Information for current students
Welcome to the PhD programme exploring the fascinating field of Neural Dynamics! This website contains information that you should find useful during your studies. It is divided in the following sections
- Useful contacts
- Programme Structure
- Introductory week
- Taught modules
- Optional modules
- Visits to Labs Offering Project
- Monitoring progress during PhD
- Stafford Lightman, Stafford.Lightman@bristol.ac.uk
Tel: 331 3167, internal 13167, Office: Dorothy Hodgkin Building
Main responsibility: Projects
- Richard Apps, R.Apps@bristol.ac.uk
Tel: 331 2264, internal 12264, Office: School of Medical Sciences, E.20
Main responsibility: Admissions
- Zafar Bashir, Z.I.Bashir@bristol.ac.uk
Tel: 331 1957, internal 11957, Office: School of Medical Sciences, G.31A
Main responsibility: Finance
- Conor Houghton, Conor.Houghton@bristol.ac.uk
Tel: 954 5140, internal 45140, Office: Merchant Venturers Building, 3.17
Main responsibility: Organization of teaching and projects
- Lindsey Watson, Lindsey.Watson@bristol.ac.uk
Tel: 331 1535, internal 11535, Office: Room D28, Medical Sciences Building
During the first year, you will gain necessary background knowledge by attending taught units and also carry out two extended research projects (which you will choose from a list of available projects), each investigating dynamics in a different neural system. Subsequently, you will develop one of these projects into a PhD project lasting the remaining 3 years.
Table below shows overview of your activities in the first year (with dates for the academic year 2013-14), and each of them is described in detail below.
|0||23-27 September||Introductory week|
|1-4||30 September - 17 October||Foundations of Neuroscience|
|3-5||14 - 25 October||Mathematical Modelling in Physiology and Medicine|
|21 - 23 October||Home Office Training Course|
|November||Visits to labs offering projects|
|13-22||27 January - 4 April||Computational Neuroscience|
|January - April||Project 1|
|May - August||Project 2|
|September||Preparing PhD proposal|
We look forward to welcome you in September. Below is the schedule for the first week.
|23 September||10-12||Medical School, room C42||Registation|
|23 September||2-4||Medical School, room C42||Induction for new PhD Students|
|24 September||10-12:30||65 St. Michael’s Hill||Meeting with Programme Directors|
During the first year you will attend three modules providing background knowledge related to your research listed below. Dates during which the modules takes place are listed in the table above, while the details of times and venues of lectures are given below. The map of the campus with names of various buildings is availble here.
- Foundations of Neuroscience
Detailed syllabus and schedule is available here.
- Mathematical Modelling in Physiology and Medicine
Description of the module is available here and a timetable here.
- Home Office Training Course
This course provides information on procedures and laws regarding animal experimentation. It finished with exam for the Home Office license allowing you to conduct experiments involving animals. Detailed timetable will be e-mailed to you later but it is planned for 11-13 and 20 November.
- Computational Neuroscience
Description of the module is available here.
Monday 9-9:50, Lecture, Queens Building, room 1.15
Fridays 12-12:50, Lecture, Queens Building, room 1.15
University of Bristol runs many taught courses related to neural dynamics or neuroscience in general. You are most welcome to attend lectures on units related to your interests and project during your entire PhD. We would like you to take at least one such optional unit in your first year.
To attend such a unit, you do not need to register, but you just turn up to the lectures. However, it would be nice to introduce yourself to the lecturer during the first lecture, and ask if it is OK for you to attend (I cannot imagine someone refusing).Below the list of the optional units is given, and you can get description of each unit by clicking on unit name. Timetables for individual units can be found here. The only exception are the modules with * in the table below. The timetables of these units only become available 2 weeks before the unit, and to find out about them you need to e-mail Astrid Linthorst.
- Brain and Behaviour
- Neurological and Psychiatric disorders
- Neuroscience of Pain
- Sensational Neuroscience
- Synaptic plasticity
- Pharmacology of the Nervous System
- Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
- Gene Expression in the brain*
- Neurodegeneration: Symptoms, Molecular Mechanisms and Therapies*
- Functional Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience Methods
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Summer School
- Theoretical Neuropsychology
Visits to Labs Offering Project
At the start of November, the list of possible projects will be made available. Each project will be co-advised by an experimental or clinical neuroscientist and a mathematician or computer scientist. You will need to choose 4 projects and rank them by the end of November. Therefore in November, you need to arrange meetings with at least 4 pairs of advisors offering a project, find out details of the project, read relevant papers, and make an informed decision about your choice. Out of your 4 choices, 2 projects will be selected by the Management Committee taking in consideration: your preferences, preferences of your colleagues (no 2 students can do the same project). Furthermore, to give you a broader knowledge of neuroscience, the two projects should not focus on the same neural system / techniques.
To help your research on the topic of the projects, for each of your 4 chosen projects, could you please fill the form available here, and the submit the completer forms to Lindsey Watson by the 11 December.
You will undertake two research projects lasting 4 months each. By the end of each project you will need to prepare a report summarizing your approach and results which will be assessed by project’s supervisors. Reports should have approximately 15 pages, including figures, written in Arial, font 11, and 1.5 line spacing. By the end of April and by the end of August could you please e-mail your reports to project's supervisors and to Lindsey Watson.
By the end of September you will need to prepare a research proposal for your PhD (this is required by the Wellcome Trust). To ensure the proposals arrive on time, by 7th September: Submit to Lindsey Watson a brief document stating your preference of project with brief justification (no more than 300 words). Then by 26th September (or preferably sooner), please complete Wellcome Trust application form with help and guidance of joint supervisors. The form as available here and guidance on completing this form is here. If you complete the application before, you can start work on the project during this time.
In Bristol there are exciting seminars related to the topics of this programme taking place almost every day, so we encourage you to take this opportunity of finding about current research. Most importantly, a seminar series associated with this programme, the Neural Dynamics Forum, should be attended by all Neural Dynamics Students every week. After the seminar there is opportunity to meet with all other students on the programme over free coffee and cakes!
There is also a weekly Neural Dynamics Journal Club for all Neural Dynamics Students.
Several other seminar series include talks related to this programme:
- Neuroscience Seminar Series in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology - schedule can be downloaded at this website.
- Neuroscience Seminar Series in the School of Clinical Sciences - seminars listed here.
- Complexity Seminars - schedule can be found here.
- Applied nonlinear mathematics seminars - see here
- Decision-making Research Seminar - see here
Monitoring progress during PhD
From the second year of your studies onwards you will work with your PhD supervisors, but will still be formally registered in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology. You will follow the same Annual Progression Monitoring procedures as the standard Physiology and Pharmacology PhD students, details of which are available in the Faculty Handbook. Once you enter the second year of your studies you will follow the procedures stated in the handbook for first years, as you will be completing the first year of your PhD project.