UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


MRes Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology

This unique two-year international programme is offered in collaboration with Yale University. There is a focus on developmental psychopathology drawing on multidisciplinary perspectives, with a specific emphasis on neuroscience. Students spend year one in London, primarily based at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and year two at Yale University in New Haven, USA.

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Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£11,730 (FT)
£27,700 (FT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 22 February 2021

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.

Location: London, Kings Cross (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) and New Haven, Yale University (USA)

Objectives and Outcomes
The programme provides an introduction to a range of perspectives on developmental psychopathology, covering all major disorders of childhood. Why do disorders such as anxiety, depression, or autism emerge? How can we understand these disorders in relation to mental processes and representations? And what can a neuroscience approach add? The programme focuses on being able to effectively critique current research as we as the development of practical research skills, including techniques such as fMRI and EEG/ERP.

Year 1 Teaching
In the first year you will be primarily based at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in King's Cross, London with full access to UCL’s internationally renowned campus, including libraries and computer facilities. The first-year modules provide a foundation in developmental psychopathology and neuroscience (methods and affective neuroscience), which includes an introduction to the main therapeutic orientations including cognitive behavioural, systemic and psychoanalytic approaches. Students will also develop core skills in research such as neuroscientific research methods and statistics, providing a necessary foundation for the research project in the second year at Yale.

Year 2 Teaching
Teaching during Year 2 comprises a series of formative workshops that aim to support students in completing their independent research project and engage productively in the work of the research lab of their mentor/supervisor.  

These workshops normally include: fMRI methods, EEG methods and Integrating multiple perspectives, which includes clinical, neuroscience, psychoanalytic and other approaches. Electives taught by Yale faculty across disciplines are offered, including neuroscience, philosophy, clinical science, research methodology, and statistics.

We strongly encourage students to produce publishable findings from their research, in collaboration with their research mentor.

Why Study at UCL?

The Division of Psychology & Language Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour, and language.

Our work attracts staff and students from around the world. Together they create an outstanding and vibrant environment, taking advantage of cutting-edge resources such as a behavioural neuroscience laboratory, a centre for brain imaging, and extensive laboratories for research in speech and language, perception, and cognition.

There are opportunities for graduate students to be taught by world-renowned researchers in all areas of investigation, from basic processes to applied research. The Division offers a supportive environment including numerous specialist seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.

Who is the programme for?

The programme is particularly suitable for students with a strong academic background in psychology, medicine, genetics, neuroscience and related disciplines who have an interest in neuroscience. Students typically progress to a PhD, Clinical Doctorate or Medicine. Applicants are not required to have extensive research experience, but some relevant research experience and ideally familiarity with empirical research (e.g. data collection, analysis and writing up) is important.


This two year MRes is comprised of a total value of 330 credits across  eight core assessed modules, formative courses, and a research portfolio.

Year 1: London

Course ThemesModules
NeuroscienceNeuroscience MethodsAffective Neuroscience 
Research MethodsEvaluating Research Literature (Formative)Statistical AnalysisResearch Skills
Child Development and PsychopathologyMultiple Perspectives on Developmental
Psychopathology I
Multiple Perspectives on Developmental Psychopathology II(Double module spanning 2 terms)
Psychoanalytic ThoughtPsychoanalytic Thought: The Clinical Theory of PsychoanalysisPsychoanalytic Thought: Developments and Application 

Year 2: Yale

ResearchOral presentation and proposalDissertation
Research Poster
Formative teachingSeries of workshops covering EEG, fMRI, integrating multiple perspectives 

Teaching and Assessment

The programme is delivered through lectures, research classes, tutorials, small group seminars, and computer-based practical classes. Assessment is normally through essays, exams and coursework (assessing, for example, science communication and research skills). In the second year a research portfolio will be assessed (see details below).  

Research Portfolio

In Year 2, students will complete a research portfolio that focuses on developing the key skills required for research and clinical careers. Specifically the portfolio comprises:

Project Presentation – an oral presentation of the original research project to be conducted in Year 2, a written research proposal (together 15 credits) and the research dissertation. 

Dissertation – a 15,000 - 17,000-word thesis relating to the student’s independent research project. This element is worth 165 credits.

A conference style research poster. This element is worth 15 credits.

Previous projects have spanned a broad range of populations and methodologies and have included:

–    fMRI and social exclusion in autism
–    EEG, face processing and autistic and psychopathic traits
–    fMRI, stress and childhood maltreatment
–    Prenatal stress and ADHD: a translational model
–    Mentalisation in adolescents: understanding addictions
–    Neurocognitive effects of cannabis and nicotine use in schizophrenia
–    fMRI: the biological basis of risk taking and reward
–    Effective attachment-based interventions for mothers in substance misuse treatment

Click here to see one previous student present his research in a short video.
Nathan Hayes DNP Alumni, discusses his Dissertation: The Impact of Maternal Substance Use on Neural Processing of Social and Non-social Feedback


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Entry Requirements


Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

Note that this is a highly selective programme and early applications are recommended.

Typically 10-12 students are accepted each year. The overall aim of this programme is to understand how mental health problems emerge in childhood drawing from multiple perspectives, including neuroscience, cognitive, developmental, clinical, and psychoanalytic approaches. A substantial research project is completed in the second year at Yale. As an MRes, this Master’s programme provides an excellent framework to advance students' research skills, important for those planning a future PhD or Clinical Doctorate.

Deadline for Applications

The official deadline is the 22nd February 2021 but we suggest applying early as this is a highly selective programme.

Please note: You are required to provide details of 2 referees in your application, at least one of whom should be academic. We require your references to be completed on or very soon after the application deadline so please bear this in mind when you apply.


Please note: this programme is not eligible for US Federal Loan Authority funding.

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families offers one bursary for this MRes programme (£3000 per year) which is open only to Home and EU Students. Additionally, the Centre offers one bursary for mature students. Both bursaries are awarded based on academic ability and potential as well as on financial need. Please note, students are only eligible to apply for the bursary once they have been issued with a firm offer from UCL for this programme. The bursaries are administered by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and are not part of UCL.

UCL Scholarships

There are a variety of different funding options for both UK/EU and International Students. For information on entry scholarships and other sources of funding for Graduate students please go to the UCL Scholarships page


The MRes in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology has been the most academically rewarding experience I’ve had to date. The opportunity to study at two world-renowned institutions, and the chance to design, set-up and run my own independent EEG project has been incredible. I’ve gained so many invaluable skills to take with me as I start a PhD in research – an achievement I definitely owe to this program. It’s been a great two years!
Hannah, former DNP student 2017

This program was the most gratifying experience of my academic career. While the first year allows you to explore perspectives from neurobiology and epigenetics to psychoanalysis, the second year is there to really let you pick a field and topic of interest and apply it to cutting-edge research. Whether you’re interested in a clinical or research career, this program allows you to forge your own path.
Derek, former DNP student 2017

The two years spent at the Anna Freud Centre/UCL and Yale have been an intellectually stimulating time during which I acquired the necessary skills to further my career. In particular, I enjoyed the fact that the programme offered both a comprehensive taught component (during the first year in London) as well as a strong “hands-on” research experience (during the second year in Yale). The research project goes well beyond what most master programs usually offer. During the second year at Yale I had the unique opportunity to immerse myself in a research environment, for a full year, with some of the best teams in the world. Moreover, the taught components during both the first and the second year allowed me to have direct contact and discussions with world leading clinicians and academics of various fields, including developmental psychopathology, cognitive neuroscience and psychoanalysis.
Mattia, former DNP student 2015 


Typically, students are motivated to pursue a research career (for example, working as a Research Fellow, undertaking a PhD) or pursuing a clinical career (for example, applying for a Clinical Psychology Doctorate, Child Psychotherapy training or medical degree). 

Over half of students typically progress to further their research skills, either as research assistants or to PhD programmes. The remainder either pursue further clinical training or work. A minority decide to pursue a career outside of psychology. The chart below details the career paths of our graduates from 2015 and 2016.

final pie chart 15 and 16

Department: Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact: Programme Officer

Contact Email: dnp@annafreud.org


Q. Do I need a specialist background in neuroscience to apply for this programme? 

A. No. All prospective students will be expected to have an interest in neuroscience, and some applicants may have completed introductory courses at undergraduate level. Applicants will need to be able to speak at interview about their interest in neuroscience.

Q. What kind of background do you look for in successful candidates?

A. Previously successful applicants have a strong academic background in: Psychology Medicine, Genetics Neuroscience and related disciplines. Relevant research experience is also highly desirable. 

Q. Would I need to have lots of research experience to secure an offer?

A. Applicants are not required to have had extensive research experience, but some familiarity with experimental work (e.g. data collection, analysis and writing up) is important. 

Q. I'm an overseas student. Where can I convert my grades to find out if I am eligible for the programme?

A. You can find information on converting grades on the International Students website, under information by country.

Q. Am I required to take the GRE to qualify for the MRes?

A. No. Applicants do not need to take the GRE. This is not required as part of the selection process.

Q. Is it possible to do the MRes as a part time student?

A. The programme is offered as full-time only. 

Q. Do you accept mature students? 

A. Yes, we accept students of all ages providing they meet the Graduate Admission requirements. More information about the University's Equal Opportunities Policy can be found on the Equal Opportunities page of the website.

Q. Are fees payable for both years of the MRes?

A. Yes, fees are payable to UCL for both years of study.

Q. Are there funds or grants within the University or department that may be able to assist with the cost of the programme? 

A. There are a variety of different funding options for both UK and International Students. For information on entry scholarships and other sources of funding for Graduate students please go to the UCL Scholarships page. To apply for funding, it is necessary to have filled in an application form for admission as a Graduate student before completing a scholarship application form. Please note that the deadlines for scholarship applications are strongly adhered to and no application will be accepted after the deadline date indicated. 

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families offers one bursary for this MRes programme (£3000 per year) which is open only to Home and EU Students. It is awarded based on academic ability and potential as well as on financial need. Please note, students are only eligible to apply once they have been issued with a firm offer from UCL for this programme. The bursary is administered by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and is not part of UCL.

Q. Do I need Health Insurance?

A. Students have access to National Health Service (NHS) provision whilst in the UK. Prior to going to Yale, students are required to ensure that they have adequate health insurance in place in order to meet visa requirements (if relevant) and requirements for admission to Yale. Some students may be eligible to apply for a UCL travel insurance policy. 

Q. What happens if I fail an exam? 

A. Candidates will be allowed to re-enter for assessment of an element of the programme in the following session for one occasion only. 

Q. What kind of careers do people move into after the MRes?

A. Typically two thirds of students progress to a PhD or a research post following graduation. About a third take a more clinical route by starting a clinical psychology training, usually at doctoral level. A minority of students decide to pursue related careers, for example in scientific journalism.


Dr. Nikolaus Steinbeis is the Programme Director for this programme. As head of the Developmental Change and Plasticity Lab in the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at UCL, he studies the role of cognitive control in adaptive child development, with a focus on malleability and sensitive periods.

Dr Helena Rutherford is the Deputy Programme Director at Yale. She is an Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Her research focuses on understanding the neurobiology of parenting. She uses primarily behavioural and electrophysiological assessments, and her recent work has focused on measuring sensitivity to infant cues (visual and auditory) as well as top-down regulation of response to infant cues by cognitive control. She is also interested in how addiction may impact these processes.

Professor Linda Mayes is the Programme Coordinator at Yale. Linda leads the Yale Bridge Programme at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and is the Director and Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Paediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale Child Study Center.

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