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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

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

The more academics I talk to, the more I realise just how special the Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit is. What could be better than designated tea times twice a day and celebrating Tuesday with copious amounts of cake? If I had to describe the CBU in a single word, it would be ‘warm’. From the moment I walked in the door I have always felt genuinely welcomed and supported by staff and students at all career stages. Being able to talk openly with PhD students, post-docs, programme leaders, and a wide variety of technical staff is one of the highlights of working here. It has given me the confidence to be curious and explore new ideas.

Dementia research is a topic which has always had my heart and, though it hasn’t always been easy, the mix of a supportive work environment and area of study I genuinely love means I’m always excited to come in on a Monday. Granted sometimes I want to throw my laptop out of the nearest window (who doesn’t?) but at the CBU I’m always confident I’ll pick it back up again. Maybe after a tea break.

Rebecca Williams (April 2023)

When I started the PhD program at the CBU, I constantly heard that the Unit is a special place to belong to. It is not a common occurrence that the heart of a world-class research Unit lies inside an old Victorian house with a nice garden. And even though the Unit houses about 150 members, you soon feel like you are all one big family. You meet all your fellow students during an Annual Graduate Retreat. And you meet everyone else in the large common room during coffee breaks, in the garden for games and barbeques and when you participate in the Unit’s long-held tradition of a Christmas pantomime!

What continues to amaze me is how graduate student training is the main driver of the Unit’s operations. As a student here, I had the opportunity to be supervised and interact with some of the leading experts in my field. Many of my projects involved utilising a new type of MRI-based brain imaging pipeline that was never tried in Cambridge before. A dedicated MRI-methods team helped me set up the MRI sequences and the unit’s IT team helped to resolve unexpected technical issues. In hindsight, it all went smoothly, but I only realised later that I was lucky to have had this level of support and access to many cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience tools all under one roof.

Living in Cambridge is also fun. When I first moved here (from a metropolitan city) I thought I would be bored. But to my surprise, the University’s Colleges had several events running almost every day, from parties to talks from world leaders to sports societies …. The list is long and I quickly had no time to attend many events. Not to mention that London is only a one-hour train ride away!

The unit has always placed a special emphasis on the students’ mental well-being, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were never short of help channels even during those challenging times.

It thus no longer surprises me that many of the founding pioneers, as well as previous and current leaders in the fields of human psychology and neuroscience, were affiliated with the CBU at some point in their careers. The Unit's world-class research and mentoring continue to be a magnet for the best minds. Now that I have just completed my PhD, I can confidently tell anyone that this Unit is indeed a special place.

Moataz Assem (November 2020)

Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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