UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Thinking about a PhD?

Thinking about a PhD?

We are delighted that you are considering applying for a PhD in Experimental Psychology. There are many good and bad reasons for doing a PhD but regardless, the decision to undertaking a PhD is a momentous one and not to be taken lightly.  We hope that the information provided here will assist you with your decision. 

Why do a PhD?

If you are fascinated by Experimental Psychology and want to continue your career in research, you may wish to think about doing a PhD after your undergraduate or MSc degree. A PhD would demonstrate your ability to carry out scientific research. It is required for a career in academia and desirable for research positions outside of the university.

What are the benefits?

The main benefit is the satisfaction of pushing yourself and demonstrating that you are capable of producing world-class research that helps shape our understanding of the world.  In addition to becoming an expert in a particular area of experimental psychology, you will develop excellent oral and written communication, enhance your critical thinking and problem solving skills, and make many friendships that will probably endure throughout your life.

What are the costs?

A full-time PhD is a 3-4 year time commitment where you are dedicated to your research.  This often involves long hours, poor pay (or even going into debt), and numerous worries: Is my topic the right size for a PhD project? Am I on the right course? Am I making enough progress?  How will I find a good job afterwards?  One of the surprising things most students find is that despite their supervisor, lab colleagues, and fellow PhD students, doing a PhD can be a lonely experience when ultimately you are the person responsible for the work.

What does the PhD involve?

You would have three years to conduct research on a topic of your choice with a staff member as supervisor, ultimately resulting in a PhD thesis. During those years you also would follow postgraduate courses, visit research talks, and benefit from the exciting research climate in Experimental Psychology at UCL.

Why at Experimental Psychology?

Experimental Psychology offers a world leading research environment aimed at understanding the psychological and biological basis of behaviour. Research in the department explores behaviour in both human and other species, from a cellular level through brain systems, cognition, computational and social levels. Our core research encompasses behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, sensory systems, decision-making, language, evolutionary approaches to behaviour and social cognition. These themes are explored using state-of-the-art facilities within the department, including brain imaging (fMRI) and stimulation (TMS), behavioural testing and systems neuroscience.

How do I decide on a topic?

If you are thinking about a PhD, the way to start would be to decide on a topic. You may have already developed an interest in one during your BA or MSc degree or you may want to take a look at the research conducted by our academic staff to get some ideas.

The final steps

Once you have a general idea and have checked that you would be eligible, feel free to contact staff members to discuss possible topics. If you have decided on a topic, please look here to find out how to apply to do a PhD at Experimental Psychology.