Neuroimaging: Methods and Applications (MSc)

This programme aims to equip graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds with the methodological tools to undertake high level neuroimaging research. International experts teach multimodal methods and applications of these methods in several domains. It is excellent preparation for students aiming to undertake a PhD in neuroimaging.

This full-time MSc course aims to equip graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds, including psychology, engineering, physical and biological sciences, with the methodological tools to undertake neuroimaging research at the highest level.

Understanding the human brain in health and disease is one of the key research challenges of our time. Meeting this challenge depends on progress at multiple-levels, from investigations of single neurons through to studies of human cognition and perception. Bridging the gap between these levels is not easy, but recent advances in non-invasive neuroimaging and neurophysiology techniques seem to offer such a bridge, by providing a window on brain structure and function at the regional level. However, no single technique offers a complete picture – each has its own strengths and weaknesses. It is for this reason that much recent effort has been in multi-modal integration of several different imaging approaches.

You will be taught by international experts in both multimodal methods Semester 1 and applications of these methods in several domains Semester 2. Depending on your background and interests, you may then choose to specialise in either methodology or applications-based research for your project in Semester 3.

The course aims to put you in a competitive position for a PhD studentship or research position in neuroimaging methodology, cognitive neuroscience or translational neuroscience applied to human health and disease.

The hub of the MSc is the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), which is part of the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. CUBRIC is one of only a handful of research-dedicated centres in the world that contain multiple neuroimaging techniques in one building: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Magnetoencephalography (MEG), Electroencephalography (EEG) and Trans-cranial Stimulation (TMS/TDCS). A key feature of this course is that you can gain hands-on experience using all of these techniques.

Distinctive features

  • Hands-on experience using multiple neuroimaging techniques.
  • Based in Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), a world-leading centre of its kind.
  • Taught by international experts.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time

Admissions criteria

Applicants must hold a degree of a 2.1 standard or equivalent in a relevant science-based degree. This includes (but is not restricted to) Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, Biology, Neuroscience or Psychology based subjects. Overseas students with equivalent degree classifications, where English is not their first language, must provide proof of proficiency in the English language (usually IELTS score of 7 or above).

Applications should be made via the Cardiff University Online Application Service.

Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to attend an interview.

This one-year full-time course starts in September and is a mixture of two taught semesters and a research project in the final semester.

Each Module must be completed with a mark of 50% or greater. All 12 taught modules must be passed before the research project dissertation can be submitted at the end of Semester 3.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will attend lectures, participate in seminars and tutorials, and gain experience in the MRI, MEG, EEG and TMS labs. Learners play the leading role in their own training.  The School facilitates learning by identifying appropriate reading and organising practicals.  Depending on their background and interests, students may then choose to specialise in either methodology or applications-based research, or a mixture of both, for their projects in Semester 3.

Reading

The emphasis is on research articles, chosen to bring you to the cutting edge of the subject matter. These are supplemented by review articles and textbooks in order to sustain a coherent context.

Seminars

Nationally and internationally renowned researchers give seminars in CUBRIC’s weekly seminar series.  This exposes you to cutting edge research and enables you to discuss this with the people carrying it out from across the world.  The seminars are supplemented with a short primer, often delivered by the invited speaker, before the main seminar.  You will be encouraged to attend other seminars around the University that are relevant to the course and your general learning.

School Seminars

As well as the CUBRIC seminars that form part of the course modules, the School holds regular research seminars throughout the year.  These seminars are presented by visiting speakers and members of staff and allow you to keep up to date with the latest research ideas.  Students are strongly encouraged to attend these seminars.

Lab-based practicals

You will have the opportunity for a significant amount of practical experience (both data acquisition and analysis) in various laboratories in Semesters 1 and 2, including MRI, MEG, TMS and EEG.  The practical skills gained will cement understanding of the theory presented in lectures and offer a basis for their research work during Semester 3.  These sessions are compulsory but are not formally assessed.

Lectures

Lectures highlight not only what is known, but also what is not known. You will be encouraged to think of what needs to be done to advance knowledge. To this end the lectures are of two hours’ length to allow more complex arguments to be examined, and to encourage more time for discussion and questioning between students and lecturers.

Research Project

You will undertake a major research project during Semester 3. You will be encouraged to identify yourself a supervisor with whom you would like to work on your project and to approach that supervisor to develop and plan a project that is of mutual interest.  Tutors can help you identify an appropriate supervisor if necessary. We need to balance demand for projects across the different imaging modalities. It may therefore not always be possible for students to work on their first choice research project.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor, who will be one of the module leaders on the course. This tutor will be available to provide pastoral care and general advice and will also be responsible for monitoring academic progress. The tutor can also help in assigning potential supervisors for the Semester 3 research project.  The project supervisor will schedule regular meetings to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance

Students may already have a Personal Development Plan (PDP) in place from their previous University.  The benefits from PDP flow from an individual setting their own goals and considering the means to achieve them. The responsibility for participating in the PDP process rests with students but there will be support in this activity through meetings with Personal Tutors. Further information about the PDP, along with some resources to support students will be available via the Virtual Learning Environment programme - Learning Central. Course materials (e.g. handouts, presentations) will also be placed on Learning Central where appropriate.

Feedback

Feedback will be provided via tutorials, practicals and coursework comment/mark sheets. There will also be regular meetings with personal tutors.

How will I be assessed?

You will study modules to the value of 60 credits in Semester 1:

  • Five of these modules are assessed by written examination (essay and multiple choice questions)
  • One module is assessed via a 4,000 word essay. 

Semester 2 modules (60 credits) follow a similar assessment pattern as Semester 1 modules, except the examinations contain only essay questions rather than multiple choice questions. 

In Semester 3, the Neuroimaging Research Project (60 credits) is assessed via:

  • A journal article style dissertation (70%)
  • Oral presentation (15%)
  • Scientific poster (15%).

A large proportion of the assessment in the MSc Neuroimaging programme is carried out via unseen written examination. This reflects the School's belief that examination is the best vehicle for testing a student’s unaided knowledge, understanding, powers of communication, critical analysis and skills.

Most assessments are summative (they contribute to the final module mark).  Formative assessments in two modules (PST504 and PST509) will also be used to develop skills in oral presentations, scientific discussion and meeting organisation in a manner realistic in the research environment. 

Module co-ordinators have chosen these as the best way of evaluating the acquisition of the basic knowledge, skills and experience in each module.

Each Module must be completed with a mark of 50% or greater.

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging with this course, you should acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those that are discipline specific and more generic 'employability skills'. Through the programme students will have the opportunity to develop technical laboratory skills, and will be presented with a number of opportunities to extend their communication and presentation skills, both oral and written. The course also offers the opportunity to acquire a number of specific skills, such as the ability to design an experiment, collect, analyse and interpret a range of complex neuroimaging data. A number of valuable research skills can also be developed through completion of the dissertation.

This course can prepare students for a range of career options, including:

  • A research and academic career in cognitive/clinical neuroscience or methods development
  • Industry applications such as research in pharma companies or neuro-marketing
  • Supporting the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques in healthcare environments.

Graduates in this programme will also be in a strong position to apply for PhD positions.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

No specific equipment required.