The Department invests much time and resource in its research training programme, which it regards as one of its central activities. We attract applicants with backgrounds in medicine (including both qualified medics and those pursuing the MB/PhD programme), biological science, mathematics, physical and chemical science and psychology, reflecting the Department’s comprehensive approach. The Department provides a superb environment for research training in non-clinical and clinical
neurosciences with a wide range of expertise and experience available from both senior scientists and clinically qualified active researchers.
The Department has a large number of graduate students and post doctoral fellows, and admits about 15-20 new students each year. The selection process for these places is managed by the Graduate Training Committee and chaired by the Department’s Director of Training, Dr Adrian Carpenter. All shortlisted applicants are invited for interview either in person or by telephone/video conference.
We teach our graduate students how to plan and carry out cutting-edge research and our training is designed to help you to think clearly, originally and practically and to prepare you for leadership in science. Graduate training is very different from undergraduate courses. It is based on individual needs and abilities and as such we carefully monitor the individual progress of each student; everyone has both a principal supervisor and associated advisor, and there are weekly student-led seminars to encourage shared knowledge.
Research training within the Department has several essential components:
- Contribution to the research project.
- Attendance at seminars, round table and scientific meetings in the UK and abroad.
- Delivery of scientific talks to mixed audiences with subsequent discussions.
- Attendance at courses directly and in-directly related to your research.
- Production of articles and publication in high quality journals.
These components will give you an experience of a wide variety of experimental and/or clinical research techniques, while also teaching you how to organise and plan research and experiments. Critical analysis of seminars and talks, coupled with your attendance at courses will develop your research skills and your knowledge of scientific principles, allowing you to produce high quality research and journal articles.
Our students are part of a larger body of around 6000 research students and are affiliated to the Graduate School of Life Sciences, which provides teaching and other resources. In addition to the intellectual stimulation provided by this and the numerous other scientific departments in the University, the Colleges offer additional pastoral care, social contacts, recreational facilities and, in some cases, accommodation. All graduate students belong to one of the 31 Colleges.
To find out more about life as a graduate student in one of the most distinguished research Universities in the world please read the comments below provided in 2018 from current graduate students.
My time at Cambridge has been mostly defined by the interactions with the people in my department. In times when I was overwhelmed with failing experiments and deadlines, I knew I could always turn to the other PhD students in my research institute but also to research assistants, admin staff, technicians and even PIs. Everyone at the department is approachable and ready to make time to help. I also felt inspired being part of the Clinical Neurosciences department as I am surrounded by driven, enthusiastic and extraordinary researchers who strive to produce some of the most outstanding research in the world. I am proud to be part of this community. – Veselina Petrova, PhD student
Clinical neuroscience is a fascinating but also a very challenging field. As a PhD student working on vascular cognitive impairment, I benefit a lot from the very high expertise by my colleagues and supervisors who have various strong backgrounds ranging from medicine, psychology to physics. When having a problem, you are never alone – there is always someone in the department who is able to help you. At the end, we all share a common ambitious goal: We want to understand and eventually cure patients from specific diseases occurring in the brain. – Marco Egle, PhD student
I joined the John Van Geest Centre for Brain Repair (BRC) in 2015 to undertake a PhD in the field of neural interfaces. The BRC is part of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and as such, it offers the invaluable opportunity to experience and be trained in the full spectrum of neuroscience, from basic science to translational medicine to clinic trials. I have particularly enjoined the rich seminar programme with national and international speakers talking every week. One of the benefits of being a member of this department is the fantastic level of support from everyone, which translates in more time spent in what enjoy most: doing science! – Damiano Giuseppe Barone, PhD student.
I really enjoyed my time doing a PhD. As a clinician taking time out of training to undertake research, I found the experience an excellent opportunity to complement my practice by exploring the questions that underlie our current understanding of disease. The Department is very welcoming and supportive. There is a good range of research – including basic science, imaging, and clinical trials – that means there are many opportunities to broaden your experience and collaborate with other students and senior researchers. I’d definitely recommend it.- Nicholas Evans, PhD student.