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Psychiatry MScR

Course Description

Research profile

Our Division of Psychiatry is internationally recognised as a world-class clinical research and teaching centre.

We focus on the mechanisms underlying the development of major psychiatric disorders, especially psychosis.

Expertise and studies

We have a particular expertise in longitudinal, clinical and biological studies of large cohorts of people at high risk of psychosis drawn from across Scotland. Our studies include:

the Edinburgh High Risk Study, which examines 200 young people at high genetic risk of schizophrenia over a period of ten years
the Edinburgh Study of Co-Morbidity, which examines teenagers at high cognitive risk for schizophrenia
the Bipolar High Risk Study, which examines over 200 young people at familial risk of bipolar disorder and controls
In psychiatric genetics, we take part in international genome wide association studies and focus on analyses of candidate genes including DISC-1, GRIK-4, ABCA13 and NPA3 3.

We also have a major focus on the functional genetics of psychiatric illness and have investigated the effects of variation in genes such as NRG1 and DISC1 on brain structure and function, as well as their programming during development.

We have demonstrated, for the first time, that structural and functional MRI changes precede the onset of psychosis and could be used as a diagnostic aid.

We have also demonstrated that it is possible to separate, using imaging, autism from learning disability in people of matched IQ.

We have made substantial progress in the discovery of genes, including DISC-1, associated with psychosis and have played a leading role in understanding how genetic variation alters brain structure and function and risk for mental illness.

Research methods:
The principal methods used are state-of-the-art structural and functional imaging techniques and genetic studies. We are also involved in a number of clinical trials of novel therapeutic interventions.

The Sackler Image Analysis Laboratory in the Division of Psychiatry has developed innovative methods of analysis of structural and functional imaging and we are involved in several multi-centre brain imaging initiatives.

Major disease targets:
Our major disease targets (that straddle the disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry) include:

Autism and learning disability (Andrew Stanfield)
Bipolar disorder and depression (Andrew McIntosh)
Schizophrenia and personality disorder (Jeremy Hall, Stephen Lawrie)

The Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

The Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences is an interdisciplinary group that comprises two divisions:

-Division of Psychiatry
-Division of Clinical Neurosciences

Training and support

Postgraduate students are mentored and supported by at least two supervisors and receive longer term guidance from their Thesis Committee.

The University offers a wide-ranging transferable skills programme and the Division provides clinical case demonstrations and specialist seminars.


We offer well-characterised cohorts of patients and expertise in a wide variety of techniques to study biological aspects of psychiatric disorders.

Visit the Psychiatry MScR page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

The minimum entry requirement for our research programmes is an undergraduate degree, with an excellent or very good classification (equivalent to first or upper second class honours in the UK). For some non-UK applicants the entry requirement is a Masters degree. Please check the entry requirements by country.

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