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Systems Neuroscience MPhil

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Programme description

The MPhil is a one-year research degree where students get the opportunity to study a specific research project. The MPhil degree can act as a stand-alone degree for applicants who would like to gain experience in a specific area, or can be linked to a PhD programme. Rather than register on a direct entry 3 or 4 year PhD, some postgraduates may first register on a one-year MPhil programme. Subsequently students may then wish to transfer on to a full PhD programme with a further 2 or 3 years of study.

The behaviour of mammals is controlled by a complex of interconnected electrically active cells called neurones. To quickly and efficiently process sensory information and plan appropriate motor actions and cognitive responses, these neurones are organised into networks. Such networks are thought to have evolved both for specialised processing within each sensory modality and for multi-modal integration vital for the preparation and execution of behavioural responses. In 21 st Century systems neuroscience, cutting edge recording assemblies are used to acquire electrical signals throughout the nervous system. Through the application of sophisticated mathematical and computer models, we seek to improve our understanding of how neuronal networks process sensory information, store and retrieve memories and execute motor actions. This is an immense challenge as these processes are clearly inter-related. The interface of brain sciences with in silico modelling is key to advancing our understanding of how the brain constructs internal representations of the physical world that enable adaptive responses to environmental challenges.

Coursework and assessment

All research degree programmes are based on supportive supervision in an outstanding research environment. As well as a supervisor each PhD student also has an advisor who is available to oversee the progression of the student and provide additional support during their research degree.

The Faculty of Life Sciences is proud to have one of the largest and most innovative training and development programmes for postgraduate students in Europe, which has undergone continual development over the past 10-15 years. The Graduate Training Programme (GTP) is a series of compulsory and optional workshops, seminars, and skills training modules that are designed to complement a student's research laboratory training. Every student benefits not only from the outstanding academic environment, but also from the opportunity to acquire a broad and individualised range of personal and transferable skills that are of great value in future careers. For more information about the Graduate Training Programme please see the skills development page on the Faculty of Life Sciences website.

Each year the postgraduate community is joined by all members of the Faculty of Life Sciences to formally celebrate their substantial research achievements at the Faculty Research Symposium. During this important day in the Faculty calendar, a selection of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers present their work, through talks and posters, to their peers, academic and support staff and invited guests. This event  provides all of our postgraduates with an important opportunity to showcase their research.

Scholarships and bursaries

Each year the Faculty of Life Sciences has a number of studentships on offer to eligible UK/EU applicants. These studentships are funded by awards from UK research councils (i.e. BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, ESRC, AHRC). Studentships are linked to specific PhD projects and are available for applicants to work in the laboratories of named principal investigators. Each year the list of funded PhD projects varies. In addition, throughout the year other studentships may be available through charities, internal funds and some industry-sponsored awards.

The Faculty endeavors to assisting academically excellent international students who wish to undertake a research degree within biological or life science. The Faculty has a number of different scholarship options available to international students.

Applicants are advised to check the Faculty postgraduate web pages for lists of current funding opportunities and eligibility criteria.


The Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester comprises 250 independent research groups, and is one of the largest and best biology research groupings in Europe. The Faculty's research encompasses the entire spread of life sciences from the molecule to cell to organism to population.

The Faculty occupies a series of superb new buildings, each of which incorporates an enviable collection of equipment core facilities. These include analytical research facilities, bioimaging facility, bioinformatics facility, biomolecular analysis and mass spectrometry facilities, microarray facility, botanical experimental grounds, electron microscopy facility, fermentation facility, flow cytometry facility, histology facility, mammalian transgenic technologies facility, nuclear magnetic resonance facility, and x-ray crystallography facility.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: