Postgraduate study

Neuroscience (Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences) PhD, MScR

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

The Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences (CDBS) carries out research at molecular, cellular, systems and behavioural levels to understand fundamental mechanisms and pathways relevant to brain and body function in health and disease.

CDBS investigators exploit rapid advances in the enabling technologies available from genomics, proteomics, imaging, informatics, and in-vivo analysis to understand the function of gene products at the cell, organ and whole-animal level, and to understand cognition and behaviour at the systems, circuit, cellular and molecular level.

They also exploit the most appropriate model organisms/systems to investigate the delicate balance between high biomedical relevance (for example human, mouse, rat) and high genetic power (such as C. elegans, drosophila and zebrafish).

Research encompasses the study of the central and peripheral nervous systems, at multiple levels of analysis, from the molecular and cellular levels through to cognitive neuroscience, brain imaging, and behavioural neuroscience.

PhD

We normally have about 20 Neuroscience PhD students on this programme at any given time, plus others on the Wellcome Trust Translational Neuroscience PhD programme.

Postgraduate students carry out their studies within a research group under the supervision of an academic staff member (their ‘primary’ supervisor). In addition, students are assigned a personal PhD thesis committee comprising their primary supervisor, one or more assistant supervisors and a thesis committee chair, who provide advice and mentoring, and monitor progress. Supervisors maintain the highest standards of research training with a strong research output in leading international journals.

Students attend research seminars and are strongly encouraged to attend generic skills training programmes provided by the Institute of Academic Development. Students have the opportunity to act as demonstrators for undergraduate teaching. In their first year, some students may also have the opportunity of participating in relevant taught modules of a number of associated MSc courses.

All students are encouraged to present their findings at national and international conferences and to publish their findings in international journals, in advance of submission of their PhD theses for examination.

Before you submit an online application, you should have already been in contact with a potential future supervisor and have agreed on a research proposal.

Note that the application links on this page should not be used for the Wellcome Trust Translational Neuroscience PhD programme. See the Edinburgh Neuroscience website for further information:

MSc by Research

The MSc by Research Neuroscience is a full-time 1-year research project done under the supervision of a CDBS Researcher. This programme has no formally taught component and is therefore only suitable for highly motivated students with a clear idea of their research interests and goals, with significant theoretical or practical knowledge of a chosen field. An MSc by full-time research provides an excellent training in laboratory research and a strong grounding for further study at the level of PhD.

MSc by Research Neuroscience students will work full-time on their research project with the additional option of taking selected transferable skills courses. Each student will have two supervisors. After 3 months study a short presentation and report of completed and proposed work will be made to the supervisors, and at the end of the year a dissertation will be submitted and assessed for the award of MSc.

If you're interested in applying for the MSc by Research Neuroscience please see "the how to apply" section on the right.

Note that this programme is different from “MSc by Research in Integrative Neuroscience” as the latter contains formal taught elements – for information on that programme please visit:

Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment to facilitate their research objectives. These are located both within the Central area campus and at the Little France campus. Extensive collaborations exist with the wider biomedical and clinical communities helping ensure you are supported in a world-class research environment.

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

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: 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

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

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.

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

The MSc by Research Neuroscience has additional programme costs of £5,000.

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:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDNeuroscience (Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences)3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDNeuroscience (Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences)6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScRNeuroscience (Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences)1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScRNeuroscience (Biomedical Sciences - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences)2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences
  • 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

  • Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences
  • 1 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JZ