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MSc in Advanced Neuroimaging
UCL Institute of Neurology
Duration of Programme
One calendar year Full-Time (FT)
Two calendar years Part-Time (PT)
This multidisciplinary programme aims to give students a strong working knowledge of neuroanatomy and an in-depth understanding of standard and advanced Neuroimaging techniques for image acquisition, processing and analysis in the diagnosis, treatment and study of a full range of neurological diseases. During their time at Queen Square, students will have the opportunity to contribute to world-leading research and have access to cutting edge Neuroimaging facilities.
In addition, students are given opportunities to develop key skills essential for research, in particular the critical appraisal of journal articles, experimental design and scientific communication. The course appeals particularly, but not exclusively to those from clinical, radiography or physics, biomedical engineering and neuroscience backgrounds who wish to pursue a career in Neuroimaging research.
There are eight modules in total, six taught and two self-directed.
The lecture course is scheduled as below and comprises 6 modules, all of which are compulsory. The Modules are listed below and described in more detail in the Content & Learning Outcomes PDF.
Core Mathematics (CM)
At the end of this module, students will be able to demonstrate understanding of and competence in the basic mathematics of imaging science, such as vectors, matrices, exponential functions, periodic functions, complex numbers and Fourier analysis.
Core IT (CIT)
At the end of this module, the students will understand the basic architecture of modern computer systems, hardware and software.
The students will be able to understand, design and code programs in the Matlab programming environment and relating to the Core Mathematics learning outcomes.
Principles of Image Formation (PIF)
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the basic principles of image formation relevant to modern neuroimaging, the basic concepts of image perception and representation, digital images and basic digital image transformations.
Core Physics (CP)
At the end of this module, students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the necessary background physics required for the remaining course units, including essential wave behaviour, electricity and magnetism, atomic structure and radiation.
Introductory Statistics (S)
Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the basic statistical methods required to carry out independent research in the field of Neuroimaging.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the physical basis of MRI and common MRI sequences used in the clinic and for research. They will also understand and explain the post-processing tools used for MR angiography, such as Maximum Intensity Projection (MIP). Students will demonstrate understanding of instrumentation and safety issues They will also be able to describe the basic aims and principles of quality assurance and quality control applied to image acquisition and image interpretation, to describe test objects and procedures involved in QA and QC, and be able to identify the relevant national and international standards.
Computed Tomography (CT)
At the end of this module the students will be able to understand and describe the physical principles of X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT), scanner technology, dosimetry/safety and simple backprojection for image reconstruction.
Students will be able to understand and explain the processing tools used for CT Angiography (CTA), such as Maximum Intensity Projection (MIP), Shaded Surface Displays (SSD) and 3D reconstruction.
Radionuclide Imaging (RI)
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the theory of radioactive decay and detectors, radiopharmaceuticals and their production, nuclear medicine imaging systems, clinical applications, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) systems.
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)
At the end of this module, the students will understand the origins of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrum, methods of spatial localization and quantitative spectrum analysis strategies. They will be able to describe the main characteristics of spectra from the proton and other NMR visible species and the changes caused by disease.
EEG & MEG (MEEG)
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the basic electrophysiological, physical and technological principles involved in the generation and measurement of Electroencephalography (EEG) / Magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals, the spatio-temporal nature of those signals and to discuss their role in neuroimaging.
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the theoretical principles and clinical applications of Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA), its instrumentation, associated dosimetry issues, the post-processing tools used for it.
At the end of this module the students will be able to describe the theoretical principles of diagnostic ultrasound, instrumentation and signal processing, safety and clinical applications.
Safety aspects of medical imaging
For each of the above modalities, students will be able to describe the safety regulatory framework and governance relevant to clinical and research neuroimaging.
At the end of this module the students will demonstrate understanding of different haemodynamic parameters such a relative Cerebral Blood Volume (rCBV), relative Cerebral Blood Flow (rCBF), Mean Transit Time (MTT) and summary parameters. The student will explain the difference between bolus perfusion techniques (using MR and CT) and Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) and they will also demonstrate understanding of arterial input function and deconvolution analysis.
Diffusion & Structural Connectivity (DSC)
At the end of this module the students will demonstrate an understanding of isotropic and anisotropic diffusion in the brain, of the Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (ADC) and Fractional Anisotropy (FA). They will have an understanding of the b value and how the appearance of grey and white matter and pathological processes are influenced by the choice of b value. They will also be familiar with common artefacts in Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) such as T2-shine through and T2-masking effects. They will demonstrate an understanding of the principles of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and tractography.
Morphology & Volumetry (MV)
At the end of this module, the students will be able to describe the aims of, and methods used to characterize and measure brain shape, and to determine brain volumes based on MRI data. The students will be able to describe some applications from the neuroscience literature, and to perform brain morphometry and volumetry.
Anatomical Data Fusion (ADF)
At the end of this module, the students will be able to will be able to explain the aims of image registration and the basic steps involved in the process, and to describe a number of applications of image registration in neuroscience. The student will be able to perform measurements and or analyses following image registration.
Mapping Brain Activity & Networks (MBAN)
At the end of this module, the students will be able to describe the current understanding of functional activation and the basic mechanisms that underlie its detection using neuroimaging, in particular Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (BOLD fMRI), and to describe applications from the recent neuroscientific literature and in particular some involving multi-modality integration. The students will be able to design a valid fMRI experiment and analyze the resulting data.
Quantitative MR Methods (QMR)
At the end of this module, the students will be able to summarize the theory of Magnetisation Transfer (MT) imaging and MRI relaxometry, and describe relevant pulse sequences and analysis strategies. They will be able to list the technical challenges, likely benefits and the safety concerns for high field MRI.
At the end of this module the students will be able to identify the important anatomic structures of the brain, skull, and spine. They will understand the vascular supply of the head and spine. The student should be gain anatomical knowledge of white matter tracts and the cranial nerve nuclei in the brainstem. They should be able to name pathological processes which commonly involve the brainstem (ischaemia, demyelination, tumours, neurodegenerative disorders) and be familiar with the clinical syndromes caused by lesions in those locations
Physiology and Function (PF)
At the end of this module the students will be able to understand the physiology of the CNS circulation, and the fundamentals of neuronal excitation, EEG generation and functional systems. The student should be familiar with the anatomy of the visual pathways and field defects cause by lesions in specific locations
and be able to name commonly encountered pathology in specific parts of the visual pathway.
Clinical Overview (CO)
Students will be able to describe and explain the clinical presentation of Epilepsy, Tumours and Neurodegeneration in terms of the disruption caused to function within the nervous system.
Peripheral Nerves & Muscular Disease (PNMD)
At the end of this module (or the MSc as a whole) the students will be able to understand the pathophysiology and clinical presentation of peripheral nerves and muscle disorders. They will understand the role of imaging in the clinical setup as well as the role of special techniques such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Magnetisation Transfer (MT) and “quantitative” MT.
Fetal Imaging (FI)
The student will be able to differentiate between the appearances of normal neonatal brains and those with neonatal encephalopathy, neonatal hypoxic-ischaemic injury, seizures or stroke. They will demonstrate an understanding of how, why and when different imaging modalities are used for imaging neonates and they will show an awareness of the relevant safety considerations.
At the end of this module the student will understand the difference between ischaemic and hemorrhagic stroke and their relative frequency. They will understand the main causes of ischaemic stroke in adults and children and be able to identify collateral pathways in the brain and list and understand the main causes of hemorrhagic stroke including differentiating between subarachnoid and intraparenchemal haemorrhage.
The student will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of MRI and CT in differentiating between ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke. They will also be familiar with the time course of the radiological appearance of ischaemic stroke on CT and MRI with particular emphasis on diffusion weighted MRI. They will demonstrate familiarity with ischaemic penumbra and be able to name the neuroradiological technique used to define it. They will demonstrate knowledge about the MR appearances of small vessel disease be familiar with the most important of scoring systems aiming to quantify small vessel disease.
The student will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of invasive and non-invasive vascular imaging techniques (Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), different types of Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)) in the investigation of intra and extra cranial vascular stenosis and be aware of the relative sensitivity of CT and various MR sequences in detecting subarachnoid blood.
Finally, the student will be able to name causes of subarachnoid haemorrhage and have a knowledge of the sensitivity and technical limitations of Digital Subtraction Angiography (DSA), CTA and MRA in detecting cerebral aneurysms cerebral AVMs and cerebral vasospasm.
Inflammation and Infections (II)
At the end of this module the student will be familiar with the clinical forms of multiple sclerosis and typical imaging appearance (Mac Donald criteria). They will be able to identify factors which can cause vasculitis of the cerebral vessel (SLE, TB, drug use). They will be familiar with the common neurological manifestations of AIDS and aware of the changing pattern of Neuro-Aids with the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).
At the end of this module the students will be able to summarise the role of imaging in the clinical setup as well as the role of special techniques such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), perfusion, Magnetisation Transfer (MT), “quantitative” MT (qMT), and spectroscopy.
The student will demonstrate familiarity with the epidemiology & life expectancy associated with head trauma and will be able to describe the clinical consequences, management & treatment of head traumas of different severity. They will be able to list several common mechanisms and patterns of injury in both the head and spine and suggest appropriate imaging techniques which are most useful for different types of trauma.
At the end of this module the student will be able to list the most frequent extra-axial tumours, name congenital conditions associated with extra-axial tumours and name the most frequent intra-axial tumours. They will also demonstrate an understanding of the biological mechanism of glial cell tumours.
Students will be able to identify and differentiate intrinsic low and high-grade, extrinsic, pituitary, orbital, spinal tumours and describe the role of fMRI for surgery planning and post-op follow-up.
The student will gain familiarity with the clinical form of epilepsy and should be able to name a number of neuroradiological findings encountered in patient with epilepsy such as hippocampal sclerosis, cortical heterotopia, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), cavernomas, benign and malignant brain tumours.
At the end of this module the students will be able to understand the role of imaging in the clinical setup as well as the role of special techniques such as Volumetry, Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), perfusion, Magnetisation Transfer (MT), “quantitative Magnetisation Transfer (qMT), and spectroscopy for surgery planning and post-operative imaging.
At the end of this module the student will be able to demonstrate understanding of the cellular mechanism and predominantly affected brain regions in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Multisystem Atrophy (MSA), Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), and olivo-pontocerebellar atrophy. They should also show familiarity with the age of onset and long term prognosis for each of the above diseases.
At the end of this module the students will be able to understand the role of imaging in the clinical setup as well as the role of special techniques such as fluid registration and VBM.
This module includes taught Research Methods sessions (5 credits) during which students will learn practical skills essential for undertaking independent research. Some of the 15 sessions will be taught, while during most students will present and discuss current journal articles relating to Neuroimaging.
The Library Project itself constitutes the remainder of this module (25 credits) and is largely self directed. It is carried out in the Autumn term (and Term 2 for Part Time students). It will provide students with the opportunity to study in depth topical aspects of Advanced Neuroimaging, making use of the extensive library, information and computer database facilities available at the Institute of Neurology and at UCL. A thesis (5,000 words) will be submitted for assessment at the end of the first term.
Literature Search Techniques
Students will have knowledge of, and experience in using, on-line data bases for accessing current knowledge in the medical literature
Students will understand the need for critical review of the scientific literature, in order to assess the experimental and statistical evidence underpinning conclusions.
Written Report (Essay)
Students will know how to distill information from the scientific literature and present it in a concise, informative manner
Students will gain in depth knowledge regarding the state-of-the art in a particular specialist area of advanced Neuroimaging
Students will learn presentation skills through workshops and through presenting their research projects to their peers and supervisors towards the end of the academic year.
A wide range of research topics will be offered at the beginning of the course. The project will be carried out in the Spring and Summer terms, in once of the Institute's modern research laboratories, and supervised directly by Institute research staff. The project will be written up as a full dissertation (10,000 words) and submitted before 1st August for examination by internal and visiting examiners.
Through pursuing their chosen practical project, students will gain in depth knowledge, understanding and practical experience of their chosen research topic area, in addition to:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Research and development methods appropriate to the chosen topic.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
Students will apply theories to chosen practical examples, critically review research literature and draw conclusions from and discuss their results.
Students will apply experimental design and evaluation techniques, collect and analyse data and review literature.
Students will develop skills in the argumentation and communication of ideas and in information-seeking.
Lectures are supported by a series of half-day workshops/practical demonstrations of modern neuroimaging techniques, and students will have access to a mini MRI scanner for self-directed learning.
Students will have to obtain 180 credits to be awarded the MSc degree.
- The six taught modules will each be examined both by one 2-hour written paper (May/June), and by evaluation of students’ participation in workshops throughout the taught modules.
- The Library project module will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay (submitted December) and by evaluation of students’ participation in Research Training sessions run throughout the taught modules.
- The Research project will be assessed by a 10,000 word dissertation and a viva.
- Lectures on Tuesdays & Thursdays for first two terms
- Library Project carried out in first term
- Research Project carried from mid-January until the end of July
- Exams mid January and April/May
- (Science) Lectures on Tuesdays in Year One
- Library Project carried out in first Term
- (Clinical) Lectures on Thursdays in Year Two
- Research Project carried out throughout Year Two
- Exams mid January and April/May in both years
First or second class Honours degree from a UK university or equivalent qualification from a recognized overseas institution, in which the following or related disciplines form major components:
- Clinical Medicine
- Biomedical engineering/Neuroscience/Computer Science
- A qualification in Mathematics to UK Advanced Level (A-Level) or equivalent standard.
- Relevant experience in a field related to neuroradiology and/or medical physics
To read past students experiences of the programme, please navigate through the Prezi below (click 'Start Prezi' and use the left and right arrows to scroll through the presentation).
English Language requirement
be admitted onto this course you must provide recent evidence that your
spoken and written command of the English language is at the required
level. You must achieve at least a standard level of proficiency on the
IELTS English language test or an acceptable equivalent. For more
information please visit UCL's English language requirement page
Internships and Clinical attachments
IXICO is a London based company running Neuroimaging clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. As well as offering research projects, they offer an internship position each year to one or more successful graduates from the MSc in Advanced Neuroimaging*. A paid opportunity, this would provide interns with insight into how current technologies are applied in a commercial setting, advancing the drug development process particularly in Alzheimer’s Disease. There are also opportunities for clinicians on the programme to undertake a four month specialist attachment in the final months of their studies.
*after a selection process
Fees and Bursaries
Three £2000 bursaries are available to Home/EU students (awarded on academic merit based on applications/references provided). Course fees and funding opportunities can be found using the links below.
Closing date for applications: 1st August 2014
Contact: ion.educationunit [at] ucl.ac.uk