Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit


Programme structure

Year 1

The PhD programme starts with a year of intensive courses in research and techniques in neuroscience and machine learning. In the first term, students will take core courses in theoretical neuroscience (TN), systems neuroscience (taught with SWC) and machine learning (ML, taught with CSML). TN and ML courses continue into the second term. Examinations will also take place during the second term; students must pass all examinations in order to progress to the next phase of the programme. See Teaching for more information on the courses. Students will also start developing their own thesis project under the guidance of their supervisor. 

Year 2

Students will work on their thesis project. They will also need to carry out a 2-month rotation project in a field different from the field of their PhD thesis (for example, if the thesis project is on TN, the rotation project should be on experimental neuroscience or ML). At the end of Year 2, students are expected to write an MPhil/PhD upgrade report on their progress and future plans and schedule to give an upgrade presentation to the whole unit.

Year 3 and 4

Having passed all the upgrade assessments, students will transfer from MPhil to PhD and devote their remaining tenure to research. (Occasionally, some students may opt to only do an MPhil.)

At the end of Year 4, students will transfer to Completing Research Status (CRS). Thesis should be submitted no later than six months into the CRS period. 


Throughout the PhD programme, students are immersed in a highly stimulating learning/research environment with regular talks, journal clubs, seminar series in the unit and other UCL departments (including SWCInstitute of Cognitive Neuroscience; Institute of Neurology; Experimental Psychology; Neuroscience, Physiology and PharmacologyELLIS Unit; Statistical Science), and participation in conferences such as Cosyne, ICML, NeurIPS and ICLR

We foster a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment. Although each student works primarily with one supervisor, we strive to avoid boundaries between groups and promote an open culture where regular unit-wide events (including daily tea hours) allow everyone to get involved in everything and be aware of what others are doing. Students thus have ready access to all members of the unit, not only their PhD supervisor. 

We are committed to support the career/professional development of our students. Students are strongly encouraged to attend training to expand their research and transferable skills and engage in outreach and public engagement activities (often jointly with SWC).