Postgraduate study

Cognitive & Neural Systems

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Cognitive & Neural Systems

The scientific goal of the Centre of Cognitive and Neural Systems (CCNS) is to understand information processing by the central and peripheral nervous systems, at several different levels of analysis, from cognitive psychology through cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging, behavioural neuroscience and neuropharmacology, and extending to theoretical models of neuronal networks.

Members of the CCNS are divided into different research groups with a focus on:

  • human cognitive neuroscience (including ageing)
  • the neurobiology of learning, memory and plasticity (focusing on hippocampus and cortex)
  • the processing of nociceptive somatosensory information, cerebrovascular physiology and pharmacology
  • the consequences of drug action, including drugs of abuse

Although the CCNS is hosted by the School of Biomedical Sciences, its membership is drawn from several different Schools across all three Colleges.

There are typically between 10 and 15 PhD students in the CCNS.

During their studies, postgraduate students are assigned a personal thesis committee, which monitors progress.

Students attend seminars and the generic skills training programme provided by the Life Sciences Graduate Programme.

Postgraduates can often act as demonstrators for undergraduate teaching.

Students are strongly encouraged to present their findings at national and international conferences and to publish their findings in international journals during their postgraduate training.

The CCNS is based at the Central Campus, and has excellent facilities for cognitive and systems neuroscience, including human cognitive neuroscience and functional MRI facilities, rodent surgical facilities, testing rooms for water mazes, event arenas, single unit recording in freely moving rodents, in vivo and in vitro (slice) electrophysiological recording, histology, confocal microscopy and wet-lab facilities.

We also offer expertise and facilities for functional imaging in animals and excellent genetic models of CNS diseases. Molecular and cellular analysis of cell death and plasticity underpin in vivo investigating.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

For detailed information on fee status, policies and payment see:

There are no additional research costs for scholarship and studentship holders, but others may be charged up to £8,000 per annum.

You will be responsible for securing funding to cover all your tuition fees, additional fees and living costs for the duration of your studies. For guidelines on living costs see:

  • School of Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Edinburgh
  • 1 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JZ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Before making your application, you must make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss your research proposal. Further information on making a research degree application can be found on the College website:

You will be formally interviewed (in person, by video-conferencing or Skype).

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Edinburgh
  • 1 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JZ