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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Cognitive Neurosciences is no longer accepting new applications.


Our comprehensive curriculum not only focuses on in-depth knowledge of cognitive neuroscience but also equips you with valuable transferable skills that will empower you throughout your academic and professional journey.

The core of our teaching takes the form of approximately 20 hours of lectures on current topics in cognitive neuroscience. These lectures will cover a wide range of fascinating areas, including memory, perception, attention, hearing, language, and the translation of fundamental research into mental health, affective disorders, ageing, and childhood development. Alongside this formal teaching, you'll have the chance to engage with prominent external speakers through an additional 20 hours of invigorating seminars hosted by the CBU. 

Technical training is central to our course, and includes a comprehensive training in advanced methodological approaches in neuroimaging, with approximately 40 hours of specialised lectures and hands-on training sessions. You'll explore topics such as magnetic resonance physics, diffusion imaging, functional magnetic resonance imaging, graph theory, positron emission tomography, electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, effective connectivity, brain simulation techniques, and multiple analytic pipelines and tools, including multi-voxel pattern analysis. This broad coverage of methodologies will equip you with the tools needed to conduct your own groundbreaking research in cognitive neuroscience. 

In addition to this core taught material, we offer approximately 30 hours of transferable skills training, drawing from modules provided by the popular Postgraduate Researcher Development program. This training will cover essential aspects such as slide and poster design principles, effective delivery of scientific oral and poster presentations, and honing your writing skills. You will also benefit from the biostatistics training delivered by the Bioinformatics Training facility and Bioinformatics initiative from the Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery. This will provide a good grounding in contemporary statistical approaches, relevant to cognitive neuroscience and pitched at the appropriate level. Additionally, you will receive approximately 16 hours of training in Open Science and reproducibility through enrollment in the highly regarded robust Behavioural Science course, delivered in-house by the CBU.

The taught material will be thoughtfully structured, with a focus on front-loading the content into Michaelmas term and the start of Lent term, allowing you to establish a solid foundation before embarking on your research projects. Other course elements - like journal clubs and external seminars - will be delivered through a series of weekly sessions throughout the year, ensuring a steady flow of knowledge and engagement.


One to one supervision

32 per year

Seminars & classes

48 per year


80 per year

Small group teaching

36 per year

Journal clubs

10 per year


Students will have a termly meeting with one of the course directors, and direct feedback from their research supervisor during their 32 week research project. Students will also receive formal feedback on their research proposal in the first term. In the second term they will receive feedback on their biostatistics exam and their written 'perspectives' piece. In the third term they will receive feedback on their oral presentation, poster presentation and dissertation.



Thesis / Dissertation

The assessment structure for the course is divided into three parts, each of which will make up 33% of the overall degree mark. 

Your research dissertation (thesis) encompasses Section 2 (the literature review - 33%) and Section 3 (the analysis and write-up - 33%) -- in total, 66% of your overall mark. These two dissertation components will enable you to showcase the different academic and scientific skills you have learned. They will evaluate your grasp of the subject matter and your ability to apply your knowledge in a research context. 

In Section 2, you will undertake a comprehensive literature review of the field. This review, with a maximum word limit of 5000 words, will serve as a foundation for your research project, providing essential background information and contextualising the significance of your chosen area of study. Your literature review will be assessed based on the depth of your research, your critical analysis, and your ability to synthesise and present the information effectively. This assignment will contribute to 33% of your final mark, highlighting its importance in demonstrating your understanding of the field and your ability to engage with relevant academic literature.

In Section 3, you will focus on presenting the outcomes of your research project. This component, accounting for another 33% of your final mark, will require you to articulate the aims, methods, results, data analysis, and discussion of your project within a maximum word limit of 5000 words. You will showcase your research skills, analytical thinking, and ability to draw meaningful conclusions from your data. This assessment emphasises your ability to communicate your findings effectively, highlighting the significance of your research within the broader context of cognitive neuroscience.

These assessments not only allow you to demonstrate your academic abilities but also provide an opportunity for you to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Both sections will be evaluated by experienced faculty members who will assess your work based on its quality, originality, and scientific rigour.


Section 1 (33% of your mark) includes s a written "Perspectives" piece, as well as the four assessments described below. In this assignment, you will have the opportunity to compare and contrast three papers on any topic in cognitive neuroscience, allowing you to delve into a specific area and provide a detailed overview of the different perspectives and approaches within the chosen field. Your written piece, with a word limit of 2000 words, will showcase your ability to critically evaluate and synthesise complex scientific literature.

Written examination

Section 1 also includes two short written exams (contributing equally to the 33% of your mark made up by Section 1)

(1) Biostatistics assessment, taking place towards the end of the first term, and evaluating the understanding and application of key biostatistical concepts. This assessment will test your ability to analyse and interpret data effectively.

(2) Multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam: You will also undertake an MCQ exam consisting of one question per lecture from the cognitive neuroscience lecture series. This exam will require you to showcase your breadth of knowledge, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the topics covered throughout the course. You will attempt all 20 questions (one per lecture).


Two additional assessments comprise Section 1 (again contributing equally to the 33% of your mark made up by Section 1):

(3) Oral seminar-style presentation: During the Lent term, you will deliver an engaging oral presentation on a laboratory or analytical method that has significantly impacted the field of cognitive neuroscience. This presentation will highlight your research and presentation skills, as well as your ability to communicate complex scientific concepts effectively.

(4) Poster presentation: As an integral part of the research project, you will present your findings with a poster presentation. Marks for this presentation will be awarded based on the layout of your poster, the clarity with which you present your data, and your overall ability to deliver a clear and engaging oral presentation of your poster. Note that the assessment of the poster presentation will focus on honing your scientific presentation skills (rather than the scientific content itself).

By employing this multimodal assessment approach, we aim to evaluate not only your knowledge and understanding but also your critical thinking abilities, research capabilities, and presentation skills. This assessment framework ensures that your progress and development as a cognitive neuroscientist are effectively recognised. We believe that assessment is not only a means of evaluating your performance but also an opportunity for you to showcase your unique skills and abilities. We are committed to providing you with constructive feedback and support throughout your journey, enabling you to grow and excel in the field of cognitive neuroscience.



Key Information

10 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
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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