Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


PhD at the ICN

Find out why UCL is the best place in Europe to study neuroscience.

We are delighted that you are thinking of applying for a PhD at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. The decision to undertake a PhD is a momentous one that should not to be taken lightly. There are many good and bad reasons for doing a PhD. We hope that the information below will help you with your decision.

Why do a PhD?

If you are fascinated by cognitive neuroscience and want to pursue a career in research, you may wish to consider doing a PhD after your undergraduate or MSc degree. A PhD would demonstrate an ability to conduct out scientific research.  It is required for an academic career and desirable for many non-university research positions.

What are the benefits?

The principal benefit of doing a PhD is the satisfaction of pushing yourself and showing that you are capable of producing world-class research.  As well as becoming an expert in a particular area of cognitive neuroscience, you will develop excellent oral and written communication skills, enhance your critical thinking and problem solving abilities, and make friendships that may endure throughout your life.

What are the considerations?

A full-time PhD requires a 3-4 year time commitment during which you are dedicated to your research.  This is likely to involve long hours, poor pay (or even going into debt), and many worries: Is my chosen topic suitable for a PhD project?  Am I on the right course?  Am I making sufficient progress? What are my job prospects afterwards?  Surprisingly, most students find that despite the support of their supervisor, lab colleagues, and fellow PhD students, doing a PhD can be a lonely experience when responsibility for the work  ultimately comes down to you.

What does the PhD involve?

You would spend 3 years conducting research on your chosen topic, supervised my a member of staff. This ultimately results in a PhD thesis. During your PhD you also take postgraduate courses, attend research talks, and benefit from the exciting intellectual climate at UCL.

Why at the ICN?

The ICN has a large and active community of PhD students. We are an interdisciplinary Institute situated within the School of Life and Medical Sciences at UCL. Faculty at the ICN are drawn from many different research divisions and departments, including the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, the Institute of Neurology and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging.

How do I decide on a topic?

Before applying for a PhD, you need to decide on a topic. This might be something you have already developed an interest in one during your BA or MSc degree. Alternatively, you may want to get some ideas by taking a look at the research conducted by our academic staff.

The final steps

Once you have checked that you would be eligible, and thought of a general idea, please contact the relevant member of academic staff to discuss possible topics. If you have decided on a topic, find out how to apply to do a PhD at the ICN.