MPhil/PhD in Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences


Information about Research in the Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences Research Department

Research focuses on behaviour and its neural underpinnings and covers behavioural neuroscience, perceptual and cognitive sciences and cognitive neuroscience. Members of the research department are directly involved in several research centres and institutes including the ESRC Deafness, Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre, the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience (IBN), the Birkbeck/UCL Centre for Neuroimaging (BUCNI) and the Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology (CoMPLEX). Research facilities available to members of staff comprise state-of-the-art equipment for most types of behavioural research, scanning facilities (MRI), eye- and motion-tracking facilities as well as TMS facilities.

For more information about the Research Department, including a list of members of staff and their research interests, please see  


General Information about Studying for an MPhil/PhD in our Division

The MPhil/PhD programme commences in late September/early October for full-time students.  UCL regulations require that initial registration is for the MPhil degree until the student upgrades to a PhD candidate in their second year.

First year students take a range of courses designed to equip them for research. including two Masters-level modules relevant to their thesis work, a course in either Statistics or Qualitative Methods, and a research methods seminar.  These are designed to help them develop key research skills such as the ability to critically evaluate the literature in an area or to perform advanced statistical analyses.  Second year students are expected to upgrade to PhD candidates through a combination of a written submission and an oral presentation of the work completed to date.  The full-time PhD typically lasts for 3 years, including the time registered as an MPhil student, and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Students for 1 additional year. The Division is assessed on how many PhD students finish on time.

For the duration of the PhD, a research student works with a staff member who is their principal supervisor, responsible for directing their research training.  A second supervisor also provides additional guidance and monitors progress.

Information on part-time study for a research degree can be found below.


What do people do with a MPhil/PhD in Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences?

Many students who complete a PhD in the department stay in academia, either going on to become postdoctoral researchers or research assistants, and ultimately lecturers. Some go on to further training in fields such as clinical psychology, educational psychology, consultancy or applied research. A PhD degree taken here is recognised both nationally and internationally as a qualification of the highest status.

Further Information

Please click on the links below for further information:


Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences
Postgraduate Tutor Dr Sam Solomon
Postgraduate Secretary Antonietta Esposito


Q: What are the fees for the research programmes?

Please go to this link here for more details for fees for 2011-2012/


Perhaps the biggest impediment to doing a PhD is obtaining funding.  In recent years, the UK research councils have dramatically reduced the money available to support PhD students.  As a result, an increasing number of students join the department having found their own external funding. Self-funded students, however, can only be admitted on a full-time basis if they can provide evidence that they will have sufficient funds to support themselves for a minimum of three years.

UK/EU Students

The only Research Council currently supporting PhDs in our department is the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  PhD projects would need to meet the ESRC remit and the student would need to meet the relevant residency requirements.

As an additional source of funding open to UK/EU and international students, sometimes the Division is able to award Demonstratorships. These are awarded for four years and include a stipend and tuition fees in return for teaching or demonstrating for 180 hours per year.

Individual members of staff may sometimes be able to support students with the help of research funds that they have obtained from the Research Councils or from various charities or other funding bodies. In this latter case, students usually enrol on a part-time basis. UCL also awards a small number of Graduate School Research Scholarships on a competitive basis.

Overseas Students
There are several sources of funding available for overseas students to undertake graduate training in the UK. Some funding is awarded on a competitive basis by UCL to students nominated by their Departments (e.g. UCL Overseas Research Scholarships). Other sources of funding require students to apply independently, (e.g. British Council, Commonwealth, Chevening, WHO and NATO Scholarships, Government or Employers' Schemes). It is important to make early enquiries about these independent schemes (up to a year in advance).

Part Time

Details about part time study for a MPhil/PhD programme

The Division offers the MPhil/PhD programme on a part-time basis, although the majority of students register on a full-time basis. The academic criteria and selection process are identical to those for the full-time PhD.

The programme of study for a part-time PhD may be completed in a minimum of 3 years although it typically lasts for 5 years.  If the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Students for 2 additional years. The Division is assessed on how many PhD students finish on time.

Candidates are expected to work no less than 50% of full-time on the PhD project for the duration of the PhD. Part-time PhD students need to demonstrate that they will be able to actively pursue the PhD project throughout the relevant period, and will have sufficient time and commitment to sustain the amount of research activity needed to complete their studies. For many part-time PhD students, the PhD project is linked to employment on a funded research project involving the supervisor.

Application Deadline

Part-time PhD applications are considered in a single annual round. The deadline for applications is 30 June, and the programme starts in late September/early October.