MSc by Research in Integrative Neuroscience

Elective courses

Elective courses run on two half days a week (usually Monday afternoon and Friday morning), making up 20% of the taught component. Students choose these according to their preferences.

Elective courses are a tool to give you a deeper insight into the concepts and methodology of a specific field of interest.

Elective course availability will be subject to student numbers. While every attempt will be made to allocate you to your preferred elective course choices, where demand is high, we cannot guarantee this.

You should check course details for timetabling information and location as courses are taught at a number of sites across the University.

Currently, five electives offering specialisation in the following topics are available:

Developmental Neurobiology

The developmental neurobiology elective is designed for students with a background in developmental neurobiology and for newcomers to the field.

The introductory sessions provide background to key areas of developmental neurobiology centred around the textbook ‘Building Brains 2’ which is available to students online. The research lecture sessions then go into more depth into current developmental neurobiology research being carried out in Edinburgh. 

This elective is organised by Dr. Tom Pratt and Dr. Martine Manuel.

Dr Tom Pratt

Dr Martine Manuel

Neural Dynamics

  • How do brains produce phenomena such as memory, perception of space, and coordinated movement?
  • What causes disorders of brain function such as autism and schizophrenia?

Many of the answers to these questions are likely to come from understanding the dynamics of activity in neuronal circuits in terms of the properties of individual neurons and their organisation into networks through local and long range connections.

This course provides an introduction to key concepts and state-of-the-art experimental approaches required for experimental investigation of neural dynamics at cellular and circuit levels.

Topics include:

  • principles underlying neural excitability and synaptic physiology
  • circuit organisation and dynamics
  • state-of-the-art methods for observation and manipulation of neuronal activity.

This elective is organised by Prof Matthew Nolan and Prof Ian Duguid.

Prof Matthew Nolan

Prof Ian Duguid

Neurodegeneration & Regeneration

The purpose of this elective is to introduce students to contemporary methods and techniques used to study questions regarding neurodegeneration, regeneration, tumour growth, and the role of the immune system during these processes.

Lectures and practicals will focus on the use of mouse, zebrafish, and stem cell strategies for modelling neurological diseases, as well as the development of new strategies for generating progenitor/stem cells for cell-based therapies.

You are offered the opportunity to design and discuss research proposals to address questions related to the taught subject.

This elective is organised by Dr Dirk Sieger and Dr Julie Mazzolini.

Dr Dirk Sieger

Dr Julie Mazzolini

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Changes to how the brain develops during early life lead to a variety of neurodiverse outcomes, such as autism, intellectual disability, and attentional problems. These neurodevelopmental disorders may be associated with features such as epilepsy, sensory sensitivity, and altered social interaction.

Many neurodevelopmental disorders have a genetic basis, which allows a direct path to understand behaviour and potential therapy of these deleterious features.

This elective highlights research being undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, which examines how changes to genes can lead to altered synaptic, cellular, circuit, and behavioural function in neurodevelopmental disorders.

You will attend seminars from researchers using cutting edge techniques to understand neurodevelopmental disorders and potential therapies, then present recent research in the field to your peers.

This elective is organised by Dr. Sally Till and Dr Sam Booker.

Dr Sally Till

Dr Sam Booker

Neuroimaging for graduate neuroscientists

This elective is delivered online with a focus on:

  • neuroimaging techniques basics
  • modality overviews
  • practicalities & safety
  • applications in neurological diseases, primarily with a research focus.

Modules cover the techniques and physics of radiation based, and magnetic resonance based imaging acquisition, plus how these basic physics principles translate into modern neuroimaging modalities.

You will learn how these imaging techniques are applied in research into common neurological diseases and receive a week of timetabled teaching on systematic literature reviews.

You will learn through online lectures, required readings from the University library, and multiple choice questions to re-enforce learning objectives, supported by online discussion boards.

Activities, which will run in parallel to the didactic components, will include individual work, peer review, as well as group and tutor engagement, with a view to exploring taught concepts in greater detail.

This elective is organised by Professor Andrew Farrall.

Professor Andrew Farrall