language is a well-established tradition which can only be carried out by specialists well-trained in each one of the subjects techniques and theoretical assumptions (in fact, of even more specific areas inside them). Acquiring a proficient level in one of them is, perhaps unfortunately, incompatible with acquiring it on all the others. The main idea behind Cognitive Science is thus that a good understanding of linguistic phenomena can only be achieved through particular contributions from all these interacting disciplines; because of this, research on any one of them will necessarily benefit from a good knowledge of the others’ ongoing contributions.


Competences to be acquired

Students who take the program are supposed to have already a good knowledge of their own incoming disciplines (most commonly, philosophy, psychology and linguistics). The program then offers some subjects designed to lead such mature, knowledgeable and motivated students to acquire a good mastery of some of the techniques and theoretical assumptions of the other disciplines, while at the same time offering also enough subjects in their own disciplines to properly continue their education and further specialization.

Skills and Competences

-Basic Competences:

- On completion of the degree, students will be able to:

Display a capacity for original thinking in the development and/or application of ideas in a research context.

    Apply the knowledge acquired during the course to problem-solving in new or relatively unknown environments related to the specific field of study.

    Integrate knowledge and tackle the complexity of formulating judgements based on incomplete or limited information, giving due consideration to the social and ethical responsibilities involved in applying knowledge and making judgements.

    Present conclusions and the grounds on which they have been reached in a clear and concise manner.

    - Show the learning skills acquired to facilitate further learning requiring a more independent and self-directed approach.


-General Competences:

Succesful students will also be able to:

Master the resources needed for research (languages of scientific interest, efficient information search, use of computer resources).

    Display a capacity for the critical analysis of relevant scientific bibliography in a specific field of study and for the development of research work appropriate to the level demanded by the programme.


-Specific Competences:

With respect to the specific applications of their knowledge, students will be able to:

Show mastery of the principles and methods of linguistics, analytic philosophy and cognitive psychology, in order to apply them to the study of language, while displaying a capacity for critically evaluating the main contemporary contributions of these disciplines.

    Describe linguistic phenomena clearly, capturing all of their complexity and using the necessary level of detail.

    Display a capacity for extracting the logical form of arguments, evaluating their validity and identifying any fallacies or methodological errors, and make critical use of the methods for studying language appropriate to contemporary analytical philosophy (specialization in Logic and Philosophy).

    Gather data and formulate analysis to solve problems in the areas of theoretical linguistics and computational linguistics (specialization in Grammatical Theory and Linguistic Processing).

    Use and evaluate results obtained through the main exploration techniques in neuroscience, correctly design and carry out experimental research in cognitive science, and apply the statistical techniques needed to analyse the results correctly (specialization in Cognitive Processing Models).