We offer an exceptional research environment with world class facilities for all areas of neuroscience and our neuroscience researchers are among the international leaders in their respective fields.

PhD in Integrative Neuroscience

Applications for the 4 year PHD programme, supported by the Wellcome Trust, for October 2015 intake, will open from October 2014 and the deadline for submissions is Monday 5th January 2015. 


UK and EU students fully paid, non-EU students extra fees apply


£19,919 per annum (tax-free) subject to review

Places Available:

Five per year

Entry Requirements:

First or Upper Second Class in a relevant area (e.g. neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, physiology, natural sciences). This is a training doctorate, previous research experience is not essential.

Why study Neuroscience at Cardiff?

We offer an exceptional research environment with world class facilities for all areas of neuroscience. The breadth and depth of our expertise ranges from the phenotypic analysis of single gene mutations to the characterization of gene-environment interplay in psychiatric and neurological, and from imaging intracellular calcium in single dendritic spines to combined EEG and fMRI during attentional tasks in humans.

Our neuroscience researchers are among the international leaders in their respective fields. Indeed, the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology has been awarded to Prof. Martin Evans of the School of Bioscience for his pioneering work on stem cells. Research labs are equipped with the most up-to-date facilities to address key questions of basic and clinical Neuroscience. All neuroscientists have substantial financial support that has been won in peer-reviewed competitions. Thus, PhD students have a great opportunity to join neuroscience research that is of the highest international standard that is likely to result in publication in top neuroscience journals.

Why a Neuroscience PhD as a 4-year programme?

Our 4 year programme provides a broader and more in-depth practical and theoretical grounding in neuroscience than conventional 3 year programmes.

Early in Year 1 you will receive formal lectures in research design, statistics, lab safety, animal welfare and ethical standards, and attend a series of specialized lecture courses in behavioural, cellular, molecular, genetic and system neuroscience. In the second part of Year 1, you will experience three 11-week laboratory rotations in internationally renowned labs of your choice. During the lab rotations, you will carry out research, gain knowledge of the questions addressed by the lab, and acquire direct experience of the relevant techniques. Lab rotations help you to reach an informed choice of the neuroscience area and supervisor you will choose for your full PhD project during Years 2 to 4.

Throughout all the years you and your colleagues will participate in weekly seminars and presentations at journal clubs. The programme is designed to ensure an excellent PhD experience and an outstanding future.

Student welfare and progress

On enrolment you will be assigned a Personal Tutor, Director of the 4-Year PhD Programme, who will follow you throughout the four years of the course providing both academic advice and overseeing your general welfare. You will also be assigned the School of Psychology as your 'Home Department'. In Years 2-4 the student 'Home Department' will be that of your project supervisor.

Your progress will be monitored by a dedicated committee that will include the Programme Director, the Programme Deputy Director, The Director of Postgraduate Studies of the chosen School and the Personal Tutor. You will be part of a larger neuroscience community of academic researchers, postdocs and other neuroscience PhD students. Career advice will be provided at the start of Year 4 to ensure proper progress to a suitable postdoc employment.

For further information, please contact:

Miss Catherine Hortop

Year One


The lecture modules in the first 16 weeks (up to the first laboratory rotation) cover the areas of Neuropsychiatry (Monday and Wednesday, pm), Vision and Action (Tuesday, am), Developmental Psychopathology in Childhood Adolescence (Tuesday, pm), Molecular Neuroscience (Thursday, pm), Neuroscience of Learning and Memory (Friday, am).

These issue-focussed modules are complemented by the skills-based training modules in Research, Design and Statistics (Thursday am) and Research Techniques in Bioscience (Monday and Friday, am). The latter modules include substantial applied and practical components. All modules have explicit learning outcomes including Knowledge and Understanding, Discipline Specific and Transferable Skills.

Once laboratory rotations start (week 18), the lecture component is scaled down so that students will only attend one additional issue-based module Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (from week 18 Friday, am). For the third laboratory rotation (week 40), there are no concurrent taught modules, the extra time helping the student with the critical decision concerning their research programme for Years 2-4.

Module assessment

Lectures given in the area of Neuropsychiatry will be assessed in the form of compulsory essays. The research techniques in Biosciences lectures given on a Monday morning will require preparation for the Friday morning tutorials. Students will undergo regular tests as part of the Postgraduate Research Design and Statistics PST001 module.

Additional courses

In addition to these timetabled lectures, students will receive formal training on a number of essential topics (e.g. health and safety procedures in the various suites of laboratories, COSHH). All students will also complete an accredited Home Office training course (which is put on several times a year by Cardiff University). This two-day course is followed by a formal examination, and is an essential pre-requisite for a Personal Licence.

Laboratory rotations

The parallel laboratory rotations start in week 18 (late January) and all three rotations follow the same structure. Prior to starting, in weeks 11-12, the student decides on the rotations they will take. A final set of first and second preferences will be provided by the end of week 12.

The Programme Director and Deputy will then confirm the allocation of laboratory placements, ensuring a suitable balance for each student and ensuring proportionate supervisory loads across supervisors. To aid the students' selection, potential supervisors (see list of 30, Section 2) will help compile a handbook with suggested mini-projects at the start of each academic year.

The student will work on a mini-project for a 9-week period, then the student will have 2 weeks to complete two tasks:

  • To submit a succinct report on the mini-project. This report will be a maximum of 2,500 words and will be in the style of a Journal of Neuroscience paper (e.g. Introduction a maximum of 400 words, Discussion no more than 1200 words). These reports will be read and assessed (with feedback) by the rotation supervisor and a second, independent assessor from a different school.
  • To give a brief, PowerPoint presentation on the study (10 mins, followed by a discussion).

The session of five presentations (one from each PhD student) will be attended by the Directors of Postgraduate research, the other PhD students, and the rotation supervisors. The student will then receive formal feedback on the report and the presentation by his or her Supervisory team.

Presentations will be graded as either 'Accept', 'Minor Revision', 'Major Revision' or 'Reject', and feedback provided on each aspect of the presentation. The three rotations (weeks 18 -28, weeks 29 - 39, weeks 40 - 50) provide invaluable first-hand experience of research techniques, a taster for specific research issues, and provide a method of assessment of progress.

The completion of the rotations and their associated reports and presentations take the student to a crucial 2-week period (weeks 48-50). During this time the student and potential supervisor (s) will decide, by mutual agreement, on a suitable research project for a PhD. The students and supervisors will be encouraged throughout to engage in a project that combines multiple approaches. Note, the supervisors for Year 2-4 need not come from the mini-projects (laboratory rotation), although this may sometimes occur.

Years 2-4

During the first week of Year 2, the student, the Programme Director and Deputy and the prospective supervisors will agree on a research plan and the principal supervisor. The principal supervisor will determine the 'Home School' of the student for Years 2-4. Prior to that, the Home School for all students will be the School of Biosciences (Home School of the programme director and Personal tutor of the students) to foster a sense of identity and to provide a strong, peer-support network.

Additional training courses

As mentioned above, some training courses will continue into Year 2. An example of an existing course is in Human Imaging. This course, based in the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), initially covers Safety. An MRI safety lecture (delivered by an experienced MRI Neuroradiographer) is followed by a tour of the MRI suite to train users in safe operation of the facilities. Potential users are then assessed orally by Profs Wise, Jones or Evans to ensure understanding of procedures for safe MRI scanning. This must be passed for the investigator to become a probationary approved user of the MRI scanner. This procedure also includes person safety training and basic CPR.

There is then a functional and structural MRI 4-day intensive course based around the FSL (FMRIB Software Library) software for analysis of structural and functional MRI data. This includes 4 hours of lectures and 3 hours of practical work each day. The intensive course covers both the theory and practice of functional and structural brain image analysis.

Background concepts and the practicalities of analyses are taught in detailed lectures; these are interleaved with hands-on practical sessions where attendees learn how to carry out analysis for themselves on real data. By the end of the course, attendees should be able to fully analyse their own fMRI and MRI data sets.There is, in addition, a separate one day course on MEG data acquisition and analysis provided by the MEG lab manager (Dr Muthukumaraswamy). Other examples of advanced courses available in Year 2 include Postgenomic Biosciences, Computing for Bioinformatics, Genetic Epidemiology, Animal Imaging Techniques (EMRIC).

For further information, please contact:

Miss Catherine Hortop

Behavioural neuroscience

Find PhD supervisors who specialise in behavioural neuroscience.

Cellular/molecular neuroscience

Find PhD supervisors who specialise in cellular or molecular neuroscience.

Genetic neuroscience

Find PhD supervisors who specialise in genetic neuroscience.

Your application

Deadline for submission of application: 5th January 2015

Course title: 4 Year PhD Programme in Integrative Neuroscience

Programme code: RFPDINSA

Before submitting your application please make sure you have read our guidelines on completing and submitting your application.

All applications must include the following supporting documents please;

  • A personal statement in support of your application telling us your reasons for wanting to study Integrative Neuroscience as a 4-year PhD programme and why you think you're suitable. This combined should be no more than 3,000 characters (including spaces).
  • Two referee letters of support - IMPORTANT: it is the applicant's responsibility that two referee support letters are provided with applications
  • A CV detailing education and relevant work experience

Please note - Please note - A research proposal is not required for this PhD scheme (please enter 'N/A' in the Research Proposal section).

Apply online

Start your online application

All supporting documents can be uploaded to your online account or emailed to:

By post

Alternatively you can send your application and supporting documents by post to: 

The Postgraduate Admissions Office
The Registry
Cardiff University
PO Box 927
CF24 0DE

Interview schedule

Candidates selected for interview will be informed towards the end of January 2015. The interview schedule will be listed shortly.

Further information

For further information, please contact:

Miss Catherine Hortop

Course Director:

Professor John Aggleton

Deputy Course Director:

Dr Anthony Isles