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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Medical Science (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit) is no longer accepting new applications.


It is our aim to develop in our students the skills required to submit a satisfactory MPhil thesis at the end of their chosen duration (one year full-time or two years part-time). To achieve this, a student will have acquired the essential skills required to design and conduct experiments (including applying for ethics approval where necessary), to analyse results, and to communicate these both in writing and orally. These skills will include those that can be transferred successfully to their choice of academic or other career.


An MPhil at the CBU is achieved by supervised research and is under the jurisdiction of the Degree Committee for the School of Clinical Medicine. The provision of supervision and teaching is overseen by the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Within the CBU, the internal Graduate Committee is responsible for all aspects of the running of the degrees. A suitable project falling within the interests of the supervisor, and sustainable within the limits imposed by the facilities available at the CBU, is agreed by both student and supervisor, and endorsed by the Graduate Committee. Each graduate student has a primary supervisor, who will supervise the main body of their research, and an adviser who acts as a supplementary source of advice and support. We also have two pastoral tutors who offer personal support and counselling throughout a student’s time at the Unit.


Students attend a variety of Unit seminars given by distinguished scientists. They are able to draw from the CBU’s panels of research volunteers, both normal and clinical, and enjoy the benefits of superb computing facilities and support staff, including a graphics and multimedia officer.

The Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences

CBU students are full members of the Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, which has been jointly established by the Unit and the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. This consists of a weekly series of theoretical seminars presented by senior researchers from the CBU and from the University. Lectures will be held on Mondays at 4–5.30pm in the West Wing Seminar Room at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 7EF (unless otherwise specified), or at the Psychology department on the Downing Site in Cambridge city centre. Seminars are held during Michaelmas and Lent terms only.

All public talks are publicised on the University talks website, which also contains an archive of older lectures. All scientists at the CBU are expected to attend the two public talk series, held on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Facilities and Linkages

The CBU has excellent facilities for experimental behavioural studies involving normal populations and patients with brain damage, as well as institutional links with Addenbrooke’s hospital giving access to various types of patient populations, including stroke and progressive neural degenerative diseases. There is a 3 Tesla MRI scanner on the premises, as well as MEG and EEG facilities. Through its partnership with the University of Cambridge Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, the CBU has excellent access to PET and additional fMRI (3 Tesla) facilities. The CBU also offers state of the art computing facilities, supporting Unix, PC, and Mac platforms, and handling the large volumes of neuro-imaging data as well as extensive computational modelling. All students have their own networked desktop computer, with internet access through JANET.

The Unit’s close links with the University Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry are strengthened through the Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, a joint programme of termly seminars given by members of each Department and attended by all graduate students.

The CBU is also an active member of the wider neuroscience community in Cambridge, supported by the Cambridge Neuroscience network.

Completion on time

For MPhil students a personalised training and research programme will be agreed during the early weeks of the degree.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:

  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature, applicable to their own research;
  • demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
  • shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies; and
  • demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


There is no automatic progression from a CBU MPhil degree to a CBU PhD. MPhil students will need to apply to be considered for a PhD place alongside all other candidates.

Key Information

12 months full-time

2 years part-time

Master of Philosophy

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
June 28, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2019

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 5, 2018
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 10, 2018

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