This Letter presents a search at the LHC for s-channel single top-quark production in proton-proton collisions at a centre-of-mass energy of 8 TeV. The analyzed data set was recorded by the ATLAS detector and corresponds to an integrated luminosity of 20.3 fb(-1). Selected events contain one charged lepton, large missing transverse momentum and exactly two b-tagged jets. A multivariate event classifier based on boosted decision trees is developed to discriminate s-channel single top-quark events from the main background contributions. The signal extraction is based on a binned maximum-likelihood fit of the output classifier distribution. The analysis leads to an upper limit on the s-channel single topquark production cross-section of 14.6 pb at the 95% confidence level. The fit gives a cross-section of sigma(s) = 5.0 +/- 4.3 pb, consistent with the Standard Model expectation. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.