Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit


PhD programme

Applications for 2023 entry are now open!

Applications must be submitted to us directly via our online portal by 13 November 2022.

PhD in Theoretical Neuroscience and Machine Learning

The four-year PhD programme includes in its first year intensive courses that provide a comprehensive introduction to theoretical and systems neuroscience and machine learning (see Teaching). Multidisciplinary training in other areas of neuroscience is also available. We offer a supportive and interdisciplinary environment with close links to the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviours (SWC) and the ELLIS Unit at UCL. Students are strongly encouraged to work and interact closely with peers and faculty at SWC and the ELLIS Unit to benefit from this uniquely multidisciplinary research environment. Projects involving collaboration with researchers at and/or external to UCL are welcome. For details see programme structure.

Students study toward a PhD in either machine learning or computational and theoretical neuroscience, with minor emphasis in the complementary field. Exceptionally, some students with pre-secured studentships have joined us to study for an MPhil degree in one of these fields. Students from other PhD programmes can also carry out all or part of their research in the unit. We do not offer taught undergraduate and Master's degree programmes, nor a research Master's degree programme; however students in some UCL Master's programmes may carry out research projects in the unit.

Around 90% of our alumni students and postdoctoral fellows work in a scientific setting, with over 60% holding an academic position and about 30% working in research development in companies such as Google DeepMind and Facebook.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have a strong analytical and mathematical background, a keen interest in neuroscience and/or machine learning, and a relevant first degree (for example, in Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, Statistics, Mathematics, Neuroscience, or Cognitive Psychology). Students seeking to combine work in neuroscience and machine learning are particularly encouraged to apply. Please note that candidates offered a place on the Gatsby PhD programme will be required to meet UCL's standard admissions requirements (including the English language requirements for international applicants).


Full funding is available to all students, regardless of nationality. Our PhD studentships cover UCL tuition fees for both home and international students and include an annual tax-free stipend of £26,000 and travel budget for attending conferences and workshops. We also welcome applications from students with pre-secured funding or who are currently applying for other scholarships/studentships.

If you have additional questions, please see our FAQs or contact us.