Students at the Gatsby Unit study toward a PhD in either Theoretical Neuroscience or Machine Learning, with minor emphasis in the complementary field. Collaborative projects, for example with an experimental neuroscience group at UCL or elsewhere, are welcome, although the primary project supervisor should be one of the Gatsby (or adjunct) staff.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2018/19)
- £5,060 (FT)
- £23,540 (FT)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.
Applicants must have a strong analytical background, a keen interest in neuroscience or machine learning and a relevant first degree at a munimum of upper second-class UK Bachelor's level or an overseas equivalent, for example in Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Physics, Psychology or Statistics. Students seeking to combine work in neuroscience and machine learning are particularly encouraged to apply.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
The Gatsby Unit is a world-class centre for theoretical neuroscience and machine learning. We provide a unique opportunity for a critical mass of theoreticians to interact closely with each other and with other world-class research groups across UCL. Teaching is supplemented with regular research talks, journal clubs and reading groups, extensive seminar programmes and participation in international conferences. As a student you will have ready access to all members of academic staff, not just your immediate supervisors. It is expected that most students will go on to postdoctoral positions in institutions across the world although some may take up posts in industry as senior research scientists or similar.
- Analysis of neural data
- Neural dynamics
- Perceptual processing of auditory and visual input
- Population coding
- Reinforcement learning
- Statistical machine learning
- Unsupervised learning
A number of competitive fully-funded studentships are available each year. These cover payments of full fees, provide a generous stipend and are available to students of any nationality.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Most of our graduates go on to postdoctoral positions in academia, although a few students have been known to take up medicine or senior positions in industry. Recent graduates have taken up research posts at institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Princeton, Berkeley, the Peabody Institute at Harvard, Colorado, and École normale supérieure Paris and organisations including Microsoft Research and the Wellcome Trust.
Recent career destinations for this degree
- Post-Doctoral Researcher, UCL
- Research Scientist, Google DeepMind
- Sir Henry Wellcome Post-Doctoral Fellow, Wellcome Trust
Our students are extremely well trained - we offer a very intense, and very rigorous, programme. They therefore tend to get good jobs; over 90% of our graduate students get postdoctoral positions, and then tend to go on to academic positions.
There are significant networking opportunities both within and external to the Gatsby Unit. Within the Unit there are daily tea talks where members take turns to prepare a ten-minute talk to other members of the unit. The unit also holds regular weekly seminars to which eminent speakers are invited; these are open to other members of the university and there is an opportunity to meet speakers and attendees after the talk. The Gatsby Unit schedule can be viewed online. Students also run their own reading groups and all students have the opportunity to attend relevant conferences and other international events.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
Why study this degree at UCL?
This programme provides a unique opportunity for a critical mass of theoreticians to interact closely with each other, including from computer science, science, functional imaging, physics, physiology, psychology, neurology, ophthalmology, statistical science, with the cross-faculty Gatsby Unit, the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour and also with other UK and overseas universities.
Department: Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
Student / staff numbers
› 5 staff
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.
Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit
83% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
This PhD programme lasts for four years, including a first year of intensive instruction in techniques and research in theoretical neuroscience and machine learning. We only admit new students starting in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed below) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. All applications for this programme must be made directly to the Gatsby Unit. Please refer to all information on the Gatsby Unit website for how to apply.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now