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MPhil in Biological Science (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit)

Course Description


- Aims
It is our aim to develop in our students the skills required to submit a satisfactory MPhil thesis at the end of their chosen duration (1 year full time or 2 years part time). In order to achieve this, a student will have acquired the essential skills required to design and conduct experiments (including applying for ethics approval where necessary), to analyse results, and to communicate these both in writing and orally. These skills will include those that can be transferred successfully to their choice of academic or other career.

- Support
The MPhil at the CBU is achieved by supervised research and is under the jurisdiction of the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Biology. The provision of supervision and teaching is overseen by the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Within the CBU, the internal Graduate Committee is responsible for all aspects of the running of the degrees. A suitable project falling within the interests of the supervisor, and sustainable within the limits imposed by the facilities available at the CBU, is agreed by both student and supervisor, and endorsed by the Graduate Committee. Each graduate student has a primary Supervisor, who will supervise the main body of their research, and an Advisor who acts as a supplementary source of advice and support. We also have two pastoral tutors who offer personal support and counselling throughout a student’s time at the Unit.

- Seminars
Students attend a variety of Unit Seminars given by distinguished scientists. They are able to draw from the CBU’s panels of research volunteers, both normal and clinical, and enjoy the benefits of superb computing facilities and support staff, including a Graphics/Multimedia Officer.

- The Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences
CBU students are full members of the Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, which has been jointly established by the Unit and the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. This consists of a weekly series of theoretical seminars presented by senior researchers from the CBU and from the University. Lectures will be held on Mondays 4-5.30pm in the West Wing Seminar Room at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge, CB2 7EF (unless otherwise specified), or at the Psychology department on the Downing Site in Cambridge city centre. Seminars are held during Michaelmas and Lent terms only.
All public talks are publicised on the University talks website, which also contains an archive of older lectures. All scientists at the CBU are expected to attend the two public talk series, held on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

- Facilities and Linkages
The CBU has excellent facilities for experimental behavioural studies involving normal populations and patients with brain damage, as well as institutional links with Addenbrooke’s hospital giving access to various types of patient populations, including stroke and progressive neural degenerative diseases. There is a 3 Tesla MRI scanner on the premises, as well as MEG and EEG facilities. Through its partnership with the University of Cambridge Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, the CBU has excellent access to PET and additional fMRI (3 Tesla) facilities. The CBU also offers state of the art computing facilities, supporting Unix, PC, and Mac platforms, and handling the large volumes of neuro-imaging data as well as extensive computational modelling. All students have their own networked desktop computer, with internet access through JANET.
The Unit’s close links with the University Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry are strengthened through the Cambridge Graduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, a joint programme of termly Seminars given by members of each Department and attended by all graduate students.
The CBU is also an active member of the wider neuroscience community in Cambridge, supported by the Cambridge Neuroscience network.

- Completion on time
For MPhil students a personalised training and research programme will be agreed during the early weeks of the degree.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/blcbmpbsc

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:
• a comprehensive understanding of techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature, applicable to their own research;
• demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical

understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
• shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies;
• demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


There is no automatic progression from a CBU MPhil degree to a CBU PhD. MPhil students will need to apply to be considered for a PhD place alongside all other candidates.


We offer a variety of theoretical and skills based training to support our wide range of topics and streams of research. A personalised training programme will be agreed for each incoming student in the first few weeks of the degree period. This will cover an agreed timetable of attendance at the various seminars, the research project planned, amd the formal review points throughout the degree.

- Feedback
Continuous assessment and supervision. Students can expect to receive an online feedback report each term.

Funding Opportunities

For eligible applicants, several MRC funded studentships are available, which pay the University Composition Fee, and a small but liveable stipend (currently £13,726 p.a.), however it should be noted that this money has never been allocated to an MPhil student as we always have excellent eligible PhD students whose funding takes priority. In reality a MPhil would almost certainly need to be self-funded or have external funding. Hence, independently funded applications are very welcome, and we will also always nominate successful applicants for the various Cambridge University scholarships available, depending on individual eligibility.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Find out how to apply here http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/blcbmpbsc/apply

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/blcbmpbsc

Visit the MPhil in Biological Science (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK II.i Honours Degree. Find University Minimum Academic Requirements here View Website

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