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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

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


We offer a variety of theoretical, skills-based, and clinical science training to support our wide range of topics and streams of research. A personalised training programme will be developed for each incoming student early in the degree period. This will include attendance at the various seminars (some mandatory as considered core research skills) and will take into account the particular research project planned.

One to one supervision

An MPhil at the CBU is achieved via supervised research which falls under the jurisdiction of the Degree Committee for the School of Clinical Medicine. The provision of supervision and teaching is overseen by the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences. Within the CBU, the internal Postgraduate Education Committee is responsible for all aspects of the running of the postgraduate programme. A suitable project falling within the interests of the supervisor, and sustainable within the limits imposed by the facilities available at the CBU and the funded duration, is agreed by both student and supervisor, and endorsed by members of the Postgraduate Education Committee.

Each postgraduate student benefits from a supervisory team which is made up of a primary supervisor, who supervises the main body of their research, and an adviser who acts as a supplementary source of advice and support. Where it benefits the science, students and their supervisors are additionally encouraged to seek further support in the form of a second supervisor or additional adviser, which can be drawn from other Cambridge departments. We also have two pastoral tutors who offer personal and emotional support throughout a student’s time at the CBU, and a mentoring scheme, through which postgraduate students can be paired with a postdoctoral researcher as another helpful source of inspiration and guidance.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision for both postgraduates and their supervisor.

Seminars & classes

Students attend a variety of Unit seminars (Wednesday Lunchtime and Chaucer Club) given by distinguished CBU and Cambridge, as well as UK and international, scientists.

The Cambridge Postgraduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences

CBU students are members of the Cambridge Postgraduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, which was jointly established by the Unit and the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. The programme comprises a weekly series of theoretical and practical seminars presented by senior researchers from the CBU and the University. Attendance is compulsory for CBU first year postgraduates. The content of the course varies from one year to the next but tends to include a mixture of lectures covering basic cognitive neuroscience content (e.g. memory, intelligence, language), methods (e.g. MR physics) and professional issues and skills (e.g. How to give a good talk).

In recent years, we have been extremely fortunate to be able to incorporate Amy Orben’s “Robust Behavioural Science" seminars which covers many aspects of open science, including the philosophy of science and the replication crisis.

Details of the Seminar programme are updated annually, with relevant information communicated by email via the “Camgrads+” mailing list.



Students can expect to receive feedback on a termly basis. The CBU monitor these reports to ensure any issues are addressed in a timely manner. The supervisor will provide written feedback to the student each term with progress reports submitted online. The feedback will relate to the progress the student has made on their research project. This will be discussed with the student in advance of the submission of the report to the University. 


Thesis / Dissertation

The course is examined by thesis and oral examination (viva) on the thesis and on the general field of knowledge within which it falls. The thesis must be no longer than 20,000 words in length, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices, and must satisfy the internal and external examiner that the candidate can design and carry out an original investigation, assess and interpret the results obtained, and place the work in the wider perspective of the subject.

Key Information

12 months full-time

2 years part-time

Master of Philosophy

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Dec. 1, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

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

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 1, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.

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