BSc Edinburgh 1970, MB ChB 1973.
Cowie held registrar positions in Edinburgh and Glasgow before being appointed senior registrar in neurosurgery at the Midland Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology and honorary lecturer at Birmingham University. In 1983 Cowie was appointed consultant neurosurgeon for Salford Health Authority at Hope Hospital and the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Pendlebury. He was also honorary associate lecturer in neurosurgery at the University of Manchester. Cowie was a member of many societies including the Society of British Neurological Surgeons and the North of England Neurological Association.